Why my brother, Mumia Abu-Jamal, should be set free | Opinion
Updated: APRIL 30, 2018 — 3:15 PM EDT
by Keith Cook, For the Inquirer
I was stationed in Europe 37 years ago when I received the call that all black families dread. My little brother, Mumia Abu-Jamal, had been shot by the police and was fighting for his life.
Mumia was the kindest and gentlest of my five siblings. At the time, he had been working two jobs to support his wife and children and honing his distinctive voice as a radio journalist. He was a rising star, and the pride of our family.
Dedicated to truth, Mumia used his radio show to expose police brutality, housing discrimination, and City Hall corruption. Philadelphia magazine had just heralded him as one of “81 People to Watch” and Columbia University had given him the prestigious Major Armstrong Award for his radio editorial on the pope’s visit to Philadelphia.
Contemplating the painful reality of black life in America, I flew home immediately.
I arrived to a bad situation. My brother lay unconscious, handcuffed to a hospital bed, and accused of killing Daniel Faulkner.
Faulkner was a white police officer; my brother a black man on the scene. It seemed that nothing else mattered.
The police labeled him a cop killer. Journalists and politicians buried his humanity. And Judge Albert F. Salbo — who, according to a 1992 Inquirer report, presided over 31 cases that resulted in the imposition of the death penalty — convicted and sentenced him to death in the absence of material evidence.
The conflicting and recanted testimonies and absence of a motive didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter that four witnesses told police that the shooter fled the scene.
Nor did it matter that a Justice Department investigation had just concluded that the level of police corruption “shocks the conscience.”
Still, Mumia maintained his innocence.
In 1995, an international movement stopped his state execution. In 2011, his death sentence was declared unconstitutional; and now a pending court order demanding that the DA release all the files in his case could open the path to his freedom.
In opposition, the officer’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, has asserted that the police are victims of the legal system and that the appellate process is a gravy train for criminals.
Yet, the incestuous nature of the District Attorney’s Office and appellate judges tells a different story. In Philly, prosecutors who convict defendants often become the judges who deny their appeals.
This miscarriage of justice brings Mumia to court Monday. He seeks relief on the basis of Williams v. Pennsylvania, where the Supreme Court ruled that one person, Ron Castille, should not be both prosecutor and judge in the same case.
I believe Castille double-dipped in Mumia’s case. Before he became a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, he was Philly’s district attorney. As such, Castille helped prosecute Mumia in the city’s most famous case. Later, as a judge, he denied Mumia’s appeal. In the 1990s, Mumia’s lawyers asked for Castille’s recusal. The judge had been funded and named Man of the Year by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), an organization invested in Mumia’s conviction and execution. He refused to recuse himself.
Our family empathizes with Mrs. Faulkner’s pain. But we regret that the police have manipulated her thirst for vengeance all these years in order to conceal the truth about who killed Officer Faulkner.
Photos taken by a freelance photographer, Pedro Polakoff, appear to show police cooking up the crime scene in Mumia’s case. In the photos, Officer James Forbes, who testified in court that he properly handled the two guns allegedly retrieved at the scene, is seen holding the weapons with bare hands.
In 1995, amidst another scandal of police corruption, then-District Attorney Lynne Abraham told the Legal Intelligencer that her office would “discard any cases where evidence surfaces that even one of the officers involved in an investigation lied in court or in written reports.”
We call on District Attorney Larry Krasner to honor his predecessors’ promise and stay true to his own pledge to right the wrongs of his office: Do your part to help free my brother, Mumia.
Keith Cook served 26 years in the Army and retired as a command sergeant major.
FREE MUMIA FILM FESTIVAL April 17-30
l Who is Mumia Abu-Jamal?
l Why are so many people around the world fighting to win his release from Pennsylvania’s notorious prison system?
l Why is this case important to young people who were not yet born when Mumia was first incarcerated?
Attend this film festival to answer these and other questions you may have about this innocent Black man.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther and now renowned author of 10 books plus writings in venues as diverse as the Yale Law Review, Forbes, Nation, Prison Radio and street-papers for the homeless.
