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Free Mumia,Abu Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook April 24, 1954) is an African-American convicted murderer, journalist, political activist, and former militant leader from Philadelphia. An early member of the Black Panther Party, Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Department officer Daniel Faulkner. Originally sentenced to death, Abu-Jamal’s sentence, but not his conviction, was overturned in December 2001 by Judge William H. Yohn, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Both the prosecution and the defense have appealed Yohn’s ruling. Abu-Jamal is now serving life in prison at the maximum-security SCI-Greene.

Abu-Jamal’s case has received international attention. Many of his supporters claim that he is innocent, that his arrest and conviction were politically motivated, and that he is a political prisoner. Many of his detractors, on the other hand, assert that he had the benefit of due process and has been legitimately convicted of murder.

Early life and political career

bu-Jamal was an early member of the Black Panther Party’s Philadelphia Branch, and the radical MOVE community in the city’s Powelton Village neighborhood.

At the time of the murder of Faulkner, Abu-Jamal worked as a taxicab driver for the United Cab Company in Philadelphia.

Abu-Jamal’s adopted name has caused many to believe that he is a convert to Islam. He chose the name Mumia Abu-Jamal in a high school class on African cultures, in which students used classroom names. As an adult, he formally adopted the name. Mumia is Swahili in origin. “Abu-Jamal” which means father of Jamal (the name of his son) is Arabic in origin.

Murder of Daniel Faulkner and trial

Main article: Trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal

In the early hours of December 9, 1981, around 3:51 a.m., Philadelphia Police Department officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed during an altercation that ensued from a routine traffic stop of a vehicle driven by William Cook, Abu-Jamal’s younger brother.

The following sequence of events was accepted by the jury at the trial: during the traffic stop, Cook assaulted Faulkner, who in turn attempted to subdue Cook. At this point, Abu-Jamal emerged from a nearby taxi which he was driving and shot Faulkner in the back. Faulkner was able to return fire, seriously wounding Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal then advanced on Faulkner, and fired four additional shots at close range, one of them striking Faulkner in the face, killing the policeman. Abu-Jamal was unable to flee due to his own gunshot wound, and was taken into custody by other police officers, who had been summoned by Faulkner at the time of the traffic stop. In his possession was a .38 caliber revolver that records showed Abu-Jamal had purchased in 1979. The cylinder of the revolver had five spent cartridges. Abu-Jamal was taken directly from the scene of the shooting to a hospital and was treated for his injury. Witnesses stated that while he was receiving medical treatment, Abu-Jamal acknowledged that he shot Daniel Faulkner. Cook never testified or gave any public statement about the events except to deny his own involvement in the shooting.

Abu-Jamal himself did not give the police his version of the events. In fact he did not address the shooting at all until almost 20 years later when his third set of lawyers offered the affidavit of Arnold Beverly, who claimed he had in fact shot Officer Faulkner as part of a mob hit connected with a desire to keep Faulkner from interfering with graft and payoffs to corrupt police. Abu-Jamal later gave a sworn statement claiming that he had been sitting in his cab across the street when he heard the sound of gunshots. In this statement, Abu-Jamal claims that, upon seeing his brother standing in the street staggering and dizzy, he ran across the street to Cook and was shot by a uniformed police officer (not Faulkner). Abu-Jamal also claimed he was tortured by the police before receiving medical aid. Abu-Jamal’s version of the events does not coincide with physical evidence produced during his trial, and in particular does not explain how a gun registered to him shot Faulkner.

Abu-Jamal was charged with first-degree murder. He initially retained the services of criminal defense attorney Anthony Jackson. In May 1982 Abu-Jamal announced that he would represent himself, with Jackson continuing to act as his legal advisor. Although the judge initially allowed Abu-Jamal to represent himself, the judge eventually reversed his own decision due to Abu-Jamal’s disruptive behavior in the court,[1] and it was ordered that Jackson resume his role as Abu-Jamal’s attorney.

The case went to trial in June 1982. The prosecution presented some of the eyewitness and physical evidence against Abu-Jamal.

There were four eyewitnesses to the shooting according to the prosecution team: Robert Chobert, a cab driver; Michael Scanlon, a businessman who had been visiting from out of town on the night of the killing; Cynthia White, a prostitute who was later revealed to be a police informant[1]; and Albert Magilton, a passerby. These four witnesses said they were at the scene at the time of the shooting, and all of them identified Abu-Jamal as the person who shot Officer Faulkner.

