Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and political activist, has been imprisoned since 1981. He was accused and sentenced to die for killing police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal was driving a cab at the time of the incident when he saw his brother being beaten by Faulkner. Although Abu-Jamal was sentenced to die for shooting Faulkner, it is disputable that he really killed the officer. Mumia says it was someone else, and several witnesses say they saw another shooter flee the scene. Supporters of Abu-Jamal believe that withheld and false evidence contributed to Abu-Jamal's unfair trial and sentencing. They believe Abu-Jamal should be released. Others argue that, regardless, the death penalty is unjust.
Many activists believe Abu-Jamal was falsely accused because of his involvement in radical politics. Mumia Abu-Jamal began his journalism career with the Black Panther Party. The Panthers were radical advocates of justice for African Americans, and Mumia (who was then known as Wesley Cook) was "Minister of Information" for the Philadelphia Black Panthers at age 15, writing for the national newspaper. An outspoken critic of Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo and the police for their racism and brutality, he was marked as their enemy and targeted for surveillance and harassment. The police and FBI watched him throughout the1960s and 70s. At the time of his arrest, he was President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.
In June of 1995, Pennsylvania's governor Thomas Ridge, who had been recently elected on a pro-death penalty campaign, signed Mumia's death warrant. The execution was called off, but only following an international outcry of support for a new trial. Mumia's appeal was argued before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. But in October 1998, that court officially denied Mumia a new impartial trial, which means that he may face another execution date in the near future. Mumia's supporters are protesting this as unfair because his conviction was obtained through numerous legal and factual errors. Mumia may be able to appeal to federal court but new restrictions on habeas corpus (imposed by the Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996), and the negative political climate, may cause the federal courts to avoid addressing this case.
Mumia continues to defend his innocence and fight for the rights of political prisoners world-wide. His monthly online program can be heard at Pacifica Radio.
We couldn't find anybody on the Web who thinks Mumia got a fair trial. An important question either way is whether you agree with the death penalty. It's not easy to defend someone who's been accused of murdering a policeman. What do you think?
Make your voice heard!
Write a letter to the judge via Mumia's lawyer (over 50,000 have been received, and they are still arriving). Here is the info:
It is important that the letter demand the following:
Grant Mumia Abu-Jamal an EVIDENTIARY HEARING
Send your letters to Judge Yohn, c/o Leonard Weinglass, NOT DIRECTLY TO Judge Yohn:
Hon. William H. Yohn, Jr.
USE THIS SAMPLE LETTER. PLEASE ACT NOW!
Just print it out, *sign it* and mail it to Judge Yohn, c/o Leonard Weinglass.
********** START OF SAMPLE LETTER **********
Hon. William H. Yohn, Jr.
November 16, 2000
Dear Judge Yohn,
This letter concerns the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal which you will be hearing in its Federal District appeal.
Substantial evidence of Mumia Abu-Jamal's innocence has arisen since his trial in 1982 and has been unfairly disallowed in Pennsylvania State Courts. There are also grave concerns about the fairness of Mumia Abu-Jamal's trial and State appeal. These include:
- Witnesses who have testified in PCRA hearings that they were coerced by police to change their testimony.
- His trial lawyer failed to aggressively defend the case, did not investigate or obtain crucial experts in pathology or ballistics.
- Police planted evidence and intimidated witnesses in his case.
- Common Pleas Judge Albert Sabo displayed bias and hostility toward Abu-Jamal and should have recused himself.
Every principle of justice demands that you grant an evidentiary hearing to examine this evidence.
********** END OF SAMPLE LETTER **********
Go ahead and Make A Difference.
Irene - I sing Walt Whitman, the poet electric