Despite maintaining his innocence, Abu-Jamal was tried and convicted in 1982 for the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. He was on death row until 2011, and currently incarcerated for life at SCI Mahanoy. In 2017 Abu-Jamal won the right to life-saving hepatitis C meds for all PA prisoners yet his health remains in jeopardy.
Abu-Jamal legally challenged his incarceration based on a 2016 US Supreme Court ruling that it was unconstitutional for a Judge to rule on a case he played a significant role in as a prosecutor. Appeal hearings began in April 2017 and continue on April 30 (see details under films & special events)
Schedule of films and Special Events:
Tues. April 17
> 6:30-9PM – Kick off reception for Mumia Film Festival; Stay Woke & Release the Files at Calvary Church, 801 S. 48th St.
Thurs. April 19
> 6:30-9pm – Long Distance Revolutionary; 2226 N. Front St.
Fri. April 20 6-8pm: Nation Time Judicial Research will host screening of short documentaries on prison health and environmental issues; 30 S. 15th St., Grand Bldg., featuring Kempis Songester (Ghani), Redemption Project and Ubuntu Philly. Attendees MUST call 215-316-5891 to RSVP.
Sat., April 21
> 11am-1pm– Framing an Execution & Release the Files; Kingsessing Library, 1201 S. 51st St.
> 6pm - Long Distance Revolutionary at La Unique Books, 111 N. 6th St., Camden, NJ,
Mon., April 23
> 6:30pm - Framing an Execution- 2026 N. Broad St., Burrows Hall,Temple University
>7pm – A Tribute to Veronica Jones,5011 Wayne Ave
Tues., April 24.6pm: Celebrate Mumia’s birthday with a Honk for Mumia and an evening of food and films at the Church of the Advocate, 1801 S. Diamond St.
Wed., April 25
> 5pm– Release the Files & Manufacturing Guilt; El Centro HS, 126 W. Dauphin St.,
> 5:30-8:30: Dinner & a film at Atiya Ola’s Spirit First Food, 310 S. 48th St, Philadelphia; cost $25, films areJustice on Trial and Release the Files.
Thur. April 26
> 7-9pm– Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation, Wooden Shoe Books, 704 South St.
> 6-9pm - In Prison My Whole Life; 501 S. 52nd St.
Fri., April 27
> 12:30-2pm - Release the Files & Stay Woke; Multi-purpose Room, Social Justice office in Hawthorn Hall,Rowan University, NJ
> 7pm: Special event hosted by Marc Lamont Hill and featuring Jasiri X at Impacting Your World Church, 5507 Germantown Ave.
Sat., April 28
> 4pm - Stay Woke, Manufacturing Guilt & Release the File; 50 N. Broad St. (Arch St UMC)
> 4-6pm A Tribute to Veronica Jones; Culture Works, 1315 Walnut St Suite 320
Monday, April 30. Gather at 8AM: Fill the streets and pack the courtroom for Mumia at his next scheduled hearing In room 1108, Criminal Justice Building, 1301 Filbert St.; Court starts at 9AM.
Mobilization4Mumia wishes to thank the following organizations for hosting films and events:
Atiya Ola’s Spirit First Food; Black Lives Matter Philadelphia; Campaign to Bring Mumia Home; Food Not Bombs Solidarity; Global Women’s Strike; International Action Center; International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; La Unique Book Store/African American Culture Center; MOVE; Nation Time Judicial Research; Party for Socialism and Liberation; Philly REAL Justice; Philadelphia Student Union; Rowan University Maroon Book Club; Temple Asian Students Association; Tuff Girls; Womanist Working Collective; Wooden Shoe Books; Workers World Party
Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary: Before he was convicted of murdering a policeman in 1981 and sentenced to die, Mumia Abu-Jamal was a gifted journalist and brilliant writer. This film is an inspiring portrait of a man whose existence tests our beliefs about freedom of expression. Through prison interviews, archival footage, and dramatic readings, and aided by a potent chorus of voices including Cornel West, Alice Walker, Angela Davis and others, this riveting film explores Mumia's life before, during and after Death Row - revealing, in the words of Angela Davis, "the most eloquent and most powerful opponent of the death penalty in the world...the 21st Century Frederick Douglass." Produced by Stephen Vittoria, 120 min., 2012
&Manufacturing Guilt: This short film takes on the colossus of Abu-Jamal's contentious case, distilling a mountain of evidence and years of oft-repeated falsehoods to the most fundamental elements of police and prosecutorial misconduct that illustrate a clear and conscious effort to frame Mumia Abu-Jamal for the murder of patrol man Daniel Faulkner. Based on the actual record of investigations and court filings from 1995 to 2003 this film cuts through the years of absurdities and overt racism to produce a clear picture of how Abu-Jamal's guilt was manufactured and his innocence suppressed beginning only moments after he and Faulkner were found shot in the early morning hours of December 9th, 1981. 30 min,. 2013