Another witness not called by either party was William Singletary. He also said he saw the whole incident and has testified that Mumia Abu-Jamal was not the gunman.

William Singletary’s testimony (August 11, 1995) describes how police tore up his written statement, and forced him to sign a different statement which they dictated.

A number of witnesses made statements, either to police on the scene or in court testimony or both, relating to one or more men running along the street shortly after the shooting. At trial, the defense presented statements made by four of these witnesses–Deborah Kordansky, Robert Chobert, Veronica Jones, and Desie Hightower–as part of a strategy that became known as the “running man theory”, based on the possibility that the “running man” may have been the actual shooter. Of these four witnesses, only one, Chobert, witnessed the actual shooting. Shortly after the shooting, Chobert told police that he had seen Jamal shoot Officer Faulkner in the face, then run a short distance and collapse on the sidewalk, having been shot himself by Officer Faulkner. The remaining three witnesses made various statements about a man or men running in or away from the area, but none of these witnesses claimed that the running man or men were involved in the shooting.

Finally, three additional witnesses, including hospital security guard Priscilla Durham and two members of the Philadelphia Police Department, testified that while Abu-Jamal was being treated for his own gunshot wound, he said that he had shot Daniel Faulkner, and hoped that the officer would die, specifically saying, “I shot the motherfucker, and I hope he dies.”

Yet, there exists some evidence which apparently runs contradictory to the argument that Abu-Jamal admitted his own guilt in the hospital. Medical staff reported that he was unconscious during the time that his confession was said to have been heard at the hospital. [5]

One of these pieces of evidence is the original police report by Officer Gary Wakshul, who was with Abu-Jamal the entire time through his arrest and medical treatment. In Wakshul’s official report he stated of the time he spent with Abu-Jamal, the suspect “made no comment.” Yet Gary Wakshul stated later that he heard Abu-Jamal confess that night. Wakshul didn’t remember this confession until almost three months after Abu-Jamal’s arrest when prosecutor McGill met with police asking for a confession. Officer Wakshul stated that he didn’t think the confession was important at the time he wrote his original report.[2]

Judge Albert F. Sabo did not allow the jury to hear Gary Wakshul’s original report.

In court, hospital security guard Priscilla Durham testified that she heard Abu-Jamal yell out as he lay bleeding in the hospital.

Yet on April 24, 2003 the half-brother of Priscilla Durham, Kenneth Pate, submitted a declaration through Abu-Jamal’s lawyers in the U.S. Court of Appeals and in the Third Circuit Court stating, “I read a newspaper article about the Mumia Abu-Jamal case. It said Priscilla Durham had testified at Abu-Jamal’s trial that when she was working as a security guard at the hospital she heard Abu-Jamal say that he had killed the police officer. When I read this I realized it was a different story from what she had told me.” Instead Kenneth Pate asked her, ‘”Did you hear him say that?”” Priscilla answered, “All I heard him say was: ‘Get off me, get off me, they’re trying to kill me.” Pate reported that this conversation occurred nearly 20 years before the affidavit was filed (“Sometime around the end of 1983 or the beginning of 1984”), while Pate was in the same prison as Abu-Jamal. The affidavit was released during another period in which Pate and Abu-Jamal were housed in the same prison, by which time Durham had died (cf. Trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal).

Despite inconsistencies in witness testimony, the forensic evidence was most damaging for Abu-Jamal. The .38 caliber handgun Abu-Jamal had purchased to defend himself as a cab driver in 1979 was found at the scene, next to Abu-Jamal, containing 5 spent shell casings. [2] Ballistics experts never did any tests to see if the weapon had been recently fired [Source: HBO Special, A Case For Reasonable Doubt]. The coroner who performed the autopsy on Faulkner, Dr. Paul Hoyer, stated in his notes that the bullet he extracted from Faulkner was a .44 caliber, however, he later testified that he was just making a rough guess based on his own observations, as he was not a firearms expert and had no ballistics training. He also testified that his statement about the bullet’s caliber was only written in his personal notes and never meant to be used as an official report. Official ballistics tests done on the fatal bullet verify that Officer Faulkner was killed by a .38 caliber bullet. The fatal .38 slug was a Federal brand Special +P bullet with a hollow base (the hollow base in a +P bullet was distinctive to Federal ammunition at that time), the exact type (+P with a hollow base), brand (Federal), and caliber (.38) of bullet found in Jamal’s gun. It is worth noting, also, that Abu-Jamal was carrying a Charter Arms revolver. Charter Arms is known for rifling the barrels of their revolvers with eight lands and grooves, as opposed to the standard six in all other firearms manufacturered. Therefore, the ballistics tests conducted should be all needed to prove conclusively that Abu-Jamal’s gun fired the fatal shot, given this unique characteristic of that particular gun. These experts also testified that the bullet taken from Abu-Jamal had been fired from Officer Faulkner’s service weapon. The defense’ ballistics expert, George Fassnacht, did not dispute the prosecution’s findings.[3]

