The most common misconceptions about Mumia Abu-Jamal are that he was a respected journalist and that he is in prison because of it.

At the time of his arrest, he had been dismissed from the local PBS affiliate for failing to follow proper journalistic procedure. He was disgraced and working as a taxi driver.

The reason he is in prison is because he was found lying next to a murdered cop with a pistol, registered in his name, lying near his hand. The weapon had clearly been fired several times, and fit the empty shoulder holster he was wearing. The bullets in the murdered cop's brain were a possible match to the gun near his hand. Even under the best circumstances, it's hard to beat a murder rap with evidence like that, even if the victim wasn't a cop. Mumia acted, with intention and forethought, in several ways that sabotaged his own defense after his arrest and during his trial.

Mumia Abu-Jamal acted to turn his trial into a circus. He demanded that he be represented by John Africa, leader of the notorious MOVE group, which was disliked and distrusted (if not actively hated) by the majority of Philadelphians for its outrageous behavior, ranging from throwing human waste on to the street to murdering a cop several years before. John Africa was not an attorney, and therefore not eligible to represent Mumia.

Much has been made of the fact that the judge, Albert Sabo in the case has sentenced more people to death than any other sitting judge in the US. In Pennsylvania, the jury decides whether to issue a death sentence or not. He has heard more cases where the jury chose death than any other sitting judge; this is due to the fact that since his appointment to the bench, in 1974, he has heard capital cases almost exclusively.

More has been made of the alleged incompetence of his court appointed attorney, Anthony Jackson. He came highly recommended by Mumia's friends. Prior to Mumia's case, he had defended 20 murder trials, and lost only six. On no prior occasion had he had a client sentenced to death. He resigned, professing an inability to mount an effective defense, due to Mumia's antics and verbal abuse of him, both inside and outside the courtroom.

These and other facts lead me to believe that there is a good chance that Mumia is guilty of the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner, and that he has played the justice system to create fame for himself. I have not seen the breadth or depth of evidence that a jury sees so I cannot say whether he is definitively guity, but the vast preponderance of the evidence I have seen leads me to that conclusion.


To Spoonman:

First: The Philadelphia PBS affiliate where Mumia worked was and is known for strong support for civil rights issues. He was dismissed for repeatedly and flagrantly failing to follow good journalistic practice.

Second: As any cop or criminologist knows, eyewitness testimony is in fact the least reliable form of evidence. It is possible to convict someone of murder based entirely on circumstantial evidence, even without the body ever being found. Just happened to a rich NYC plastic surgeon who was found guilty of murdering his wife in 1985 and dumping her from a plane over the ocean. Body never found, but he was convicted on a circumstantial case much weaker than that linking Mumia Abdul-Jamal to the murder of William Faulkner.

Third: The allegation that the jury was all white is pure fabrication by Mumiacs. It was in fact fairly representative of the racial mix in urban Philadelphia at the time of the crime.

Fourth: I said I believed that there is a good chance b/c I have not had the time or the patience to exhaustively review all the evidence. That's the jury's job, and they did it and came to not only the conclusion that he did it, but that his act met the standard to impose the death penalty.

Fifth: The Mumiacs will never accept a guilty verdict. It is an article of faith among his supporters that he is innocent. Any trial or court that finds otherwise is "biased". Apparently by the overwhelming evidence indicating his guilt.

Sixth: He was not a noted black activist prior to his arrest and conviction. This is a myth promulgated by his defenders. Most of his journalistic endeavours at PBS were in the fields of art and culture, not politics.

Seventh: Associating himself with MOVE was a) dumb and b) erased any possible sympathy I could ever have for the man. MOVE was and is a thuggish organization.

Eighth: The core of Mumia's support comes not from the black community itself but from middle-class, white, suburban college kids. They've picked Mumia as their chosen martyr, despite his almost certain guilt because he's good-looking and well-spoken. They ignore truly innocent black men on death row, who really didn't have competent representation, and who aren't mediagenic in favor of a guilty man who is. Tells you a lot about their depth of their views, doesn't it?


Update, 18 Jun 2001
Looks like Mumia has decided to go for the suicide by cop, deluxe package. In his last legally mandated appeal, he has ditched his defense team and gone for a frankly ridiculous witness who claims that he shot Officer Faulkner at the behest of crooked Philly cops. His story does not hold water; Mumia's previous defense team rejected the idea of using him completely. So Mumia ditched them and got some pliable although inexperienced defense attorneys to ladle this silliness onto a judge.

