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Washington Times 9/4/95

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL'S CELEBRITY DEFENDERS
still bashing America

Richard Grenier

mumia abu-jamal Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of murdering a Philadelphia policeman in cold blood in 1981 and whose death sentence has now received one more stay of execution, is America’s most eulogized, martyr-convict since Sacco and Vanzetti in the 1920s. And virtually no one thinks his case wold be handled with such delicacy if it weren’t for his quite huge list of celebrity supporters, drawn--unlike supporters of Sacco and Vanzetti--most heavily from the literary and entertainment worlds.

Sacco and Vanzetti had future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter on their side. No such distinguished American jurist has come forward to defend Jamal. Far from it. To my knowledge, none of the glittery celebrities who’ve leaped at this opportunity to associate themselves with such a virtuous cause has even considered reading the trial transcript. These people are not in the habit of reading trial transcripts, which would indeed make tedious reading for them as they’re able to penetrate to the inner truth of such matters with their minds uncluttered by irrelevancies. They find this inner truth all about them, in the nature of our society, in the very air they breathe. But just what air do these people breathe? And how does it differ from the air breathed by the rest of us?

I don’t propose to rehash here the pros and the cons of Jamal’s conviction. From my reading, it’s an open-and-shut case, and if it’s not, we can argue about it on another occasion. It’s far more curious to consider why a case of this sort draws the enthusiastic support of this particular kind of celebrity and, examining their record, to consider why we should pay any attention at all to what these people think. From the fashion industry: model Naomi Campbell. From the movie world: Oliver Stone, Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, Spike Lee, Ed Asner, Paul Newman. From pop music: Sting. From the literary world: EL Doctorow, Norman Mailer, William Styron, Salman Rushdie.

Now as a group, these people are not merely “Left” or “Liberal.” Naomi Campbell, the youngest, came along too late to make the big Cold War issues and has been confined by fate to the ethical treatment of animals. But Susan Sarandon was an authentic Sandinista, the only Hollywood personality who insisted on having her name wreathed in black in newspaper obituary announcements at the death of Sandinista heroine Nora Astorga.

You’d think Salman Rushdie would be leery of the Islamic world, Iranians having condemned him to death for his “Satanic Verses.” But, no. On balance, he thinks rather well of it, preferring it to what he calls the “so-called” free world (which he illogically chooses to inhabit). Moreover, he’s written one of the most sneeringly anti-American books of recent decades: the pro-Marxist-Leninist “Jaguar’s Smile.” Dostoyevsky said artists and writers are often infatuated with criminals, and Norman Mailer, who succeeded in getting murderer Jack Abbott out of prison, allowing him to murder again, is our home-grown example. All the above persons have credentials in some way comparable.

Now, for better or worse, I’ve not only spent a good deal of time in Communist countries, but, more interestingly, a large part of my life in Western countries possessing powerful Communist parties. The French Communist Party, which commanded some 25% of the national vote and at least that proportion of the country’s fashionable artistic class, could hardly be dismissed as an imaginary threat. In France anti-communism was thus always perfectly respectable as it could never be dismissed as “witch hunting.” But communism itself was also respectable, and--in sharp contrast to America--French Communists and Communist sympathizers told you their political preferences openly.

Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, about whose politics the American press has always been remarkably discreet, ostentatiously told the world he was a “Communist fellow traveller.” He even approved of the Palestinian massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Film director Costa-Gavras (“Missing”), following suit, announced he was a “Sartrian Marxist.” On a visit to Rome’s Cinecitta I wasn’t surprised to find italian film director Roberto Rossellini--husband of Ingrid Bergman and father of fashion model Isabella Rossellini--reading UNITA (Italy’s “Daily Worker) to his film crew.

