By Penny Hess, African People’s Solidarity Committee
I urge everyone to call, write and email to the judge to demand that the charges are dropped against Diop Olugbala, a leading African community organizer for the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM).
Diop is facing felony charges of aggravated assault in a political trial that begins August 24 in Philadelphia for speaking out at a city council meeting in March of this year against the city’s planned severe budget cuts that would eliminate essential services in African communities of the city.
Diop led the InPDUM protest pointing out that while Philadelphia cut back on essentials for the African community in the name of the city’s budget crisis, it was at the same time increasing its financial allocations to the militarized police responsible for on-going harassment, brutality and murders in an African community plagued with staggering poverty and unemployment rates.
Diop was holding a sign calling for African people to resist the city’s billion-dollar war budget targeting the African community when he was physically attacked by plain clothed police and arrested.
Diop is also well known for challenging then-presidential candidate Barack Obama at a campaign event in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2008 to answer the question, “What about the black community, Obama?”
It was this bold action that got media coverage around the world, exposing Obama for being “white power in black face,” who would continue to carry out the imperialist agenda against oppressed peoples of the world and against African and oppressed peoples inside this country.
While most of the white left and anti-war movement was silenced by its unity with the first black imperial president, Diop and InPDUM laid bare Obama’s role as a neocolonial shill who won the election by blatantly selling out the interests of the African community and the oppressed peoples of the world.
Diop must be supported because he represents organized African resistance in this period. He represents Africans struggling for justice and liberation in 2010 in the face of brutal containment policies—similar to those carried out by the US in wars of plunder and occupation around the world—that have African communities on lockdown and serving as fodder for the lucrative US prison economy.
Diop shows us that the struggle of the Black Revolution of the Sixties was never completed. It was defeated by the same US government that is trying to save itself from crisis by attacking the people of Afghanistan and Mexican people right here.
There are many political prisoners from the earlier period of struggle who must be supported and freed—heroic people such as Sundiata Acoli and Mumia Abu Jamal.
But Diop represents the new era of political struggle and resistance—young African people rising up to fight the endless police attacks on the streets, the hostile education system, the rampant African community unemployment, the frame ups and discriminatory sentencing that are responsible for nearly 4 million African people being tied to the prison system.
Diop is the political prisoner of today, part of a growing organized movement of African people struggling for liberation in the face of Obama’s myth of a “post-racial America” and a deepening US economic crisis brought about by the emerging resistance of oppressed and colonized people around the world.
From the white community we must stand in solidarity with the movement to free Diop Olugbala, recognizing that as in the 1960s the leadership of a genuine movement in this country for social justice and against this vicious imperialism comes from the African community struggling for African freedom right here.
Drop the charges against Diop Olugbala (slave name: Wali Rahman); reparations to Diop!
Here’s what you can do:
1. Call judge Roxanne Covington at 215-683-7142 every Monday with the following demand:
“I am calling to oppose the City of Philadelphia’s efforts to convict Diop Olugbala, also known as Wali Rahman, with the trumped up felony charge of aggravated assault on police. His arrest represents an attack on the rights of African people to free speech and economic development. I stand with the demand for the immediate dropping of all charges against Wali Rahman and Franklin Moses.”
2. Call district attorney Seth Williams at 215-686-8000 and demand all charges against Wali Rahman be dropped.
3. Email the judge at: firstname.lastname@example.org