Monday, September 27, 2010

Remember John Gilbride...Murdered By MOVE Sept 27th 2002

It is saddening to me that it has been eight years since John Gilbride was murdered.

I am not going to revisit the circumstances of John’s death or yet again talk about who is responsible. I have done that on this site ad-nauseum.

Obviously, the person or persons responsible for John’s murder are still at large. They still are walking the streets. They could very easily do what they did to John to someone else. This to me is one of the most frustrating aspects of this case.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is in jail and is never going to get out. The same goes for the “MOVE 9”, who after years of raging against “the system” now have to beg, bitch, and moan in a desperate bid to breath the free air before they die of old age. Their fate lay in the hands of a parole board that has shown that it is in no mood or hurry to let MOVE members guilty of murdering a police officer out of their cage. I think it is pretty safe to say that those MOVE members will never be free.

The murderers of John Gilbride, however have managed to escape justice, but that does not mean that they have gotten away with their crime.

As I write these words there are efforts being undertaken that will help to blow the lid off the case and bring attention to bear on MOVE in a way that they have never had. For the first time MOVE’s leaders will have to endure the kind of scrutiny that they deserve and this may finally bring forth some answers to questions that have gone unanswered for the past eight years.

Much to the consternation of MOVE members and close supporters, John has not been forgotten.

There will be much more to say about this in time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"The Barrel of a Gun" Premiers To A Sell out Crowd!


By Amy S. Rosenberg and Stephen Jiwanmall

Inquirer Staff Writers

Nearly 29 years after Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was fatally shot at 13th and Locust Streets, echoes of the epic and polarizing case filled city streets Thursday as two movies premiered with emotional and clashing views of death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal.

At the Merriam Theater, where local filmmaker Tigre Hill was premiering his film The Barrel of a Gun, the officer's widow, Maureen Faulkner, arrived to a sidewalk filled with hundreds of police officers, their motorcycles lined up along Broad Street. The officers applauded her as she made her way into the theater.

"This movie will put people's minds at rest," she said. "There is no doubt that Mumia Abu-Jamal wanted to murder a police officer that night, and that person was my husband."

Earlier in the day, Abu-Jamal himself surprised and energized some of his most passionate supporters at the National Constitution Center when he called from prison to a panel discussion that followed the screening of the pro-Abu-Jamal Justice on Trial, a film by Johanna Fernandez and Kouross Esmaeli.

"Thank you all," Abu-Jamal said over the speaker phone, his call interrupted several times by a prison recording stating that the call was being monitored. "When I heard about this, I was frankly overjoyed."

Abu-Jamal cited a comment from the trial judge, Albert Sabo, that "justice was an emotional feeling," and said: "I remember being floored by those words." He described himself as being "surrounded by love" and dismissed Hill's film: "As soon as he took the dough, he was bought and paid for."

Sabo died in 2002. Members of his family watched the screening of The Barrel of a Gun. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled Nov. 9 to hear arguments on whether Abu-Jamal should have a new trial on the death-penalty phase of his case. That would not involve the actual conviction.

The two competing films brought out the raw emotions of the vexing, nearly three-decade-old case, with audiences in both theaters applauding and scoffing at various times.

Outside the Merriam Theater, retired and current officers, some of whom had been working the night of Dec. 9, 1981, greeted one another with hugs. "I think the story's finally going to be told," said Ed Fredericks, who was a pallbearer at Faulkner's funeral. Just two protesters stood across the street.

During the movie, there was laughter and applause when then-Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo appeared, warning Black Panther members coming to Philly that they "better have gas masks." "Fry Mumia," someone called out toward the film's end.

At a nighttime screening of Justice on Trial at the Ritz East, supporters bearing "Free Mumia" and anti-death-penalty shirts were still buzzing about hearing directly from Abu-Jamal and energized by the movie, which laid out the case for a new trial. "I had no idea how mistreated he was," said Acquanetta Davis, 60.

Each movie strove to place the case in a different historic context. The Barrel of a Gun puts Abu-Jamal squarely in the heart of the Black Panther movement, whose rhetoric included violence against police officers, and the radical group MOVE.

Justice on Trial examines the case in the context of police brutality and corruption in Philadelphia, trying to make the case that evidence was tampered with and/or suppressed. The location of the earlier screening at the Constitution Center was of special significance for Abu-Jamal's supporters, who believe his trial and sentencing violated his constitutional rights and represent injustices suffered by many others.

Pam Africa, one of the city's chief organizers of pro-Abu-Jamal activities, who appears in both films, said: "I think a major thing happened on this day when you wind up at the Constitution Center."

Esmaeli acknowledged that he sped up production of his film to screen it the same night as Hill's. "We had to do this to make sure his narrative isn't the only one out there," he said. He said he had set out to make a movie that looked at both sides, but "you either get access to one side or the other."

A group of students from the Philadelphia Boys Latin Charter School attended the screening and had plans to attend Barrel of a Gun in the evening, said teacher Nicholas Paschale. Several students said they were convinced of Abu-Jamal's innocence. "You can't call a man a monster who's able to speak that way," said Daniel Williams, 17, of Southwest Philadelphia. "I think the film was exactly on time. This is exactly what the entire city needs to see."


Contact staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg at 215-854-2681 or

Inquirer staff writer Annette John-Hall contributed to this article.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Review of Tigre's Mumia Film


By Michael Smerconish - Inquirer

Inquirer Currents Columnist

Mention "Black Panthers" to a young person today and if the words have any resonance at all, they might bring to mind the two knuckleheads who made a scene outside a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008.
But there was a time when a powerful revolutionary movement of the same name - with infinitely more damaging consequences - actually did infiltrate urban America.