Now probably none of the ultra-Left Americans named above are secret Communists. They don’t read “Das Kapital” under the covers at night. But, collectively speaking, their record could only have delighted Soviet authorities as almost without exception they consistently supported causes in the Soviet interest. After de-Stalinization (few of them choose to remember Stalin), when Third World Marxism-Leninism came into style, these people skipped about the world in angelic ignorance from Cuba to People’s China, to North Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, Angola, Mozambique, Argentina, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Afghanistan. And, whenever they encountered a Marxist-Leninist regime or insurgency, usually a Soviet proxy, they acted as if they’d witnessed the Second Coming. But when they encountered an American proxy, they behaved as if they’d met Satan personally.

It should be crushingly obvious, worshipping in impeccable ignorance any regime or movement which opposed the US, that these people possessed--the root of their behavior--a peculiarly inflexible loathing for their own country, which they apparently found irredeemably wicked and corrupt. But now that their Marxist-Leninist dreamworlds have largely collapsed, what are these poor people left with? Sadly, little but Mumia Abu-Jamal. It’s really depressing. To have dreamed such grand dreams for the future of humanity and be reduced to hypnotizing themselves into belief in the innocence of a photogenic cop-killer.

Workers World News Service
'Millions for Mumia”
Mass movement challenges police intimidation

By Greg Butterfield
April 8, 1999

With less than a month to go before the historic April 24 “Millions for Mumia” demonstrations in Philadelphia and San Francisco, both sides are gearing up for a showdown over the fate of African American political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.” It's a life-or-death struggle. Abu-Jamal could face execution within six months. The former Black Panther and award-winning radio journalist was convicted of the 1981 killing of Daniel Faulkner, a white Philadelphia cop, and sentenced to death. Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence. His trial was marred by gross judicial misconduct and police intimidation.

On one side are the swelling ranks of students, youths, workers, anti-death-penalty activists and people of all nationalities, sexualities and gender expressions, demanding “Stop the execution” and “A new trial for Mumia.”“” Diverse communities and groups have embraced Abu-Jamal's case as a symbol of all the struggles against racism and injustice--from police brutality to the epidemic of anti-gay and anti-trans lynchings.

This united movement has established more than 100 “Millions for Mumia” mobilizing centers in cities across the United States--from Albany, Ga., to Minneapolis, to San Jose, Calif.--and worldwide.”” They will come by the thousands in buses and car caravans to march for justice. This demonstration was made more urgent by the wave of anti-police-brutality sentiment that swept the country after the brutal Feb. 4 killing of African immigrant Amadou Diallo by four white New York cops.

The Millions for Mumia Mobilization has been endorsed by over 500 individuals and organizations, including Ossie Davis, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Ramsey Clark, Pam Africa, the Rev. Benjamin Chavis Muhammad, 1199 Health & Human Services Union/ Service Employees, Leonard Weinglass, Susan Sarandon, Bobby Seale, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Leslie Feinberg, Noam Chomsky, Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt), Kathleen Cleaver, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Manning Marable, Art Spiegelman and Ani DiFranco.

“The immense level of activity in colleges, high schools and communities throughout the country is a clear sign that the April 24 demonstrations will be among the largest and most militant in recent history, and the biggest ever on behalf of a U.S. political prisoner,” said Monica Moorehead, a national coordinator of “Millions for Mumia.”“” On the other side, clamoring for an execution, are the police, politicians and courts that serve and protect the super-rich.

On March 22, the New Jersey State Senate voted 38-0 to hand over $65,000 to the 200 Clubs, a front group for the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP publicly campaigns for Abu-Jamal's execution.”” What brought about this remarkable show of Democrat-Republican unity on behalf of the FOP?” The money came from fees raised at a Jan. 28 benefit concert for Abu-Jamal at the state-run Meadowlands Arena.

Col. Carl Williams, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, had tried to ban the concert. At his urging, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman warned young people not to go.”” Twenty thousand youths went anyway. The sold-out concert featured popular bands like Rage Against the Machine and the Beastie Boys and reportedly raised $500,000 for Abu-Jamal's legal defense fund.

Just weeks later, Black and Latino organizations forced Whitman to fire Col. Williams after he made racist remarks on a radio talk show.”” The New Jersey State Police are currently under a federal investigation for “racial profiling,” a statewide policy of singling out Black and Latino motorists for abuse.

