Apr 20, 2009
The Supreme Court just refused to give a favorable decision to the appeal of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s lawyers who had asked for a new trial. Thus, the highest court definitively ratified the denial of justice that has victimized this black journalist and activist for 27 years.
The basis of this latest appeal was the fact the prosecutor excluded almost all black potential jurors during the 1982 trial. The result was that the jury which pronounced the death sentence was made up of ten white and only two black jurors. Obviously, the racism couldn’t be clearer. Nonetheless the Supreme Court turned a blind eye. This was the last issue on which Mumia could have hoped to get a new trial. The courts had already denied him a new trial despite all the new evidence found showing his innocence.
The Supreme Court, however, still has to decide on the appeal by the Philadelphia prosecutor demanding the Supreme Court reverse the Appeals Court which suspended the death sentence. If the Supreme Court sustains the Appeals Court, a new jury would be selected, but only to decide whether the penalty should be life in prison or death. If the Supreme Court overturns the decision of the Appeals Court, Mumia will be condemned to death.
In other words, at best Mumia is facing life in prison.
A number of organizations and clergyman are now asking Barack Obama to pardon Mumia with complete right on their side. From beginning to end this was a complete frame-up of a political activist who had embarrassed the Philadelphia police by shining a light on its repressive actions.
During the election campaign, asked if he had taken a position on the case, Obama responded, “You know, I haven’t, only because the details of this event I’ve never studied. You know, I’m vaguely familiar with the fact that there’s been a controversy around it. So let me just lay out a very clear principle. In my mind, if somebody killed a police officer, they deserve the death penalty, uh, or life in prison. And that’s my view. And that’s part of the reason why I received the endorsement of the National Association of Police Officers.” And we should add, the endorsement of Michael Smerconish, the right-wing radio talk host who has been pushing for Mumia to be put to death for years.
It’s obvious that getting Obama to pardon Mumia will require that this case is more widely publicized, that those people who understand what a judicial farce it was bring all the pressure to bear. Those who want to prevent the legal assassination of Mumia Abu-Jamal must double, redouble, and redouble again efforts to enforce his freedom.