Sunday, April 19, 2009

Abu-Jamal supporters meet, to seek White House help

(Somebody might do well to let the cadre of Mumia supporters know that a President cannot pardon someone who has not been convicted of a federal crime. It is one of those things in the U.S. Constitution that Pam claims to know so much about. Also, for the record, the President addressed the issue back when he was running for office, he said: "Let just me lay out a very clear principle: In my mind if someone killed a police officer, they deserve the death penalty or life in prison."

To me, this desperate act by Pam Africa displays not only a degree of ignorance, but just how weak the Jamal cause has become. 50 people? So much for "Millions For Mumia".
-Tony Allen)

Abu-Jamal supporters meet, to seek White House help
By Susan Snyder

Inquirer Staff Writer

Stung by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week denying a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal, supporters of the internationally known death-row inmate met yesterday at a church in West Philadelphia and said they planned to seek some type of presidential intervention on his behalf.

The gathering of about 50 people, led by MOVE member Pam Africa, began signing a petition to present to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., asking for action in the 28-year-old case, in which Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

They also said they would ask Rep. Chaka Fattah to take their plea to President Obama and his wife, Michelle, both lawyers.

Fattah (D., Phila.) did not return calls for comment yesterday.

"This is a new administration, and we are looking for honesty and fairness," Africa said shortly before the meeting at Abiding Truth Ministries, 57th Street and Washington Avenue.

The meeting lasted more than two hours and drew supporters from New York, Baltimore, and as far away as Chicago.

Monday's Supreme Court ruling virtually guarantees that Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and radio reporter, will never be freed by the courts.

Now his best hope is to avoid execution.

The court is still weighing a petition by prosecutors to reinstate Abu-Jamal's death sentence, and the justices have agreed to review a capital case from Ohio that involves the same legal issue that is a key focus in Abu-Jamal's appeal.

Africa at first expressed concern about seeking a presidential pardon, wondering if it would imply guilt.

"He's not guilty!" she argued.

But Darby Tillis, a former death-row inmate from Chicago who was freed in 1987 after new evidence emerged, said at the Abu-Jamal meeting that his gubernatorial pardon "was based on innocence, and I received it."

Abu-Jamal supporters previously appealed to the Clinton administration's attorney general, Janet Reno, but were turned down.

Africa said she hoped Holder and the Obama administration would react differently.

"It's clear Mumia did not have a fair trial," she said. "Evidence was most definitely withheld. This is a test for this new administration right here."

Contact staff writer Susan Snyder at 215-854-4693 or

Mumia's other crime

By Michael Smerconish - Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

Daily News Opinion Columnist

SADLY, the list of those with a personal stake in the outcome of the Mumia Abu-Jamal saga continues to grow, even as the case of the celebrated death-row inmate appears headed for a close.

There are seven families mourning Philadelphia police officers killed in the line of duty since 2006. Surely they took note of Monday's announcement that the Supreme Court has denied Abu-Jamal a new trial. Who could blame them for any concern about the barely turning wheels of justice nearly three decades after police officer Danny Faulkner was slain?

The same goes for the families of Pittsburgh officers Paul Sciullo, Stephen Mayhle and Eric Kelly, the heroes allegedly executed last weekend by a neo-Nazi named Richard Poplawski. Like Abu-Jamal, Poplawski survived his confrontation with police. And like Abu-Jamal, he's planning to be productive in jail.

Poplawski told police he surrendered because he figured he could "work out and sleep" behind bars. "I can write a book," he reportedly said.

And why not? Abu-Jamal has published five on death row. Maybe National Public Radio will offer Poplawski a show. Perhaps a college will invite him to be a commencement speaker. Will Poplawski be arguing for freedom in 2036?

At least justice was meted out in Oakland, Calif., a city still mourning the loss of Sgts. Ervin Romans, Daniel Sakai and Mark Dunakin and officer John Hege, executed last month by 26-year-old parolee Lovelle Mixon.

Like Abu-Jamal, Mixon stood over the officers he wounded and reportedly pumped what the Los Angeles Times called "coup de grace rounds" into their bodies. Unlike Abu-Jamal, Mixon got the justice he deserved - and the courts probably would have failed to deliver - when a SWAT officer shot and killed him in his sister's apartment. How ironic that those murders happened 10 years after Oakland public schools scheduled a teach-in to support Abu-Jamal. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, no less.