Pa. execution speed-up

During his reelection campaign last year, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge promised to speed the pace of executions there. He also vowed to kill Mumia Abu-Jamal at the earliest opportunity.”” There are 223 people on death row in the state. A disproportionate number are Black or Latino.”” On Feb. 26 Ridge announced a new protocol to speed executions. From now on, he said, death warrants will be issued automatically, regardless of pending appeals.

Ridge signed six death warrants March 15. This wave of executions is set to begin on April 22--just two days before “Millions for Mumia.”“” The prisoners scheduled for execution are Miguel Rios (April 22), Orlando Baez (April 27), Daniel Gwynn (April 29), Bradley Martin (May 1), Antynue Robinson (May 12), and Carolyn Ann King (May 13).

While Abu-Jamal is not among those facing imminent death, the timing of the planned legal lynchings is significant. This brutal show of state power is sure to whip up racist and reactionary elements inside and outside the police.”” The executions are also part of an intimidation campaign aimed at discouraging Philadelphia's African American community from mobilizing on April 24, say “Millions for Mumia” organizers.

Another component of this intimidation campaign is an April 23 fundraising dinner for “Justice for Police Officer Daniel Faulkner Inc.,” an FOP group nominally headed by Maureen Faulkner, the cop's widow.”” The fundraiser, expected to draw 500 people, is grabbing headlines in the Phila delphia press, which invariably describe Abu-Jamal as a “convicted cop-killer.”

But young people are mobilizing to show that the police can be challenged. When Philadelphia youths leave their schools April 23 for the International Student Walkout for Mumia, they will march to the liars' feast and confront the police intimidation campaign head on.”” The youth walkouts cap a month of coast-to-coast actions to build “Millions for Mumia.” Dozens of events are scheduled in April, including concerts, book-signings, campus speak-outs and press conferences.

“Millions for Mumia” has been invited to form one of the lead contingents at an April 3 Emergency March Against Police Brutality in Washington. Pam Africa, leader of International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, is a featured speaker.”” Monica Moorehead pointed out that police threats have often backfired to the benefit of Abu-Jamal's supporters. That's what brought national media coverage to the Rage concert, to an Oakland, Calif., teach-in, and to the Feb. 26 Town Hall rally in New York.

“On Saturday, April 24, people from all walks of life will march in Philadelphia and San Francisco as `Millions for Mumia,' and together we will forge a powerful movement to stop the execution and win Mumia a new trial,” she said.”” Readers planning to march in Philadelphia on April 24 are urged to buy their bus tickets soon. Call the Millions for Mumia Mobilization in New York at (212) 633-6646 or in Philadelphia at (215) 476-8812. Updated information is available at http://www.peoplescampaign.org/
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https://consortiumnews.com/2017/08/12/a-new-angle-in-abu-jamals-case/

A New Angle in Abu-Jamal’s Case
August 12, 2017

The decades-old case of convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal has always centered on whether the legal process was rigged against the black political activist, an argument that has new life, reports Dennis J Bernstein.
By Dennis J Bernstein

A potential new front has opened up in the fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence and has spent the last 30 plus years trying to prove it. Along the way, there have been some victories. First he fought his way off Death Row. Then he fought a battle to get medical care that he was being denied, a situation that sent his health into a dangerous spiral. Now he and his lawyers are citing new information about possible judicial bias that could have a direct impact on the legitimacy of his murder conviction.

During his decades of imprisonment, Abu-Jamal has continued to practice the art of journalism, crafting well-researched columns on issues of racism, human rights — and doing it, first, from death row then from maximum security lock-down. Sometimes his columns, as Emily Dickinson used to say about a good poem, can take the top of your head off. Tens of thousands of his supporters are charmed and moved by his Weekly Radio commentaries from prison. Many of his supporters assert that the former public radio reporter, and Black Panther Minister of Information (at 15), is a political prisoner, the victim of arguably one of the most corrupt police departments in the United States.

