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Fact Sheet on Mumia Abu-Jamal

Petition: International campaign for a civil rights investigation of the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Frailty of the Ballistics Evidence in the Case Against Mumia Abu-Jamal

Affidavits Released at 5/4/01 MUMIA Press Conference

Why is Mumia on death row?

On Dec. 9, 1981, Abu-Jamal was driving a taxi when he saw that police had stopped his brother. He got out of the car to make sure police were not violating his brother’s civil rights.

In the altercation that followed, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed. Witnesses saw a man flee the scene who did not look like Abu-Jamal. But when police arrived, they arrested Mumia Abu-Jamal, who had also been shot.

Ballistics reports prove that the gun found on Mumia Abu-Jamal, a .38 caliber weapon, was not the gun that killed Officer Faulkner. He was shot with a .44 caliber weapon. Police did not even test Abu-Jamal’s weapon to see whether or not it had been fired.

Eyewitnesses who were not called to testify in 1982 have come forward. They say Mumia Abu-Jamal was not the shooter. Eyewitness Veronica Jones says police threatened to jail her if she testified. Other witnesses, who testified against Abu-Jamal in the original trial, have changed their stories, saying police threatened and intimidated them.


Why should Mumia get a new trial?

Judge Albert Sabo presided over Abu-Jamal’s trial in 1982. Judge Sabo has sent more people to death row than any other judge in the United States, most of them Black and Latino. There is a higher proportion of Black people on death row from Philadelphia than from any other city.

Judge Sabo is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and was openly hostile to the defense. He prevented Abu-Jamal’s court-appointed attorney from getting the money necessary to investigate and prepare a defense. Sabo also refused to let Abu-Jamal represent himself.

The prosecution used what have since been ruled illegal means to keep Black people off the jury. Only two Black jurors served on this case, in a city that is 40 percent Black.

The prosecution’s case centered around condemning Abu-Jamal for having been a member of the Black Panther Party, which they falsely portrayed as a hate group.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court reviewed the evidence. But on Oct. 30, 1998, the Court refused to grant Abu-Jamal a new trial. Mumia Abu-Jamal’s legal team is now appealing the case to a Federal court.

Time is running out for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Although he is innocent, Abu-Jamal faces execution this year. Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Ridge, a right-wing Republican who won re-election in 1997 with police support, has vowed to sign a new death warrant.


Who is Mumia?

Mumia Abu-Jamal joined the Black Panther Party in 1967, at the age of 15. He went on to a distinguished career as a radio journalist. An untiring opponent of racism and police brutality, he earned the wrath of the notoriously racist Mayor Rizzo and the Philadelphia police department.

At the time of his arrest, Abu-Jamal was president of the Association of Black Journalists in Philadelphia. Because of his advocacy for Philadelphia’s Black community, he was known as the "Voice of the Voiceless."

Mumia Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence. His lawyers and supporters say Abu-Jamal was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because he had earned the enmity of the Philadelphia police for his political stance, Abu-Jamal made a convenient target for a frame-up.

Abu-Jamal has continued his work on death row, exposing the racist character of the death penalty and inhuman conditions in the prison system through articles and radio commentaries. He is the author of several books, including "We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party", "Live from Death Row" and "All Things Censored".



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UPDATED Jan 25, 2020 12:11 PM
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