Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ex political prisoner Jacobo Silva Nogales speaks at Mumia event in Mexico

During the ten years that Gloria Arenas and Jacobo Silva Nogales were political prisoners in Mexico, they wrote from their prison cells in support of Mumia. Since they were released almost a year ago, ARGUING THEIR RIGHT TO REBELLION, they've been consistent in support of Mumia and joined us at the event on September 21st in Mexico City. Jacobo's words follow:


We were asked if we could be here today to stand by Mumia.  And how could we not be here when there is so much that moves us to stand by Mumia?

We’re on his side for a number of reasons: 

Because he’s facing a death sentence, and this is unjust, just as any death sentence is, so it shouldn’t exist in any case whatsoever and should be abolished. The State that applies it is at least as criminal as anyone who is punished in this way. Nobody should be subjected to the death penalty. By struggling for Mumia, we’re struggling against capital punishment.

Because he´s not a criminal, but instead an activist in social struggles and as such, shouldn’t be confined in prison under any circumstances. He should be on the outside, with his people, where he wouldn’t be committing crimes, but instead doing what he always did: struggling for a better society than the one that now exists. A person like this should not be imprisoned. By struggling for him, we’re struggling for justice. We’re struggling along with him.

Because he’s a victim of racism and in his case, discrimination due to the color of his skin is all too clear. And such discrimination shouldn’t exist; it’s a curse on society that should have been left behind in history. By struggling for him, we’re struggling against racism and for equality.

Because evidence has been manipulated in his trial, which was totally rigged. In it, the rule of law did not prevail, but instead brute force. By struggling for him, we’re demanding the exact application of the law.

Because he’s not just any prisoner whose fate may not concern us so much since we’re not into crime. He’s a political prisoner as any one of us could be, especially in these times of heightened repression. By struggling for him, we’re struggling for ourselves. By standing up for him today, we know that others will do the same for us if the need
should arise.

Because he’s not a political prisoner who’s been defeated or who’s resigned himself to his situation, but instead one who struggles from his prison cell, and by doing so, sets an example of bravery and dignity. By struggling for him, we’re struggling for dignity, and we’re helping to strengthen him.

That’s why. Because we’re on the side of life itself, because we’re on the side of all social activists, because we’re against racism, because we’re for justice, because we’re with all political prisoners, because we’re with all those people who never give up. That’s why we stand by Mumia, that’s why we stand up for Mumia.

Because when people shout Viva Mumia Abu-Jamal! it’s not just one more joyous chant. It’s a shout for the life of someone who must live, for someone whose life is in danger. Viva Mumia Abu-Jamal!”

Jacobo Silva Nogales

September 21, 2010

From Mexico City - 150 People Standing Up for Mumia!

To see photos, check:

From Mexico City: We're with Mumia all the way!

On Tuesday, September 21, around 150 people gathered at the Hemiciclo a Juárez in Mexico City to demand life and freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, recognized internationally as a political prisoner. People expressed their support for him in spoken messages, song, dance and graphic art. The event was energized by the arrival of a large group of bicyclists riding in defense of the air we breathe and of all political prisoners.

A number of Mexico's ex political prisoners were present, including Jacobo Silva Nogales, Gloria Arenas, Mariana Selvas and Edith Rosales, along with the family of Victor Herrera Govea, who has been locked up for an entire year for marching against government repression.

Speaking for himself and Gloria, Jacobo Silva said: "We were asked if we could be here today to stand by Mumia. And how could we not be here when there is so much that moves us to stand by Mumia? We're on his side…because we're on the side of life itself, because we're on the side of all social activists, because we're against racism, because we're for justice, because we're with all political prisoners, because we're with all those people who never give up. That's why we stand by Mumia, that's why we stand up for Mumia. When people shout Viva Mumia Abu-Jamal! it's not just one more joyous chant. It's a shout for the life of someone who must live, for someone whose life is in danger. Viva Mumia Abu-Jamal!"