I spoke recently with Rachel Wolkenstein, an attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal, about the latest development in this decades old case.

Dennis Bernstein: Set this up for us. We are hearing that new information has surfaced. We’d like to get a complete debriefing, but first please remind people briefly who Mumia Abu-Jamal is, in case they haven’t heard about this celebrated case.

Rachel Wolkenstein: Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner, a “class-war prisoner,” as I consider him. He is a former Black Panther member, a MOVE organization supporter, a radical journalist who was known as “the Voice of the Voiceless.” He was an award-winning radio journalist in Philadelphia in the late 1970s until his arrest on December 9, 1981 in connection with the murder of a police officer. This is a crime that Mumia did not commit and he has always maintained his innocence.

His case has always been racially biased and politically motivated. Mumia was framed by the Philadelphia police department and the prosecution, with help from the Attorney General’s office and the FBI, because he was so outspoken in his defense of the oppressed, particularly the politically oppressed, such as the MOVE organization at that time in Philadelphia. As a teenager he was communications director and journalist for the Black Panther Party. He was known throughout Philadelphia for his beautiful voice and his passionate social and political commentary.

DB: He was also known throughout Philadelphia by perhaps the most corrupt police department in the nation at that time, a police department and prosecutor’s office that were studied for their corruption and under federal investigation.

RW: That is correct. Frank Rizzo had been the police commissioner. Interestingly, many elements of the federal COINTELPRO program were actually based on things that Rizzo had done. He then became the mayor of Philadelphia and organized the raids on the Black Panthers when Mumia was a member and a spokesman for the Party. You are absolutely correct, the efforts to have him exterminated were very clearly orchestrated by the FBI.

One of the early things I worked on with my colleagues from the Partisan Defense Committee at that time was obtaining Mumia’s COINTELPRO records, which showed that they had a dossier on him when he was just 15 years old, in the late ‘sixties. There they said, in effect, despite his young years, he should be on the ADEX file (a list of who the FBI felt should be rounded up and put into concentration camps if there was any political turmoil in the country). They said Mumia belonged on that list because of his ability to speak out in advocacy.

Mumia went to Chicago to witness the murders that had been committed by the FBI and the Chicago police and to speak about what was happening. He was featured in a front-page story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which described this young man who was speaking out in defense of the Panthers and against police brutality. The cops in Philadelphia knew who he was and they were tracking him.

When the MOVE commune was surrounded and attacked in 1978 and when, in the aftermath, Delbert Africa, a former Panther, was beaten on the street (in the first televised police beating in the country), Mumia again spoke in defense of the MOVE members and against the attack. He was also specifically targeted by Rizzo and by Edward Rendell [former Philadelphia District Attorney who oversaw Mumia’s prosecution], who I consider to be directly responsible for the frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

So there is a long history there of knowing who Mumia was, targeting him, trying to silence his voice and ultimately to murder him. What happened on the night of December 9, 1981 was that Mumia came across a police altercation in the street. He was driving a cab at that point because he had been drummed out of mainstream news reporting for his defense of the MOVE organization. In the midst of a purported shoot-out, a police officer named Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed. The chief inspector arrived on the scene, a guy named [Alfonzo] Giordano, who had been Rizzo’s right-hand man a few years earlier and who was also under investigation for corruption and being on the take.

Giordano knew very well who they had found on the street that night and he began the conscious frame-up of Mumia. They claimed that Mumia confessed that night, they said that Mumia’s gun was found on the scene and that it was the murder weapon. They brought forward two witnesses, one a prostitute who was actually doing tricks for the cops and working as an informant so she could do her work on the streets. The other witness was a cab driver who we later learned was coerced into testifying against Mumia.

I should say that I have been working with Mumia for thirty years now and I was involved in a major investigation during his post-trial hearings in Philadelphia from 1995 through 1999. There we brought out an enormous amount of concrete evidence of prosecutorial and police misconduct in the frame-up of Mumia for a crime he did not commit.

