Monday, November 27, 2006

Where Has "Mumia's" Money Gone?

(Editors note: A good deal of the background info on this article came from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Their reporters deserve at least half the credit for the info contained on the post)

Over the past two decades thousands of dollars have been raised on behalf of Mumia and turned over to Pam Africa and MOVE. Where has all of this money gone?

A quick recounting of the facts lays out the scenario

-Pam Africa raises money herself. She prefers cash donations. Also, French activists bring a steady supply of monetary donations that very likely go un-reported. In addition to this, Mumia groups regularly do fund-raisers with at least some of the money going very likely into the pocket of Mrs. Africa.

-In 2001, The Pam Africa run, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ) had been ordered to stop soliciting contributions in Pennsylvania, after failing to give a full accounting of its finances.

-As of 2001 Pam Africa, leader of the fund-raising group, has suggested in interviews that it may have raised as much as $1 million, but refused to provide concrete figures.

- It was established by the Bureau of Charitable Organizations, meaning that any of the money raised was by ICFFMAJ was done so illegally.

-According to publicly disclosed forms (meaning those not having to do with ICFFMAJ) over the last decade, a variety of properly registered organizations have raised at least $950,000 on Abu-Jamal's behalf.

-In 1999, the rock group Rage Against the Machine held a benefit concert at the Meadowlands in North Jersey for Abu-Jamal. Band members said the concert raised $80,000 for Africa's group. Some of which I believe did not end up in ICFFMAJ’s pocket, but that somewhere in the ballpark of $15,000 did.

-In October, three San Francisco-area rallies raised $50,000 for the cause. These monies were apparently split three ways. A third of it going to ICFFMAJ.

-For much of the 1990s, the Black United Fund of Pennsylvania Inc., a registered charity, collected and forwarded money to ICFFMAJ. Africa raised at least $280,000 from that relationship, but she and the fund refuse to divulge the total raised.

-In 1999, the Black United Fund split it’s ties with ICFFMAJ due to political pressure exerted by the city. Essentially the city was taking issue with the fact that the BUF was handling funds for a group that advocated on behalf of a man convicted of murdering a city worker, while handling funds of other city workers.

-In 2000, Pam Africa finally incorporated her group, applied for, and received tax-exempt status from the IRS, and sought state recognition as well. According to media reports, Africa's group has provided some financial figures for 1999 and 2000 as part of its effort to get tax-exempt status. The group reported raising $203,000 in 1999 and $73,000 in 2000.

Since 2000, finding anything out about the finances of the "Free Mumia" movement has been very difficult, although the plea for people to "bring their checkbooks" to Pam Africa’s recent birthday party might be telling.

Still, it seems that Pam is still very much in control of the "Free Mumia" finances. According to the NYC Free Mumia coalition one should:

"Send checks and money orders to: National Black United Fund (make payable to them as well) 40 Clinton Street, Newark, NJ 07102 In the memo line you must specify Mumia legal or Mumia organizing. This money is under the non-sectarian and very trustworthy control of Pam Africa of International Concerned Family and Friends, whom Mumia personally chose to coordinate his defense"

Now that is irony for you.

I interviewed Bill Merrit from the National Black United Fund and he told me that after the ties with the Philadelphia Black United Fund and ICFFMAJ in 2001 that the National Black United Fund took up the banner as far as providing a financial umbrella for ICFFMAJ to operate under.
According to another NBUF employee, not only does the group handle the money for ICFFMAJ, but they also do it at no cost. And as anyone who has had to navigate the treacherous shoals of not for profit legalities can tell you, this is not a small contribution. I called to find out just how much money had been funneled through the NBUF for ICFFMAJ. The person at the other end of the phone seemed confused and promised to get back to me. Not surprisingly she did not, so I did some checking on my own.

The NBUF, like any not for profit has to make public it’s tax filings. Yet International Concerned Family and Friends does not appear on any of the group’s filings. Is it possible that this money, in addition to being handled without cost to ICFFMAJ is also being handled under the table?

MOVE, the cult to which Pam Africa belongs, also solicits donations on it’s website via the purchase of MOVE "merchandise. Pretty audacious of them considering the fact that it wasn’t too many years ago that members of the group won $2.5 million in a lawsuit settlements that members received from the cities botched raid on MOVE headquarters in 1985 that left 11 dead and a neighborhood ruined.

MOVE, the millionaire cult begging for your money.

One issue that cannot be overlooked in all of this is the allegation made by Pam Africa during the financial predicament of ICFFMAJ is the allegation that the office of ICFFMAJ was broken into, evoking in many an activist mind the imagery of a modern day COINTELPRO operation. But do these alleged break-ins makes sense? And what do the facts really say about what allegedly occurred?
According to an ICFFMAJ statement:

"ICFFMAJ in Philadelphia has been the target of many suspicious break ins and thefts during its existence in this city, most recently in June of 2000, when the office was broken into and robbed of a file box containing the names of financial donors who had contributed to Mumia's legal and organizing defense funds, just a few months before ICFFMAJ was accused by the IRS and regional media of failing to properly file taxes related to donations. Needless to say, the timing was suspicious."

Now, keep in mind that the computer files and email lists, things that are integral to the propagation of the free Mumia cause were left untouched. As were the expensive hardware themselves.

What discredits this concocted COINTELPRO nonsense is the fact that, without fanfare or the usual Mumia publicity hype, the documents needed, the documents allegedly stolen by the ghosts of COINTELPRO, magically re-appeared. This occurred a month after the state demanded ICFFMAJ to stop raising money in Pennsylvania unless the proper paperwork be provided. The paperwork that Pam Africa subsequently provided, the "stolen" paperwork.

Now, what is more plausible, that the government burglars had a "Free Mumia" conversion and out of their kind hearts just gave back the documents? Or that Pam Africa and her comrades concocted a two-pronged plan to kill two birds with one stone. The first of which would be to stall for time why they got their notoriously unkept and likely corruption riddled paperwork together. The second aspect of the plan would be to mobilize the than fracturing "Free Mumia" base under the fraudulent allegation that ICFFMAJ was being laid siege to by cops and other vicious agents of the system?

One has to ask themselves what makes sense before just taking someone from MOVE’s word for it.

And finally, after one sees all of the thousands of dollars that have been raised under the guise of "Freeing Mumia" the question begs to be asked, where has it all gone? And moreover, why is Pam Africa still groveling for money? What has really been accomplished?

If people want to give money to stopping the death penalty or for advancing the cause of human rights, than I am all for it. But I would argue, and I think the facts display quite glaringly, that giving money to MOVE or ICFFMAJ is just the same as throwing money down a filthy well and making a wish.


At 8:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask Bert where the money went. It takes a lot to reward those who killed your ex and to make sure they stay quiet.

At 9:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, she looks weather beaten. What a hag. I guess being a scam artist and knowing Alberta could have you killed if she wanted to would age a person. Also look at the baby bump on the young girl. How old is she?

At 12:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are a disgrace to all good liberal fundraisers everywhere


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