[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#5079: Haitian man on death row

From: Nadine <ezili@anacaona.org>

Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Sept. 14, 2000
issue of Workers World newspaper


By G. Dunkel

Borgela Philistin was tired and in a hurry to get home on
June 16, 1993, so he took a jitney cab. But he never made it

A few blocks from his house, two Philadelphia cops stopped
the cab. A shouting match broke out. One cop reached through
the window and punched Philistin. The cop smashed him in the
mouth with a flashlight, then pulled him through the window.

A big brawl followed, with the two cops and Philistin on the
ground. One cop was trying to grab Philistin's hands. The
other drew his gun. In the struggle, the cop dropped his
gun, Philistin picked it up, and in his words to the cops
during his interrogation, "I fired shots towards the ground
so I could run. I didn't aim at them; one of the officers
was hit. I saw the blood. I panicked and started running."

Without an effective lawyer to present a heat-of-passion
defense, without consular notification, this 19-year-old
Haitian citizen, who was a student and part-time worker
here, was convicted of premeditated, first-degree murder of
a cop named Robert Hayes and aggravated assault on another
cop, John Marynowitz, who is paralyzed. Given the racism of
the Philadelphia court system, these charges drew a death

Philistin wound up on the same death row as journalist and
former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. He told Abu-Jamal, "I
came from a country where you respect authority, but was I
just supposed to let them beat me, shoot me? I thought they
were going to kill me."

Abu-Jamal adds, "Can anyone really say that such a fear
isn't justified?"

Ray Laforest, a labor union militant and member of the
Haitian Coalition for Justice, said: "The movement to free
Mumia must defend the right of self-defense and other
victims of this racist justice system. What happened to
Philistin could happen to any of us--look at Patrick
Dorismond and Abner Louima. Haitians are victims of this
racist justice system, just like other Blacks in this

Abu-Jamal has asked a delegation of French parliamentarians
who are scheduled to visit him the first week of September
to visit Philistin if they can get permission from
Pennsylvania prison authorities.

Johnnie Stevens, a leader of Millions for
Mumia/International Action Center, told Workers World, "It
is absolutely important to broaden the struggle to obtain a
new trial for Mumia, to show that the racist death penalty
is used against any person of color who dares to defend
themselves, not just Mumia."

- END -

(Copyleft Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to
copy and distribute verbatim copies of this document, but
changing it is not allowed. For more information contact
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail:
ww@workers.org. For subscription info send message to:
info@workers.org. Web: http://www.workers.org)

"Reverse racism, I suppose some would call it. I don't think so.
I believe white folks would know if blacks were ever to really
reverse racism."  [Lonnae O'Neal Parker]