Fact Sheet on Mumia Abu-Jamal
Petition: International campaign for a civil rights investigation of the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Frailty of the
Ballistics Evidence in the Case Against Mumia Abu-Jamal
at 5/4/01 MUMIA Press Conference
Why is Mumia on death row?
On Dec. 9, 1981, Abu-Jamal was driving a taxi when he saw that police had
stopped his brother. He got out of the car to make sure police were not
violating his brother’s civil rights.
In the altercation that followed, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel
Faulkner was shot and killed. Witnesses saw a man flee the scene who did not
look like Abu-Jamal. But when police arrived, they arrested Mumia Abu-Jamal,
who had also been shot.
Ballistics reports prove that the gun found on Mumia Abu-Jamal, a .38
caliber weapon, was not the gun that killed Officer Faulkner. He was shot with
a .44 caliber weapon. Police did not even test Abu-Jamal’s weapon to see
whether or not it had been fired.
Eyewitnesses who were not called to testify in 1982 have come forward. They
say Mumia Abu-Jamal was not the shooter. Eyewitness Veronica Jones says police
threatened to jail her if she testified. Other witnesses, who testified against
Abu-Jamal in the original trial, have changed their stories, saying police
threatened and intimidated them.
Why should Mumia get a new trial?
Judge Albert Sabo presided over Abu-Jamal’s trial in 1982. Judge Sabo
has sent more people to death row than any other judge in the United States,
most of them Black and Latino. There is a higher proportion of Black people on
death row from Philadelphia than from any other city.
Judge Sabo is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and was openly
hostile to the defense. He prevented Abu-Jamal’s court-appointed attorney
from getting the money necessary to investigate and prepare a defense. Sabo
also refused to let Abu-Jamal represent himself.
The prosecution used what have since been ruled illegal means to keep Black
people off the jury. Only two Black jurors served on this case, in a city that
is 40 percent Black.
The prosecution’s case centered around condemning Abu-Jamal for having
been a member of the Black Panther Party, which they falsely portrayed as a
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court reviewed the evidence. But on Oct. 30,
1998, the Court refused to grant Abu-Jamal a new trial. Mumia Abu-Jamal’s
legal team is now appealing the case to a Federal court.
Time is running out for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Although he is innocent, Abu-Jamal
faces execution this year. Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Ridge, a right-wing
Republican who won re-election in 1997 with police support, has vowed to sign a
new death warrant.
Who is Mumia?
Mumia Abu-Jamal joined the Black Panther Party in 1967, at the age of 15. He
went on to a distinguished career as a radio journalist. An untiring opponent
of racism and police brutality, he earned the wrath of the notoriously racist
Mayor Rizzo and the Philadelphia police department.
At the time of his arrest, Abu-Jamal was president of the Association of
Black Journalists in Philadelphia. Because of his advocacy for
Philadelphia’s Black community, he was known as the "Voice of the
Mumia Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence. His lawyers and
supporters say Abu-Jamal was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because he
had earned the enmity of the Philadelphia police for his political stance,
Abu-Jamal made a convenient target for a frame-up.
Abu-Jamal has continued his work on death row, exposing the racist character
of the death penalty and inhuman conditions in the prison system through
articles and radio commentaries. He is the author of several books, including "We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party",
"Live from Death Row" and "All Things Censored".