Among those who participated in the event were human rights observers from the Collective against Torture and Impunity (CCTI), along with individuals and collectives from the Other Campaign, Anarchist Black Cross, student groups, and collectives from the Ché Guevara Auditorium –especially the kitchen, which contributed a delicious vegetarian ceviche. Among the supportive free and independent media collectives were Cronopios, Ke Huelga Radio, CML, Regeneración Radio, Radio Okupa, Noticias de la Rebelión and Radio Zapote.

The event was lively with music by Emexce, Zona Norte and Kukulkan Sonido Anti-sistema, who presented their new song in support of Mumia, and by the b-boys and b-girls of Twisted Flavors and guests. We listened to the blues sound of La Otra Cultura Inlakech, and the original song in support of Mumia by La Otra Cultura del DF, who sing out for him wherever they go.

A representative of Amig@s de Mumia de México stated that it's clear that the government of the United States is not satisfied with the recent Supreme Court decisions leading to the death of Mumia Abu-Jamal; it's necessary to build up public animosity against him in order to justify his execution. It's clear from the trailers that the new documentary Barrel of a Gun (El cañón del fusil) by the supposedly independent filmmaker Tigre Hill, with backing from the Fraternal Order of Police, is nothing but an exercise in defamation. It both a personal attack against Mumia, and an attack against groups that have been important in his life history.

The comrade said: "We're here today to say NO to the criminalization of Mumia Abu-Jamal and of his struggle. Just as Mumia writes in defense of the efforts of the Black Panthers and the MOVE organization to make necessary and positive changes in the world, we…recognize these efforts as valuable experiences. "The Mumia Abu-Jamal that we know through his weekly essays and the six books he's written from death row…is a brave and righteous man committed to social change. He's a writer who knows how to put any one of today's events in a historical context and untangle all that we're going through. We especially appreciate his solidarity with the struggles here in Mexico and in the world".

During the event, different people read Mumia's essays out loud, including one on the death penalty as a modern form of lynching and others on BP, Arizona, the MOVE organization, and the nature of the State.

People also read fragments of a report written by Michael Schiffman and Anton Reiner, published in Abu-Jamal News, of their recent visit with Mumia in which they were accompanied by Linn Washington. They talk about his contagious energy, clear thinking and love of life, even in the hell he lives in, surrounded by steel and razor wire with the lights always on, no physical contact with friends and loved ones, no fresh fruits and vegetables in a small cell with no color. He never leaves his cell without being chained hand and foot. Now he doesn't even have a typewriter; once again, he must write everything seated on his bed with the inner cartridge of a ball-point pen. One of the things he likes most is getting brightly-colored cards. The comrades say that during their visit, "Mumia repeatedly insists that the really important thing is to organize. `Nobody should underestimate what even a small number of organized people can achieve. My own survival is concrete proof for what organized action is capable of.'"

The event at the Hemiciclo reflected many of the current struggles in Mexico. As people expressed their support for Mumia, some urged everyone to join in the mobilizations against COP16 in Cancún this coming November and December and others called for support for the displaced Zapatista communities under attack, and for support of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, where people are living a day to day massacre. Some of those who spoke are resisting the destruction of the urban zones of Magdalena Contreras and Tlahuac on the edges of Mexico City, and others are resisting attacks on students by hired thugs at CCH Vallejo. People were urged to defend the indigenous land recoveries in Ostula, Michoacán, and to support the community police there and in Guerrero, where these groups practice the organized self defense of their communities.

