The Spark

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

Mumia Abu-Jamal risks being executed

Nov 17, 2003

On October 8, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the latest appeal of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been in prison since 1981 on trumped-up charges of murdering a police officer, Daniel Faulkner. Mumia was an activist journalist who supported a radical black group called Move and who had regularly written and spoken on the radio indicting the racism and corruption of the Philadelphia police department.

Mumia's lawyers were appealing his case on the basis of testimony which could clear him. In 1999, Arnold Beverly confessed that he had killed the police officer in the 1981 case. His testimony was especially damaging to the prosecution because he explained he had been hired by crooked cops to murder another cop who had turned some of them in for corruption.

But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court turned down this appeal, grounding its ruling on a recent Supreme Court ruling that new evidence had to be introduced within a year of a case being heard. In the Mumia case, the new evidence didn't exist until Beverly confessed, 18 years after the original case. Mumia and his lawyers didn't have access to it.

While his appeal was making its way up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the courts had put his execution on hold. But now the state of Pennsylvania will try to move quickly to kill him.

Mumia had been given the death penalty by the presiding judge in the 1981 case. His determination to "get" Mumia was on record. His own secretary swore that the judge told her concerning Mumia, "I'm going to help fry that nigger." But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court also ruled that the secretary's testimony provided no grounds for a new trial, because it, too, was offered too late.

Those defending this justice system claim that guilty people are often released in this country on the basis of technicalities. In fact, Mumia is being railroaded to the execution chamber on the basis of a technicality.

Hiding behind this technicality is the whole state apparatus, which has always aimed to put this man – who exposed the functioning of their system – to death.

Mumia's case has been taken up widely around the world. It's obvious to the rest of the world that he is a political prisoner.

International protests supporting him continue. They need to develop and grow in this country as well.