Friday, February 26, 2010

Leonard Peltier Solidarity Statement with Mumia Abu-Jamal

From Freedom Archives:

Greetings brothers and sisters, and thank you for attending this event to listen, learn, teach, and organize. I am Leonard Peltier, a proud Lakota and Anishinabe American Indian activist, organizer, and patriot. I am likewise, unfortunately, a fellow political prisoner in this 'land of the free.'

I, along with my family, my supporters, and American Indians everywhere, know full well what the justice system of the United States can mean to the brown man, the black man, and any man or woman who dares to think or talk truth to power.

That we have been made targets in our own country should outrage every single man and woman everywhere, no matter the color, background or political leaning. That this country continues the barbaric practices of executions should be opposed by all people of conscience.

Whether or not you approve of capital punishment is irrelevant as long as minorities are executed with alarming disparities. Whether you approve or not is of secondary concern when people like Mumia Abu Jamal, myself and many others are convicted and sentenced to die with evidence that would exonerate most any white man. As such, every single progressive organization should oppose the death penalty as we now know it.

This has not been a case of justice or the law, it has been politics, racism, and control, and we should confront these issues long before we decide who to execute. As long as we have these inequities in our midst, we will continue to convict and execute innocents. Execute - let's call it what it really is - state sanctioned murder! Why does America allow this brand of 'justice' to exist?

That is a question that must haunt the soul of every true American patriot. For as long as it does, America can never be the bastion of freedom it has claimed to be, the light in the darkness it wants to be, nor the high ground of morality it hopes to be.

Pay attention to the names this government uses when it is opposed. The American government has called other countries 'evil empire' and 'axis of evil.' The rest of the world hears this and scoffs!

Why? Because they see this country convicting, imprisoning, and executing innocent minorities and political liabilities while claiming to be a free society - because they see corporate personhood allowing the rape of the Earth and desecration of the sacred - because they see this country waging illegal war while claiming to love peace - and because they see this country propping up murderous dictators while giving lip service to human rights. The rest of the world sees all of this and wonders, is not America the real evil empire?

I, like Mumia, have been called a terrorist by my own government. Well, I never knew a terrorist who advocated the rule of law as we have. Some people need to find a new dictionary!

There may be other parts of the world which are breeding grounds for terrorism, but this government makes sure they have fertile ground to harvest. We are not the terrorists! I love my country. Progressive thinking people love this country. It is thusly our patriotic duty to respond to such government with righteous indignation! It is only when we allow a corrupt government to corrupt our very minds that a patriot becomes a terrorist!

As long as you are willing to work for justice, all political prisoners can still hope for freedom. Real power starts from the bottom and goes up, not the other way around. Free Mumia!

In solidarity,
Leonard Peltier

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Flood the D of J phones demanding a civil rts investigation, & sign petitions

Tomorrow is call-in day to the Department of Justice Day. We've actually decided to do it once a week between now and April 26 when we are going to Washington. Every Thursday will be call-in day, and we will remind you. Leave a message on the Department of Justice Hotline: 202-353-1555. If the line is busy or does not respond, call 202-514-2000 and tell them what you're calling about.

Demand a Civil Rights Investigation into the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Sound logical and knowledgeable. Tell them you know the Department of Justice has jurisdiction to conduct a civil rights investigation when egregious violations of civil rights occur. Also, explain that Mumia never got a fair trial, and that there is extensive evidence of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct as well as exentsive evidence of Mumia's innocence that was systematically excluded by the courts from the record.

Keep those letter/petitions going as well. You can sign online,, or have a hard copy e-mailed to you if you request that. Get others to sign too. We need all this pressure to fight this uphill battle for justice for Mumia. Free Mumia! Free 'em All!

Save Monday, April 26, to be with us in Washington, DC!

Letter to Eric Holder for Civil Rights Investigation of the Case of MUMIA!

From Sis. Pam Africa:

Campaign for a Civil Rights Investigation of the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 16, College Station, New York, NY 10030

February 19, 2010

Pam Africa, 215-476-8812
Dr. Suzanne Ross, 917-584-2135

Attorney General Eric Holder
Cc: Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We write to you about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. We are sure you know quite a bit about this case and about the person behind the “case.” As you probably have heard, we are asking the Department of Justice to review the extensive history of civil rights violations in this case, dating back to even before there was any issue of a crime involved, to the present day. We are eager to meet with you to discuss these violations. An international delegation will be available to meet with you on Monday, April 26. We certainly hope that it will be possible for you to arrange to see us at that time. By the beginning of April, we will provide you with a legal brief addressing the issues involved.

This letter, and the request we are submitting for a meeting, is our second approach to the Department of Justice in the past few months. Last November 12, we delivered approximately 20,000 letters (online and in hard copy) to the Department of Justice after holding a press conference at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Charles Rangel, Ruby Dee, Angela Davis, and Alice Walker were among the signers. We delivered the letters to the Department of Justice spokesperson, Alejandro Mijar. We explained to Mr. Mijar why we are calling for a civil rights investigation into Mumia’s case and also conveyed to him that we hoped to meet with you when we next came to the Department of Justice. This exchange with an official from the department was arranged by telephone by Dr. Suzanne Ross in conversation with the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas E. Perez, through his secretary, Nathaniel Gamble.

We wish to return in April with many of us listed below as well as other national and international leaders representing unions, anti-death penalty groups, religious, legal, and human rights organizations. On April 26 we will explain the police, prosecutorial, and judicial patterns in this 28 year legal case that could hardly be said to represent the law but rather the lack of law. Clearly this is a very political and highly charged case. As such, the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal cries out for a review of the decades-long history of lawlessness and injustice.

We hope to hear from you in the very near future and very much look forward to sharing ideas about how a civil rights investigation might contribute to establishing fairness and justice in a case where an innocent man, a rather remarkable intellectual leader and visionary, is being railroaded to execution.