Tigre Hill's new movie, The Barrel of a Gun, which premieres Tuesday at the Merriam Theater, is a grim reminder of that era. The movie is a full-screen documentary about the murder of Daniel Faulkner by Mumia Abu-Jamal on Dec. 9, 1981.

What is left to explore about arguably the highest-profile death-penalty case in the world?


At a time when the only thing some may wish to hear about Abu-Jamal is news of his passing, Hill does a public service in Barrel by placing his actions in historical context and providing a compelling answer as to why Abu-Jamal pulled the trigger.

The movie chronicles the rise of the Black Panthers and the peak of their power in the late 1960s. The FBI defined the Panthers as a "black extremist organization" that "advocates the use of guns and guerrilla tactics to bring about the overthrow of the United States government." J. Edgar Hoover called them "the greatest danger to the internal security of the country."

The Panthers preached black militancy and the use of violence not only to achieve revolution, but also to enliven the consciousness of those behind it. In short, they wanted to overthrow the establishment, so they targeted its most visible representatives: police officers.

For the blueprint of this revolution, the film notes, Panthers cofounder Huey Newton looked past figures such as Karl Marx or the Soviet Union. Instead, Newton's Panthers drew inspiration from Mao Tse-tung. The Panthers' kinship with Chairman Mao was so pronounced that Newton and his foot soldiers handed out copies of the Little Red Book - essentially Mao's manifesto.

Abu-Jamal, still a teenager when he helped found the Panthers' Philadelphia chapter, was one of those distributing the book.

He was proselytizing for an organization whose rallying cry at the time was "Off the pigs." And indeed, in 1968, Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter after an altercation in which an Oakland police officer was killed. He was released two years later on a technicality - the appellate court concluded that the trial judge had given the jury improper deliberation instructions.

Of Newton, Abu-Jamal wrote in 2004: "It is beyond dispute that Huey P. Newton was a man of signal brilliance and truly remarkable courage. . . . He was a model that all Panthers aspired to." Of police officers, he wrote in 1970: "I for one feel like putting down my pen. Let's write epitaphs for pigs."

When the Panthers' influence waned in the 1970s, Abu-Jamal became infatuated with MOVE, itself a supposedly revolutionary "back-to-nature" organization with local origins.

By this time, Hill's film notes, Abu-Jamal was working as a radio journalist. And as MOVE's infamy in Philadelphia boiled over with the murder of Officer James Ramp in 1978 and the subsequent conviction of the MOVE 9, Abu-Jamal traded his objectivity for advocacy.

In interviews with Hill, observers and colleagues describe an increasingly confrontational Abu-Jamal injecting MOVE's agenda into every story he filed. They recall a man whose political leanings were so radicalized that peers felt uncomfortable engaging him. "A number of people had said he's going to snap," one observer says in the film. Eventually, Abu-Jamal had to become a taxi driver because the news organizations for which he worked no longer wanted to run his stories.

All of which makes a mockery of the way in which the murderer's supporters often describe him - as a "brilliant" or "award-winning" journalist taken down by a corrupt system. Far from it. When he ran across the street to execute Officer Faulkner, Mumia Abu-Jamal was nothing more than a cabby with a history of radicalism so pronounced that the FBI maintained a file on him.

Therein lies the real value of The Barrel of a Gun. The film's most notable accomplishment is placing Officer Faulkner's murder in historical context, while also reminding us of an era fraught with extremist domestic groups whose central focus was to perpetrate violence against the state.

Today, the term radical is trotted out - with little accuracy and even less reservation - to describe a political opponent. Or the president of the United States. And the most infamous deed of the New Black Panthers, who make a brief appearance in Barrel, consists of standing outside the old Richard Allen Homes with a billy-club on Election Day.

It all pales in comparison to the reality that men like Officers Faulkner and Ramp or Sgt. Frank Von Colln - executed in 1970 amid a fit of anti-police violence - encountered throughout their careers.

Hill's film succeeds because it reminds us, often in painstaking detail, of a not-too-distant period when nobody could mistake the real radicals. It's a case study of a movement fueled by violence - and how Danny Faulkner became a victim of it.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Rival Jamal Movie Tries to Compete With Hill

As the premiere nears of Tigre Hill 's "The Barrel of a Gun," about the controversy surrounding the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and his killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, rival filmmakers are seeking funds to complete "Mumia 101."
Hill has said that his movie contains new insights suggesting that Abu-Jamal's murder of Faulkner was premeditated. The Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal calls Hill's film "a slick work of propaganda posing as documentary, thin on facts and thick with emotional manipulation."

The group is hitting up supporters to raise $100,000 to "hire a film editor full-time for two months of final editing" on "Mumia 101," which they had hoped to have completed by the Sept. 21 premiere of "The Barrel of a Gun" at the Merriam Theater. (Tickets are on sale at

The fundraiser letter says that "Mumia 101" filmmakers Kouross Esmaeli and Johanna Fernández, neither of whom returned a request for comment yesterday, give both sides time to talk, and says that their film "let facts, not emotionalism point to the police, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct that led to Mumia's 1982 conviction."

Meanwhile, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 endorsed Hill's film yesterday and will provide security for the premiere.

Hill's last film was "Shame of a City," about Sam Katz's failed 2004 mayoral campaign

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