Justice on Trial - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal: navigates the tempest of the Abu-Jamal trial by reviewing the known facts of his case. It demonstrates that the major violations in the Abu-Jamal case - judicial bias, prosecutorial misconduct, racial discrimination in jury selection, police corruption and tampering with evidence to obtain a conviction - are not special to this case. Instead, they are commonly practised within the criminal justice system and account for the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans and Latinos in the United States. The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal is a microcosm of greater problems in the criminal justice system in the United States today. The attention that its many violations have received makes the Abu-Jamal case one of the most important civil rights cases of our time. By Big Noise films, 68 min., 2010
Framing an Execution: The Media & Mumia Abu-Jamal: The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal had become by the late 1990s a global symbol of inequities in the U.S. judicial system. The mainstream media could no longer ignore it, but how would they cover such a hotly disputed case and the questions of judicial bias that it raises?
ABC, on its news magazine show "20/20," while characterizing the defence as "passionate" and uninformed, ABC star reporter Sam Donaldson claimed to provide the "facts" based on ABC's "four-month investigation of the case."
Framing an Execution examines how Donaldson's framing of the case stands up to basic journalistic standards of fairness, balance, and accuracy. This video offers some answers, but also raises disturbing questions about media and judicial ethics.
Narrated by actor Danny Glover, the program also features actor Mike Farrell, Professor Angela Davis, FAIR Program Director Janine Jackson, veteran journalist Tom Gardner, Attorney Leonard Weinglass, and Professor John Bracey. (Sam Donaldson did not respond to MEF's invitation to appear). 50 min., Media Education Foundation, 1997
Mumia: Release the Files: Short documentary that gives background on the case with up-to-date (March 2018) coverage of Abu-Jamal’s current Post Conviction Relief Act hearings before Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker. Highlights feature campaign demanding the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office “release the files.” YouTube, 11 min., 2018:
Let the Fire Burn: is composed entirely with archival footage yet unfurls with the tension of a thriller. Jason Osder's documentary recounts the steps that led to a horrific tragedy on May 13, 1985, when a long time feud between the city of Philadelphia and the controversial radical urban group MOVE came to a deadly climax., 1hr, 35 min, 2013,
Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation: tells the story of three former members of the Black Panther Party incarcerated at Angola Louisiana State Prison in solitary confinement longer than anyone in modern US history and collectively known as the Angola 3. 2008, Stars: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Rod Coronado, Geronimo Ji Jaga. Director Jimmy O’Halligan, 1hr, 49 min, 2008
Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement: is an original documentary film that chronicles the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement through the first person accounts of local activists, protesters, scholars, journalists and others. Dubbed the new “civil rights movement”, #BlackLivesMatter launched a transformative grassroots movement that moved from social media to the streets across America. Now these activists face the daunting challenge of turning protest - into lasting change. Directed by Peabody and three time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Laurens Grant, “Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement,” chronicles the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement through the first person accounts of local activists, protesters, scholars, journalists and celebrities including Jesse Williams, Nelly, Deray McKesson, Michaela Angela Davis, Wesley Lowery, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett and others. 40 min., 2016
A Tribute to Veronica Jones in which Veronica Jones, one of the main witnesses for the defence in Mumia's trial, speaks out on what she really saw on Locust Street and how the Philadelphia cops humiliated and threatened her to change her testimony. 30 minutes
In Prison my Whole Life: Will Francome was born on Dec. 9, 1981 in the UK. The same night, in Philadelphia a former member of the Black Panther party was arrested for the murder of a police officer. While William grew up in a white middle-class suburb, Mumia Abu Jamal became a leader from death row, the voice of the voiceless. When he turned 25 , William decided to investigate Mumia Abu-Jamal’s story. The award winning film witnesses Francome learning about the initial events that led to Abu-Jamal's arrest and conviction, the allegations that the trial itself was unfair, and the city where it all happened. Participants include writer Alice Walker, social activist Noam Chomsky and rapper Snoop Dogg. 2011, 99 min.
