The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

New developments in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Jun 11, 2001

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been on Death Row after having been found guilty of shooting policeman Daniel Faulkner in 1981. Mumia had been a former Black Panther who was an outspoken news commentator before the shooting. During his trial Mumia was represented by an incompetent court-appointed lawyer, who has since been disbarred. Mumia did not testify, nor was he even allowed in the courtroom for half the trial.

For the first time Mumia gave a sworn statement to a U.S. court on May 3, 2001. He said that on December 9,1981 he was driving his cab and saw a police light flashing. He saw his brother standing in the street staggering and dizzy. He left the cab and ran toward him. As he crossed the street he saw a uniformed cop turn toward him with a gun, saw a flash and went down to his knees. He sat still trying to breathe. When he opened his eyes, he saw cops all around him. He was pulled to his feet, rammed into a telephone pole, beaten and thrown in a paddy wagon. "I never said I shot the policeman. I did not shoot the policeman. I never said I hoped he died."

Mumia's brother William Cook also made a statement to the court. He said that his partner Kenneth Freeman was with him that night. He said that Freeman later told him there had been a plan to kill Faulkner and that Freeman had been armed that night and took part in the shooting.

Another sworn statement was presented to the court, written two years before by Arnold Beverly. He said, "I was hired, along with another guy, and paid to shoot and kill Faulkner. I had heard that Faulkner was a problem for the mob and corrupt policemen because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity including prostitution, gambling, drugs without prosecution in the center city area." He also said, "I shot Faulkner in the face at close range." And said that after the shooting, he "by pre-arrangement met a police officer who assisted me when I exited the speedline underground about three blocks away." Beverly continues to be in hiding –obviously, if he came forward, he would be arrested for murder.

Another statement was made by Donald Hersing, who was an informant for the FBI in 1981 to 1982 (when the shooting occurred). He described the corruption among the Philadelphia police, identifying the cops who were at the scene of the shooting as among the most corrupt. All of this has the ring of credibility.

Since the shooting of Faulkner in 1981, the Philadelphia police department was investigated for corruption and ultimately put under court-ordered monitoring by the Department of Justice. One result of this investigation was the release of hundreds of people who had been convicted on doctored evidence.

The possible involvement of police corruption in the shooting provides an explanation why the police and Philadelphia prosecutors have fought so hard to deny Mumia another trial where all of this would come out.

Mumia's supporters are asking workers to raise awareness of Mumia's case in the work place –discussing his case, distributing ribbons and buttons in defense of Mumia.

Their demand continues to be: justice for Mumia.