Disclaimer: Though I am from Philadelphia, and the whole fight for/against this guy has affected my life, I was only 9 months old when the shooting happened, so I'm using what resources I have.
It seems to me that a lot of perspective has been lost through the course of the whole Mumia Abu-Jamal fiasco. Let's look at the facts, starting with the shooting itself, on December 9, 1981:

Daniel Faulkner, an officer in the Philadelphia police department, spotted a car driving the wrong way down 13th Street in Center City, and radioed for backup. The car was stopped, and one man, William Cook, got out when Officer Faulkner approached the car. An argument ensued, followed by a fight when Officer Faulkner attempted to search Cook. Cook was hit once by Faulkner. Sometime during the fight, William's brother Wesley (AKA Mumia) appeared from out of a nearby parking lot, saw the fight, and opened fire.

By the time Mumia got to the car, the officer was down, having been shot at least once. A few more shots were fired at point-blank range into the officer. At some point during the incident, Officer Faulkner managed to fire a shot that hit Mumia in the chest, perforating his liver and lodging in his abdomen.

When Officers James Forbes and Robert Shoemaker finally arrived to provide backup, Officer Faulkner was lying on the ground. Forbes went back to the car to request help, and upon his return, he found Mumia sitting on the curb by the body, repeating, "I'm shot". William Cook was standing nearby and said he had nothing to do with the shooting.

Mumia Abu-Jamal was taken to the hospital and refused surgery to remove the bullet in his abdomen for several hours, finally relenting after talking with family. William Cook was arraigned for assault and resisting arrest.

At some point after the shooting, family members claimed that Mumia had been beaten after his arrest; police have no record of any wounds.

Mumia was arraigned for murder, "possession of an instrument of crime", and possession of an "offensive weapon" while still in the hospital.

December 12, 1981:

Ballistics tests proved inconclusive regarding the gun found in Mumia Abu-Jamal's possession and the bullets found in Daniel Faulkner's body and a nearby building. Apparently, though the gun was licensed, Mumia did not have a permit to carry the gun.

William Cook was released on $10000 bail. It was made fairly clear by both the prosecution and the defense that he had nothing to do with the shooting.

December 13, 1981:

An article by Dorothy Storck appears somewhere in the Philadelphia Inquirer commenting on how radio discussion has digressed already from wondering how such a tragedy could happen to demands for a new or more perfect investigation, the dropping of charges, lowering of bail, anything to ensure that "justice in this case will be done" (Claude Lewis, Bulletin columnist, member, Association of Black Journalists). And already, it's gone from a killed police officer to a political activist wrongly tried for a crime in which the evidence against him has already piled pretty high, four days into the case.

"If justice is what it's all about, it might be said that Dan Faulkner missed out on his share." -- Dorothy Storck

January 5, 1982:

A woman claiming to be Mumia Abu-Jamal's wife, Wadlya, claimed that he was beaten by cops on the way to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Mumia was legally married to Marilyn Cook at the time.

January 9, 1982:

A witness came forward and testified that Mumia Abu-Jamal shot Officer Daniel Faulkner in the back while the officer prepared to handcuff William Cook.

March 19, 1982:

Mumia Abu-Jamal's defense attorney, Anthony Jackson, was denied access to the names and addresses of the prosecution witnesses to the shooting. The judge, Paul Ribner, ruled that "such an action would not be in the best interest of any witness in the case, especially one in which the officer has been slain" (Philadelphia Inquirer). At the time, Mr. Jackson did not know how to approach the defense.

March 30, 1982:

William Cook was found guilty of assault on Officer Daniel Faulkner. On May 13, he was given a six-month sentence.

April 30, 1982:

Mumia Abu-Jamal was removed from a pre-trial hearing in handcuffs. He allegedly told Judge Ribner that he was orchestrating the case against him, and that he should "go to hell". While his defense attorney, Anthony Jackson, was issuing complaints regarding misleading and intimidation of witnesses by the police and the prosecution, Mumia was taunting the judge, finally declaring that the judge should try the case himself, shouting, "You're gonna decided what you want to hear...What are you afraid of? What are you scared of?" (Philadelphia Inquirer) Mr. Jackson later stated that Mumia had a very lax attitude about the trial, that it was "no big thing" (Philadelphia Inquirer).

June 3, 1982:

Anthony Jackson insinuated that there was another man involved in the shooting of Daniel Faulkner, not Mumia Abu-Jamal. He claimed that witnesses called by the prosecution were "mistaken, confused, or lying" (Philadelphia Inquirer). The three eyewitnesses gave conflicting descriptions of the height and clothing of the perpetrator; one eyewitness claimed that the police detained a man who was fleeing the scene, contrary to the police report that Mumia was sitting on the curb.

