Abu-Jamal defender pursues acquittal

The City of Brotherly Love has now been characterized by ongoing protest rallies and marches. Most in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal sits on death row for murdering Philadelphia Police Officer, Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981 after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death in July 1982.

Over the past 20 years, Abu-Jamal has become an international icon, attracting support from all over the globe. He was the keynote speaker at Antioch College’s 2000 graduation via radio and was named an honorary citizen of Paris by the Paris city council last December.

On Dec. 9, 1981 in downtown Philadelphia, Abu-Jamal was shot by Faulkner in a scuffle involving Faulkner and Abu-Jamal’s brother, William Cook. Abu-Jamal supporters said the officer was beating Cook with a flashlight. When additional officers arrived at the scene, Abu-Jamal was taken to the hospital where he was charged with murder.

Months afterwards, Philadelphia police officers claimed that while under hospital care, Abu-Jamal confessed to shooting Faulkner.

“The confession is an absolute fabrication,” said Kevin Price, a member of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal group in Philadelphia.

Price said the group stemmed from the West Philadelphia Committee in Support of Mumia Abu-Jamal, founded by John Africa and has been in support of Abu-Jamal since his 1981 arrest.

Price said he and other supporters wonder why the confession did not surface until months after the night of Dec.9,1981. The claimed confession did not appear in the police report.

“How can you forget to report a confession of killing a fellow police officer?” Price said.

Darren Williams, a police reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest continuously published black newspaper in the country, has been covering the Abu-Jamal case since April 2001

“Our readership is targeted to the African-American community so in order to be fair in coverage, we have to cover Mumia’s perspective,” Williams said.

Abu-Jamal is author of three books including “Death Blossoms,” “All Things Censored” and his most famous “Live from Death Row.” He also writes a weekly article from prison which he distributes to the National Newspaper Publisher Association.

His articles can sometimes be found in Tallahassee’s Capital Outlook opinion section.

“I feature his writings because I think he’s very profound in his thinking,” said Roosevelt Wilson, publisher of Capital Outlook.

“He has a perspective none of us have,” said Yanela Gordon, senior reporter for Capital Outlook. “I don’t think he should be stifled just because he’s in prison.”

On Nov. 21, 2001, Philadelphia Common Please Court Judge Pamela Dembe turned aside an appeal for a new trial filed by Abu-Jamal’s new legal team in July 2001. Dembe said her ruling was based on the lack of new evidence to grant such a trial.

However, Abu-Jamal argued that his defense does have new evidence, including a 1999 affidavit where Arnold Beverly confessed to killing Faulkner. Beverly said he was hired by the Philadelphia mob to kill Faulkner, who apparently was interfering with mob payoffs to the police officers.

On Dec. 9, 2001 hundreds of Abu-Jamal supporters rallied to march in downtown Philadelphia to mark the 20th anniversary of his arrest. Yet, Price and others would be rallying again within a week when U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr. ordered the state of Pennsylvania to give Abu-Jamal be a new death penalty hearing within the next six months or be sentenced to life in prison, but upheld his first-degree murder conviction.

“We were outraged that Yohn didn’t overturn the conviction,” Price said. “There’s so much evidence that proves Mumia didn’t do it. The ruling is a miscarriage of justice.”

Yohn’s ruling could be appealed to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As for now Price said the group will continue the fight to free Abu-Jamal.

“We’re going to keep going. Mumia shouldn’t be in jail, he should be free.” .