Philadelphia when he found his brother William being beaten by Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Earlier, Faulkner had pulled William over and beaten him for driving the wrong way on a one-way street.When Abu-Jamal came upon this situation, he stopped his cab and came to his brother's aid.
Before Abu-Jamal had arrived, the cop had decided that William would be trouble and called for back-up. When back-up came, they found Faulkner with two gun-shot wounds: one in the back and one in the face.
That was December, 1981, and today, Abu-Jamal sits on death row, convicted of the murder of Officer Faulkner. But an ever-growing legion of supporters believes he is innocent and is working to clear his name and spare his life.
Last Tuesday, September 28, Abu-Jamal's supporters filled Baker Hall's Adamson Wing for "Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Journalist's Struggle against Political Persecution and the Death Penalty." The lecture was held to update supporters and followers of the case and to educate those not already familiar with it. Representatives from Amnesty International and MOVE, a Philadelphia-based activist organization to which Abu-Jamal previously belonged, Abu-Jamal's lawyer, and a reporter who has covered the case for 20 years spoke to the packed auditorium.
Even at first glimpse, the Abu-Jamal event was much different from normal Adamson Wing gatherings. Attendees filled the seats and even the stairs leading down into the basement wing. Roger Thomas, of Pennsylvania Abolitionists United Against the Death Penalty, waved a stack of papers in the crowd, asking, "Who didn't get a yellow sheet? A yellow sheet's required."
The yellow sheets Thomas distributed called for a "Moratorium Now" on capital punishment. Representatives from organizations such as People Against Police Violence also circulated petitions and passed out propaganda. The evening's four speakers, Sam Jordan, Lynn Washington, Robert Jordan, and Pam Africa, explained their belief in Abu-Jamal's innocence, backing it up with information they had found researching the case. They also called for support.
Sam Jordan of Amnesty International introduced information concerning a fourth man who had left the scene of the crime. Allegedly, the fourth man, Arnold Beverly, was a hit man for the Philadelphia Police Department who was hired to murder Faulkner.
Lynn Washington, a Philadelphia journalist who was at the scene of the crime and has covered the Abu-Jamal case since, described how Abu-Jamal was treated after he was taken into police custody.
"He got the stuffin' beat out of him that night," said Washington.
She also claimed that Abu-Jamal's head had been "accidentally" rammed into a pole seven times.
The speakers also described the judge who originally presided over Abu-Jamal's case as a racist. They explained how Abu-Jamal was denied the right of self-representation and instead assigned an attorney, who was later disbarred. Robert Jordan, Abu-Jamal's current attorney, labeled Abu-Jamal as a "political prisoner, if there ever was one." Jordan believes Abu-Jamal has been denied a fair trial and sentenced to death because of his radical past as a member of the Black Panthers, his affiliation with the MOVE organization, and his work as a journalist.
After explaining the injustices to which Abu-Jamal has been subjected, the speakers called for support. Pam Africa, a member of the MOVE organization, ranted like a Ginsberg poem, going on about how "filthy cold blooded murders" (cops and politicians) and "babies blown up in the streets" were the result of the people not taking action. She said Abu-Jamal may be a casualty of this lack of action.
"All with the power must do so now," Africa said, as a tan hat was passed around the audience for donations to support Abu-Jamal.
"She's pissed," said Jim Soto, a graduate student in philosophy, of Africa's closing statements. "But a certain amount of anger is necessary in political discourse."
On 10/7/04 at 11:11 am, Leslie Garn posted:
That was a pretty good article. I attended the trial and it was as you say. There ws so much that was wrong with it that his first attorney Leonard Weinglas could not believe it. He and his assistant Rachel W. was arrested in the courtroom for contempt of court for trying to just point out an inconsistency. She later left Weinglas and told of some information he withheld. There was a Judge Yohn in the appeals that would not allow Arnold Beverly's confession on the record because he said even if it proved Mumia Abu Jamal's innocence it was brought up too late. It did not matter that. A woman testified that she heard a shot or some shots around 4am and looked out of her window. She lived in the 1200 block of Locust Street. She said she looked out of her window and saw a black man running East down Locust Street and turn up a small Street. She also happened to be the wife or estranged wife of a reporter at for the Philadelphia daily News Jack McKinney. He story also corroborated that of another witness Veronica Jones who was well known by the police. Because Veronica Jones had outstanding warrants and was told she would do years and years in prison she changed her story and testified for the prosecution. Her original statement is still onrecord. This woman who lived in the 1200 block of Locust Street said when she found out that her testimony would help a black man she did not want to come forward, because she had been raped by a black man before. The police officer who stood guard over Mumia gave a statement to the effect "I stayed with the negro male, during that time he made no comment." This was 12-9-81. Mumia filed abuse charges against the arresting officers and in February 1982, the same officer that said Mimia made no comment, suddenly remembered. He said "oh I forgot Mumia said yeah, I shot the M_f__ and I hope he dies" it goes on and on. This caes is so riddled with inconsistancies that I believe, that is why it is being used as why the Death Penalty is wrong. Thank's for your article SweetyD-Harrisburg
On 10/7/04 at 9:09 pm, Noelle Hanrahan posted:
Good article. just fyi Mumia is has not "belonged" to the MOVE activist organization. But this is not to diminish in any way his interest or support for the organization. He is a supporter, by his own definition.
Share your opinion with other Pulse readers. Login below or register
to begin posting.