Not only should the families of murdered cops worry that their cases will end up like Abu-Jamal's, they should blame the judicial system's handling of his appeal for paving the way for the murder of more cops.

Today, no prospective cop-killer could rightly worry that he will pay with his own life for murdering a police officer.

After all, Abu-Jamal's charade has lasted so long that fellow inmates call him "Pops."

Which is why Monday's decision is so important. It is devoutly to be hoped that real closure is coming.

"What these people will know, and what the families of the police officers throughout the nation that have suffered these terrible acts . . . they know that a district attorney's office, that a prosecution will not quit," said Joseph McGill, the former assistant district attorney who was assigned by Ed Rendell to prosecute Abu-Jamal in 1982.

He was referring to public servants like Hugh Burns, chief of the D.A.'s appeals unit.

"No new trial," a jubilant Burns told me the morning after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Abu-Jamal's claim that blacks had been purposely excluded from the jury in his original 1982 murder trial. That ongoing complaint of racism - shown, Abu-Jamal contended, by the composition of a mostly white jury - has been a particularly scurrilous charge leveled at McGill. But the high court didn't take the bait.

It's about time. But regardless of whether the switch is ever flipped on Abu-Jamal, the last 27 years have already taken a toll.

Maureen Faulkner, Officer Danny Faulkner's widow, has been forced to endure the abuse of Abu-Jamal's cohorts and the grandstanding of a cadre of clueless celebrities for more than a quarter-century. She has done so with dignity and grace befitting a hero like her husband.

What must the families of the 4,500-plus police officers killed in the line of duty since 1982 think when they consider how long Maureen's struggle has persisted? How many of those cop-killers would have been deterred if the judicial system had swiftly carried out the sentence jurors prescribed for Abu-Jamal in 1982? We'll never know. But just one would be enough. *

Listen to Michael Smerconish weekdays 5-9 a.m. on the Big Talker, 1210/AM. Read him Sundays in the Inquirer. Contact him via the Web at

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

MOVE Supporters Arrested

(Two MOVE supporters were arrested although not for what they ought to be arrested for. What follows is the MOVE-version of the events...)


On Saturday, April 11th at 7:20 pm MOVE/Mumia supporters Kevin Price and Maiga Milbourne were arrested at 10th and South St. ( Philadelphia ) for putting up posters advertising the release ofMumia’s new book, “Jailhouse Lawyers”, with scotch tape. While in the act of taping a poster to a metal pole three police officers came from behind without warning and forced their arms behind their backs. They were tightly handcuffed and led to the South St. mini-station very nearby. Upon entering the building another officer asked why they were arrested. One of the arresting officers replied “they had Mumia signs.” From there they were taken to the 3rd district (11th and Federal) at 7:55 . The y stood facing a wall for 15 minutes and then were processed and released.

Their hearing is this Monday, 4/13 at 8:30 am . The charges are “improper distribution of handbills” (CO 10-723) and “Nails and other hard substances attached to utility poles” (CO 6905). These charges would be ridiculous enough if they were true but tape (no t hard substances) was used and the flyers were not being passed out.

At this point we are just writing to make folks aware. We will let you know if any action of support is requested. It is clear that after Mondays’(4/6) Supreme Court denial that the atmosphere surrounding Mumia’s case is very tense.

***For the record:

The arresting officers were Gress and Cole and the transporting officers were Polini and Jones (they were transported in squad car 38).***



Kevin and I were arraigned in court today. The prosecutor had to explain the charges to judge. He said, “they were hanging posters,” which we weren’t charged with. We represented ourselves and plead not guilty, and were given a trial date of Friday, May 29 at 8:30 am, at 1401 Arch St., second floor. Again, outsiders are not allowed in the courtroom but we welcome anyone who wants to flyer outside. During the arraignment MOVE members flyered outside the courtroom and used the time to do outreach.

We do find it ironic that in publicizing Mumia’s most recent book, “Jailhouse Lawyer’s,” a history of self-representation and self-defense, we were arrested and are now in a position to represent ourselves! It is an opportunity to hone our skills and further expose the court’s injustice.