Amnesty International was not impressed by the physical evidence and included it in their list of trial irregularities stating there was a “lack of adequate ballistic tests to determine whether Abu-Jamal’s gun had recently been fired. It was not determined, for instance, whether there was residue on his hands from firing a gun.”[3] In a 1995 PCRA hearing, the ballistics expert for the defense testified that due to Jamal’s struggle with the police during his arrest, such a test would have been difficult to accomplish and, due to the gunpowder residue possibly being shaken or rubbed off, would not have been scientifically reliable. [4]

William Cook, who might have been expected to testify on his brother’s behalf, and who was present at the scene at the beginning, did not testify, but has stated in a signed affidavit that he is willing to testify and that Mumia Abu-Jamal did not kill Officer Faulkner.[5] Mumia Abu-Jamal also did not testify in his own defense. Mumia Abu-Jamal’s explanation for this can be found in a May 3, 2001 signed affidavit where he states, “At my trial I was denied the right to defend myself I had no confidence in my court-appointed attorney, who never even asked me what happened the night I was shot and the police officer was killed; and I was excluded from at least half the trial. Since I was denied all my rights at my trial I did not testify. I would not be used to make it look like I had a fair trial.”[6]

The jury deliberated for two days before finding Abu-Jamal guilty, and he was subsequently sentenced to death.

It has been contended that there were many irregularities surrounding the trial and conviction of Abu-Jamal, leading many to argue that his conviction was invalid. Many writers, such as the National Journal’s Stuart Taylor, have referred to Abu-Jamal as “Guilty but Framed”, and take the position that his guilt was apparent but that he had not received a fair trial.

The Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney, Daniel Faulkner’s family, the Fraternal Order of Police, and several other law enforcement organizations support Jamal’s conviction and subsequent death sentence, believing that Abu-Jamal murdered Faulkner while the officer was making a lawful arrest in the line of duty and his trial was indeed fair. Faulkner’s wife, Maureen, has been a particularly vehement advocate for upholding the results of the original trial

The 2001 appeal

District Judge William Yohn overturned Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death sentence on December 18, 2001 citing irregularities in the original sentencing process.[8] Mumia Abu-Jamal’s defense attorneys, Eliot Grossman and Marlene Kamish, were not happy with the ruling because it denied Mumia Abu-Jamal a new trial based on evidence that they have argued proves that Mumia Abu-Jamal is the victim of a frame-up.[9] The District Attorney’s Office did not agree that the death sentence against Mumia Abu-Jamal should be overturned. Both sides appealed the ruling.

District Attorney Lynne Abraham has stated that the case was the ‘most open-and-shut murder case’ she’s ever tried, and that Abu-Jamal “never produced his own brother, who was present at the time of the murder, (yet) he has offered up various individuals who would claim that one trial witness or another must have lied; or that some other individual has only recently been discovered who has special knowledge about the murder; or that someone has fallen out of the skies, who is supposedly willing to confess to the murder of Officer Faulkner.”[citation needed]

2006 developments

Congressional resolutions

On May 19, 2006, Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced a concurrent resolution designated House Resolution 407, and on June 15, 2006, Richard Santorum (R-PA) introduced the identical Senate Resolution 102, both of which were referred to their respective committees.[4] Both resolutions consist of three proposals, that Congress:

  • condemn the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Faulkner
  • urge the city of St. Denis to change the name of Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal, and, if they do not, urge the French government to take action against the city of St. Denis to change the name
  • commend police officers all over the world for their commitment to public service and public safety

On December 6, 2006, The House of Representatives voted 368-31 in favor of HR407, “Condemning the decision of St. Denis, France, to name a street in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murder[er] of Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Faulkner.”[5]