A number of people expressed their support for the political prisoners of Mexico, and especially for young Victor Herrera Govea. His sister Mary said: "…Unjust trials… Yes, we know about them. Down here and up there, they're an everyday thing. They're one of the arms of the government against those bothersome people who never shut up in the face of all the absurd things going on in this unequal, devastating world. In addition to Mumia's case and many others in the world, we have the case of Víctor Herrera Govea, locked up since October 2, 2009 for the crime of going out to march in repudiation of a massacre committed 41 years ago, one that is still going on at this very moment in every corner of the Mexican territory… His trial is also marked by many irregularities… And through all this, we've come to understand that these trials aren't judicial. They're the desperate response of a tyrant whose interests are threatened. They're the smack of a Goliath defending itself against an upstart David … Mumia's vitality and the consistent denunciations that he makes from death row, along with his refusal to fall down or fall back during the last 29 years, is maddening to the United States government. Mumia's struggle is our struggle. His death is our death. His life is our life. His freedom is our freedom. Victor's freedom is our freedom".

Mexico's political prisoners include the indigenous comrades Alberto Patishtán in Chiapas, Abraham Ramírez Vazquez en Oaxaca, the Loxicha prisoners in Oaxaca, and the anarchists and eco-anarchists arrested in recent months. Support was expressed for international political prisoners, including Leonard Peltier, the MOVE 9, the Angola 3, the 5 Cubans jailed in the United States, the Palestinian prisoners, the Mapuche prisoners on hunger strike in Chile, and the anarchists recently arrested in Chile.

The representative of Amig@s de Mumia said: "We're here today to say NO to the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal and to demand the abolition of the death penalty in the world. We also oppose long sentences, and especially life sentences. Now it is plain to see that the Mexican authorities intend to duplicate these aspects of the United States judicial system, which have only resulted in tremendous injustices and human suffering. We're here today because we want to live in a world without prisons. We are wholeheartedly opposed to the imposition in Mexico of the United States prison system, which has resulted in the massive construction of prisons, the privatization of prisons, and a tremendous explosion in the prison population. We're here today to demand freedom for all political prisoners in Mexico and the world. The recent triumph of the liberation of all the Atenco prisoners shows that it is possible to free all the rest".

It's reported that as the cyclists resumed their ride along Reforma, they didn't have it in them to pass by the United States Embassy without blocking the street for a little while and shouting ¡Free Mumia! again and again.

Amig@s de Mumia de México

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Democracy Now! on competing films and coverage of new forensic test in Mumia's case

Democracy Now! on competing Mumia films with Dave Lindorff and filmmaker Johanna Fernandez and
a whoooole lotta Maureen Faulkner clips.  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals Nov. 9 hearing is also
discussed.  Check it out.

New Mumia Video & Article from Linn Washington and Dave Lindorff!

From Sis. Fatirah:

Linn Washington and Dave Lindorff just released a video and an article in which they unveil the findings of two new tests that blow a huge hole in the case of the prosecution.  Here's the link to the article:

Pam Africa on the selling out of Mumia Abu Jamal by the anti-death penalty mov

The Minister of Information JR interviews to Pam Africa about members of the U.S. anti-death penalty movement sacrificing the life of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal for an alliance with police and politicians.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Important Mumia Legal News

There is a significant new development regarding my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, the journalist and author who has been on Pennsylvania's death row for nearly three decades.

Oral argument scheduled, United States Court of Appeals

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has just granted oral argument in Mumia's case. (Abu-Jamal v. Beard, No. 01-9014.) The arguments will be before a three-judge panel on November 9, 2010, 2:00 pm. This will be in the Ceremonial Courtroom, U.S. Courthouse, 6th & Market Streets, Philadelphia.

Mumia & I spoke shortly after the order was received. He was humbled by the good news. We are cautiously encouraged that the federal court has taken this step.

This is significant in the ongoing litigation to save Mumia's life and win the case. At stake is whether he will be executed, or granted a new jury trial on the question of the death penalty. We previously won on this issue, but early this year the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that decision and ordered that the case be again reviewed by the federal court.

New movie

Justice On Trial: Yesterday Justice On Trial premiered in Philadelphia. It is by Johanna Fernandez, a professor at Baruch College, New York, and Kouross Esmaeli of Big Noise Films. The release of this superb film comes at a perfect time since it counters another movie,The Barrel of a Gun, that was also shown the same day. The Barrel production is replete with distortions and wild theories, and is supported by those who wish to see my client executed including the Fraternal Order of Police.

