Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Abu-Jamal seeks new trial in Phila. officer's slaying

By Emilie Lounsberry

Inquirer Staff Writer

Pennsylvania death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal has asked a federal appeals court to reconsider the decision that denied him a new trial in the 1981 slaying of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

In late March, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit left intact Abu-Jamal's conviction but said a new jury should decide whether he deserved death or should be sentenced to life behind bars.

In court papers docketed yesterday, Robert R. Bryan, the San Francisco lawyer representing Abu-Jamal with Widener University law professor Judith Ritter, asked the three-judge panel and the full Third Circuit court to take another look.

They contended that the panel should have ordered a hearing on Abu-Jamal's contention that prosecutors intentionally excluded blacks from his jury in violation of a later 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

They noted that one of the panel members, Judge Thomas Ambro, wanted a hearing held on that issue, and said the majority "has backed away from this Circuit's historical commitment to equal justice for all."

The three-judge panel affirmed the December 2001 ruling by U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr., who had thrown out the death sentence after concluding that the jury might have been confused by the trial judge's instructions and wording on the verdict form filled out when the jury decided on death.

Yohn found that the jury might have mistakenly believed it had to agree unanimously on any mitigating circumstances - factors that might have persuaded jurors to decide on a life sentence, rather than death.

Abu-Jamal, 54, has been on death row since his 1982 conviction in the killing of Faulkner, who was shot to death near 13th and Locust Streets early in the morning of Dec. 9, 1981.

While Abu-Jamal is appealing because he wants a new trial, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the death sentence. Assistant District Attorney Hugh Burns said last month that no decision had been made on whether to ask the high court to consider the matter.

Abu-Jamal has written books and given taped speeches from death row, and his case has been followed in many parts of the world.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence in 1989, and also rejected three other appeals - including one earlier this year.

Contact staff writer Emilie Lounsberry at 215-854-4828 or elounsberry@phillynews.com.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

An Independence Day Call To Arms

(Pic Of Suzzane Ross who aided MOVE in their war against John Gilbride and head of NYC Mumia cabal)

The 4th of July means more to me personally than just a celebration of our nation’s move towards independence from British rule a couple of hundred years ago.

In my life, the idea of freedom versus oppression is not so abstract as it is to many people in this country. Aside from those who have immigrated from despotic regimes to our liberal democracy, authoritarianism in an organized, political, religious, social, fashion and is difficult to fathom and it’s descriptions remain largely in print.

There are however, places in America, which incidentally enough exist precisely because of American freedom do exist. They are the authoritarian sects which litter the landscape in odd formations and range from the largely peaceful and eccentric to the violent and scary.

As I, and others have dutifully noted before, not all faiths are created equal. The same is true for cults, or to be more politically correct, “high demand groups”. One could think of them on a kind of graph with the UFO worshiping Raeilians , who are thoroughly peaceful and are oddities more than anything else. In the middle would be Scientologists, who are only on the radar screen because of their many celebrity converts. It is a group that is more a financial threat to it’s believers who pay grand fees to travel up the ladder of knowledge of it’s founder L. Ron Hubbard or maybe a shot at meeting Tom Cruise. Notoriously litigious, it is also a group that loves nothing more than to drag it’s critics into a courtroom and pummel them with charges of slander and defamation. Scientologists, with their sci-fi theology and lawyers on speed dial, may have laid the foundation for their own undoing. The strange behavior of their celebrity devotees has brought down on the sect a degree of scrutiny unparallel in recent times. It also now has a group calling itself “Anonymous” that hide their identities and faces and have organized themselves through word of mouth and the internet protesting the group’s many “churches”.

On the far end of the line is where groups such as MOVE resides. So too do the Nazi Skinheads, The Heaven’s Gate, the Japanese sect that used nerve gas to kill people in a Tokyo subway. Charles Manson is there and so too is Jim Jones. A man whom the more I read about I realize had much in common with the lesser known John Africa and MOVE. And so on that far end of the cult paradigm was where I volunteered to reside.

It is the whole “volunteer” aspect that people never involved with a cult do not understand. Children born into such a group and who therefore blindly believe are given a free pass. But those of us who willingly walk into such a situation are perceived as some kind of stupid freak. There is some vindication for people like me in the form of studies carried out by Sociologists who found that people who join such groups are as intelligent or sometimes more intelligent than anyone else in a society. There are however, a few common denominators amongst those who do join groups. Many do so at that point in their lives when they reach a crossroads. College or no college, those people who have been on a spiritual journey and are weary from it. Kids coming from broken homes who have only seen discord throughout their lives and are craving the promise of certainty and people like me who managed to fit into a couple of categories. There are of course other factors at work her, I named just a few, but all of which in general have to do with the psyche and not those of a diminished mental capacity.

I came into MOVE at the tale end of a spiritual spiral that had me in the creepy Southern Baptist Church when I was a kid, to the Catholic Church as a young teen who just could not figure out why God had it in him to make us get up and sit down and then repeat a bunch of times. In high school I practiced and worshiped at the alter of complete hedonism until acid and even being a male slut got boring.