Appeal to reinstate death sentence

On March 17, 2006 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania filed its appeal seeking to reinstate the order to execute Abu-Jamal. If the appeal is upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has pledged to sign a third warrant for Abu-Jamal’s execution. [10]

On October 23, 2006, counsel for Mumia Abu Jamal filed their Reply Brief in the United States Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit. Abu-Jamal’s lawyers have asked the Court to reverse the prior Court’s ruling as they find it to be the only remedy now available to correct what they say is injustice and excessive bias that supposedly denied Abu-Jamal a fair trial.[11]

Lawsuit against Paris

On 11 December 2006, the executive committee of the Republican Party of the 59th Ward (covering approximately Germantown, Philadelphia) filed legal charges against the French capital, and against the city of Saint-Denis, for “glorifying” Abu-Jamal.[6]

Recent developments

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit heard oral arguments in Abu-Jamal’s appeal on May 17, 2007, at the United States Courthouse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The panel hearing Abu-Jamal’s appeal consists of Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, Judge Thomas Ambro, and Judge Robert Cowen. Maureen Faulkner made the trip from Southern California to attend the oral argument. [12] Abu-Jamal’s attorneys are attempting to obtain a new trial, while the Government is seeking the reversal of United States District Judge William Yohn’s overturning of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence. [13]

Life since his conviction

Since his imprisonment, Abu-Jamal continued his political activism, publishing Live from Death Row, a book on life inside prisons. He has also completed his Bachelor of Arts from Goddard College, and earned a Master of Arts from California State University, Dominguez Hills, both by distance education. Via tape from his cell he made commencement speeches to graduating classes at UC Santa Cruz, Evergreen State College, Antioch College, and Occidental College, and made frequent commentaries on radio shows. He has his own radio program that airs regularly and can be heard online at Prison Radio [14].

The organization Axis of Justice interviewed him for their weekly radio show. In 1999 the magazine Vanity Fair wrote that Phillip Bloch in 1992 visited him in prison and asked Abu-Jamal whether he regretted his murder of Faulkner, to which Abu-Jamal allegedly answered “Yes.” Bloch, who otherwise supported Abu-Jamal, stated he came forward after he grew concerned about the vilification of Officer Faulkner. Responding to Bloch’s story, Abu-Jamal said “A lie is a lie, whether made today or 10 years later”, and thanked Vanity Fair “…not for their work but for stoking this controversy, because controversy leads to questioning, and one can only question this belated confession.”

International response

A broad international movement supports Mumia Abu-Jamal.

In October 2003, Mumia Abu-Jamal was awarded the status of honorary citizen of Paris in a ceremony attended by former Black Panther Angela Davis. The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, said in a press release that the award was meant to be a reminder of the continuing fight against the death penalty, which was abolished in France in 1981. The proposal to make Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen was approved by the city’s council in 2001. In 2006, a street was named after Abu-Jamal by the administration of the city of Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, provoking some uproar in the U.S.[15]

Additionally, all of the following maintain that the original trial was not conducted in a fair and impartial manner, and demand either a new trial or Mumia Abu-Jamal’s immediate release: organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the NAACP, A prominent group of U.K. Lawyers [16]; and the National Lawyers Guild; the Japanese Diet and the European Parliament; as well as several national U.S. trade union federations (ILWU, AFSCME, SEIU, the national postal union) and the 1.8 million member California Labor Federation AFL-CIO; bands Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, Anti-Flag, KRS-One, Propagandhi, Tupac Shakur, Immortal Technique, Bad Religion, Rollins Band, Snoop Dogg; celebrities such as Jello Biafra, Danny Glover,Ossie Davis, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Asner; world leaders like Nelson Mandela, Danielle Mitterrand (former First Lady of France), and Fidel Castro; the Episcopal Church of the United States of America; and City Governments such as those of San Francisco, Santa Cruz, California, and Detroit.

It is however important to note that not all of these organizations maintain Mumia Abu-Jamal’s innocence, only that his trial was not a fair one. As Amnesty International stated in its report on the issue: “Given the contradictory and incomplete evidence in the trial transcript, [we] cannot take a position on Abu-Jamal’s guilt or innocence.”

Domestic response

In 1999, Mumia Abu-Jamal was invited to deliver the keynote address for the graduating class of 1999 at The Evergreen State College.[17] He accepted, and a recording of his speech was played at the commencement ceremony, as he was not legally able to attend in person. The event was protested heavily by police officers from around the country. Among the other schools whose graduates Abu-Jamal has addressed are Antioch College, UC Santa Cruz, Kent State University, Occidental College.