DB: Obviously, Mumia was someone who was way ahead of his time, taking on the issue of police violence long before most people had any sense of how systematic this was. So there is apparently new information, new evidence in the case. Tell us about that.

RW: Well, about a year ago, a very important case was decided by the United States Supreme Court. It involved the fact that one of the justices who became the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Ronald Castille, had been the prosecutor in Philadelphia, following Rendell as the chief DA.

He had been a DA and ran on a law-and-order platform, and was endorsed and received major funding from the Fraternal Order of Police. Nonetheless, when he became a Philadelphia Supreme Court justice he sat and ruled on a number of cases, including Mumia’s case, despite requests for him to remove himself on grounds of bias and conflict of interest.

About a year ago, in a different case, after many attempts to get a ruling, it was found that it is a conflict of interest and a denial of a fair and impartial appeal process to allow a judge to sit who had previously been personally involved in a significant fashion in the earlier prosecution of the same case. Basically, it required all the appeals that that judge had sat on and that had been negatively decided against the defendant to be thrown out and to be able to start over again.

Based on this ruling, Mumia’s lawyers brought an action last August to challenge Mumia’s appeals, because Castille was the district attorney who was in charge of all the appeal issues on Mumia’s case at the time that dealt with his Black Panther membership, the rigging of the jury selection to keep blacks off the jury, and various other issues. In all significant issues of Mumia’s case, Castille was the person who argued the decisions should be upheld.

Statues of Lady Justice can be found around the world, this one atop London’s Old Bailey courthouse.

When Castille became a supreme court justice, he had already been the architect of all the DA’s support of Mumia’s conviction. During the period of my involvement in the case, and with all the challenges to Mumia’s conviction that began in 1995 and went on through 2008, Castille refused to removed himself from the case and instead ruled against Mumia in each of these cases. The argument is now being made that Castille violated the fundamental precept that as a prosecutor involved in the case he should never have sat as a judge.

So now Mumia’s case in court has finally gotten some arguments. The DA’s office tried to get it thrown out on grounds that it was brought too late and didn’t apply anymore. The judge ruled that it did in fact apply and that the case should go forward. Then it became an issue of the DA’s office being ordered to come forward with evidence that shows Castille’s involvement. They have been noncompliant with the order and recalcitrant in not providing real information, no record of his involvement in Mumia’s case.

This in spite of Castille’s statements in his supreme court run that he took personal involvement in these appeals, particularly appeals to the US Supreme Court. So Mumia filed another motion for the DA’s office to comply and search their records again and they came up with one paragraph saying, “Well, we had two people going through 31 boxes looking for this and that.” But there is no mention whether they went through Castille’s files as DA or his chief assistant’s files.

Also, one of the people at the DA who has been working on Mumia’s appeals since 1986 and has been in the courtroom through all these hearings during the ‘90’s was personally appointed by Castille to be in charge of the appeals division. He is actually arguing the case on behalf of the DA’s office now. He is still working on the case thirty years later. We have nothing indicating what role he played or any statement at all indicating whether he had any consultations with Castille regarding this case.

So they are stonewalling, they are concealing information. And it will continue to take a great deal of political pressure in the form of demonstrations and protests to make it clear to the DA’s office that we are demanding that they finally open up their files.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network.


Mumia Abu Jamal: Black Panther, Cop Killer, and Leftist Icon
December 15, 2016

Discover the Networks

The man currently known as Mumia Abu-Jamal was born as Wesley Cook in Philadelphia in 1954. He joined the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP) at age 14, and he became that chapter’s Lieutenant of Information at 15.

Cook was given the name Mumia in 1968 by one of his high-school instructors, a man of Kenyan descent who was teaching a Swahili class in which he assigned African names to his students. “Mumia” means “Prince” in Swahili. Cook subsequently adopted the surname Abu-Jamal (meaning “Father of Jamal” in Arabic) after the birth of his son Jamal on July 18, 1971. Abu-Jamal’s first marriage at age 19, to Jamal’s mother, Biba, did not last long, as his young wife soon realized that her husband had no intention of being monogamous. Abu-Jamal would subsequently marry two more times.

Abu-Jamal spent late 1969 in New York City and early 1970 in Oakland, living and working with BPP comrades in those cities. He was a BPP member from May 1969 until October 1970 and was subject to surveillance under the FBI’s COINTELPRO program from 1969-74.

In a 1970 interview, Abu-Jamal, alluding to a famous quote by Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong, said: “Black people are facing the reality that the Black Panther Party has been facing: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Following his stint with the Panthers, Abu-Jamal returned to his old high school and led unsuccessful protests to change the school’s name to Malcolm X High. He was eventually suspended for distributing literature that advocated “black revolutionary student power.” After earning a GED, Abu-Jamal studied briefly at Goddard College in Vermont.

By 1975 Abu-Jamal was working as a radio newscaster at the Temple University station WRTI. Over the ensuing three years, he found work with Philadelphia-based stations like WHAT, WCAU, and WPEN. From 1979-81, Abu-Jamal worked at National Public Radio affiliate WUH, which eventually fired him because of his radicalism. Also during the mid- to late ’70s, he became active in the local chapter of the Marijuana Users Association of America.

Abu-Jamal in his radio journalism earned the nickname “the voice of the voiceless,” and he gave much positive coverage to the activities of MOVE, a Philadelphia-based Black Power cult that was formed in 1972 by Vincent Leaphart, a.k.a. John Africa. The group was known for its demonstrations against police officers and the city government, and the official “MOVE Statement” conveyed a highly militant agenda:

“MOVE’s work is to stop industry from poisoning the air, the water, the soil, and to put an end to the enslavement of life—people, animals, any form of life. The purpose of John Africa’s revolution is to show people through John Africa’s teaching, the truth, that this [Western capitalist] system is the cause of all their problems (alcoholism, drug addiction, unemployment, wife abuse, child pornography, every problem in the world), and [to] set the example of revolution for people to follow when they realize how they’ve been oppressed, repressed, duped, tricked by this system, this government, and [to] see the need to rid themselves of this cancerous system as MOVE does.”

In this anti-capitalist organization, Abu-Jamal found a new home for his radical convictions. His first contact with MOVE came in 1975, when he happened upon some members who were protesting a Jesse Jackson rally for allegedly being too moderate. Throughout the late Seventies, Abu-Jamal’s radicalism intensified under the influence of this militant group, which he enthusiastically endorsed as “Niggas with guns!” MOVE gained a great deal of public attention during the late 1970s when some of its disciples embarked on an armed standoff with Philadelphia police. Tensions persisted from May 1977 to August 1978, eventually ending in an eruption of gunfire that left one policeman dead. As noted above, Abu-Jamal was outspoken in his support for MOVE.

But the event that decisively catapulted Abu-Jamal into the public eye occurred shortly after 3:55 a.m. on December 9, 1981, when a 25-year-old white Philadelphia police officer named Daniel Faulkner made a traffic stop of William Cook, Abu-Jamal’s brother, who was driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Faulkner pulled behind Cook’s car, radioed for police backup, approached Cook’s vehicle, and ordered the driver to get out of his car. While Faulkner handcuffed the driver, Abu-Jamal, who was employed at that time as a cab driver, was parked across the street in his taxi. He suddenly got out of his vehicle, ran toward Faulkner, and shot him in the back. As the officer fell, he drew his own gun and managed to shoot Abu-Jamal in the chest, wounding but not killing him. The gun-wielding cabdriver then fired repeatedly at Faulkner, finally dispatching him from close range with a bullet between his eyes. Abu Jamal’s presence near the scene of the roadside stop at that particular moment has led to serious speculation that William Cook had intentionally led Faulkner into an ambush—one that had all the earmarks of other Black Panther provocations in places like Newark and Oakland.

