Come to the Philadelphia Constitution on December 9th 2011 at 7:00pm for a special event for Mumia Abu-Jamal. This marks 30 years of unjust incarceration for an innocent man on death row. Come and learn what you can do to help free Mumia. Go to: http://www.freemumia.com for more information.
On December 9th Abu-Jamal’s supporters will reinvigorate the movement for justice for Abu-Jamal and others like him with two blockbusting days of discussion and performance -- the forum on Friday and a fundraiser Saturday, December 10 at the Germantown Event Center, 5245 Germantown Avenue.
Supporters of Abu-Jamal say no to life in prison for the political prisoner. “Because for 30 years Abu-Jamal has been unconstitutionally imprisoned in death row torture, justice for Mumia will not be served by life imprisonment, but by freedom,” said Dr. Johanna Fernandez, professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York and a co-producer of the forum. Fernandez wrote and produced a documentary, which debuted at the Constitution Center in 2010 on Abu-Jamal’s case. “Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” examines evidence pointing to Abu-Jamal’s innocence and exposes the inequities of the American justice system.
Pam Africa, spokesperson for International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, emphasized rejection of life imprisonment, “In spite of the court’s ruling, supporters of Abu-Jamal say absolutely no to life in prison for this political prisoner, this innocent man.”
“The life in prison that the Philadelphia D.A. seems now ready to offer Mumia is not a just solution,” echoed Dr. Mark Lewis Taylor, Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary and a co-producer of the forum. “As Amnesty International wrote in its 2000 report of Mumia’s case, a new trial should be held. Since that time, there has developed ample legal precedent for a ruling that holding Mumia for 30 years in an 8’ by 10’ death row cell constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of human rights. This violation needs to be redressed by release. There are no more grounds for even keeping him in the general population. December 9 is a time to take these concerns to a broader public. Troy Davis died with an incredible dignity and generous spirit, in spite of having one of the strongest cases for innocence. More importantly, the mix of Troy Davis’ integrity with the persuasive evidence of his innocence strengthened the public’s awareness of the broken death penalty system in the U.S. All across the country, we have seen the public become more aware of just how faulty the death penalty is with over 4,000 judges, lawyers and law professors, giving up on the death penalty in 2010. Troy’s execution dramatized this brokenness, and has led many to rededicate their efforts for Mumia and others on death row.”
The impressive line-up of participants includes Professor Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary as the keynote speaker. A well-known commentator on national politics and African American culture, West has been touring the country with legal scholar Michelle Alexander, author of the successful book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness,” who also will participate in the forum. South African Bishop Desmond Tutu will participate via a video message.
Others on the program include Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, a commentator and professor at Columbia University who recently co-authored a book with Abu-Jamal entitled, “The Classroom and The Cell: Conversations with Black America.” Also joining Friday’s discussion will be Vijay Prashad, professor of South Asian History and director of International Studies at Trinity College; Ramona Africa, sole adult survivor of the 1985 MOVE Massacre, Louisa Hanoune, president of Algeria’s Worker’s Party; Philadelphia Attorney Michael Coard and renowned writer/commentator Amiri Baraka and his wife Amina. Performers include Afro-Peruvian rapper Immortal Technique, the Impact Youth Reparatory Theatre and the Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble.
The forum is co-sponsored by Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the National Lawyers Guild and International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Participants including international human rights activists are expected to convene in Philly from New York, the DC/MD/VA area, the Midwest and other parts of the nation.
Friday’s forum is free but requires registration. To register and reserve your ticket for pick-up at the door email Dr. Tameka Cage at firstname.lastname@example.org. For travel information from NYC and other locations call Philly: 267/760-7344 or NYC: 212/330-8029.
MUMIA ABU JAMAL FACT SHEET
Who is Mumia Abu-Jamal?