June 4, 1982:

The first evidence of police injury to Mumia Abu-Jamal was given, as two officers testified to accidentally walking into a pole while carrying him.

June 7, 1982:

Mumia Abu-Jamal was denied an explanation as to why John Africa was not permitted to sit on his defense. It was determined previously that though the man could defend himself, no other person who was not a licensed attorney could sit on the defense with him.

June 17, 1982:

The jury was finally all selected, after 9 days of questioning and jury selection. Mumia was asked to lessen his role in jury selection on June 8 (the first day), because prospective jurors were becoming afraid to serve.

June 18, 1982:

Mumia Abu-Jamal was denied the right to defend himself, and Anthony Jackson was appointed his full attorney. It was determined that Mumia's intention was not to defend himself but to disrupt the trial, and Judge Alfred Sabo ordered Jackson the defense attorney. Anthony Jackson later submitted a request not to be forced to try Mumia. Mumia had frequently expressed a distinct lack of desire to have Jackson serve as his backup attorney.

June 20-26, 1982:

Four witnesses testified that Mumia Abu-Jamal shot Officer Faulkner. One witness testified regarding the beating of William Cook just prior to the shooting. A ballistics expert testified that the wound suffered by Mumia was inflicted by Officer Faulkner's weapon, which would place him at the scene.

June 25, 1982:

Two witnesses, one a security guard and one Daniel Faulkner's former partner, testified in court that, while in the hospital that night, they overheard Mumia saying he "had shot" the officer and that he "hoped he died". It's possible that this evidence could have been misconstrued as a "confession" that would NOT be on public record.

June 28-30, 1982:

Mumia Abu-Jamal's defense consisted of a witness testifying that someone ran from the scene, a prostitute who was under the influence of marijuana during the shooting and testified that two people ran from the scene, and character witnesses describing Mumia as a peaceful, sensitive man.

July 2-3, 1982:

Mumia Abu-Jamal was found guilty after 5 hours of deliberation and a sentence recommendation was passed for him to die in the electric chair.

August 31, 1982:

Mumia Abu-Jamal was segregated after a fight with guards at Holmesburg Prison.

May 26, 1983:

Mumia Abu-Jamal was sentenced to die in the electric chair. He then told Judge Albert Sabo, "Judge, you have just sentenced yourself to die." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

March 10, 1989:

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the appeal of Mumia Abu-Jamal's case, finding no reason to overturn the decision of Judge Albert Sabo and the jury in 1981.

A new trial was requested on June 6, 1995. The retrial was finally denied, after much to-do, on September 15, 1995.


More information, and the articles from which this information and all quotes were ripped, can be found at www.fortunecity.com/meltingpot/botswana/509/inqarticles/inquirer-index.htm .
The point I'm trying to make in including all this information is that after all this time, and all this bullshit, the reality is being ignored: Officer Daniel Faulkner died. He's dead. He can't come back. All reliable evidence presented thus far points to Wesley Cook as the perpetrator of the crime. He was convicted by a jury, and was sentenced to death by that same jury. Obviously, people think what he did was wrong. Black or not, what he did was wrong. If he was a Jewish Nazi longhaired skinhead, what he did would STILL BE WRONG.

People have tried to use Mumia Abu-Jamal as a figurehead for all those people who truly are innocent and sit on death row because of a lack of proficient defense. If you're going to pick a figurehead, pick someone who fits the mold. Obviously, the use of him to bring about the point has failed; there are still people undeservingly sentenced to death.

Mumia ain't one of 'em.


More disclaimer: Just because I wrote it, doesn't mean you have to like it. Check out the articles and see for yourself.
Groups who support Mumia, for whatever reason:
found by a Yahoo! search for Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • Free Mumia
  • International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • Grinnell Coalition in Defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • Support for Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • Twin Cities Coalition to Defend Mumia Abu-Jamal

It occurs to me that not one of these groups is based in Philadelphia. Wonder why that is.
ukyoCE: In reading your writeup, I noticed that while claiming to have read both sides, the information you present is deeply rooted in the "Free Mumia" side of the case. Some of the questions you raised were even already answered by my writeup:
  • As for Mumia's judge, who has sentenced the most people to death in the US: Six former Philadelphia prosecutors have sworn in court statements that no accused could receive a fair trial in the court of Judge Albert Sabo.
    • The fact that Judge Sabo was almost exclusively given death-penalty cases in his tenure has been neglected. (See plonk plonk's writeup above.) Surely, that fact alone would throw off such statistics. Also neglected is the fact that sentencing is performed by a jury, not the judge.
  • Mumia was denied the right to participate in his own trial.
    • If you were in court during a murder trial and the defendant were being horribly disruptive for no particular reason, wouldn't you want him removed? Even Mumia's lawyer said that what Mumia did was unnecessary and disruptive. Also, the judge ruled later that Mumia's attempt to represent himself was none other than another ploy to disrupt the trial. The man made a mockery of himself; no one had to do it for him.
  • The shots themselves don't match up.
    • Please, oh please, go back and read all the reports of what actually happened that night! I already said this, but I'll say it again. Mumia shot Officer Faulkner in the back while the officer was trying to arrest William Cook. The shot fired at Mumia was fired when the officer was down. Presumably, the guy could roll over in an attempt to defend himself.
  • There were only two blacks on the jury, in a city which is 40% black.
    • Mumia had been intimidating jury members left and right. The jury has to be able to sit through the trial, right? After 9 days, I think it's safe to say that although the jury was not exactly representative of Philadelphia society, they were chosen because they would be able to tolerate and survive the circus that was Mumia's trial.
I'll grant that there were some horrible discrepancies on both sides of this issue. But the fact of the matter is that given what went on, no judge in his right mind would ever grant a retrial, if only to prevent the sheer torture of making 12 jurors, the judge, and the lawyers go through all this all over again.

Have some compassion for the family of Dan Faulkner, too. These people lost a son, a brother, a cousin, a father, an uncle, and a friend. Give them some closure.

Oh, and by the way.... In fact, most people against Mumia are just anti-activists who haven't even researched the case. Pardon? *cough* *sneeze* *muffled obscenities* A: I grew up in the Philadelphia area, where people are still very gung-ho on both sides, and I was bombarded with it from birth. B: bullshit. I did research. You can see a lot of it in this writeup. Just because people don't agree with you doesn't mean what they say is unfounded. And C: I'm not an anti-activist. I just choose my fights. This is something I disagree with vehemently, and I've said my piece. Thank you.


*cough* sorry, one final note. I just now did a Google search on this guy. The first twenty-nine -- yes, twenty-nine -- findings are all "Free Mumia" pages. Go figure. The thirtieth is a compilation put together by Philadelphia Online, the first completely factual webpage listed at all. Well, I guess we know where people get their information from. :/
Update: Please see an addendum on under June 25, 1982 regarding the supposed confessions of Mumia.

Also, for ukyoCE's magic .44-caliber bullet theory, a 1995 ballistics test overturned that theory by indicating that the bullet was most likely a .38, which was the caliber of Mumia's pistol. (Source: Philadelphia Daily News editorial)

Also, for reference, on December 21, 2001, Mumia's death-penalty sentence was overturned (source: CNN.com), and he was given 180 days for a new sentence, or else he will be given a life sentence. Let's see what happens. It should be mentioned, though, that the review board specifically mentioned that the FACTS OF THE CASE PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that Mumia is GUILTY OF THE CRIME FOR WHICH HE WAS CONVICTED.

Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering a police officer in Philadelphia.

The case has been very confused on both sides. On the pro-death side, people say "officer Faulkner is dead! think of his family!", and things like that. Killing anyone, especially an innocent man, will do nothing to bring back officer Faulkner. On the anti-death side the issue of Mumia's case is thoroughly confused by people who are against the death penalty in general, even if Mumia is guilty. Neither of these arguments are relevant to the real issue.

The real issue is whether Mumia received a fair trial. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that even if Mumia is guilty, the trial was not fair. If Mumia is guilty (which I admit, is fairly likely), then a re-trial will prove that once and for all. Both sides will be happy - Mumia will receive a fair trial, be found guilty, and be put to death. However until he is truly proven guilty in a fair trial, there is a chance an innocent man is being put to death because a police officer died and his colleagues want someone, anyone, to die for it.


Racism is a large factor in the case. There were only two blacks on the jury, in a city which is 40% black. Philadelphia has a history of racism, combined with a history of police misconduct including brutality and framing.

Mumia did not receive adequate legal counsel, especially for a capital murder case. He was represented by an inexperienced lawyer who claimed his own incompetence in the trial.

