Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The French Honor Cop-Killer and Cult Apologist

Paris suburb names street for cop-killer Abu-Jamal

By Jennifer Lin

Inquirer Staff Writer

As Philadelphians cope with another police slaying, news comes that a suburb of Paris has named a street for Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of the 1981 murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Hundreds of supporters of Abu-Jamal attended a ceremony on April 29 to dedicate the Rue Mumia-Abu Jamal in the city of St.-Denis.

"In France, they see him as a towering figure," said Suzanne Ross, cochair of the Free Mumia Coalition of New York City, who was part of the ceremony.

Ross said the street is in the town's Human Rights district, which includes Nelson Mandela Stadium.

Richard Costello, past president of the Philadelphia lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the street dedication was "deplorable" but "consistent with the offensive position the French have taken in this matter. They've made him into some type of hero."

Abu-Jamal, 53, was sentenced to death in 1982 for the shooting of Faulkner, who was 25. A memorial plaque honoring Faulkner has been installed at 13th and Locust Streets, where he was shot.

Abu-Jamal, a former Philadelphia journalist, Black Panther member, and critic of police brutality, has maintained his innocence.

Last year, a federal appeals court agreed to consider Abu-Jamal's appeal of his conviction. The court said it would consider Abu-Jamal's allegation of racial bias in jury selection, as well as claims that the prosecutor gave an improper summation and that a judge in a previous appeal was biased.

The street naming in St.-Denis was part of a three-day event sponsored by the French city, Ross said.

She said there were speakers on such issues as the death penalty, human rights, the Abu-Jamal case, and the 1985 bombing of the MOVE headquarters in West Philadelphia.

Ross said Pam and Ramona Africa, MOVE leaders and supporters of Abu-Jamal, spoke about the "unfulfilled quest for justice in that case."

When notified of the French dedication, Maureen Faulkner, widow of the victim, called it "disgusting."

"This is so unnerving for me to get this news," Faulkner said from Los Angeles, where she lives. "It's insulting to the police officers of Philadelphia that they are naming a street after a murderer."

The campaign to free Abu-Jamal has generated international attention, particularly among anti-death-penalty activists in France. At the dedication ceremony, Julia Wright, a translator in Paris and daughter of the late African American author Richard Wright, called Abu-Jamal "our Mandela."

Maureen Faulkner, on the other hand, urged Americans to boycott Paris.

"The people of Philadelphia should think if they have any trips to Paris this summer, to cancel those trips," Faulkner said.

Of the French support of Abu-Jamal, she added: "These are the people who sheltered Ira Einhorn" - a fugitive who was finally returned to Philadelphia and convicted of killing his girlfriend, Holly Maddux.

'La Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal'

Editorial | Another bad idea from France
They're going to name a street after him! The French are going to name a street after Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Ecoutez bien, citoyens: In all likelihood, Mumia Abu-Jamal shot Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in cold blood on a Center City street in 1981.

The odds that Abu-Jamal didn't do the crime for which he was convicted in 1982 are, oh, a thousand to one.

Abu-Jamal may well deserve a new trial, an issue still on appeal. But that assertion has nothing to do with believing him innocent. It is a statement only about upholding the standards of the U.S. justice system.

In our system, the prosecution's burden is to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a rigorously fair trial. If the prosecution fails to meet that burden, even the guilty must go free. In Abu-Jamal's case, the police work was far from CSI quality. The trial judge was abysmal. You don't sentence a man to death based on sloppy police work and a chaotic trial.

In this Editorial Board's view, you should never sentence anyone to death, ever. Most Europeans share that view of the death penalty.

Somehow, in Paris and environs, this cop-killer has become a symbol of distaste for the American taste for the electric chair and the needle.

Get another symbol, people. Many more worthy names exist, people who actually were innocent of the crimes for which they were sentenced to die.

Chances are slim that Abu-Jamal fits that profile. Get over it.


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