We are attaching a number of documents to give you a picture of the issues involved, the work we’ve done to educate people about a civil rights investigation, the support we’ve gotten, and some of the activities we’ve conducted. These are not legal documents. We will submit those in advance of our meeting with you.

Yours for justice,

National Conference of Black Lawyers
The Riverside Church Prison Ministry
Pam Africa, Chair, International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Sion Assidon, member of Moroccan Association of Human Rights, former political prisoner
Alan Benjamin, San Francisco Labor Council Executive Board member; International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples
Patrick Braouezec, former Mayor of Saint-Denis, France; current member of the French Parliament
Dr. Marvin Cheatham, NAACP, Baltimore City, President
Sister Empress Phile Chionesu, Founder and President General of the Original Million Woman March and Universal Movement, Philadelphia, PA
Michael Coard, Esq., Philadelphia, PA
Martha Conley, Esq., Pittsburgh, PA
Mireille Fanon-Mendes France, Chairperson, Frantz Fanon Foundation, Member of International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Larry Hales, Students and Youth for Mumia
Leslie Jones, Esq., Ithaca, NY
Jeff Mackler, Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (San Francisco)
Nada Khader, WESPAC Foundation
Cynthia McKinney, Former Congressional Representative, Atlanta, GA
Suryea Peterson, Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Non-Violence, Board member
Dr. Suzanne Ross, Co-chair, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)
Sundiata Sadiq, Ossining NAACP, former President
Fignole St. Cyr, Autonomous Unions of Haiti, President
Dr. Michael Schiffman, English Department, University of Heidelberg, Germany
Professor Mark Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary, Educators for Mumia
Leon Williams, Esq., Philadelphia, PA

List of Attachments

Mass Grassroots Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Congressional Black Caucus Letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, June 30, 1995
Statement by Martin Luther King, III 1999
Article by Hans Bennett, San Francisco Bay View
Article by Linn Washington, This Is No Victory, March 2008
NAACP Press Conference, July 2009
Julian Bond Statement on Democracy Now!, June 2009
Article by Linn Washington, Wrongs in Civil Rights Underlying Abu-Jamal Conviction, August 11, 2009
Final Call Article by Saeed Shabazz, October 30, 2009
November 12, 2009, Press Conference in Washington, DC
Final Call Article by Askia Muhammad, November 2009
Article by Linn Washington, Cracks in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Case, December 10, 2009
Article by Linn Washington, The Mumia Exception, February 11, 2010


THINK * DECIDE * ACTJoin Educators for Mumia (EMAJ)

at for

Introductions to Mumia's Case: Urgent Updates
Perspectives on Mumia by Teachers and Published Scholars
The Educators List of 1,000 Teachers Supporting Mumia
Selected Columns by Mumia: Links to additional Mumia Sites

Complete the form below and send to EMAJ, c/o Mark Taylor, 64 Mercer Street, Princeton, NJ 08540, or by email to

Your name
Email address
Regular address
Phone number

*EMAJ - one way to participate in the broader movements for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Videos: Feb. 13, 2010 Int'l teach-in says: FREE MUMIA

From Hans Bennett:
Check out this excellent video report from the Feb. 13 event for Mumia in Philadelphia.

Special thanks to Peoples Video Network for all the time and energy put into this.

Link here to watch all the videos:

JR victory, victory for all of us! All charges dropped!

Fantastic News, our victories are few and far between!

Join POCC Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. and Pam and Ramona Africa for a Power to the People Victory Celebration tonight, Monday, Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m., Black Dot Cafe, 1195 Pine St., West Oakland - YOU are invited!

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz - Malcolm X - taught us, "Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression." Though Malcolm was taken from us physically 45 years and a day ago, his spirit lives on ... in the people, in YOU, who have kept the faith in a young freedom fighter.

Today at the Alameda County Courthouse, made famous by the "Free Huey!" rallies held on the steps by the Black Panther Party, all charges were dismissed against POCC Minister of Information JR Valrey, producer of the film "Operation Small Axe" about the movement for justice for Oscar Grant and of Block Report Radio and associate editor of the SF Bay View newspaper. The crowd that packed the courtroom included Prisoners of Conscience Committee Fred Hampton Jr., Pam Africa of the Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Ramona Africa of the MOVE organization and a host of Bay Area activists.

This victory belongs to the people, all of you who attended endless hearings over the past 13 months; donated to his legal defense fund and to send his team earlier this month to Haiti and to help him support his family as the camera he used to earn a living languished in the Oakland Police Department property room - it's still there; recorded rap songs to keep the issues alive on the streets; and wrote and relayed a million messages through cyberspace. Special thanks and the greatest respect is due Marlon Monroe, the young Black lawyer who has provided JR with a brilliant defense.

Minister of Information JR is the critic the Oakland PD most fears; for years he has covered their war against the Black community as other media cowered in silence. On Jan. 7, 2009, as JR was covering the first Oakland Rebellion following the New Year's execution of Oscar Grant, the police grabbed the chance to put him away for a long time. He'd just left an impromptu press conference at the door of City Hall, where Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums sought refuge from reporters' questions - the most pointed coming from JR.

As he walked away from City Hall reviewing the photos he'd just taken on his camera viewer, he was suddenly tackled by cops who nearly broke his leg. Two National Lawyers Guild legal observers, who happened to be nearby, saw that the charge the police pulled out of thin air - felony arson of a trash can - was ridiculous, as he had no matches, no lighter or any other means of setting anything on fire.

Nevertheless, he was the only one of the dozens of journalists covering the rebellion who was arrested and one of only three of the 105 people arrested to be charged with a felony. Currently, only one other defendant, punk rock artist Holly Works, still faces charges. Her trial is set for March 1. Readers are urged to pack the courtroom so that her charges, too, will be dismissed.

It is the people's refusal to abandon or forget about JR's case that must have convinced the Oakland PD and DA that prosecuting him was - instead of demonizing him - making him a rallying point. They must have realized that imprisoning him would not silence him any more than death row has silenced Mumia, who, before he was framed for killing a cop, was beloved on the streets of Philly the way JR is beloved on the streets of Oakland as the "voice of the voiceless."

