Diop Olugbala (aka Wali Rahman) will be sentenced on Wednesday, 13 October to a possible 10 years in prison for speaking out on behalf of the rights of the black community. A press conference and demonstration will be held prior to Olugbala’s sentencing hearing. Endorsing and participating in Wednesday’s press conference and demonstration will be the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, African Socialist International, Pan Africa of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal, Black and Nobel Bookstore, Pastor Donna Jones of Cookman Methodist Church, Top Dollar CEO of the Dollar Boys and Alison Hoehne of the African People’s Solidarity Committee.
Free Diop Committee
Black Community Activist Faces Possible 10 Years in Prison in Free Speech Case.
Sentencing Scheduled for Wednesday, October 13.
What: Pre-sentencing Press Conference and Demonstration
When: Wednesday, October, 13 8:45 AM
Where: East side of the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center (13th and Filbert)
Contact: Free Diop Committee, John Perez @ 215-200-8737, or Alison Hoehne @ 215-313-9506
Diop Olugbala (aka Wali Rahman) will be sentenced on Wednesday, October 13 to a possible 10 years in prison for speaking out on behalf of the rights of the black community. He was convicted on August 24, 2010 of aggravated assault on a police officer despite videotape evidence that Diop was the victim of a police assault while he was engaged in a peaceful, legal protest of Philadelphia Mayor Nutter budget presentation. Olugbala is the President of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, an organization that advocates for democratic rights and social justice for the black community.
Olugbala’s supporters believe that the decision to prosecute and convict Diop on such serious charges for a civil protest is part of a repressive trend guided by the Obama administration to stifle dissent and silence citizen opposition to government policies on the local and federal levels. As recent examples, they cite:
July 2010 re-sentencing of Lynne Stewart to 10 years following her conviction on “providing material support to terrorists” charges stemming from her legal representation of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.
September 2010 FBI raids of 8 homes and offices of anti-war activists in Chicago and Minnapolis allegedly seeking connections with Colombian and Palestinian liberation organizations.
Attendees to Olugbala’s trial in August 2010 were required by Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes to submit identification – a departure from normal court procedure.
Olugbala was arrested in March 2009 at a Philadelphia City Council meeting while holding a sign protesting what he calls Mayor Nutter’s “billion-dollar war budget” because of its generous funding of the police department and drastic budget cuts to social services – cutbacks felt most severely in the black community, where 40% of families live below the poverty level.
Previously Olugbala received worldwide media coverage when he publicly challenged then-candidate Barack Obama during a 2008 campaign stop in St. Petersburg, Florida. Olugbala demanded to know why Obama would not denounce police violence and economic exploitation in African communities in the U.S. He raised a banner and led a chant, “What about the black community, Obama?” He has organized in cities around the U.S. demanding economic development resources for black communities and denouncing the common policy of aggressive policing and discriminatory incarceration.
Olugbala’s sentencing takes place during a time of growing civil unrest in Philadelphia’s black community in the aftermath of the highly publicized police beating of Askia Sabur. Free speech and black rights advocates say that Olugbala is being targeted to silence legitimate protest against government policy, especially as it relates to police conduct. The District Attorney in Olugbala’s case is Seth Williams, who is also leading the drive to execute journalist and former Black Panther Party member Mumia Abu Jamal.
According to Olugbala, “The Rizzo years are back in the form of the right wing reactionary Democratic Party finance capital-affiliated uncle tom trinity in the form of Michael Nutter, Charles Ramsey and Seth Williams. But they’re too late. Nothing can stop the reemergence of the righteous struggle for self-determination and freedom for African people. Black is back!”
A press conference and demonstration will be held prior to Olugbala’s sentencing hearing, at 8:45 a.m. on the east side of the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center (13th and Filbert). Endorsing and participating in Wednesday’s press conference and demonstration will be the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, African Socialist International, Pam Africa of International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal, Black and Nobel Bookstore, Pastor Donna Jones of Cookman Methodist Church, Top Dollar CEO of the Dollar Boys and Alison Hoehne of the African People’s Solidarity Committee.
For video background info, visit: