Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Fraud That Is "The Framing Of Mumia Abu-Jamal"



(Editor's Note: In the near future will be posts further exploding some of the myths presented in J. Patrick O'Connor's "book" on Mumia's case. He will be appearing with Pam Africa and Ramona Africa in NYC to promote his book on June 24th at 6pm at the Brecht Forum 451 West St. They are asking for people to bring questions. I would challenge people to call O'Connor out on some of the issues I am raising regarding his book and to ask MOVE about their abuse of children and their role in the murder of John Gilbride)

“The Framing Of Mumia Abu-Jamal” by J. Patrick O’ Connor, has to be the worst book on the issue ever written.

Previous books about the case at least rose up to one’s expectations of the author. “Race For Justice” by former Jamal attorney, Leonard Weinglass, was essentially Jamal’s case for innocence written by a man paid to free his client. You did not expect two sides to that story to be presented. The same went for the book written by another Jamal attorney, Dan Williams called “Executing Justice” , which was decidedly pro-Mumia, but understandably suspect of the cult-like atmosphere surrounding the man who would fire him. Dave Lindorff, feigned objectivity, but his political bias was as transparent as could be in his book on the case “Killing Time”. The most thorough of all of the books on the Jamal case would be the lengthy “Mumia Abu-Jamal “The Patron Saint of American Cop-Killers” by John Hayden. Hayden is working on his second book on the case, and in the interest of disclosure, Hayden is a contributor to this site. Maureen Faulkner’s book (again in the spirit of disclosure, I contributed a few words to) offered the view from the vantage point of the widow and was by far the most successful of all of the books on Jamal’s case.

The problems with O’Connor’s book are so many and so egregious that I found myself unable to write a book review of it in the traditional sense. While reading it and taking notes, I discovered that it would take a book greater than the length of “The Framing Of Mumia Abu-Jamal” to itemize and correct all of the falsehoods, half-truths, and the tyranny of assumptions that make up the core of this unfortunate book.

On the surface, it’s author, J. Patrick O’Connor seems as if he doesn’t have a dog in the fight. There is no obvious political agenda in the way that Lindorff and Weinglass did, with both of their books being published by the far-left Common Courage Press, however O’Connor is on a different trip all together. He is the publisher of an online magazine simply known as “Crime Magazine, that purports to report on the following topics: “true crime: organized crime, celebrity crime, serial killers, corruption, sex crimes, capital punishment, prisons, assassinations, justice issues, crime books, crime films and crime studies.”

O’Connor, who in his book claims that the deceased Kenneth Freeman and not Mumia killed Officer Faulkner, has a habit of blaming dead people for murder. In an article about the killing of Jon Benet Ramsey, the patron saint of pretty, murdered, white girls, who garner world wide interest, O’Connor blames the girl’s dead mother who was never charged with anything for the crime of killing her child This, on his ironically titled “Crime Magazine” website.

And while O’Connor has no clear-cut, political, proclivities, his pro-Mumia bias seeps out of every page of his book and the fact that he is clearly enamored by MOVE is disturbing to say the least. He is also given to some pretty baseless ideas that he seems to enjoy inflicting on his readers. O’Connor also has what seems to be a savage streak as in his acknowledgments, he thanks the “Justice For Daniel For Daniel Faulkner Website” and writes of his “hope...his book...may aid...Faulkner’s family...in achieving justice”. It is the kind of grotesque cynicism that does not even warrant a response, only an observation that O’Connor fails to mention the address of the Faulkner site, or that it contains the trial transcripts, and he certainly fails to mention that much of pro-Jamal rhetoric in his book has already been thoroughly been debunked on the Faulkner website.

In the face of overwhelming and inexcusable “Free Mumia” falsehoods, I am going to go beyond merely pointing out and challenging the mountain of O’Connor’s falsehoods, and cut to the heart of the idea that Mumia was “framed” head on with facts, some of which have yet to be discussed.

Also, I will show that the idea of Kenneth Freeman as the killer of Officer Faulkner is patently absurd, not supported by facts, and is not even one that is endorsed by Jamal or his legal team. Another conspiracy theory in O’Connor’s treatise is that of now deceased , former Police Commissioner and Philadelphia Mayor, Frank Rizzo had a role in Mumia’s frame-up. O’Connor asserts, falsely, that the former Philadelphia Mayor “threatened” Mumia.

These two false assertions by O’Connor are by no means the only ones in his book, but they do stand out as examples of myth making so irresponsible and reckless that they are worthy of meticulous repudiation. As they not only represent concepts rejected by prosecutors, but apparently be the revolving door, scheme teams, that comprise Jamal’s legal defense apparatus.

A few other examples of O’Connor running roughshod over the facts are as follows:

-He claims that in 1978 that Police fired “10,000 rounds of ammunition into the MOVE house and that the nine MOVE members were convicted for the killing of Officer Ramp. In another paragraph about MOVE, O’Connor claims that there was “no ballistics to prove that Officer Ramp was killed by a bullet from the compound”

The fact is that he pulled the “10,000 round s fired out of the MOVE confrontation in 1985. MOVE members were not just convicted of killing Officer Ramp, but for the attempted murder of several other Police and Firefighters, some who were gravely wounded by MOVE gunfire, one of them disabled and forced into retirement

Officer Ramp was shot by a gun taken from the MOVE compound. The bullet matched a MOVE weapon removed from the basement and was of the same type of gun MOVE members were observed with in the basement and purchased by a MOVE member. Ballistically speaking, you can’t get much more of a smoking gun than that.

-He claims that Mumia carried a gun because he had “been robbed at gunpoint”

Mumia purchased that gun two years and five months prior to him using it to kill Officer Faulkner. It was a gun he purchased well before he was a cab driver. I have also not ever heard of any police reports of Jamal being robbed. As a cab driver, working for any company, the policy would have demanded his reportage of such an event. Moreover, when the Police had secured Jamal’s gun, all of the rounds were reported to have been fired, a fact that neither Mumia nor his defense team have ever approached. Was he going to throw an empty gun at robbers? If he fired the weapon at a gun range, certainly staff would have recognized him and could vouch for him, just like the gun dealer had remembered the well-dressed, articulate, dread locked man, had from two years earlier The unavoidable fact however is that Mumia had fired that gun the night he killed Officer Faulkner and no amount of avoiding the issue of the gun can alter that fact. In a twist of words, O’Connor tells readers that an Officer kicked Jamal as he was reaching towards “a gun”, when in reality it was Mumia’s gun. A very subtle, but deliberate attempt at manipulation.

-Although Billy Cook is mentioned numerous times in his book O’Connor omits a few key facts concerning Jamal’s brother

O’Connor leaves out the fact that Billy told arriving Officers that he “aint got nothing to do with it”, exonerating himself, but not his brother Mumia. He fails to mention Cook’s affidavit contradicts that of his brothers.

-Typical of all Jamal supporters, O’Connor thinks little of Jamal’s supposed “confession”.

Certainly, reasonable people need to ask just exactly why it took trained, Police Officers months to come forward with an allegation of a murder confession from a cop-killer. However, if you take the confession evidence in it’s entirety, it does gain a level of believability not so easily dismissed. For example, should Jamal get the new trial O’Connor and others think he deserve, he will have to deal with a whole new set of issues regarding the confession.

A problem for Jamal lay in the sheer number of
“earwitnesses” who heard Jamal confess in one fashion or another.
Priscilla Durham, Officer Alphonse Giordano, Officer Gary Bell, Officer Thomas Bray, Officer Gary Wakshul, Officer Tom Brady, and NBC Producer Kathleen Gerrow all made statements to the effect that Jamal confessed to killing Officer Faulkner.
Back in 1981, Kathleen Gerrow was a radio reporter when she went to the hospital to cover the story when she heard a very distinctive voice shouting, 'I shot the mother f----er, I shot the mother f----er,” said Gerrow. That voice, Gerrow said, belonged to Abu-Jamal.

In total, that means that seven people who allegedly heard Jamal confess. Are they all lying?

-Chapter 32 of O’Connor’s book asks the question “Was Faulkner An FBI Informant”. Although he admits himself that this was “highly unlikely”, he follows crackpot, former Jamal attorney Rachel Wolkenstein right down the conspiratorial rabbit hole when he casually reprints her hearsay, alleged anecdotes, and un-named sources, that combined amount to nothing more than the desperation of a crack-pot attorney who was just lucky to be where she was at the time.

To add insult to injury, O’Connor lists two Philadelphia Police Officers that he believes were killed “under circumstances suggesting a directed hit”.

In May of 1985, not long after the MOVE confrontation on Osage Avenue, Police
Officer Thomas Trench was shot while sitting in his patrol car. To O’Connor this must have been a “hit” and further evidence that Officer Faulkner may have been done in the same way. There is a problem with this alleged “hit” scenario. The now twice convicted murderer of P.O. Trench, Willfredo Santiago was not out to silence an informant or a corrupt cop, but rather was out to settle a score with another police officer who had been driving the same patrol car -- number 912 -- just hours earlier, and that Santiago rode up on a bike and shot Trench in the face. It was a case of mistaken identity that has nothing at all to do with Officer Faulkner of Mumia.

The other Police Officer mentioned by O’Connor was Police Officer James Mason. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get much in the way of information in the media regarding Officer Mason. I did, however, manage to get in contact with a Police Officer who actually had worked in the same district as Officer Mason and was sadly familiar with the circumstances of Mason’s murder. He sent me the following statement on the matter:

“Officer James Mason and Officer Singletary were finished handling a “Disturbance House” radio call on 36th street. The house faced the Mantua Hall housing project. The building “was” 18 floors high and a juvenile was in his apartment window with a rifle. He has discovered the rifle under his mother’s bed and was playing with it and pointing it out the window. The juvenile was watching the police activity across the street and when the two Police Officers had returning to their police vehicle and were filling out paperwork. The juvenile fired the rifle and the bullet struck Officer Mason in the side of the head. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Presbyterian Hospital. The courts found the juvenile guilty of manslaughter and he was sent to a juvenile home until he was 19 years old. He was 15-16 years old at the time of the shooting.”

Clearly, O’Connor, has not just shown himself to care nothing for facts, but also a callous disregard for the families of murder victims other than just the family of Officer Faulkner. His fatuous and disingenuous attempts to link the completely unrelated murders of James Mason and Thomas Trench with that of Daniel Faulkner make that much clear. More than just a poor writer and an inveterate liar, he has shown himself to be a pitiful researcher who has just cut and pasted enough pro-Mumia blather to cobble together a book. Victims, truth, reality be dammed

-O’Connor paints Jamal as a man of “peaceable nature” and notes how shocked Jamal’s friends were at the news that he was arrested and charged with murder. This portrayal of Mumia as a man of peace is disingenuous to say the least, but even if it were true, it underestimates the influence a group like MOVE has upon those in it’s orbit. Certainly cults, especially those like MOVE, are known for altering their adherent’s personalities. Moreover, at the time of Officer Faulkner’s death, Jamal’s personal and professional life had effectively hit bottom. What did remain was his devotion to MOVE, nine of whom Jamal idolized and not-so-coincidentally had just been convicted of amongst other things, murdering a Philadelphia Police Officers.

Jamal’s own animus towards the Police is hardly a secret and his youth wasn’t exactly the one of a perpetual, spiritual quest, and naive political acts. In his Black Panther days, 11 years before shooting Officer Faulkner, he was writing that he was feeling like “putting down the pen” and implored readers of a Black Panther Party publication to “write epitaphs for pigs”. In addition to idolizing MOVE members who killed cops, Mumia to this day, still adores Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton. The former black militant, turned crack addict, was gunned down in during a drug dispute in 1989, yet his luster has not been diminished in Mumia’s eyes. Like his MOVE heroes, Newton gunned down Police Officer John Frey, but after careful and very good legal maneuvering, Newton was able to walk out of jail after only three years. Incidentally, Newton’s account of the Police shooting was very similar to Jamal’s 2001 affidavit. Prior to his death, Newton would beat another murder rap, this one for the "alleged" killing of a 17 year old prostitute after two trials ended in deadlocked juries.

Even before Jamal’s days as a Panther and MOVE supporter, it appears he was enamored by violence and may have participated in gang violence. During his 1995 hearing, one of Jamal’s own witnesses, a man named Arnold Howard, blurted out that he and Mumia “used to gang war together”, so much for Mumia’s life of non-violence.

The above paragraphs are just a few of O’Connor’s assault on the truth with regards to Jamal’s case. There are many more, some more heinous than others.

When all is said and done, there are two primary myths that O’Connor perpetuates in his book that do call for a lengthy and thorough repudiation. Thankfully, there are people as aghast as I am about O’Connor’s disdain for the truth and who are helping me in the effort to prove my point, and so therefore, these issues will be put to rest sooner rather than later. In the coming days and weeks, not only will a few more aspects of the “Free Mumia” cause will be shown to be a vicious canard, but that J. Patrick O’Connor has not written a book of facts, but a work of propaganda, full of assumptions, a disconnect from the truth, and has done a disservice to justice.

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