[Ppnews] Mumia Abu-Jamal: Evidence of Innocence and an Unfair Trial
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 7 10:05:42 EST 2007
Evidence of Innocence and an Unfair Trial
[The following are remarks made at a December 4,
2007 press conference held in Philadelphia by The
International Concerned Friends and Family of
Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ), and Journalists for
Mumia. The purpose of the press conference was to
discuss newly discovered crime scene photos in
the Mumia Abu-Jamal death penalty case, which
were not seen by the jury, yet point to his
innocence and the need for a new trial.
Abu-Jamal, journalist, former Black Panther and
death row inmate, was convicted of the 1981
murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
Participants in the press conference included
Hans Bennett of Journalists for Mumia,
Philadelphia journalists Linn Washington, Dave
Lindorff, Pam Africa of ICFFMAJ, and David A.
Love of Black Commentator. In its October 18,
2007 cover story, titled
Bolster Claims of Mumias Innocence and Unfair
Trial, Black Commentator broke the story regarding the photos.]
My name is David A. Love, editorial board member
of BlackCommentator.com, a weekly online magazine
covering issues affecting the Black community,
with a monthly readership of 300,000. My Color of
Law column appears weekly. I wrote an article in
the October 18, 2007 edition of the Black
Bolster Claims of Mumias Innocence and Unfair
Trial. The piece re-printed for the Independent
Media Center, and the San Francisco Bay View, a
national Black newspaper, which published the
photos. In the article, I discussed these new
photos of the crime scene where Officer Faulkner
was killed, but also analyzed the larger
implications for the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the
problem of racism in the criminal justice system,
and the disturbing application of the death penalty in the United States.
To be sure, these photos are important because
they suggest that someone, presumably the police,
tampered with evidence at the crime scene,
removed evidence and switched evidence around,
perhaps out of incompetence, perhaps in order to
subvert justice and bring about a particular
desired outcome. We can only speculate. But we
would be misled if we were to believe that these
photos are the only evidence pointing to a setup,
pointing to Mumias innocence and the need for a
new trial. The photos, when viewed in combination
with the other problems with the case, bolster an
already convincing argument that official misconduct took place. For example:
The prosecutor had a history of excluding African
American jurors, and struck 10 of 14 Black
potential jurors, but only 5 of 25 whites.
In a sworn statement, a court stenographer said
she overheard the trial judge, Albert Sabo,
saying he would help the prosecution "fry the nigger."
For twelve years, prosecutors withheld evidence
that the driver's license of a third man was
found in Faulkner's pocket at the crime scene.
Defense witnesses who testified that someone
other than Abu-Jamal killed Faulkner were intimidated.
Five of the seven members of the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court, which denied his appeal, received
campaign contributions from the Fraternal Order
of Police, the primary group that has advocated
for the execution of Mumia, whom they regard as an unrepentant cop killer.
It should also be noted that in 1981, the year
Mumia was arrested, five men were framed by the
Philadelphia Police Department for murder and
exonerated years later. Two of the innocent men
spent as much as 20 years in prison before their
release, and one man spent 1,375 days on death
row before he became a free man. A legacy of
police corruption, brutality and intimidation of
poor people, communities of color and political
activists haunts the city to this day, at a time
when better police-community relations are needed
to stem a tide of gun homicides.
The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal sheds light on the
racial inequities in the law. Pennsylvanias
criminal justice system is unfair and unequal. An
Associated Press investigation in 2000 revealed
that Blacks in Pennsylvania are more likely to
receive prison sentences, or longer ones, than
white defendants accused of the same crimes.
Further, the black incarceration rate is 14 times
that of whites, the greatest racial disparity in
the nation. African Americans, 10 percent of
Pennsylvania's population, are 56 percent of the
inmates, with most of them coming from the city of Philadelphia.
And we cannot discuss Mumia without looking at
the death penalty, given that he is the most well
known death row inmate in America and the world,
and his case demonstrates all that is wrong with
the death penalty, a system that was not meant to
be fixed because it was not meant to be fair and
just. Executions are a violation of the Eighth
Amendments prohibition on cruel and unusual
punishment, whether they take the form of
beheading, stoning, gas chamber, electric chair,
lethal injection, what have you. Like lynching,
the death penalty is barbaric, arbitrary and
infected with racism, placing an emphasis on
expediency over due process. In fact, capital
punishment is lynching brought into the court
system, in an effort to legitimize the practice.