The body of evidence placing Abu-Jamal at the scene of Faulkner’s killing was overwhelming. When the arresting officers arrived at the scene, Abu-Jamal was sitting on a curb near Faulkner’s corpse, with a fresh gunshot wound incurred from the young officer’s weapon. Not only did five witnesses see Abu-Jamal shoot Faulkner, but the bullets that were later pulled from Faulkner’s chest and brain were matched to the .38 caliber handgun that was registered to Abu-Jamal and which was sitting at his feet when the police arrived at the murder scene. Moreover, the gun had five empty cartridges when investigators found it.

In his 1982 trial, Abu-Jamal initially acted as own lawyer. He refused to enter a plea, refused to rise at the outset of courtroom proceedings, and demanded, more than 100 times, that the incarcerated Philadelphia cult leader John Africa, whom the defendant described as the best lawyer in the world, be permitted to attend the trial. Abu-Jamal called one judge a “bastard” and another a “black-robed conspirator,” and he was kicked out of courtrooms at least a half-dozen times during the duration of his trial. Meanwhile, Abu-Jamal attracted a passionate “cult” following of supporters and apologists who protested outside the courthouse and partook in a fracas within it.

Inside the courtroom, a police officer and a hospital security guard testified that while Abu-Jamal was being brought into the hospital following the altercation with Faulkner, they had heard him say, “I shot the mother fu**er, and I hope the mother fu**er dies.” Another witness testified to having heard Abu-Jamal declare, at the hospital: “I’m glad. If you let me go, I will kill all you cops.” Also during the trial, Abu-Jamal himself never once claimed his own innocence. Nor did his brother, William Cook, ever testify that Abu-Jamal was innocent. All the relevant facts of the case are detailed on the website DanielFaulkner.com.

The racially mixed jury (10 whites and two blacks), which Abu-Jamal himself helped select, convicted the defendant and later sentenced him to death. Following the determination of his guilt, Abu-Jamal melodramatically proclaimed: “This decision today proves neither my guilt nor my innocence. It proves merely that the system is finished. Babylon is falling! Long live MOVE! Long live John Africa!”

In 1989 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s conviction and sentence.

Then, in the mid-1990s, a new legal team acting on Abu-Jamal’s behalf challenged most of the facts in the case and waged an international propaganda campaign to rehabilitate their client’s image. The lead attorney on the team was Leonard Weinglass, a Fidel Castro supporter who once served as co-chairman of the National Lawyers Guild‘s International Committee. According to Abu-Jamal’s new counsel: (a) the police had faked the death of one female witness to prevent her from recanting, and (b) a .44 caliber round, inconsistent with Abu-Jamal’s .38 caliber revolver, had really caused Faulkner’s death—despite the appellant’s own ballistics expert rebutting this conspiracy theory on the witness stand.

Following Weinglass’s lead, a bevy of prominent leftists rallied to Abu-Jamal’s defense, claiming that his first trial had been an exercise in injustice and that the actual gunman was an unnamed passenger in William Cook’s car who fled from the scene after murdering Officer Faulkner and was never subsequently found.

Folowing is a timeline of the major events related to Abu-Jamal’s case after the 1982 trial:

At the end of January 2012, Abu-Jamal was moved, for the first time since going on Death Row, into the general prison population of the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania.

Abu-Jamal remains an icon of the radical Left. Besides Philadelphia, the principal nodes of support for him are located in leftist enclaves of Hollywood, Paris, and San Francisco. Believers in his cause have included such luminaries as Maya Angelou, Ed Asner, Alec Baldwin, Richard Barnet, Harry Belafonte, Derrick Bell, Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, Calvin Butts, Naomi Campbell, Fidel Castro, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Ben Cohen, James Cone, John Conyers, Angela Davis, Ossie Davis, Ron Dellums, David Dinkins, Carl Dix, Snoop Dogg, Roger Ebert, Eve Ensler, Mike Farrell, Chaka Fattah, Henry Louis Gates, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Dee Dee Halleck, Woody Harrelson, Marc Lamont Hill, Molly Ivins, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Van Jones, Casey Kasem, Barbara Kingsolver, Arthur Kinoy, C. Clark Kissinger, Ron Kuby, Tony Kushner, Norman Lear, Spike Lee, Norman Mailer, Robert Meerepol, Michael Moore, Paul Newman, Frances Fox Piven, Charles Rangel, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Tim Robbins, Salman Rushdie, Susan Sarandon, Pete Seeger, Gloria Steinem, Oliver Stone, Edith Tiger, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Cornel West, Peter Yarrow, and Howard Zinn.

