On the Picket Line

Bay Area longshore union shuts ports, marches for Abu-Jamal

By Jeff Powers
March 6, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO — International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 shut down the ports of Oakland and San Francisco Feb. 16, part of international protests demanding freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Framed up on charges of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981, Abu-Jamal has been in prison for over 40 years. He is a journalist who had been a member of the Black Panther Party.

Over 200 people joined in a spirited march and rally held that day. The protest, organized by the ILWU, marched 2 miles from Local 10’s headquarters on North Point Street to Harry Bridges Plaza near downtown San Francisco. Along with members of the longshore union, public school teachers from United Educators of San Francisco, Oakland Education Association and other local unionists participated in the action.

The rally was chaired by ILWU member David Newton. Speakers included Trent Willis, past president of Local 10; the grandson of Abu-Jamal; and the brother, sister and a close family member of Tyre Nichols, who was killed Jan. 7 by Memphis police.

Last December Philadelphia County Judge Lucretia Clemons ordered the District Attorney’s Office there to hand over all of its files on Abu-Jamal’s case to his defense lawyers. The documents include many files they have never seen. It’s possible the files long kept hidden by prosecutors will give Abu-Jamal grounds to seek a new trial.

“Protests supporting Mumia are taking place in South Africa and other parts of the world today,” Newton told the rally. “We need to keep up the pressure. Free Mumia! Free all political prisoners!”