"Wednesday, just hours before JR was arrested, his Block Report interview with Donald Wiggins, a cousin of Oscar Grant, was broadcast on KPFA's Hard Knock Radio," I wrote shortly after JR's arrest to give readers a taste of his everyday work. "As always, the interview reveals facts and perspectives never voiced to mainstream journalists, who are not trusted by the Black community because, unlike JR, they don't come from the Black community.

"'He (Oscar) lay there (on the BART platform) for about 30 to 45 minutes,' said Oscar's cousin, describing the immediate aftermath of the shooting. 'So it was really inevitable for him not to be revived at the hospital.' 'They let him stay on the platform of the BART for 30 to 45 minutes?' asked JR. 'Yes,' responded Oscar's cousin, 'while they tried to confiscate phones and video and every other thing to cover it up.'" Listen to this and other riveting interviews on JR's website,

When for a week following Oscar Grant's execution and still that night of Jan. 7, Mayor Dellums refused to join the people's demand that killer cop Johannes Mehserle be arrested and charged with murder or to make a statement of any kind, rage turned a rally into a rebellion. An explosion of young people of all races and classes confronting cops in riot gear nose to nose, jumping on a police car and breaking a few downtown store windows - yet hurting no one and stealing nothing - blared across TV screens around the country.

"JR adds," I wrote following his first phone call to the Bay View after his arrest, "that it's the consensus on the streets that all the police on the Fruitvale BART platform at 2 a.m. New Year's are responsible, at least as accomplices, in taking the life of Oscar Grant. All of them should be charged and tried. He also urges readers to hold the BART board and Mayor Dellums to their promises to compensate businesses for damage inflicted on their property Wednesday."

Those remain goals we all need to unite and fight for. Our work is far from over. Killer copy Mehserle's trial begins in Los Angeles June 7, and the crowds at the courthouse must grow exponentially to ensure his conviction. JR is planning right now to return to Haiti as soon as possible with an even larger team to bring help and hope as our U.S. government deliberately starves and denies shelter and medical care to hundreds of thousands of Haitians in the rainy season that's turning their world to inedible, disease-ridden mud.

So to summon the courage to strengthen the struggle and mow down the obstacles in our way, let's celebrate at the Black Dot tonight. Today the power of the people prevailed. Let's keep the victories rolling.

Mary Ratcliff, editor

To reach the Bay View, email or call (415) 671-0789.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tribute to Safiya Bukhari: 
March 28th in Harlem

SAVE THIS DATE: March 28th 5pm

Harlem`s St. Mary's Church
521 West 126th Street

Special Women's History Month event

Safiya Bukhari, founder of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition

Come out to hear and read the reflections of a true warrior. 

The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison, and Fighting for Those Left Behind
a new book edited by Laura Whitehorm.

Join the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC) on
Friday, March 28th
for this International Women's Month Event at
St. Mary's Church on 126th Street
between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway

Woman, Mother, Grandmother, Soldier, Black Panther and Combatant in the Black Liberation Army, Muslim Women, Thinker, Activist and Organizer.

Join Pam, Ramona, and Mike Africa; Masai Ehehosi, one of Safiya's Co-Defendants, Imam Al Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, Zayid Muhammad, Sally O'Brien, Suzanne Ross, Sundiata Sadiq, Esperanza Martell… and others.

All Women Musician Performances

Special Guest Participants:
Laura Whitehorn, Editor of The War Before and former political prisoner
Wonda Jones, daughter of Safiya Bukhari, who saved and contributed her mother's writings for this powerful book

For more information go to
Call 212-330-8029

Solidarity Message from Germany for Mumia

From NYC Jericho:

We received the following solidarity message from Michael Schiffman in Germany for the February 13, 2010 Mumia Teach-In in Philadelphia:

Dear sisters and brothers in the struggle to free Mumia and bring the political prisoners home, I send you the warmest greetings from Germany.

The last year and particularly the last months have seen an enormous new groundswell in the support for Mumia. The realization that the American imperial state is not only planning to incarcerate Mumia forever but is actually planning to take his life has not only shocked many previous activists for Mumia back into action but also drawn many new sources and forces into the struggle.

We have moved from a situation where activism for Mumia was constrained to a handful of individuals basically in Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, and Heidelberg to a state where there are Mumia activities in about 20 German cities. New committees were formed in important cities such as Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hanover, Kiel, and Oldenburg.

In December, there were small demonstrations in several cities, and since October several city councils have passed resolutions in various forms either against the death penalty and with the demand that Mumia not be executed or demanding both that and a new and fair trial for Mumia. The German parliament, the Bundestag, is deliberating about yet another resolution affirming its opposition to the death penalty, in particular mentioning the egregious case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

I should also mention that Germany has had its share in supporting the all important petition to Eric Holder to start a civil rights investigation into the case of Mumia, the new petition to president Obama to take a stance against the death penalty, and a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court last year demanding a new trial for Mumia.

Returning to direct action in the streets, just two weeks ago, we had a demonstration here in Heidelberg, organized not by our local Mumia group but a group of young antifascists under the motto "Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners." It was a strong showing with 250 people attending, very large and colorful banners and the literally hundreds of cops being unable to prevent the demonstration from gaining the attention and interest of the onlookers.

At a meeting of activists from Southern Germany, the plan was taken to engage in a variety of decentralized actions on the occasion of Mumia's birthday on April 24 and to try to make a year long spurt to organize a really big event in Berlin in December 2010 modeled a bit on the hugely successful event for Mumia at the Madison Square Garden in New York ten years ago, accompanied by a huge concert later on featuring bands both popular and supportive of Mumia.

There was another meeting of activists in Northern Germany a week ago, and from that, we also expect a fresh input of ideas able to boost the struggle for Mumia's liberation in a year that might well prove decisive for his fate.

Let me finish by quoting from the words of scientist and activist Manning Marable about Mumia, spoken in the year 2000 when the movement for Mumia was at its climax and which were already part of the final speech at the Mumia demonstration here in Heidelberg two weeks ago:
Sisters and brothers and comrades – without struggle there can be no progress. […] Power concedes nothing without a demand, it never did and it never will. With these words the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass tells us that the oppressed must liberate themselves, in the pursuit of justice. […]

We stand for Mumia, because our brother never received a fair trial, was tried by a racist judge, in a racist court, in a racist city, in a racist state, in a racist capitalist country.

[…] We stand for Mumia, because we know ethically and morally, that the death penalty is wrong, that it cannot be justified, and that it must be abolished. […]

We stand for Mumia, because […] more than 40 percent of all people on death row now are people of African descent, and because one third of all young black males in their twenties are in jail, on probation, parole and awaiting trial.

The Black Radical Congress stands for and embraces Mumia, because we share his vision of a just society. Our vision of justice is a court system where the death penalty does not exist. Our vision of democracy is where black people have the right to self-determination, and where the wealth is shared by all those who produce it. Our vision of community is where there is no police brutality, no hunger and homelessness, no poverty and unemployment.

The Black Radical Congress says stop state terrorism and police brutality now. Stop all the executions now. Free all political prisoners now. We demand a new trial now. The Black Radical Congress says: Free Mumia Now!

Whatever happened to the Black Radical Congress, Manning Marable was right in 2000, and he continues to be right in 2010. The struggle to free Mumia and all the political prisoners and the fight to end the death penalty once and for all will go on till victory

Ona move and in solidarity -

Michael from Heidelberg, Germany
for the German Network to Free Mumia and to End the Death Penalty

Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction

Excellent Video on Mumia by Nana Soul of Blackwaxx

From NYC Jericho:

Due to a combination of technical difficulties and time constraints, this excellent video was not seen in its entirety at the Feb. 13 Mumia Teach-In in Philadelphia.

Take the time to watch it because the information and orientation as to what media activists can do is excellent.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The 'Mumia Exception' - Explaining Injustice

February 11, 2010
By Linn Washington Jr.

Two inmates on Pennsylvania's death row raise the same issue on appeal – blatant misconduct by prosecutors and police – yet Pa's Supreme Court issues different rulings in these respective cases.

The Pa Supreme Court released Jay C. Smith directly from his death row cell, ruling the misconduct by prosecutors and police so "egregious" that retrying Smith for murdering a school teacher and her two children would violate fair trial protections in Pa's state Constitution.

However, in appeals from convicted Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, Pa's highest court repeatedly rejects solid evidence of wrongdoing by prosecutors and police despite that misconduct being more extensive than misconduct in Smith's case.
Why, people wonder worldwide, does Mumia Abu-Jamal remain imprisoned when mounds of evidence unearthed since his 1982 trial undermine all aspects of the controversial conviction that sent this acclaimed journalist to death row?

The answer to this justice denying/logic defying question is simple: "The Mumia Exception."

This "Mumia Exception" is the phrase devised to describe the practice repeatedly employed by state and federal courts to strip Abu-Jamal of the same legal relief those courts extend to other inmates raising the same legal issue when challenging violations of their legal rights.

Jurists bending and/or breaking the bedrock American legal principal of equal justice under the law is the driving dynamic of "The Mumia Exception."

This "Exception" explains how Pa's Supreme Court in the Smith case castigated authorities for illegally withholding evidence crucial to the high school principal's defense while that court constantly refuses to criticize any of the misconduct that crippled Abu-Jamal's defense.

The fact that courts – including the U.S. Supreme Court – have consistently upheld the conviction of the world's most recognized death row denizen is a key argument advanced by persons backing Abu-Jamal's execution when countering claims of his innocence.
Execution advocates reject "The Mumia Exception" as the reason why courts uphold Abu-Jamal's conviction despite the fact that dismissing the role of the "Exception" requires embracing scenarios that defy statistics and common sense.

For example, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania appellate courts overturned 86 Philadelphia death penalty convictions between Abu-Jamal's December 1981 arrest and October 2009 after finding various errors by prosecutors, police, defense attorneys and even judges – including the judge at Abu-Jamal's trial.

Yet, those same courts declare that not a single error – evidentiary or procedural – exists anywhere in the contentious Abu-Jamal case – a statistically improbable circumstance.

Pa and federal courts have even brushed aside credible evidence that on the eve of Abu-Jamal's 1982 trial the presiding judge, Albert Sabo, declared he would help prosecutors "fry the Nigger" – an odious admission oozing racial bigotry and lack of impartiality clearly violating Abu-Jamal's constitutionally guaranteed fair trial rights.

The twin pillars of this "Mumia Exception" are: courts refusing to apply their established legal rulings (precedent) to Abu-Jamal's appeals; and/or courts creating new legal standards to sabotage Abu-Jamal's appeals.

One easily understood example of the failure-to-follow-precedent prong of "The Mumia Exception" involves state and federal appellate courts in Pennsylvania dismissing 22 death sentences because of failures by defense lawyers to present any mitigating evidence for their clients during death penalty hearings.

Yet, Pa state and federal courts repeatedly found no violation in the failure of Abu-Jamal's trial lawyer to present any kind of mitigating evidence during the penalty hearing producing Abu-Jamal's death sentence.

It's important to note that courts uphold procedural rights in death penalty cases – like the mitigating evidence requirement – without challenging evidence of guilt.

The most recent example of the "Exception's" create-new-law prong is the 2008 ruling by the federal 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Abu-Jamal's conviction where it created a new standard for challenging racist jury selection practices by prosecutors.

That newly invented 3rd Circuit standard exceeded both the jury bias proof precedent that appeals court used six previous times in faulting discriminatory practices by prosecutors. Further, that new standard was more stringent than U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

But, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Abu-Jamal's appeal in April 2009, it exhibited "The Mumia Exception" by allowing the 3rd Circuit's precedent-contradicting standard to stand thus keeping Abu-Jamal sitting in a death row cell.

Examples of the "Mumia Exception" abound…even in court rulings involving defendants convicted of killing police officers.
Three years before Abu-Jamal's December 9, 1981 arrest for fatally shooting Philadelphia Policeman Daniel Faulkner the Pa Supreme Court granted a new trial to a Pittsburgh, Pa man sentenced to death for the ambush slaying of a police officer.

The Pa Supreme Court, in that 1978 ruling, condemned a judge for allowing prosecutors to introduce "irrelevant and prejudicial" evidence that improperly inflamed the jury.

But eleven years later the Pa Supreme Court rejected Abu-Jamal's appeal claim that his trial judge allowed prosecutors to improperly taint jurors with their inflammatory yet unsubstantiated assertion that Abu-Jamal's teenaged membership in the Black Panther Party spurred his killing a cop.

Abu-Jamal, an award-winning journalist who voluntarily left the BPP in 1970, had no record of violence or other criminal conduct.
In 1999, the Pa Supreme Court released two reputed gangsters convicted of a high-profile mob murder in Philadelphia, declaring that pair was denied a fair trial due to "extensive and flagrant prosecutorial misconduct."

That ruling releasing the mobsters from prison came one year after the Pa Supreme Court rejected all allegations of fair trial violations when upholding Abu-Jamal's conviction for the second time.

That October 1998 ruling rejected voluminous evidence presented during Abu-Jamal's mid-1990s post-conviction appeal proceedings documenting official misconduct. That evidence included prosecutorial misconduct of improperly withholding evidence of innocence, discriminatory jury selection practices and intimidating defense witnesses.

The pro-prosecution bias of Judge Albert Sabo during Abu-Jamal's 1995 post-conviction appeal hearing was so pronounced that it drew intense criticism from local and national news media normally hostile to Abu-Jamal.

While editorials, commentaries and news coverage assailed Sabo's improprieties, including fining and jailing Abu-Jamal's defense lawyers, the Pa Supreme Court proclaimed the "opinions of a handful of journalists" did not convince it that Sabo acted improperly.

One 1995 rights demolishing action completely ignored by state and federal courts was then PA Governor Tom Ridge issuing a death warrant on the eve of Abu-Jamal's lawyers filing their post-conviction appeal.

Ridge's office knew when lawyers planned to file that appeal because Pa prison authorities were illegally intercepting mail from Abu-Jamal's lawyers and forwarding copies of that correspondence containing legal strategy to the Governor's office.

That death warrant, violating Abu-Jamal's appeal right, cast a disruptive cloud, allowing Sabo to rush the appeal hearing citing the urgency of that death warrant.

Shamelessly, the Pa Supreme Court allowed Sabo to handle that appeal hearing despite his bias during the 1982 trial being one of the appeal issues.

The enormous attention given to the `whodunit' aspects underlying Abu-Jamal's conviction easily obscures critical context regarding systemic violations like that legally indefensible interference by then Gov. Ridge who later served as Homeland Security czar for President George W. Bush.

Assertions by Abu-Jamal's opponents that his obvious guilt negates any need for judges to apply fair trial protections and/or employ equal justice principles contradict decades of court rulings -- precedent.

The Pa Supreme Court declared in a 1959 ruling that defendants are entitled "to all the safeguards of a fair trial…even if the evidence of guilt piles as high as Mt. Everest."

That fair trial right exists irrespective of whether judges or prosecutors are convinced of a defendant's guilt, Pa's highest court stated in that ruling issued when Abu-Jamal was four-years-old.

That 1959 ruling arose from a Philadelphia murder case where the defendant pled guilty. Abu-Jamal has consistently proclaimed his innocence in the fatal shooting of Officer Faulkner before, during and after his trial.

The U.S. Supreme Court first employed "The Mumia Exception" during rulings in the early 1990s granting relief to a white racist prison gang member and a devil worshipper who'd raised the same appeal issue as Abu-Jamal.

Each defendant claimed prosecutors violated their First Amendment free association rights with references to respective prison gang, devil worshipping and BPP memberships.

The Supreme Court faulted prosecutorial references to the then current organizational affiliations of that gang member and devil worshipper while it twice found no fault in prosecutors exploiting Abu-Jamal's past BPP membership.

Equal protection of laws seemingly should have provided an ex-Black Panther with the same Constitutional protections extended to the racist gang member and devil worshipper.

Incredibly "The Mumia Exception" is the least scrutinized aspect of this heavily examined case.

Jurists never admit employing "The Mumia Exception" because that improper procedure violates their sworn duty to uphold the legal principles of equal justice and adherence to precedent.

Failure to factor the endemic impact of "The Mumia Exception" elevates the credibility of fallacious claims about Abu-Jamal's 'open-&-shut' guilt.

Linn Washington Jr. is a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune who's followed the Abu-Jamal case since December 1981. Washington, a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship, coined "The Mumia Exception" phrase.

©2005 - Educators

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Case Stuck in Legal Limbo

Mumia Abu-Jamal. Photo/Wikicommons

The recent decision by the US Supreme Court to send convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case back down to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, with instructions for a three-judge panel there to reconsider its decision to uphold the lifting of the prominent African-American journalist’s death penalty, is only the latest in a long string of examples of how courts at all levels have made special exceptions to precedent in order to try and kill this particular prisoner.

The high court found on January 19, that Frank Spisak, a self-described Nazi and killer of three in Ohio, had been properly sentenced, because at the time the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed his death penalty on appeal, “settled law” was that the jury instructions given to his jury had been proper. And under the terms of the 1995 Effective Death Penalty Act, federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have to defer to the judgements of state courts unless those courts’ decisions are deemed “unreasonable.”