A number of Abu-Jamal advocates have started their own websites to promote his innocence. One of them, FreeMumia.org, is run by the longtime Trotskyite communist Jeff Mackler of the California Federation of Teachers. Mackler is also a leading member of Socialist Action USA.

Among the organizations to publicly declare their solidarity with Abu-Jamal are Amnesty International, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Products, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Committees of Correspondence, Deep Dish TV, Human Rights Watch, the International Action Center, International ANSWER, the NAACP, the National Lawyers Guild, and Refuse and Resist.

Revered by the academic Left, Abu-Jamal has been a guest speaker at a number of college commencement ceremonies—in each instance delivering his addresses via video transmission from the confines of his prison cell. In 1999, for instance, he spoke to the graduating class of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Likening himself to persecuted social-justice leaders of the past, he explained that he was a revolutionary seeking to raise public consciousness about America’s alleged repression of blacks and other minorities. “Revolution, according to the Declaration of Independence, is a right” of all oppressed people, said Abu-Jamal. Among the other schools whose graduates Abu-Jamal has addressed are Antioch College, Kent State University, Occidental College, Merrill College atUC Santa Cruz, and his alma mater, Goddard College (in October 2014).

The Left’s devotion to Abu-Jamal is a phenomenon that extends far beyond the borders of the United States. Indeed he has been made an honorary citizen of approximately 25 cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Montreal, Palermo, and Paris. And in 2001, he received the sixth biennial Erich Mühsam Prize, an award that recognizes activism in line with that of its namesake, the late anarcho-communist essayist.

Abu-Jamal is a great admirer of “the life and contributions” of the late Black Panther founder, Huey Newton. In October 2007 he wrote that Newton “was, and remains, a brilliant revolutionary” who was “intensely curious, acutely brilliant, a lover of all the world’s children, [and] an implacable foe of all the world’s oppressors.”

While serving his prison sentence, Abu-Jamal has earned a BA degree from Goddard College (1996) and an MA from California State University at Dominguez Hill. He also published a 1995 book titled Live from Death Row, wherein he discusses the prison experience from an inmate’s perspective. In an essay addressing the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s, for example, his left-wing views crystallize in these lines:

“The system used the main nonviolent themes of Martin Luther King’s life to present a strategy designed to protect its own interests—imagine the most violent nation on earth, the heir of Indian and African genocide, the only nation ever to drop an atomic bomb on a civilian population, the world’s biggest arms dealer, the country that napalmed over ten million people in Vietnam (to ‘save’ it from Communism), the world’s biggest jailer, waving the corpse of King, calling for nonviolence!”

Additional books that Abu-Jamal has published include All Things Censored (2000, with a foreword by Alice Walker); Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience (2003, with a preface by Cornel West); We Want Freedom: A Life In The Black Panther Party (2004, with an introduction by Kathleen Cleaver); Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USA (2009, with an introduction by Angela Davis); and The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America (2011, co-authored with Marc Lamont Hill).

For many years, Abu-Jamal has hosted his own radio program that airs regularly on Prison Radio and can also be heard via the Internet. Moreover, hundreds of his broadcasts have been aired on Pacifica Radio since 1989.

A national officer with the National Lawyers Guild—where his official title is Jailhouse Lawyer Vice President—Abu-Jamal has been a regular columnist for Junge Welt, a Marxist newspaper in Germany. He also has been a guest blogger at the website of Marc Lamont Hill.