It is no accident that 90 percent of executions
take place in the South, where Jim Crow lynchings
and racial violence were the norm. It should not
be surprising that the most important factor that
determines whether someone will get the death
penalty is the race of the victim. Over the past
30 years, an overwhelming majority of people
executed in the United States - more than 80
percent - were convicted of killing a white
victim, according to Amnesty International.
African-Americans, however, are about half of all
murder victims. And one-third of America's death
row is black. And according to a study published
in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies in
March 2004, a black person convicted of murdering
a white victim is two and a half times as likely
to be sentenced to death as a white person
convicted of murdering a white victim.
And there are other inherent flaws in capital
punishment. Each locality has its own standards,
and each prosecutor decides whether to seek
death. Only 2 percent of those who are eligible
for a death sentence actually receive death.
Codefendants may receive different sentences for
the same crime, with one receiving death and the other receiving jail time.
Ninety-five percent of death row prisoners cannot
afford an attorney and must take a
court-appointed attorney, who often is
overworked, underpaid, lacks experience in
capital cases or, in extreme cases, falls asleep in court.
And since 1973, according to Amnesty
International and the Death Penalty Information
Center, 124 people in 25 states have been
released from death row because they were
wrongfully convicted. And we will never know how
many innocent people have been sent to their deaths.
Moreover, the death penalty offends international
human rights standards. Only six countries carry
out 91 percent of the worlds executions: China,
Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and the United
States. Indeed, you are judged by the company you
keep. And we should note that Amnesty
International and many others in the
international community condemn capital
punishment, and have called for a new trial for
Mumia, based on the mountain of evidence.
In conclusion, I think of the words of Supreme
Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who said,
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for
social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said
to be the best of disinfectants; electric light
the most efficient policeman. I believe that
journalism is at its best when it seeks to get to
the bottom of the matter, not regurgitate the
official line and shut down the discussion. This
is what is necessary for democracy and a free
society. As we know in this country, accepting as
fact everything that is told to us, and refusing
to dig deeper, has cost lives, whether in a
senseless war in Iraq or here at home. We are
here to discuss the photos that demand a new
trial for Mumia. But this is also bigger than
Mumia, because Mumias case shines the light on
official corruption and racism in Americas
justice system, and the judicial form of lynching that is the death penalty.
Note: Below Mr. Loves bio information you will
find text taken from the information packet made
available to the news media prior to and during
the news conference in Philadelphia on Tuesday, December 4, 2007.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member David
A. Love, JD is a lawyer and prisoners rights
advocate based in Philadelphia, and a contributor
Service and <http://www.inthesetimes.com/>In
These Times. He contributed to the book,
of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons
(St. Martin's Press, 2000). Love is a former
Amnesty International UK spokesperson, organized
the first national police brutality conference as
a staff member with the Center for Constitutional
Rights, and served as a law clerk to two Black
federal judges. His blog is
here to contact Mr. Love.
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
Was Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner really "Murdered By Mumia"?
--Journalists and activists present evidence of
innocence and an unfair trial in the death-penalty case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The news conference organized by Journalists for
Mumia Abu-Jamal featured an exclusive slide-show
presentation of newly discovered crime scene
photos, as well as presentations by local
journalists David A. Love and Dave Lindorff, and
Pam Africa of The International Concerned Family
and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
INVITATION: This week marks the 26th anniversary
of the December 9, 1981 shooting death of
Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and
the arrest of radical journalist and former Black
Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. December 6 will mark the
release of a new book titled "Murdered By Mumia,"
written by Maureen Faulkner and Michael
Smerconish. The Philadelphia Inquirer has already
begun a three-part series that features excerpts
from "Murdered By Mumia." The media-attention
will continue this week with "Murdered By Mumia"
scheduled to be featured on such news programs as
The Today Show, The O'Reilly Factor, Hardball
with Chris Matthews, and many more.
In light of this significant week, the news
conference was organized to present "the other
side of the story," to the media so that it can
be fairly balanced alongside the story presented
by Faulkner, Smerconish, and others who argue
that Mumia does not deserve a new trial and
should be executed. Come and hear from activists
and award-winning journalists who have thoroughly
researched the case and concluded that
Abu-Jamal's 1982 trial was blatantly unfair, and
that there is considerable evidence suggesting
that Abu-Jamal is innocent, as he has always maintained.
For the national media, and others unable to make
it to the news conference, audio and video
documentation has been made available via the internet.
