Free Mumia Abu Jamal Now! Is It Too Much To Ask?

By | December 9, 2011 at 1:46 am | No comments | Africa, International Solidarity, Networking, News, Situational Awareness, The Pan-Africanist Imperatives

Michelle Alexander at Riverside: New Jim Crow convict under-caste

Free Mumia Abu Jamal Now! Is It Too Much To Ask?

By Nana Akyea Mensah

The Associated Press reported recently: “Abu-Jamal was convicted of fatally shooting Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981. He was sentenced to death after his trial the following year.” [1] That makes today, 9th December 2011, exactly thirty years since Mumia Abu Jamal has been in incarceration and for most of the three decades with the exception of 48 hours, he spent them on death row.

We are not celebrating 30 years of death row! We are saying enough is enough! Let us also spend the day meditating over the liberation of the African continent and the right of all people to live in peace, in freedom, and in dignity. Intensify and sharpen the resolve to end what Legal scholar Michelle Alexander calls, “Jim Crow and legal racial segregation”.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! explains why this case involving Mumia Abu Jamal, President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, make some of us smell the racist rat:

“In 1982, the former Black Panther and journalist was convicted and sentenced to death for fatally shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. During his trial, witnesses testified Abu-Jamal saw his brother scuffle with Faulkner during an early morning traffic stop in 1981 and ran toward the scene. Police said they found Abu-Jamal wounded by a bullet from Faulkner’s gun. Faulkner was shot several times, and a gun registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings.

For three decades, Abu-Jamal argued that racism on the part of the trial judge and prosecutors led to his conviction. Two years ago, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower judge who set aside Abu-Jamal’s death sentence after finding jurors were given confusing instructions that encouraged them to choose death rather than a life sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court then ordered the court to re-examine the decision. In April, that ruling was upheld, and prosecutors had to determine whether Abu-Jamal would get a new sentencing hearing in court before a new jury.

Well, on Wednesday Philadelphia prosecutors announced they will no longer pursue the death penalty against Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

Now is that not puzzling? What has caused this change of heart after thirty years of dedicated efforts to execute Mumia? I think that is a question that Renée Feltz answered to my satisfaction. She explained the dilemma the District Attorney was facing on yesterday’s show on Democracy Now!:

“The district attorney in Pennsylvania, which has been fighting for over three decades now to uphold Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, has decided they will not pursue it any longer.

They had a choice: would they decide to go forward with a new sentencing hearing, which could present new evidence, questionably pointing out whether or not Mumia was convicted constitutionally, before a new jury, or would they decide to change his sentence to life? They decided to change it to life. One of the arguments that they put out was that in the court of public opinion, this new trial would have cost a lot of money. Was there support for that? That was negotiable. Now many of his supporters say that the state claims that the facts in the case would have upheld a capital charge, but others doubt that. So that’s a little bit about why maybe why they didn’t go forward with a new sentencing hearing.

Now, what’s going to happen next is that Mumia Abu-Jamal, according to lawyers familiar with the case, will be resentenced to life without parole in a Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. And that hearing has not yet been scheduled.” [2]

Amy Goodman again, and I have no further comments!

“AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to one of those phone calls that Mumia Abu-Jamal made. He made it before he learned of the death penalty being set aside and being given life without parole. He had this conversation on a Philadelphia talk radio station, WURD, in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

WURD: As someone who has been sitting in that prison for 30 years, could you tell us why the death penalty is a form of cruel and unusual punishment?

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: Well, there are many reasons. It is racist. But also, it is legally built on a fallacy. That is to say, if a prosecutor announces it is going—he or she is going for a death penalty, something happens in that case that happens in no other case in American law, or really global law. They’re able to select what is called a “prosecution-prone” jury. That is a jury who, having heard not one word of legal fact, has decided, before they are sworn in as jurors, that they could return a death penalty. If someone has a question and says, “Well, maybe yes, maybe no,” they’re removed. If someone says certainly, “I don’t believe in it,” they are removed. And there have been several highly regarded legal studies and scholarly studies on this by sociologists and psychologists and whatnot, and they found that these jurors are far more prosecution-prone, far more willing to convict and far less willing to give the legal entitlements to which an accused or a defendant is supposed to have. What that means is the prosecutor is able to get far more first degree murder convictions, and therefore able to, after that, turn around and go for a death penalty than they could have if they had a juror who is really a cross-representation of the community.

AMY GOODMAN: That was former death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. Again, prosecutors have decided not to pursue the death penalty in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case. He instead will be given life without parole. Before we turn to Bishop Tutu, Renée Feltz, the significance of not reopening the case in a sentencing hearing?

RENÉE FELTZ: Well, Amy, there were a lot of questionable things about how he was convicted and the evidence that was presented. Many people say the evidence used to convict him was collected by police officers who were later convicted of corruption on other charges in other cases. None of that is going to go before a new jury now.

Now, there’s a court of—there’s the court, a legal court, a criminal court, and then there’s the court of public opinion. And we have to look at some of the politics around this case. Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor, until very recently, 2011, is now a major player in the Democratic Party. And people say that he doesn’t want to have some of the dirty laundry in this case be dug up again as he tries to rise higher in the political party. Some people say he even has aspirations to become vice president with President Obama.”


AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn now, as we wrap up this segment, to a video statement from former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who’s joined Amnesty International and many others in calling for Mumia Abu-Jamal’s release. Tutu recorded this before Abu-Jamal’s death sentence was dropped, to mark the 30th year of his incarceration this week.


“When the South African Constitutional Court was set up after the end of the apartheid regime, one of its first acts was to abolish the death penalty. Some of us have long argued that to take a life where a life has been lost does not serve justice and is often shallow revenge. It was therefore with some relief that we received the news of some small concession in the case of U.S. journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. On October the 11th, 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld a lower court decision that Mumia, who has been on death row in Pennsylvania for 30 years, should never have been sentenced to death.

For three decades, Mumia has been held in a windowless, bathroom-sized cell and denied any physical contact with his family or with members of his community. This is in violation of the U.S.’s own Constitution. Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, recently presented a written report on solitary confinement to the United Nations General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee. He confirmed what many of us have long believed, that any regime where an inmate is held in isolation from others for anything beyond 15 days must be defined as having engaged in torture.

In addition, Amnesty International, in a 2001 report, noted that Mumia’s original trial did not meet the minimal standards of international law. Mumia’s guilty verdict must be considered more than flawed. It is unacceptable. He has been denied the right to a new trial based on racial bias in jury selection, has faced years of prosecutorial and police misconduct and judicial bias.

Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on death row, justice will not be served by relegating him to prison for the rest of his life—yet another form of death sentence. Based on even a minimal following of international human rights standards, Mumia should be released. I therefore join the call and ask others to follow, asking District Attorney Seth Williams to rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights and justice. Drop this case now and allow Mumia Abu-Jamal to be released immediately, with full time served. With thoughts of the biblical call of Isaiah to set free those who are bound, I wish you all peace. God bless you.”

There is going to be what is billed as “the largest event for Mumia in a decade” this Friday 9, December, 2011, in Philly, which is featuring Cornel West, Immortal Technique, Michelle Alexander, Vijay Prashad and many more! And this is only the beginning. Mumia must be freed! Those who cannot make it to Philly to listen to those great speeches that set the tone for the items on the agenda of this struggle, we invite you to listen to the New Jim Crow convict under-caste


THE LARGEST EVENT FOR MUMIA IN A DECADE WILL BE HELD THIS COMING FRIDAY NIGHT IN PHILLY! Featuring Cornel West, Immortal Technique, Michelle Alexander, Vijay Prashad and many more!




[1] D.A. Won’t Seek Death Penalty For Mumia Abu-Jamal, by The Associated Press, December 7, 2011.

[2] Mumia Abu-Jamal Spared Death Penalty After Prosecutors Drop 30-Year Bid for Execution, Democracy Now! December 08, 2011,

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