Disenchanted with the west I went east, got weirded out by the Koran and although I loved and still do love Spike Lee’s cinematic take on Malcolm X, I couldn’t understand Islam and all of it’s rules. So, off to the library again and this time to the Yogis of India whose ascetic lifestyle and emphasis on purity had me hooked, but agin only for a while. My fascination with Hinduism had led me to devotees of the blue, Hindu God, named Krishna. and a Temple in North Carolina, which lasted all of five months.

Back home, and without realizing it, everything I had gotten involved with or read about had left a kind of spiritual imprint on me. What I became was a little bit of what I had been. I was ripe for MOVE because I had the contempt for authorities of a hedonist, an acceptance of Black Power politics from my studies and admiration of Malcolm X, and a strong belief in the protection of life as taught by the Hindu concept of “ahimsa” which roughly translated means non-violence.

Not living in Philadelphia and only seeing MOVE’s version of itself and plenty of apologetics devoted to the sect, the work to convert me to their world-view wasn’t hard. It was easier still for them to convince me to go live in Philadelphia with Ramona Africa, a big honor for me as a supporter, after my marriage disintegrated, unbeknownst to me at the time, as a result of my failure to be a good enough MOVE supporter.

After going to Philadelphia, you might say the rest is history. I saw MOVE for what it is and not what they wanted me to see it as. I began with “thought crime”, reading books other than those of Mumia. Books by George Orwell helped to armor me against what I began to realize was inevitable, a departure from MOVE and all of the things it does to people. Today, perhaps someone in MOVE has discovered Richard Dawkins, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali or any number of people who have stood up to religious fanaticism and have chose to live their lives “as if” they have the right and moreover the duty to live free.

And after my relationship was reconciled, family started, I knew it was all only a matter of time. Much in the same way that I am sure people in MOVE today are figuring out how to open that door and leave, but not leave all that you love in the process. That of course is the rub. In MOVE, they need you attached to someone so you will be anchored to the group. Should that not be the case, it is a steady crippling of the mind of the single person, to the point that in a way you are married to MOVE. Years of honing the skills of cynical manipulation and mind control have made MOVE a capable force when it comes to mind control.

Now, despite MOVE’s best efforts, I am here and I am free. I am flawed, I can be weak, and I can be hurt and I make mistakes, tons of mistakes, but they are my mistakes. It would be very easy to walk away. I could fade away into obscurity with what I have already written about MOVE to remain online as a testament and as proof that there is not just one side of the story.

Abraham Lincoln, at his Gettysburg Address in 1863 very succinctly made the point that on the free earth there are the bones of those who fought to make it so. And while I don’t pretend that “fighting” against MOVE’s oppression and abuse of children, or the still un-avenged murder of John Gilbride, compares at all with our nation’s Civil War, but I see a similar principle at work in the struggle for freedom.

“these honored dead" that "we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..."

There are no bargains to be struck or mercy for anyone who is un-repentant about abusing children. The person(s) who is responsible for the murder of John Gilbride is free to walk the streets, with those obligated to bring his killers to justice so far remain failures. Perhaps it is past time for a call to arms.

Maybe, those of who are free of MOVE should celebrate that freedom which we enjoy by fighting for those still in fear of and oppressed by the group. Whether it is in the form that I have chosen, or in the way of those who like “Anonymous” protect their identity, but who still speak out against Scientologists.

Perhaps it is long past time for those who know the truth about MOVE to emerge from the shadows and join in the fight.

MOVE does have a right to exist, to preach their seditious gospel, claim that gay people make a choice to be gay, and even to tell people that girls enter into puberty should become pregnant, but what they cannot due is violate those in their care while hiding behind “freedom of religion”.

They need to be stopped one way or another.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Mumia's "Great Un-Washed" To Profane July 4th

Join the "great un-washed" as they scream profanities at puzzled tourists and vexed Philadelphia natives. The body odor even more pronounced as the summer heat beats down upon the concrete on the mostly New York crowd. People a couple of hours away from Philadelphia and the place where Officer Faulkner was killed by Mumia, but whose ideology ensures their blinders to the truth stay firmly in place.

Of course, there will have to be some kind of meeting in order for them to get the cabal of self-appointed activists, to get their story straight. Considering half of them probably weren't even alive when Faulkner was killed and they are ripe for the myths.

Who will be the killer of Officer Faulkner this year? Kenneth Freeman, Arnold Beverly, maybe Mumia's brother. Anybody but the savior will do.

T-shirts and books will be sold. Old men and women, still burnt about the dissolution of the Soviet Union will be hawking newspapers full of dry, Marxist platitudes, and Mumia's picture for marketing sake.

Oh, how I don't miss those days. The sweltering, stinking heat and the grim reality that most of the people who were around us Mumia people hated us or were at best ambivalent. Rare was the protest when an actual Philadelphian offered us much more than the 1 fingered salute. The City of Philadelphia, nearly 50% African-American, could care less about the Jamalophiles or their hero. They know, probably better than most that at the end of the day, these white suburbanites will hit the road back to the suburbs, the plight of black Philadelphians unchanged, unnoticed, as the vitrolic from the amplified profanity, with it's unintelligible, staccato rhythm and contortion of the word "motherfucker" in ways never imagined.

I will be thinking of the children of MOVE, dragged out to another demonstration, told what to say and when to say it, as they dream of doing things like normal kids would be doing, BBQ's in the backyard and firecrackers lighting up the night. But what to a slave is the fourth of July.

For freedom and those who fought and to continue to fight for it.

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