The February 3, 2021 “Liberons Mumia” Protest at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France Marks Over 25 Years of French Support
By Claude Guillaumaud-Pujol
The French Collectif 'Liberons Mumia' has been organizing demonstrations for Mumia at the Place de la Concorde in Paris since the Summer of 1995.
They first took place in front of the American Embassy; then we were asked to move to the other side of Concorde, near the American Consulate and in front of the Jardin des Tuileries, which is an even better spot because we can hang our banners from the balustrade of the park which makes them visible from far away.
This has been the routine ever since the Summer of 1995, the year of the PCRA, every Wednesday night from 6 to 8 pm as long as Mumia was on death row. It has been our meeting point where we could give out leaflets to passers-by and tourists, converse with other Mumia supporters from Paris and suburban districts, especially the cities where Mumia is an honorary citizen like Saint-Denis, Bobigny or Villejuif. Sometimes officials from these different places come and join us; we can also meet students passing by, or radio journalists for an interview, like Nadine from France Culture (she visited Mumia five years ago) or from local Paris radio stations; at times celebrities stop on the way, like Jane Birkin's youngest daughter Lou Doillon, or American tourists – some just curious and wishing to learn about Mumia, some hostile and pro-death penalty. Linn Washington came once while teaching in London.
And of course, all French activists hope to see Mumia at Concorde in the near future!
For the past eight years, basically since Mumia 's death sentence was commuted to life in prison, we no longer meet every Wednesday. We have switched to a monthly demonstration which takes place on the first Wednesday of each month, even if it happens to be the first of January as Jacky won't tolerate any exception!
If we had visited Mumia, along with the MOVE brothers and sisters before they were released - which a couple of us did twice a year before COVID, we would tell our comrades about the visits and the messages Mumia entrusted us with at the following Concorde event. If Mumia says France is the country where he feels a citizen it is probably because so many French people have written to him for so many years, sending local postcards for his birthday and thus enabling him to quote almost every French province and its main town!
The Place de la Concorde, the place where we met again on February 3rd, can be called the 'Mumia Place' in Paris – even the police think so as they deny permission to demonstrate here to any other human rights group! So whenever required, Mumia 'invites ' Leonard Peltier's supporters, or Hank Skinner's wife Sandrine – Hank Skinner is on death-row Texas, or Odell Barnes' supporters in 2000, to mention only a few.
That's what yesterday, February 3rd, 2021, was about: in spite of the storm and the rain Mumia was our Paris host, with a new banner telling his story as we can no longer give out leaflets because of Covid. We are not as many as we were in 1995, but rarely less than 20 or 30 people with Mumia's banners blowing in the wind - they would be carried away if Christian and other French activists didn't tie them securely. All are friends of Mumia, although very few have met brother Mumia.
Because of Covid and the curfew at 6 pm, yesterday we had to change our meeting time We asked permission for a 4 to 6 pm rally; police suggested 3.30 to 5.30 so we could be home before 6. And we displayed our new banner with a beautiful portrait of Mumia, a picture taken at SCI Manahoy during our last visit, in December 2019. And his hand-written words 'I want to go home' on it.
I guess you wonder why so many French people have been supporting Mumia for so long? I do too.
How does it come about that so many people care? There are 6000 people receiving e-mails at least once a month, more if there are new developments, thanks to Jacky and Jonathan's diligence. Jacky also organizes fund-raising campaigns twice a year; we have raised about 500,000 dollars during the past twenty years to help pay the legal fees.
I have written a French biography of Mumia with more than 3000 copies sold for the benefit of Mumia. The Collectif has also sold books, stamps, T-shirts and now masks to raise money. Many parents were supporting Mumia years ago; now the second generation is joining in: their children have grown up and stand up for Mumia. They have read Mumia's books, have worn Mumia lapel-buttons, have listened to Sad Love Song, a song Mumia wrote in prison and sent to Jacques, a musician and a supporter, so we could release the CD in Paris. They have watched the films dedicated to Mumia.
Mumia, locked-up in prison, has established a special bond between people who would never have met otherwise. And Concorde is the location where their paths have crossed for all these prison years.
French people have demonstrated for the Rosenbergs, have marched for Angela Davis and since the mid-seventies have relentlessly stood for Mumia.
They expect bro Mumia to walk home a free man.
He is a role model for all of them.