We do want to reiterate that it’s important that Mumia supporters be very vigilant and aware right now. There is no coincidence that prison guards told Janet Africa that Mumia was dead, activists were arrested, and Channel 6 ran a hit piece on Mumia. This government is very jumpy right now. We need to keep pushing forward with an eye on one another’s backs! Thank you all so much for the support! We also just want to briefly shout out Orie Ross. We were never given a phone call, and if he hadn’t been so vigilant in making calls on our behalf we could have found ourselves in a much uglier situation. We’re truly grateful for our brother’s work. This movement is strong, full of love, and powerful! There is nowhere I’d rather be, and no people I’d rather march alongside.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

This Is The End Of The "Mumia Wars"

Let me just put it out there in as plainly as possible. Mumia is not going to be freed from prison. He is not going to get a new trial. Conversly, he is not going to be executed. He will live out his days a guest of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and that is what he deserves.

I write this and believe it as I have looked into the court rulings, precedents, as well as the fact that the death penalty exists in Pennsylvania anymore on paper only.

Of course, I realize that this is going to be a bitter pill for many people on both sides of the Jamal debate to accept. Those who believe that Jamal's origional sentence of death be carried out for there to be justice are not going to be comforted by the idea of Jamal continuing to churn out essays and books and recieving visitors, while the man he murdered, Daniel Faulkner, remains un-avenged.

For their part, the people who still remain beholden to the myth of Mumia's innocence will still occasionally make their way to Philadelphia to yell profanity at empty buildings and show support for their jailed hero.

From time to time, the issue of Mumia will be raised, some articles will be written and some feelings will be hurt, but for the most part, it is over. And it is over regardless of how anyone feels about it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


High court rejects Abu-Jamal's bid for new trial
By Emilie Lounsberry

Inquirer Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid yesterday for a new trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a ruling that virtually guarantees that the internationally known death-row inmate will never be freed.

Abu-Jamal, who has been awaiting execution for more than 25 years for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, had been hoping for a new trial - and a new chance to prove that he did not commit the killing.

Now, his best-case scenario is to avoid execution.

Faulkner's widow, Maureen, said she started to cry after learning about the decision.

"To think that he will never get a new trial is such a relief for the family and I after 27 years and everything we've gone through," Faulkner said in a telephone interview from California, where she lives.

The nation's highest court is still weighing a petition by prosecutors to reinstate Abu-Jamal's death sentence, and the justices recently agreed to review a capital case from Ohio that involves the same legal issue that is a key focus in Abu-Jamal's appeal.

Faulkner said she hoped the Supreme Court would ultimately reinstate the death sentence, saying that Abu-Jamal deserved to be executed because he killed a police officer in the line of duty. "I will always believe that Mumia Abu-Jamal murdered Danny with premeditation and malice. He deserves capital punishment," she said.

District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham said she was gratified that the Supreme Court had denied the defense request for a new trial. "This means that Mumia Abu-Jamal's murder conviction stands, and he lost his appeal," Abraham said in a statement.

Abu-Jamal, now 54, learned of the ruling as he watched CNN in his prison cell in Southwestern Pennsylvania, his lawyer said.

"The options are obviously being narrowed," said the defense lawyer, Robert R. Bryan of San Francisco. Bryan said he would ask the high court to reconsider yesterday's ruling.

Abu-Jamal, who is known as "Pops" to other inmates, has long been a controversial symbol in the international debate about capital punishment in the United States.

From death row, he has written books and recorded radio commentaries and speeches for college students, winning support from celebrities, academics, and death-penalty opponents in many parts of the world.

Bryan said that Abu-Jamal was disappointed but not disheartened by the ruling.

"His reaction is that the Supreme Court lost an important opportunity concerning the right to a fair trial with a fair jury," Bryan said in a telephone interview after speaking with Abu-Jamal. "He just found that very disappointing."

In a brief interview released late yesterday on, Abu-Jamal said the high court's decision shows "that the Constitution means nothing, that a fair jury means nothing."

Abu-Jamal, a former radio journalist who was working as a cabdriver back in 1981, was arrested just steps from the body of Faulkner, who was shot to death near 13th and Locust Streets in Center City in the early morning of Dec. 9, 1981.

Prosecutors contended during his 1982 trial that Faulkner had just pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother for a vehicle stop, and that Abu-Jamal ran toward them and shot the officer. Abu-Jamal was shot during the confrontation and was found slumped on the curb with a gunshot wound.

A Philadelphia jury of 10 whites and two blacks convicted Abu-Jamal and sentenced him to death. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence in 1989, and also rejected other appeals.

Over the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected three petitions from Abu-Jamal; yesterday's decision marked the fourth time he had been rebuffed by the high court.