Judge Sabo consistently made rulings to prevent the defense from entering any evidence or witnesses to support their side. For instance ballistics testing that showed the bullets in Faulker were not from Mumia's gun. This evidence was rejected.
Four witnesses who attempted to testify that they were coerced and threatened by police into testifying against Mumia had their testimony stricken or were prevented from testifying. Witnesses with criminal records had been threatened with jail time if if they didn't testify against Mumia. One witness had current charges dropped when he testified against Mumia. Other witnesses had initial testimony entered against Mumia, and later conflicting testimony stricken on the basis that the witness was "a prostitute on marijuana". What? An unreliable witness can testify against the defendant, but not for him? This makes no sense. If anything, all of the witness' testimony should have been stricken, not half of it.

The police didn't test Mumia's hands for evidence of firing a gun(which is routine), nor was his gun checked to see if it had been recently fired.

The shots themselves don't match up. Supposedly Mumia shot officer Faulker in the back. How then did Faulkner shoot Mumia clear in the chest? It isn't likely that a dying police officer shot by surprise in the back could pull his gun and shoot so accurately.

Police claimed that Mumia confessed to the crime, and lacking other hard evidence, his guilty verdict depended on this "confession". Mumia says he never confessed. More importantly, the police records agreed with him. There is no record in the hospital/police logs of such a confession. One police officer even had specifically noted "We stayed with the male at Jefferson until we were relieved. During this time, the Negro male made no comments".
Police made conflicting reports on whether he confessed or not, then later changed their stories to match up. Why would an officer lie to say Mumia didn't confess, after a fellow officer was shot? A police officer who originally claimed Mumia never confessed took a convenient vacation to avoid testifying at Mumia's trial. Judge Sabo allowed this ridiculous circumvention of the truth.


Is it silly to suggest that Mumia was framed?
No.

The police assumed Mumia's guilt from the instant they arrived at the scene of the crime, where they found Mumia awaiting their arrival. Mumia had ample time to flee, but instead waited at the scene of the crime.
It seems that even the prosecution against Mumia admits that Faulkner was senselessly beating Mumia's brother when Mumia arrived at the scene. What a great cop, pulling that bad man over for a DWB(Driving While Black) and beating him for fun.
What was the first thing the backup police did when they got there? They found Mumia shot in the stomach, sitting at the curb, and beat him. They beat him severely, and then beat him more at the hospital.
The police claimed they "accidentally ran him into a pole"? What the fuck is that? How do you accidentally slam someone into a pole? "Oh, sorry judge, Mumia just fell down the basement steps a few times on the way to and at the hospital." Mumia had been badly injured, and waited peacefully for medical attention. The police arrived, and outraged at their fellow officer's death, beat Mumia and framed him for murder.

The theories and witnesses claiming police coersion to produce false testimony against Mumia isn't a surprising thing--not with the Philidelphia police, and especially not when a white officer was "shot" by a black man.

In case you didn't already know about the notoriously corrupt Philidelphia police department, here are some statistics:

Think about that. Those are just the cases where the police were caught in the act. 75 people were almost murdered by our government for crimes they did not commit. The only reason they weren't killed was DNA testing. Think of all the people who have been put to death who didn't happen to have any DNA evidence in their favor. Innocent people. Someone just like you.

Think about the 1500 cases of possible police misconduct and framing. Think about how nothing makes sense in the Mumia Abu-Jamal case. Should we really fry his ass just because a police officer died and the police lynch mob wants someone to die for it?

Who would it hurt to give him a new trial, with a new judge, who might perhaps let the defense admit evidence and witnesses? Some make claims like "it's already hard enough on Faulkner's widowed wife, we need to stop prolonging her misery and just kill Mumia." Let's get this straight: her husband is DEAD. Killing an innocent man will not bring him back to life. Even killing a guilty man without giving him a fair trial will not bring Faulkner back to life. It will only pervert our justice system.

I originally started looking at Mumia's case thinking it was a lot of BS. I believe capital punishment is reasonable. That belief however relies on the person being executed actually having been proven guilty. I haven't heard decent explanations for the above problems in Mumia's case. Most(not all!) people I hear speak out against Mumia are anti-activists who haven't researched the case, and assume if a black man is accused of murdering a police officer, he's probably guilty.

It is far easier to kill a man than to ensure he receives a fair trial. I'd like to believe in America we make the effort for the latter.


A few links:
http://www.courttv.com/casefiles/mumia/guilty.html
http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/ws99/ws56_mumia.html
You can find plenty more both for and against Mumia just by searching on Google. I recommend reading as much of both sides as you can.

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