[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

Mumia Abu-Jamal:
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 Mumia’s 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 
Commentator entitled 
Bolster Claims of Mumia’s 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 Mumia’s 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. Pennsylvania’s 
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 
Amendment’s 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 world’s 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 Mumia’s case shines the light on 
official corruption and racism in America’s 
justice system, and the judicial form of lynching that is the death penalty.

Note: Below Mr. Love’s 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 
to the 
Media Project, 
<http://www.mctdirect.com/>McClatchy-Tribune News 
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.


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:


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."


In October, 2007, Philadelphia-based lawyer and 
<http://www.davidalove.blogspot.com/>David A. 
Love, wrote about the new crime scene photos for 
<http://www.blackcommentator.com/>The Black 
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 
series in 
Philadelphia Inquirer, that features experts from 
Maureen Faulkner's new book, written with Michael 
Smerconish, titled 
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 
<http://www.freemumia.com%22/>The International 
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

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