NY Protest March 25 part of International Offensive Demanding Freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal
A protest demanding the release of former Black Panther Party spokesman, journalist, author and human rights activist Mumia Abu-Jamal will start at the US Mission (799 UN Plaza) at 12 noon on Sunday, March 25. Part of world-wide actions March 24-27, the NY march will end in Times Square at 2pm for a final rally.
Shot and then brutally beaten by police and framed for the death of a Philadelphia cop 36 years ago, Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence. The evidence proves he is factually innocent. His conviction was the result of police and presecutorial misconduct and judicial prejudice. The trial and post-conviction “hanging judge” Albert Sabo, stated at the time of Abu-Jamal’s trial, “I’m going to help them fry the n----r.” Now, there is a new legal action that could lead to overturning his conviction.
The March 25 demonstration begins at the United Nations to point out Abu-Jamal’s support around the world, as evidenced by the number of signers to an open letter to DA Krasner and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf entitled: “International Call to Release the District Attorney and Police Files Relevant to Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Case and to Free Him Now,” initiated by the Fanon Foundation. Supporters collected hundreds of signers, including Angela Davis, Danny Glover, Dr. Cornel West, Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa, Puerto Rican Nationalist hero Oscar López Rivera and Len McCluskey, general secretary of UNITE, the largest union in Great Britain. Numerous elected officials and political activists from France, Germany, Great Britain, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa, Australia, Haiti, Mexico, Canada, the U.S. and other countries also added their names and positions. (www.freemumia.com)
A coalition of Mumia support organizations have created a petition calling for the District Attorney to release all DA & police files on Mumia to the public and to release Mumia because he’s factually innocent. https://mobilization4mumia.com/actions/
A call for solidarity actions March 24-27 to demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners is picking up steam. The March 25th demonstration is the culmination of three days of actions in New York City.
On Friday, March 23, there will be an indoor program, "Break Down Walls Prison Plantations: Mumia, Migrants and Movements for Liberation", at Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 West 179th at 7:30PM. Guest speakers for the evening include Pam Africa, co-founder and Minister of Confrontation of the International Concerned Family & Fiends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Also speaking will be Samuel Spital, NAACP Legal Defense Fund and part of Mumia's legal team; Mariame Kaba, Educator, Prison Abolitionist and organizer; Father Barrios, Minister of Holyrood Church and more. There will be a community dinner beforehand starting at 6:00PM.
On March 24, the call for Abu-Jamal’s freedom will be a significant part of the Jericho Amnesty Movement’s 20th Anniversary event, 5 - 9pm, at Holyrood Episcopal Church, 715 W. 179th St, New York.
In Detroit Michigan during a conference to organize resistance to the bank and corporate war on the working class, otherwise known as austerity, audio commentaries from Mumia will be played focusing on prisons and labor rights. The important conference will specifically express solidarity with the movement to free him.
The Texas Death Penalty Abolitionist Movement will do a banner drop for Mumia over Houston's busiest freeway on Monday, March 26.
Solidarity actions are also being organized in Oakland, Toronto, Paris, London, Mexico City, Johannesburg and other cities around the world. For further details about solidarity events focusing on Mumia and other U.S. political prisoners, visit www.freemumia.com and click on March 24- 27 Events.
Mumia is in ill health due to cirrhosis of the liver, causing unrelenting itching on most of his body, loss of weight, swollen ankles and other symptoms, which make it more urgent that he finally be freed after 36 years in prison.
Ronald Castille is a former PA Supreme Court judge who refused to disqualify himself when Mumia's case came before the court despite having been the Philadelphia District Attorney during Mumia's prior appeals. Judge Leon Tucker has a standing order to the District Attorney’s office to produce evidence in reference to Castille’s role. Despite the evidence already produced proving DA Castille’s personal involvement in insuring Abu-Jamal’s execution, the continuing position of the Philadelphia DA’s office is that that no evidence is yet there to grant Abu-Jamal’s new action. New Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner has asked for continuances to determine what position and policy his office will have to this case.
On Tuesday, March 27, 9:00 AM at the Philadelphia Court of Commons Pleas (Criminal Justice Center), 1301 Filbert Street, Room 1108, Judge Leon Tucker has ordered a status hearing to determine the status of DA Krasner’s position and the continuing search for documents that point to retired Judge Ronald Castille’s prior involvement in the Abu-Jamal case.
On April 30, there will be an evidentiary hearing for the Mumia Abu-Jamal. The testimony Judge Leon Tucker hears will determine whether Castille violated Abu-Jamal’s constitutional rights and whether to reinstate Mr. Abu-Jamal’s rights to appeal his conviction to the PA Supreme Court.
Petition To Free Mumia gains signers
In the aftermath of a successful INTERNATIONAL LETTER TO RELEASE THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND POLICE FILES
RELEVANT TO MUMIA ABU-JAMAL’S CASE AND TO FREE ABU-JAMAL NOW which gathered over 500 names and organizations, supporters of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal have started a petition campaign with the intention of gathering thousands of signatures.
You can help free Mumia by signing the petition to Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf calling on them to:
- release all DA & police files on Mumia to the public.
- release Mumia because he’s factually innocent.
The petition can be accessed at https://mobilization4mumia.com/actions/
‘Keep up the pressure to free Mumia’
Supporters gather after court hearing for Mumia in Philadelphia, Feb 26.
Philadelphia — Dozens of activists once again filled the courtroom and demonstrated outside the Criminal Justice Center during a Feb. 26 status hearing in the ongoing appeals case for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The hearing before Judge Leon Tucker was supposed to be a report on progress made by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office in locating a March 27, 1990, memo from former Deputy DA Gayle McLaughlin Barthold to former DA Ronald Castille regarding the status of Philadelphia death penalty cases.
However, Tracey Cavanaugh from the DA’s office requested yet another extension, this time for 90 days.
Cavanaugh claimed the DA’s office had been unable to locate Barthold’s memo among hundreds of boxes of records from the 16 death penalty cases similar to Abu-Jamal’s up for appeals based on Williams v. Pennsylvania, a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that a judge was constitutionally required to recuse himself where he was previously involved in the case as prosecutor. The extension, she said, would provide time to search through the files of all 70 capital cases when Castille was district attorney.
Judge Tucker questioned the request for an extension, noting that he was the one to point out the existence of Barthold’s memo from his in-camera review of boxes of files in Abu-Jamal’s case last September. Tucker scheduled another status report for March 27, with a hearing on April 30.
Attorneys for Abu-Jamal, Judith Ritter and Sam Spital of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, agreed to the extension on the ground that the district attorney’s office, now under new DA Larry Krasner, has indicated that it will be reconsidering its position on all the Williams-based appeals.
Gathered outside the court after the hearing, Abu-Jamal’s supporters promised to be back in court in March and April, vowing to keep up the pressure on Krasner to do the right thing — free Mumia Abu-Jamal! https://www.workers.org/2018/02/26/keep-up-the-pressure-to-free-mumia/
Analysis: Mumia Abu-Jamal’s New Appeal for Freedom
By Raul Fernando Perez, Feb 27, 2018
Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of the murder of police officer Daniel Faulker in Philadelphia. A former member of the Black Panthers party, Mumia was already a prominent journalist and activist at the time of the incident. He claims he's innocent and people around the world have stood in solidarity with him since then, organizing events, spreading information and petitioning authorities.
Last year, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Leon W. Tucker demanded the District Attorney's office release every document and memo regarding the involvement of former DA Ronald Castille in Mumia's case.
Judge Tucker is requesting the documents because a new Supreme Court's decision found his participation in the case as unconstitutional and potentially biased.
Following the Williams v. Pennsylvania case in 2016, it was ruled that all judges should remove themselves from any case in which they had been previously involved as prosecutors. The legal precedent says “it is a violation of the due process right to an impartial tribunal free of judicial bias if a judge participating in a criminal appeal had ´a significant personal involvement as a prosecutor in a critical decision´ in a defendant’s case.”
Failing to do so would be framed as unconstitutional and allow Mumia’s post-conviction petitions.
Castille was Assistant DA at the time of Abu Jamal's original trial in 1982 and Philadelphia's District Attorney during his endless appeals in the 1990s. He was personally and politically involved in the case until he retired in 2014.
Mumia demanded Castille remove himself from his post-conviction appeals from 1996 to 1998 and again in 2002, but he refused, and the Supreme Court ignored his petition. The new precedent would allow Mumia to appeal again.
After Tucker's request in 2017, the DA office handed in only documents that were already public, failing to deliver all the requested memos, notes and reports regarding Castille's role in the case.
Now, the scenario seems to be a little different, as democrat lawyer Larry Krasner was sworn in as Philadelphia's DA on January 1st, 2018.
Krasner is known mostly for his progressive opinions and acts. In 2011, he represented 52 protesters arrested by the police during the Occupy Philadelphia movement pro bono, suing the city and the police. The case settled when the city agreed to pay US$200,000. He also represented activists from the Black Lives Matter movement and other social issues.
During his campaign, he said he wouldn't prosecute cases of marihuana possession and that he opposes any death penalty case.
It seems like Krasner, who has accused the justice system of being discriminatory, is a very different figure from other attorneys and judges involved in Mumia's original sentence, raising new hopes for him and his supporters.
Judge Albert F. Sabo, who presided over Abu-Jamal's 1982 murder trial, holds the record for most death sentences handed down by a Pennsylvania judge, with 31 convicted murderers sentenced to death, including Mumia himself. In 2000, the stenographer for Abu-Jamal's case signed an affidavit stating she overheard Sabo saying “yeah and I'm gonna help 'em fry the nigger” during the original trial.
Supporters of Mumia think that Krasner's appointment could mean a new, more positive phase in the case after trials they claim have been “racially biased.”
On Wednesday, January 17, 2018, Judge Tucker held a hearing session about a memo written by Ronald Castille to Assistant DA Gayle McLaughlin Barthold, in which he talks about 18 murder cases including Mumia's. In the hearing, Judge Tucker said he would review all cases to find out what was Castille's role in them.
He then ordered the District Attorney's office again to present documents regarding Castille's involvement in Mumia's case in a status report hearing scheduled for Feb. 26. Supporters of Mumia called to “pack the courtroom” in solidarity, and hope Krasner's policy to be favorable.
The status report hearings were programmed to confirm the DA is doing its job and going through the 31 boxes containing Abu Jamal's records.
Judith Ritter, one of Abu-Jamal's attorneys who filed the petition to Judge Tucker, has expressed a more favorable view of Krasner's team. “We’re glad that they’re going to take a look at their position,” said Ritter on January during Mumia's first hearing in the year, “and possibly take a position on the ultimate result this time around.”
But Krasner's more progressive views don't mean he will support Mumia's case or release.
When Amy Goodman asked Krasner about Mumia's case during his campaign, the soon-to-be district attorney refused to make comments “because it could become a basis for an argument that [he] should not be involved in that case.”
Soon after taking office, Krasner disappointed many of his supporters when he slightly softened his formerly anti-death penalty hard stance. He has declared he keeps his personal view and promise on the death penalty but also said that the District Attorney's office homicide sentencing committee holds the right to recommend the death penalty in some instances. As elected District Attorney, the decision to follow or not the recommendation ultimately falls on him.
Mumia's case and writings have made people question the whole judicial and prison system.
But what worries Mumia's supporters the most are Krasner's choices for his transition team, which includes Ronald Castille himself.
That means Castille, a Republican, is part of the team helping Krasner to handle things at the beginning of his administration, despite having virtually opposite views on the death penalty.
But Krasner says this is precisely why he chose Castille. “What I need is people with experience who are going to tell me honestly where they stand, and he’s reflective of that,” Krasner said.
Krasner may trust the former DA for that, but where will he stand while the DA office is reviewing Castille’s own unconstitutional involvement in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case?
If Mumia’s defense appeal wins, he could at least get a new trial, which would likely be favorable for him. His defense team claims the prosecution has no more evidence to show at court, as the previous eyewitnesses, confessions and ballistic tests have been fiercely questioned and some of them even proven to have been manufactured by the police.