Musical tributes

The political rap rock band Rage Against the Machine mentioned Abu-Jamal several times in their 1999 album The Battle of Los Angeles, specifically on ‘Voice of the Voiceless’. Also, in live concert (including a protest concert outside the National Democratic Convention recorded on their ‘Live from Grand Olympic Auditorium’ DVD), frontman Zack de la Rocha would change the lyrics to the song “Freedom” from “Freedom….yeah….Freedom….Yeah, right” to “Freedom, for Mumia!” and “Free Mumia.”

Powerviolence band Man is the Bastard also released a split EP with Jamal in 1997.

Anti-Flag’s CD, Mobilize, has a track titled Mumia’s Song, with the following lyric: “Brick by brick, wall by wall / We’re gonna free Mumia Abu-Jamal”

Philadelphia artist, Jill Scott, along with rapper Mos Def reference Abu-Jamal in a spoken word/song entitled “Love Rain by” saying “Talked about Moses and Mumia, reparations, blue colors…”

Hip-hop group Dilated Peoples raps about the Abu-Jamal case in the middle of their song “Proper Propaganda”

Michael Franti and Spearhead mention, in the song “We don’t Stop”, the war on Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Tupac Shakur says “And it’s dedicated to my motherfuckin’ teachers Mutulu Shakur, Geronimo Pratt, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sekou Odinga, all the real O.G.’s, we out” in the song “White man’z world” recorded on his “Makaveli” album.

Hip hop artist Immortal Technique has featured Mumia Abu-Jamal as a guest speaker on his second album Revolutionary Vol. 2, with tracks filled with statements by the condemned inmate. Abu-Jamal was also featured on the b-side to Immortal Techniques controversial single Bin Laden.

Jonathan Richman’s 2004 release “Not So Much to be Loved But to Love” features a song called “Abu Jamal”.

Swedish hip-hop group Looptroop sings “Free Mumia Abu-Jamal” in their song “Long arm of the law”.

KRS-One’s 1995 self titled album featured a track with Channel Live called “Free Mumia”, which also appears as a remix on the D.I.G.I.T.A.L. album.

Former Dead Kennedys front man Jello Biafra talks about Mumia Abu-Jamal on his spoken word album If Evolution Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve.

Philadelphia underground hip-hop duo, Jedi Mind Tricks, reference Abu-Jamal in the track “When All Light Dies” from the 2006 album Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell: “From the city where they framed Mumia, we gonna break him out, run up with them flames and heaters”

On the 2006 track Untouchable off the Tupac Shakur album Pac’s Life, New Jersey rap artist Hussein Fatal raps, “Far as my life, since he [Tupac] disappeared I still ain’t found peace in it, but still struggling like Mumia-Abu.”

A hip hop collective known as Unbound Allstars released a track titled “Mumia 911” in 1999, supporting the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A total of seventeen artists and groups were involved including Dead Prez, Pharoahe Monch, Chuck D, Zack de la Rocha, Black Thought and Afu-Ra.

A song by Maestro and featuring Infinite And Gowan called “Criminal Mind” contains the lyric “somebody tell me why they wont free Mumia of the chains; got him living like he is Mandela with a vendetta.”

In the song “Freedom” by Jurassic 5, Mumia is mentioned by Chali 2na… “Got people screamin’ free Mumia Jamal.” Additionally, Chali 2na (as part of Ozomatli) refers to Mumia Jamal in the song “Coming War” saying “…Never Freeing Mumia regardless of proven innocence.”

In the song “Word From Assata” by Bryonn Bain, Abu-Jamal is mentioned in an excerpt of a recording by Assata Shakur

Hip Hop artist Talib Kweli mentions Abu-Jamal in the intro to the song “Human Element”

Folk artist Robert Blake mentions Abu-Jamal in his song Philadelphia. “Mumia Abu-Jamal is still on death row, after 25 years and they won’t let him go…”

HipHop artist Ras Kass mentions Abu-Jamal in his song Ordo Ab Chao. “And a nigga fight the struggle sorta kinda on some rappin’ shit ,But real activists be on death watch like Mumia Abu Jamal”.


                                            June 13, 2007 - Posted by | other stereo pictures

                                            1 Comment »

                                            1. despre ce e vb? care e faza?

                                              Comment by stripy | June 13, 2007 | Reply

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