Where it gets complicated though, is that subsequent to the conclusion of Spisak’s state appeals, the US Supreme Court, in a 1988 decision called Mills v. Maryland, ruled that ambiguously worded jury ballot forms and confusing or misleading jury instructions on sentencing by judges were grounds for reversing a death sentence. Mills was never made retroactive (one of the more repugnant features of many Supreme Court decisions), but Abu-Jamal’s state appeals didn’t even properly begin until after his 1995-96 Post-Conviction Relief Act hearing, and so the same finding made by the Supreme Court majority in Spisak’s case–that the confusing jury instruction standards were “settled law” at the time–cannot be made in Abu-Jamal’s case.

But the Supreme Court order sending Abu-Jamal’s case back down to the Third Circuit, right or wrong, hardly means Abu-Jamal’s battle is over, much less lost, despite his already having spent an astonishing 28 years in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania’s hellish death row.

Even if the Third Circuit were to reverse itself, and decide against all logic that because of another Supreme Court decision made last month, reimposing the death penalty on Frank Spisak, the self-proclaimed Nazi killer of three men, Abu-Jamal should also die, it would not mean he can simply be marched off to a gurney for a lethal injection.

As Hugh Burns, the assistant district attorney in Philadelphia who has been leading the effort by the DA’s office to have Abu-Jamal executed for the last decade and a half, noted in an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, threre are at least three more avenues of appeal of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence that still need to be considered at the district Federal Court level (actually there are four).
That’s because when Federal Judge William Yohn, way back in 2001, issued his historic ruling revoking Abu-Jamal’s death sentence on the grounds that the jury ballot form used to determine sentencing, and the instructions of trial judge Albert Sabo, had been confusing on the question of mitigating circumstances, he mooted those other avenues of appeal, saying that he didn’t need to rule on them. The sentence was already lifted.

Now that Yohn has been reversed on that lifting of the death sentence, though, Abu-Jamal has a right to have Judge Yohn go back and look at the other three challenges to his sentence. And those challenges are very solid and serious. (Actually, I’ve always considered it a measure of how confident Judge Yohn was in the correctness of his decision on the jury instructions claim that he didn’t bother to deal with the other four appeals claims–something he could have done simultaneously.)

The first unresolved appeal claim goes to the heart of a defendant’s right to representation and a fair trial. Abu-Jamal’s attorney, Anthony Jackson, testified under oath at a Post-Conviction Relief Act hearing in 1995 to the obvious truth that did absolutely nothing to prepare for the sentencing portion of the trial. He called no witnesses to testify to Abu-Jamal’s character, an astonishing lapse which left the prosecutor free and unchallenged in portraying Abu-Jamal as a cop-hating terrorist.

Jackson prepared no witnesses, though Abu-Jamal’s siblings and mother were on hand and ready to testify, as were many others in the community. Jackson, astonishingly, didn’t even request a delay of a few days after the guilty verdict in order to prepare for the sentencing hearing. When the judge ordered the session to begin the next day, Jackson went along meekly. It didn’t help that on the morning of the sentencing hearing, Jackson was awoken first at 6 am by fire trucks at his home–the result of a “prank call”– and that after he got to court, he received a frightened and frightening call from his 15-year-old son saying that someone had called his home telling the boy “You are the one we want. We’ll be coming over to get you!” (Any bets on who was making those calls?) Abu-Jamal in his 1999 habeas appeal the federal court claims his constitutional right to representation was denied by Jackson’s dismal performance at the sentencing hearing.

A second line of appeal, also mooted and left unresolved by Judge Yohn, was a claim that Abu-Jamal’s first, fourth, fifth and fourteenth amendment rights were violated when Prosecutor Joseph McGill improperly used Abu-Jamal’s membership, as a 15-year-old boy, in the Black Panther organization, in trying to portray him as a vicious cop-hater. McGill came to court with a yellowed newspaper clipping from the Philadelphia Inquirer in which the young Abu-Jamal, quoting Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Tse-tung, had told reporters that “power flows from the barrel of a gun.” It didn’t matter that the article explained that Abu-Jamal had made that statement in the context of the murder days earlier of Panther leader Fred Hampton by Chicago Police, and that the context made it clear he was referring to the power of police.

McGill took the quote out of context and made it appear as though Abu-Jamal was advocating war on the cops. In any event, the quote had been made 12 years before, when Abu-Jamal was just a boy. The reality was that, far from being at war with police, Abu-Jamal as an adult had a sterling record or no arrests or convictions. Here is a case where the Pennsylvania courts and federal courts in the Third Circuit have repeatedly overturned death convictions where membership in allegedly anti-social organizations was cited by prosecutors in an effort to tarnish defendants before a jury, but where a special exception has been apparently been carved out for Abu-Jamal. Judge Yohn has yet to rule on this line of appeal.

Third, there remains to be considered an appeal on the grounds that prosecutor McGill improperly sought, in his final argument to the jury in the sentencing hearing, to diminish the jurors’ sense of responsibility for their decision. McGill told the jury, “Ladies and gentlemen, you are not asked to kill anybody. You are asked to follow the law. The same law that I keep on throwing at you, saying those words, law and order.

I should point out that it’s the same law that has for six months provided safeguards for this defendant. The same law, ladies and gentlemen, the same law that will provide him appeal after appeal after appeal….The same law, ladies and gentlemen, that has made it so because of the constant appeals…nobody at all has died in Pennsylvania since 1962 for an incident that occurred in 1959.”
Again, the courts at all levels–in Pennsylvania, in the Third Circuit, and the US Supreme Court itself–have all overturned death penalty sentences based upon just such statements having been made to juries at trials. Indeed, another case prosecuted successfully by McGill himself was overturned because he made exactly the same statement to a jury, claiming jurors need not feel they are personally ordering a man’s death. So this appeal too needs to be considered in full by Judge Yohn.