But the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal is too important for the United States’ political establishment. Regardless of whether he’s guilty or innocent, his release would mean and acceptance of the judicial and prisons systems’ racial bias, something that Mumia has claimed since the beginning of his case and imprisonment.
Mumia’s supporters are calling for a wave of actions in his support during a new crucial phase of his incarceration. Several groups across the United States and other countries are organizing protests and information events ahead of the next hearing, which will take place on March 27, 2018.
Who is Mumia Abu-Jamal?
Born as Wesley Crook in 1954, Mumia became a fierce activist involved in black nationalist groups at a very young age. He joined the Black Panther movement briefly and was a supporter of numerous black social causes before pursuing a career in radio broadcasting and journalism.
While he was working at a radio station, Mumia was also driving a taxi to earn extra income and used to carry a legally registered gun for self-defense.
The prosecutors claim that Mumia saw Faulkner stopping and questioning his brother William Cook while driving his taxi. He then ran towards him shooting, himself getting a bullet in the stomach. Then, he stepped over Faulkner, who was lying on the ground and shot him several times in the face.
Police came to the crime scene and found them bleeding. They took Mumia to the hospital and was detained immediately afterward.
Several people have testified against him, claiming he’s the man they saw shooting Faulker. Some have said they saw a third man shooting and running. Others have even confessed they were the shooters themselves acting as hit men for the police, who commissioned them to get rid of Faulker as he was interfering with their corrupt businesses.
Mumia was sentenced to death and sat on death row for three decades before his punishment was changed to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2011.
His emblematic case represents a whole racially biased judicial system that had its peak in 1980s Philadelphia. Police targeted African Americans on the streets, and black jurors were systematically barred from trials. Castille himself endorsed the production of a training videotape on how to keep African Americans from juries during his time as District Attorney.
Little –if any– has changed, and that’s why Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case remains so relevant.
Since the time he was first imprisoned, Mumia has become an outspoken voice against the United State’s judicial and prison system, which he claims has always been racially biased. He consistently publishes books and articles about some topics, including his own life as a political prisoner, the works of authors of African descent and contemporary national and international politics.
He is also regularly interviewed by media and hosts a radio show at the Prison Radio internet broadcasting station.
Now, Mumia is 63 years old and is suffering from cirrhosis due to his mistreated hepatitis C.
International March 24-27 Offensive to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
February 12, 2018 Movement
Dear Comrades, Friends, and Mumia Supporters:
As of today we are happy to announce that the organizations below have agreed to initiate the March 27th Offensive to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal expecting, of course, the many other organizations that signed onto the International Call to join us. Though the court hearing will be on the 27th, it may be more realistic for people in some places to organize an activity on the weekend prior to the 27th. We have set up an event page for the Offensive to Free Mumia which people around the world can now access. We also have a form, below, on which you can submit your activities/ events/ demonstrations so that we can post them.
To date, the French Collective has announced a very important contribution to this campaign initiated by The French syndicate of Journalists of the CGT (the largest and most widely recognized French labor union). The International Federation of Journalists, which has 600,000 members in 140 different countries, is publicly announcing its support for Mumia. Attached is the union’s letter to Governor Wolf..
And, of course, the court hearing will take place on Tuesday March 27 so that all eyes will be on Philadelphia that day. Bus arrangements from New York City are being planned, and people from other cities and countries have begun to let us know that they are planning to come to Philadelphia on that day as well. We have received several commitments regarding people coming from France. Also, we got word that there is some planning for an activity afoot in Senegal.
Please let us know as soon as you can about any plans you may have for events or for coming to Philadelphia on March 27th.
A luta continua, and onto a successful international offensive leading up to and on Tuesday, March 27th!
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ)
The MOVE Organization
Educators for Mumia
International Action Center
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
Mobilization to Free Mumia (California)
Oakland Teachers for Mumia
Committee to Save Mumia
Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oakland, CA
Free Mumia Network, GERMANY (Free Mumia Berlin, Free Mumia Frankfurt, Free Mumia Heidelberg, and Free Mumia Nurnberg)
French Collective Libérons Mumia, FRANCE
Saint-Denis Mumia Committee, FRANCE
Amig@s de Mumia de México, MEXICO
Frantz Fanon Foundation
International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation
United Steelworkers, Local 8751, School Bus Drivers Union
Mumia hearing postponed - next court dates: February 26 & March 27
On Jan. 17, Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center was packed with scores of activists and friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Both outside and inside the courthouse, people from as far away as France gathered to back up the world-renowned political prisoner’s current legal challenge, which could ultimately win his freedom.
Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker had ordered the district attorney’s office to produce testimony regarding a missing memorandum written by former Philadelphia DA Ron Castille. The document could help prove that Castille unconstitutionally played a decisive role when he denied Abu-Jamal’s appeals, both as DA and later as a judge on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
At the hearing, Abu-Jamal was represented by Sam Spital and Judith Ritter of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Tracey Cavanaugh, interim supervisor of the PCRA [Post-Conviction Relief Act] Unit, and Nancy Winkelman, interim supervisor of the Law Department, representing the DA’s office, asked Judge Tucker for a postponement to allow the new DA, Larry Krasner, and his staff to develop a consistent approach to all Williams v. Pennsylvania-related cases.
In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Williams v. Pennsylvania case, found it unconstitutional that Castille was both the DA and the judge hearing Williams’ appeals. Abu-Jamal’s appeal is one of 16 related cases.
Judge Tucker scheduled a status conference for Feb. 26 and postponed Abu-Jamal’s court hearing to March 27, the next major organizing date for his supporters. The jury is out on whether or not Krasner will stand firm with the people in his approach to Abu-Jamal’s internationally condemned incarceration.
After Ritter explained what had happened in court to the waiting crowd outside, participants regathered at the Arch Street Memorial Church around the corner for hot food provided by Food Not Bombs Solidarity. The meeting highlights included impromptu speeches by Estela Vazquez, executive vice president of 1199SEIU, and French activists Claude Guillaumaud-Pujol and Jacky Hortaut, of the Collectif Francais “Liberons Mumia,” and Mireille Fanon-Mendès-France from the Frantz Fanon Foundation.
The Fanon Foundation revealed how extensive Abu-Jamal’s support is around the world by collecting hundreds of signers to an open letter to DA Krasner and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf entitled: “International Call to Release the District Attorney and Police Files Relevant to Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Case and to Free Him Now.” Among the signers are Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Danny Glover, Dr. Cornel West, Puerto Rican Nationalist hero Oscar López Rivera, Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa and Len McCluskey, general secretary of UNITE, the largest union in Great Britain.
Numerous elected officials and political activists from Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Africa, Australia, Haiti, Mexico, Canada, the U.S. and other countries also added their names and positions.
From jailed Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi to imprisoned rapper Meek Mill to Abu-Jamal, the racist, capitalist, imperialist police and military apparatus exposes itself for what it really is: not an institution of the people, but a reactionary battalion that resorts to attacking and murdering children, artists and heroic activists just to cover the deep contradictions of mainstream society. The local and international solidarity around the hearing and Abu-Jamal’s case shows that the fight for Abu-Jamal’s and all political prisoners’ freedom is as strong and resonant as ever.
01.15.18 MAKE CALLS TO SAVE MUMIA! Pledge to make three calls to get Mumia Abu-Jamal the medical help he needs. In addition to Hep C and cirrhosis of the liver, he has been suffering for two years from a painful full body skin condition, which is only getting worse.
SCI Mahanoy Superintendent Theresa DelBalso: 570.773.2158
PA Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel: 717.728.4109
PA Dept. of Health Acting Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine: 717.787.9857
Download the call to action HERE.
01.14.18 Members from the international community, represented by the Frantz Fanon Foundation in France, sent a letter to PA Governor Tom Wolf and New Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner calling on them to release the files that the previous DA's office refused to release in direct opposition to Judge Leon Tucker. Download the letter HERE.
01.13.18 Attorney Rachel Wolkenstein breaks down the current legal struggle in Mumia's case centered around a Supreme Court Decision in the Williams case. Download the article HERE.
01.12.18 Members of Mobilization for Mumia, Pam Africa and Joe Piette, hand delivered a letter to new Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner asking him for a meeting ahead of Mumia's impending court date. Download the letter HERE.