At issue was one aspect of what the region's federal appeals court ruled last year when it rejected his petition for a new trial but threw out his death sentence.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected his claim that blacks had been unfairly excluded from his jury. If the court had accepted that claim, the remedy would have been a new trial.

Bryan had been hoping that the high court would hear an appeal on that issue, in large part because one of the three Third Circuit judges wrote a strong dissent, saying that further hearings were warranted on that issue.

The Third Circuit, in throwing out Abu-Jamal's death sentence, said the jury might have been confused by the trial judge's instructions and wording on the verdict form filled out by the jury.

The jury may have mistakenly believed, the Third Circuit said, that it had to agree unanimously on any "mitigating" circumstances - factors that might have persuaded jurors to decide on a life sentence, instead of death.

The high court in February agreed to hear an appeal in an Ohio death-row case that focuses on that issue.

Joseph J. McGill, a Center City lawyer who prosecuted the Abu-Jamal case when he was an assistant district attorney, said yesterday's decision seemed to guarantee that, barring some extraordinary new evidence, Abu-Jamal would never get a new trial - and would never be released from prison.

"As far as a new trial is concerned, it is over," said McGill.

McGill said the issue of the ultimate sentence was still up in the air. Even if the death sentence is reinstated on the issue of the jury instructions, he said, Abu-Jamal almost certainly would then try to raise other issues relating to the sentence.

"The death-penalty issue is very much an issue that can really go either way," said McGill.


Contact staff writer Emilie Lounsberry at 215-854-4828 or

Monday, April 06, 2009

Supreme Court Rejects Jamal Appeal

By Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has let stand the conviction of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was sent to death row for gunning down a Philadelphia police officer 28 years ago.

He contends blacks were unfairly excluded from the jury, and has been an outspoken activist from behind bars.

The justices made their announcement Monday.

A separate appeal over whether Abu-Jamal deserves a new sentencing hearing has not been taken up by the high court.

Prosecutors are appealing a federal appeals court ruling in Abu-Jamal's favor last year on the sentencing issue. The case has attracted international attention amid charges of prosecutorial misconduct and the inmate's outspoken personality.

Abu-Jamal, a former radio reporter and cab driver has been a divisive figure, with many prominent supporters arguing that racism pervaded his trial. Others countered Abu-Jamal is using his skin color to escape responsibility for his actions. They say he has divided the community for years with his provocative writing and activism.

He was convicted for the December 9, 1981, murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner, 25, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Faulkner had pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother in a late-night traffic stop. Witnesses said Abu-Jamal, who was nearby, ran over and shot the policeman in the back and in the head.

Abu-Jamal, once known as Wesley Cook, was also wounded in the encounter and later confessed to the killing, according to other witnesses testimony.

Abu-Jamal is black and the police officer was white.

Incarcerated for nearly three decades, Abu-Jamal has been an active critic of the criminal justice system.

On a Web site created by friends to promote the release this month of his new book, the prisoner-turned-author writes about his fight. "This is the story of law learned, not in the ivory towers of multi-billion dollar endowed universities but in the bowels of the slave-ship, in the hidden, dank dungeons of America."

His chief defense attorney, Robert Bryan, had urged the justices to grant a new criminal trial, but the high court offered no explanation for its refusal to intervene.

"The central issue in this case is racism in jury selection," Bryan wrote to supporters last month. Ten whites and two blacks made up the original jury panel that sentenced Abu-Jamal to death.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals a year ago kept the murder conviction in place, but ordered a new capital sentencing hearing. That court ultimately concluded the jury was improperly instructed on how to weigh "mitigating factors" offered by the defense that might have kept Abu-Jamal off death row.

Pennsylvania law at the time said jurors did not have to unanimously agree on a mitigating circumstance, such as the fact that Abu-Jamal had no prior criminal record.

Months before that ruling, oral arguments on the issue were contentious. Faulkner's widow and Abu-Jamal's brother attended, and demonstrations on both sides were held outside the courtroom in downtown Philadelphia.

Many prominent groups and individuals, including singer Harry Belafonte, the NAACP and the European Parliament, are cited on his Web site as supporters. Prosecutors have insisted Abu-Jamal pay the price for his crimes, and have aggressively resisted efforts to take him of death row for Faulkner's murder.

"This assassination has been made a circus by those people in the world and this city who believe falsely that Mumia Abu-Jamal is some kind of a folk hero," said Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham last year, when the federal appeals court upheld the conviction. "He is nothing short of an assassin."

Labels: , ,

Hit Counter
Online Schools