Finally, there is a fourth avenue of appeal which was also mooted and left unresolved by Judge Yohn. That is the claim that the prosecutor knowingly withheld evidence in police files which showed that Abu-Jamal had no criminal record and no propensity for violence. Specifically, Abu-Jamal, years after his trial, obtained his FBI file–largely composed of materials obtained by the FBI from Philadelphia Police and the Philadelphia Police Department’s so-called “Red Squad.”

That file, 600 pages long, shows that surveillence of Abu-Jamal ended in 1973. A 1974 memo at the end of the file states, “In March 1973, per bureau instructions, captioned subject was deleted from ADEX [the list of people deemed subversive and slated as part of COINTELPRO to be rounded up and detained in the event of a national emergency] and no additionalinvestigation conducted concerning his activities.

Sources, however, have continued to report periodically on COOK [Abu-Jamal’s family name] and, although he has not displayed a propensity for violence, has continued to associate himself with individuals and organizations engaged in Extremist activities.” Clearly this file, stating that Abu-Jamal did not appear to be a violent person, had been available to the prosecution, and should have been offered to the defense. This appeal of Abu-Jamal’s conviction based upon a claim of prosecutorial misconducdt must also be considered by Judge Yohn.

Once the Third Circuit has reconsidered its decision on the jury instruction issue–and the outcome there is by no means certain, with Abu-Jamal’s attorney Robert Bryan planning a spirited argument that Abu-Jamal’s case is substantively different from the Spisak case–and if it were to rule against Abu-Jamal, there would first of all be a new appeal of that decision back to the US Supreme Court. Only if the high court were to uphold such a decision would these four other issues finally go back before Judge Yohn.

It appears that even if the courts continue to rule against this now world-renowned journalist who has spent more than half his life sitting confined in a small cell on death row, his controversial case, dogged as it is by charges of judicial misconduct, racial bias, prosecutorial misconduct, purjured prosecution witness testimony and political interference, will continue to drag on unresolved for years to come.

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-area journalist and has followed the Abu-Jamal case for more than 12 years. His book on the case, Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, was published in 2003 by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s work is available at

From Just Seeds: Mail Art 4 Mumia

From Just Seeds:

Our friend Etta Cetera is working hard on a new project to support Mumia, here's the info:

mailartmumia.jpgFlood the White House –
Mail Art 4 Mumia

Mumia Abu-Jamal—The world’s most well-known political prisoner may be re-sentenced to death.

Demand a new fair trial! Mail your solidarity!

Send your own Mail 4 Mumia to the White House anytime during the week of April 24th 2010

Barack Obama
The Whitehouse
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500 usa

Create Paintings, Prints, Drawings, Collages, Sculpture, Extremely, Beautiful Letters, Anything Mailable, Anything Non Liquid, Non Perishable, Non Hazardous.

Why send art to the White House?

Art is a form of expression that needs no translation. By sending your own creative petition to the White House it demonstrates worldwide support and draws attention to Mumia’s unjust imprisonment. Tell the U.S. government that we stand with Mumia and will not allow him to be EXECUTED!

Please send a photo, copy or some sort of documentation for Local Art Show. Mumia lives in Solitary Confinement one hour from Pittsburgh. All contributions will be responded to.

Mailart 4 Mumia, 3807 Melwood Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 usa

Here's a short list of websites with history on Mumia's case, legal background, audio interviews, movies, youtube clips, and Mumia's radio essays. Follow these for updates and background on the case:

Journalists for Abu-Jamal (great site, lots of links to others, audio and video on the right hand column:
Free Mumia Coalition, NYC:
Free Mumia, San Francisco:
Educators for Mumia:
The MOVE Organization:

Mumia's Radio Commentaries, updated weekly:

Movies Online:
Framing an Execution: Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Media (narrated by Danny Glover):
A Case of Reasonable Doubt, HBO Documentary:

Video Interviews with Mumia:
From Death Row:
Mumia on Political Parties:
Mumia on the Economy:
Mumia on Prisons:
Mumia Fighting for his life:

Monday, February 01, 2010

Join in an International Teach-In and Call for Action for Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Saturday -  February 13th from 12noon to 5:00pm
Abiding Truth Ministries Church at 5701 Washington Avenue (one block north from Baltimore Ave) in Philadelphia

Activists from Philadelphia, across the U.S. and around the globe will take part in an important video streaming, video conferencing and live teach-in to take up the next stage in the struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Updates will be provided on the latest legal developments including the Jan. 19 U.S. Supreme Court decision that opens the way for the reinstatement of the death sentence.

Information will be provided for those unfamiliar with this important case of the U.S.'s most prominent political prisoner and action proposals will be discussed including a global petition campaign calling on U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to open an investigation into civil rights violations in this case.  Other proposals will discuss activities to reach out to and educate students and youth; and for events from April to July including teach-ins and protests.

For more information call 215-476-8812 or 215-724-1618 in Philadelphia or 212-330-8029 or 212-633-6646 in New York

Petition for Mumia

From Robert R. Bryan, Mumia's attorney:

Mumia & I recently launched an online petition in 10 languages: Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Global Abolition of the Death Penalty.  It is the only petition that Mumia & I have approved.  There are already over 14,500 signers, mostly from outside the U.S.  The petition will eventually be presented to President Barack Obama by a distinguished international delegation.  The early signers include: Desmond Tutu, South Africa (Nobel Peace Prize); G√ľnter Grass, Germany (Nobel Prize in Literature); the first signer, Danielle Mitterrand (former Fist Lady of France); Fatima Bhutto, Pakistan (writer); Noam Chomsky, MIT (philosopher & author); Ed Asner (actor; Mike Farrell (actor); Michael Radford (director of the Oscar winning film Il Postino); members of the European Parliament; members of the German Bundestag; European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights; Reporters Without Borders, Paris; Paris officials.

Please e-mail the petition link to all possible people, ideally to members of organizations.  Its link is at  The petition provides:

WE THE UNDERSIGNED petition you to speak out against the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and all the men, women and children facing execution around the world.  This ultimate form of punishment is unacceptable in a civilized society and undermines human dignity.  (U.N. General Assembly, Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty, Resolution 62/149, Dec. 18, 2007; reaffirmed, Resolution 63/168, Dec. 18, 2008.)