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an African-American writer and journalist, author of six books and hundreds of columns and articles, who has spent the last 29 years on Pennsylvania’s death row. His demand for a new trial and freedom is supported by heads of state from France to South Africa, by Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, Desmond Tutu, by the European Parliament, by distinguished human rights organizations like Amnesty International, city governments from Detroit to San Francisco to Paris, scholars, religious leaders, artists, scientists, the Congressional Black Caucus and other members of U.S. Congress, the NAACP, labor unions, and by countless thousands who cherish democratic and human rights – and justice -the world over.
Why is Mumia on Pennsylvania’s Death Row?
In 1982, during a time still under the influence of the corrupt and violent police regime of Mayor Frank Rizzo, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office headed by Ed Rendell (now, Governor of Pennsylvania) secured a conviction and death sentence in a jury trial, which lasted only three weeks, claiming that Mumia had murdered Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner, on December 9, 1981.
What was the District Attorney’s Argument?
Philadelphia prosecutors argued, and still claim, that Mumia, while working as taxi-driver in downtown Philadelphia and who also carried a gun in his taxi due to past robberies he had suffered as cab driver, came across his brother who had been stopped by Officer Faulkner. Prosecutors argue that Mumia ran across a parking lot into the street where Faulkner was, pulled his gun and shot Faulkner in the back, and that, even though Mumia too had been wounded by a shot from Faulkner, he then stood over Faulkner, straddling his body, and shot him several times point blank in the face, as Faulkner lay on the sidewalk.
What have Mumia’s Attorneys Argued?
By 1999, Mumia’s attorneys had filed appeals at all levels of state and federal courts, arguing 29 claims showing violations of Mumia’s constitutional right to a fair trial. Many of those were discussed and confirmed also in the Amnesty International 2000 study of Mumia’s case, A Life in the Balance: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. The most prominent of these claims focused on the original trial judge’s racial bias, the failure of police to do minimal forensic tests, racial bias in jury selection, providing Mumia with only ineffective and under-resourced defense counsel, rushing trial proceedings, denying Mumia the right to self-defense, giving inadequate instructions to the jury about mitigating circumstances, and the prosecutors making of venomous closing arguments to the jury.
Since 1999, Mumia’s attorneys have been allowed by the federal courts to focus largely on only four areas:
(a) in relation to sentencing, whether the jury verdict form along with the judge’s instruction to the jury mislead the jury in violation of Supreme Court case law;
(b) in relation to conviction and sentencing, whether racial bias in juror selection existed to such an extent that it tended to produce an inherently biased jury and therefore an unfair trail;
(c) in relation to conviction, whether the prosecutor improperly attempted to reduce jurors’ sense of responsibility by telling them that a guilty verdict would be subsequently vetted and subject to repeated appeals, but that a not guilty verdict could not be reviewed; and
(d) in relation to the post-conviction review hearings in 1995-1996, whether the presiding Judge Sabo, who had also presided at the trial, demonstrated unacceptable bias in his conduct.
Also in the years following 1999, Mumia’s attorneys have tried to get judicial review of (a) an affidavit by a court stenographer that Judge Sabo said in a court anteroom about his role in the case, “yeah, and I’m going to help them fry the nigger” (b) witnesses who now recant their testimony given at trial who say they were pressured by police into denying the presence of a fourth fleeing person at the scene and into naming Mumia the shooter, (c) a confession by another man who claimed to have been the actual shooter, and (d) the failure of both defense attorneys and prosecutors to present for review to any jury or judge the first photos taken at the crime scene (the Polakoff photos). Only police photos taken slightly later, and with significant differences from the Polakoff photos, were used at trial.
Where Does the Legal Case Stand Now?
In 2000, 3rd District federal Judge William Yohn, set aside Mumia’s death sentence. Yohn’s decision was appealed by prosecutors to the federal appeals circuit court which affirmed it.
In October 2011, the U. S. Supreme Court rejected a request from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to overturn the most recent federal appeals court decision declaring the death sentence unconstitutional. As a result, Abu-Jamal is automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, he has not been returned to general population and remains on Pennsylvania’s Death Row. In order to reinstate the death penalty the D.A. would have to call for a new penalty-phase trial, with a new jury having to decide on whether to reinstate the death sentence.