By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (February 6, 2003)



            Historically, in the Black Liberation Movement in America, there has been a tradition of brothers and sisters who have always defended the interests of African people no matter what the issue was and no matter how much they personally sacrificed. Such is the case of Attorney Chokwe Lumumba.

            Since becoming a lawyer in 1975, and graduating with honors from Wayne State University, Attorney Lumumba has distinguished himself as one of the most committed, dedicated and courageous lawyers in America. Often, without compensation, Chokwe has used his legal skills and talents to defend the rights of African people in the courts of America.

            As a result of Chokwe’s tenacious and uncompromising defense of his clients, he has constantly been harassed by the legal system in Mississippi where he has been a practicing attorney, defending the rights of African people for over twenty-years.

            The most recent example of this harassment involves the case of Henry Payton. Research on this case reveals the “On October 17, 2001, Judge Marcus Gordon of the Leake County Circuit Court in Carthage, Mississippi held Brother Lumumba in contempt and jailed him for challenging the judge’s vindictive and unfair handling of the case of a 43 year old Black defendant named Henry Payton.

            Payton was first tried before Gordon on charges of bank robbery, kidnapping and arson in May of 1996. Payton was convicted but his conviction was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court when Gordon made erroneous rulings, which violated Payton’s rights in the first trail. The case was returned to Gordon for a new trial and Payton hired Lumumba to represent him.”

            Research further reveals that “During the new trial Gordon demonstrated his animosity toward Payton and Lumumba. As jury selection began Payton was brought before the jury in chains. Lumumba moved to dismiss the jury pool and to replace it with another. His motion was denied. Gordon then proceeded to restrict Lumumba’s questions to potential jurors, thus not allowing the Attorney sufficient time to uncover bias among potential jurors. Almost every juror admitted prior knowledge about the case but the judge refused to allow individual jurors to be questioned outside the presence of other jurors about their prior knowledge and opinions.”

            The actions of this racist and white supremacist Mississippi Judge continued. “During the trial the Judge displayed anger and outrage toward Lumumba and bias against Payton, but refused to disqualify himself when asked to do so. The jury was deadlocked after the case was submitted to them for a decision. Gordon then proceeded to give the jurors incomplete and misleading instructions. The jury then returned verdicts of guilty on the charges of bank robbery and arson  and not guilty on kidnapping.

            The Judge arranged for Payton to be sentenced in front of several of the jurors from his case and other jurors waiting to serve as jurors in other cases. Gordon then sentenced Payton to 48 years (more than his life expectancy)…”

            What occurred after the trial was “several jurors revealed that they did not believe that Payton was guilty of any of the charges but compromised with other jurors on a verdict because of the Judge’s instructions.”

            Lumumba, “Armed with this information filed a Motion for a New Trial. At the hearing on the motion on October 17, 2001, Gordon refused to let the jurors testify. He also refused to order the prosecution to reveal the addresses of other witnesses who had information on jury misconduct.”

            After all of this “Lumumba was held in contempt and jailed when he challenged Gordon for his unfair handling of this matter. The Mississippi Bar joined the Judge in his attack on Lumumba by filing formal charges against him and charging that he is unfit to practice law in Mississippi.”

            Attorney Lumumba has always been there for us, and now it is our turn to be there for him. Brother Chokwe, is the chairperson and co-founder of the New African Peoples Organization (NAPO). Chokwe has served in this capacity since the beginning of NAPO in 1984 and was re-elected to this position in 2001.

            Brother Chokwe has been a fearless champion of Black Liberation dating back to his days as a young student when he became a conscious “citizen of the New African nation in North America, and a legionnaire in the Black Legion of the Republic of New Africa.”

            Brother Chokwe, who hails from Detroit, Michigan, is a living legend in the Black Liberation Movement and we must rally to his defense in this most serious effort in Mississippi to disbar him. We must not let this happen! Call 601-353-4455 and find out how you can help!   

National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)

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