THE CASE OF MUMIA
AN INNOCENT MAN ON DEATH ROW - 20 YEARS STOLEN!
WHO IS MUMIA ABU-JAMAL ?
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a renowned journalist from Philadelphia who
has been on death row since 1981 for allegedly shooting Philadelphia
police officer Daniel Faulkner. He is known as the Voice of
the Voiceless for his award-winning reporting onpolice brutality
and other social and racial epidemics that plague communities of
people of color in Philadelphia and throughout the world. Mumia
has received international support over the years in his efforts
to overturn his unjust conviction.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was serving as the President of the Association
of Black Journalists at the time of his arrest.He had been a founding
member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Panther Party as
a teenager. Years later he began reporting professionally on radio
stations such as NPR, and was the news director of Philadelphia
station WHAT. Much of his journalism called attention to the blatant
injustice and brutality he watched happen on a daily basis to MOVE,
a revolutionary organization that works to protect all forms of
life- human, animal, plant - and the Earth as a whole.
In 1981, Mumia worked as a cab driver at night to supplement his
income. On December 9th he was driving his cab through the red light
district of downtown Philadelphia at around 4 A.M. Mumia testifies
that he let off a fare and parked near the corner of 13th and Locust
Streets. Upon hearing gunshots, he turned and saw his brother, William
Cook, staggering in the street. Mumia exited the cab and ran to
the scene, where he was shot by a uniformed police officer and fell
to the ground, fading in and out of consciousness. Within minutes,
police arrived on the scene to find Officer Faulkner and Mumia shot;
Faulkner died. Mumia was arrested, savagely beaten, thrown into
a paddy wagon and driven to a hospital a few blocks away (suspiciously,
it took over 30 minutes to arrive at the hospital). Mumia somehow
The trial began in 1982 with Judge Sabo (who has sent more people
to death row than any other judge) presiding. Mumia wished to represent
himself, but before jury selection had finished, this right was
revoked and an attorney was forcibly appointed for him. Throughout
the trial, Mumia was accused of disrupting court proceedings and
was not allowed to attend most of his own trial. Sabo lived up to
his nickname of the Prosecutions Friend.
The prosecution claimed that the shot which killed Faulkner came
from Mumia Abu-Jamals legally registered .38-caliber weapon,
contradicting the medical examiners report that the bullet
removed from Faulkners brain was a .44-caliber. This fact
was kept from the jury. Moreover, a ballistics expert found it incredible
that police at the scene failed to test Mumias gun to see
if has been recently fired, or to test his hands for powder residue.
One of the most damning prosecution claims was that Mumia confessed
at the hospital. However, this confession was not reported until
nearly two months after December 9th, immediately after Mumia had
filed a brutality suit against the police. One of the officers who
claims to have heard the confession is Gary Wakshul. However, in
his police report on that day he stated,the Negro male made
no comments. Also, Dr. Coletta, the attending physician who
was with Mumia the entire time, says that he never heard Mumia speak.
The star prosecution witness, a prostitute named Cynthia White,
was someone that no other witness reported seeing at the scene.
During the trial of Billy Cook (Mumias brother) just weeks
before Mumias trial, White gave testimony completely contradictory
to what she stated at Mumias trial. Her testimony at Billy
Cooks trial placed someone at the scene who was not there
when police arrived. This corroborates the other five witness accounts
that someone fled the scene. In a 1997 hearing, another former prostitute,
Pamela Jenkins, testified that White was acting as a police informant.
Other sworn testimony revealed that witness coercion was routinely
practiced by the police. In 1995, eyewitness William Singletary
testified that police repeatedly tore up his initial statement -
that the shooter fled the scene - until he finally signed something
acceptable to them. The following year, witness Veronica Jones came
forward to testify that she had been coerced into changing her initial
statement that two men fled the scene. Witness Billy Cook, who was
present the whole time, has stated very clearly that Mumia is absolutely
Due to police manipulation of witnesses, fabrication of evidence,
and the rights of the defense severely denied, Mumia was found guilty.
He was sentenced to death during the penalty phase based solely
on his political beliefs. Mumia has been unjustly separated from
his family for twenty years, with the threat of death looming over
In 2001, a court stenographer, Terri Maurer-Carter, came forward
and stated that in 1982, before Mumias trial began, she heard
Judge Sabo say,Yeah, and Im going to help them fry the
n****r. He was referring to Mumia. This backs up evidence
of judicial bias and racism in Mumias case. In the same year,
esteemed Philadelphia journalist Linn Washington stated that on
the morning of December 9th, 1981, he went to the scene to report
on it - and no police were present. This backs up prior claims that
police didnt handle the crime scene properly.
In 1999, Arnold Beverly confessed to killing Officer Faulkner.
This confession is validated by a lie detector test administered
by eminent polygraph expert Charles Honts. Despite concrete evidence
supporting this confession, the Philadelphia District Attorney has
refused to investigate, and the courts have not even allowed it
to be heard. The injustice continues...
On December 18th, 2001, Judge Yohn issued a decision on the Habeas
Corpus petition in Federal District Court. He upheld Mumias
unjust conviction, but challenged the sentencing phase (the death
sentence). This means there could be a new sentencing hearing, but
the only options are life in prison with no possibility of parole
or another death sentence. This is not justice. There is massive
evidence of Mumias innocence and he should be absolutely free.
Additionally, Judge Pamela Dembes November 21, 2001, rejection
of Mumias request to reopen the PCRA hearings is currently
being appealed by Mumias legal team. Judge Dembe based her
decision almost entirely on the Peterkin case, which has just been
overturned! The struggle continues...
A broad international movement has formed in support of Mumia.
Celebrities such as Danny Glover, Ossie Davis, and Susan Sarandon,
world leaders like Nelson Mandela, Danielle Mitterand (former First
Lady of France), and Fidel Castro, governing bodies such as the
Japanese Diet, 22 members of the British Parliament, and the European
Parliament have all recognized the blatant injustice in this case
and have called for a new trial at the very least. Millions of people
throughout the world have taken to the streets to protest his unjust
Mumias case has been a unifying point for many social struggles
because it concentrates issues vitally important to our future,
such as the rise in prison populations, police brutality, the death
penalty, persecution of political dissent, and the continuation
of white supremacy and racism in the U.S. From death row, Mumia
has continued to speak out for all who are oppressed through his
journalism. He has published three books, and his weekly columns
are published throughout the world. His case is one of the most
important social justice fights of our time.
International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 19709, Philadelphia, PA 19143, USA.