CONTACT US: For more information, email:
<mailto:hbjournalist at gmail.com>hbjournalist at gmail.com
This news conference featured:
SLIDESHOW PRESENTATION OF NEWLY DISCOVERED CRIME SCENE PHOTOS
Philadelphia journalist Hans Bennett presented a
slideshow displaying the
scene photos recently discovered by German
linguist, Michael Schiffmann (University of
Heidelberg). Dr. Schiffmann has disclosed his
discovery of 26 photographs (never seen by the
1982 jury), taken by press photographer Pedro P.
Polakoff, which suggest more evidence that basic
investigative protocol was violated by police
from the earliest moments of the killing.
Schiffmann and Bennett's website,
Abu-Jamal-News.com, displays four of the photos
to make these key points about the new evidence:
1. Mishandling the Guns - Officer James Forbes
holds both Abu-Jamal's and Faulkner's guns, his
bare hand touching the metal parts, suggesting
perjury when he testified to properly preserving the guns' ballistics evidence.
2. The Moving Hat - Faulkner's hat is moved from
the roof of Billy Cook's VW and placed on the
sidewalk, where it remained for the official police photo.
3. The Missing Taxi - Robert Chobert testified to
parking directly behind Faulkner's car, but the space is empty.
4. The Missing Divots On the sidewalk, where
Faulkner was found, there are no large bullet
divots, or destroyed chunks of cement, which
should be visible in the pavement if the
prosecution scenario was accurate, according to
which Abu-Jamal shot down at Faulkner and
allegedly missed several times while Faulkner
was on his back. Dr. Michael Schiffmann writes:
"It is thus no question any more whether the
scenario presented by the prosecution at
Abu-Jamal's trial is true. It is clearly not,
because it is physically and ballistically impossible."
DAVID A. LOVE
In October, 2007, Philadelphia-based lawyer and
Love, wrote about the new crime scene photos for
Commentator news website. Love's article titled
Bolster Claims of Mumia's Innocence and Unfair
Trial" was featured in the national Black
newspaper, The SF Bay View, where one of the
photos was published for the very first time in
the US. Love spoke at the news conference about
why the new crime scene photos are an important
and worthy story for the media to cover. (see above)
Dave Lindorff is the author of
Time: An Investigation into the Death Row Case of
Mumia Abu-Jamal" (Common Courage Press, 2003), an
independent examination of this important capital
case. In his December 2, 2007 article titled
Faulkner and Mumia: Vengeance Isn't Sweet,"
Lindorff responds to the first in a three-part
Philadelphia Inquirer, that features experts from
Maureen Faulkner's new book, written with Michael
By Mumia." He writes that Faulkner "is entitled
to her anger and her grief," but "we are all
diminished when justice is so willingly cast
aside in the wrongheaded name of vengeance, as
has clearly happened in the case of Mumia
Abu-Jamal. No amount of sympathy for Faulkner's
widow should be permitted to sway society or the
courts from a commitment to justice, and there
has been no justice in this case."
At the press-conference, Lindorff addressed the
summary of evidence against Abu-Jamal, presented
at the "Murdered By Mumia" website, that "Mumia
Abu-Jamal was unanimously convicted of the crime
by a racially mixed jury based on: the testimony
of several eyewitnesses, his ownership of the
murder weapon, matching ballistics, and Abu-Jamal's own confession."
--Award-winning investigative reporter Dave
Lindorff has been working as a journalist for 34
years. A regular columnist for CounterPunch, he
also writes frequently for Extra! and Salon
magazine, as well as for Businessweek, The
Nation, and Treasury & Risk Magazine. Over the
years he has written for such publications as
Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Village Voice,
Forbes, The London Observer and the Australian National Times.
Pam Africa is the head of
Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
(ICFFMAJ). Africa will provide an update on the
campaign to "ensure fairness" for Abu-Jamal on
the December 6 NBC Today Show, which spotlighted
the release of the book "Murdered By Mumia."
Africa and ICFFMAJ are asking that the The Today
Show fairly show both sides of the Abu-Jamal /
Faulkner story, and give equal time to an expert
sympathetic to Abu-Jamal's case for a new trial.
--Journalists for Mumia Abu-Jamal
(Abu-Jamal-News.com) was co-founded in May, 2007
by Philadelphia journalist Hans Bennett and
German linguist Dr. Michael Schiffmann
(University of Heidelberg), who is the author of
the new German book about Abu-Jamal's case, "Race
Against Death." For more information, please
email: <mailto:hbjournalist at gmail.com>hbjournalist at gmail.com
You can download the 50 page PRESS PACK at the link below:
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews