Supporters and friends of Tennessee death row inmate Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman launched the Justice for Abu clemency campaign with a public forum on the death penalty, Tuesday at American Baptist College.
Participating speakers and panelists included: Henderson Hill (attorney, REDRESS), Ed Miller (attorney), Dr. Linda Manning (Vanderbilt Osher Center), Rev. Judy Cummings (New Covenant Christian Church), Rev. Janet Wolf (Children’s Defense Fund Haley Farm), Brandon Tucker (ACLU-Tennessee), Amy Lawrence (Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty), Randy Spivey (Lipscomb-Fred D. Gray Institute) and Davis Turner (Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty).
Abdur’Rahman, 69, has been imprisoned on Tennessee’s death row for more than 32 years after what some call an unjust trial. Eight jurors have signed affidavits saying they no longer have confidence in the sentencing verdict, and two judges have ruled in favor of a life sentence, most recently the Criminal Court of Davidson County. But the Tennessee Attorney General’s office has appealed the latest decision to the Tennessee Supreme Court, with the intent to reinstate Abu’s April 16 execution date.
Justice for Abu has launched a petition drive at <justiceforabu.org>, in preparation for a possible appeal to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.
Supporters cite myriad problems with Abdur’Rahman’s trial, but they also point to his good works and spiritual journey in prison, where he is a peacekeeper and mediator, respected by guards and inmates alike.
“He is not what you would expect,” said Dr. Linda Manning, interim director at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt and Abdur’Rahman’s spiritual adviser. “He is a kind, sensitive, spiritual person. His greatest wish is to devote the rest of his life working to reduce violence in the home, the streets and in prisons. He has spent more than 30 years on death row, making a positive difference. His execution would serve no purpose.”