Mr. Abu-Jamal, a renowned black journalist and author, has been on Pennsylvania’s death row for nearly three decades.  Even though you do not have direct control over his fate as a state death-row inmate, we ask that you as a moral leader on the world stage call for a global moratorium on the death penalty in his and all capital cases.  Mr. Abu-Jamal has become a global symbol, the “Voice of the Voiceless”, in the struggle against capital punishment and human-rights abuses.  There are over 20,000 awaiting execution around the globe, with over 3,000 on death rows in the United States.

The 1982 trial of Mr. Abu-Jamal was tainted by racism, and occurred in Philadelphia which has a history of police corruption and discrimination.  Amnesty International, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, “determined that numerous aspects of this case clearly failed to meet international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings.  [T]he interests of justice would best be served by the granting of a new trial to Mumia Abu-Jamal.  The trial should fully comply with international standards of justice and should not allow for the reimposition of the death penalty.”  (A Life In the Balance - The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, at 34, Amnesty Int’l, 2000; www.

[Note:  This petition is approved by Mumia Abu-Jamal and his lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, San Francisco.]

As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court recently issued the long-awaited ruling in Mumia's case.  It has been sent back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia.  The decision I won in 2008 for a new jury trial on the issue of the death penalty, was vacated & the federal court directed to reconsider the death penalty.  My client is now much closer to being executed.

The link to Mumia's Legal Defense:

We will be grateful any assistance you can provide.

Cordially yours,


Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117

Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


From:  Mumia NYC

US Department of Justice
Washington, DC
January 2010

To Eric Holder, US Attorney General:

We write to you with a sense of grave concern and outrage about the US Supreme Court's denial of a hearing to Mumia Abu-Jamal on the issue of racial bias in jury selection, that is, the "Batson issue". Inasmuch as there is no other court to which Abu-Jamal can appeal for justice, we turn to you for remedy of a 27- year history of gross violations of US constitutional law and international standards of justice as documented by Amnesty International and many other legal groups around the world.

We call on you and the Justice Department to immediately commence a civil rights investigation to examine the many examples of egregious and racist prosecutorial and judicial misconduct dating back to the original trial in 1982 and continuing through to the current inaction of the US Supreme Court. The statute of limitations should not be a factor in this case as there is very strong evidence of an ongoing conspiracy to deny Abu-Jamal his constitutional rights.

We are aware of the many differences that exist between the case of former Senator Ted Stevens and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Still, we note with great interest the actions you have taken with regard to Senator Stevens' conviction to assure that he not be denied his constitutional rights. You were specifically outraged by the fact that the prosecution withheld information critical to the defense's argument for acquittal, a violation clearly committed by the prosecution in Abu-Jamal's case. Mumia Abu-Jamal, though not a US senator of great wealth and power, is a Black man revered around the world for his courage, clarity, and commitment and deserves no less than Senator Stevens.




Call Attorney General Eric Holder Now! Demand a Civil Rights Investigation!!!

From: Mumia NYC

The January 19, 2010 the Supreme Court Action of Sending Mumia's Case Back to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Brings Mumia Closer to Execution Unless We Act Now!

U.S. Department of Justice Main Switchboard 202-514-2000
Public Comment Line     202-353-1555
U.S. Department of Justice E-Mail Address

We are continuing and escalating the Campaign for a Civil Rights Investigation to challenge the entire conspiracy to kill yet another Black revolutionary leader. As many of you have learned over the years, this conspiracy even precedes 1981 when the incident which led to Mumia's incarceration, conviction, and death sentence occurred. The FBI began its surveillance and targeting of Mumia when he was only 15 years old. At that time, Mumia had demonstrated against George Wallace, the arch-racist Alabama governor who played a strategic role in fighting the Civil Rights Movement in the South. We demand a civil rights investigation into the 28 plus years of violations of Mumia's rights in the court system, but also into that history of surveillance and targeting of Mumia when he was only a teenager. Mumia was part of the counterintelligence program that the infamous FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, initiated to "neutralize" potential Black leaders.

We urge people to continue to sign onto the petition on our website, or to download the letter which will follow and mail it to the address at the bottom, and now contact Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington, DC, by telephone and let him know that such an investigation is essential given that the courts all the way to the US Supreme Court have failed to provide any justice for Mumia.

For years we heard that the federal courts would overturn an obviously biased Pennsylvania judicial process. We have now seen the issue of racism in the trial and the state appeals process, as manifested both in the racial bias of the jury selection and in the judge's statement, "I'm going to help them fry the Nigger" ignored and denied by the federal courts all the way to the Supreme Court. And just recently, the Supreme Court even changed the standard for granting life in prison rather than execution (the Mills issue) in order to bring Mumia closer to execution. Join the movement for justice for Mumia! Call or e-mail the Justice Department immediately! Sign the petition online or sign the attached letter and mail it to the address on the bottom. And now, CALL ERIC HOLDER. LET'S FLOOD THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WITH CALLS DEMANDING A CIVIL RIGHTS INVESTIGATION.

Free Mumia and All Our Political Prisoners! Abolish the Death Penalty! Abolish the Prison Industrial Complex!

For more information on what you can do as part of the Campaign for a Civil Rights Investigation, leave your number on our hotline, 212 330-8029, come to our weekly Friday 6:30 PM meetings at St. Mary's Church, 521 West 126th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue), ORGANIZE SUPPORT!

VIDEO FOOTAGE: Harlem Supporters Protest Supreme Court Ruling On Mumia!


Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal Take to the Streets the "Day After" in Response to Supreme Court Ruling; Critical Juncture in 28-Year-Old Death Penalty Case

Speaker Include, Immortal Technique, Johanna Fernandez, Educators for Mumia, Daniel Meyers, National Laywers Guild (NYC), Orie Lumumba and others.