Petition to President Barack Obama (Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Global Abolition of the Death Penalty)

Over 24,000 people from around the world have signed the petition, including three Nobel Prize winners. We need many more for this to benefit Mumia. Some of the signers are: Desmond Tutu, South Africa (Nobel Peace Prize, 1984); Günter Grass, Germany (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1999); Elfriede Jelinek, Austria (Nobel Prize in Literature, 2004); Danielle Mitterrand, Paris (former First Lady of France); Fatima Bhutto, Pakistan (writer); Colin Firth (Academy Award Best-Actor nominee, 2010); Noam Chomsky, MIT (philosopher and author); Ed Asner (actor); Mike Farrell (actor); Robert Meeropol (son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953); 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; and Reporters Without Borders, Paris.

How to Help

For information on how to help, both by signing the Obama petition & donating funds, please go to Mumia's website (


Mumia is in the greatest danger since being arrested in 1981. We will not stop until he is saved.

Yours very truly,

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Test Shows Key Witnesses Lied at Abu-Jamal Trial

From Sis Marpessa:

Thanks, Sis. Fatirah!

via Linn Washington and Hans Bennett:\

Exclusive! New Test Shows Key Witnesses Lied at Abu-Jamal Trial; Sidewalk Murder Scene Should Have Displayed Bullet Impacts

Mon, 09/20/2010
by Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington

During the contentious 1982 murder trial of Philadelphia radio-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, a central argument of the prosecution in making its case for the conviction and for imposition of a death penalty was the trial testimony of two key eyewitnesses who claimed to have actually seen Abu-Jamal fire his pistol repeatedly, at virtually point-blank range, into the prone Officer Daniel Faulkner.
This testimony about Abu-Jamal’s shooting at the defenseless policeman execution-style solidified the prosecution’s portrayal of Abu-Jamal as a cold-blooded assassin.

There was however, always the lingering question, never raised at trial, or even during the subsequent nearly three-decades-long appeals process, of why, if Abu-Jamal had fired four bullets downward at Faulkner, only hitting him once with a bullet between the eyes on the morning of December 9, 1981, there was no evidence in the surface of the sidewalk around the officer’s body of the bullets that missed.

Now two independent journalists have raised further questions about that troubling lack of any evidence of missed shots by doing something that neither defense nor prosecution ever bothered to do, namely conducting a gun test using a similar gun and similar bullets fired from a similar distance into a slab of old concrete sidewalk similar to the sidewalk at the scene of the original shooting on the south side of Locust Street just east of 13th Street in Center City, Philadelphia.

Read complete article

Rev. Lucius Walker Speaks of Mumia

From the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, NYC

Celebrate the Life of Rev. Lucius Walker, Free Mumia Abu Jamal!
Thanks to Johnnie Stevens for posting this wonderful, brief video of our beloved ancestor, Rev. Lucius Walker, speaking very movingly & powerfully on behalf of Bro. Mumia Abu-Jamal, please check it out right now and pass it on.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Duel of two films about Mumia Abu-Jamal

Original Content at

September 19, 2010

Media Justice On Trial In Philadelphia --The duel of two films about Mumia Abu-Jamal
By Hans Bennett

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 2 pm, Justice On Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal will premiere in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center and at 8pm at the Ritz East. This film's release date was moved up to confront the right-wing anti-Abu-Jamal film, "The Barrel of a Gun," by Tigre Hill, also premiering on Tuesday. While coverage of Hill's film saturates the Philly media, not one outlet has yet to report the huge story that the Constitution Center is hosting the afternoon showing of "Justice on Trial."

Media Justice On Trial In Philadelphia

--The duel of two films about Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Hans Bennett and Michael Schiffmann


A new film, entitled The Barrel of a Gun, will be unveiled in Philadelphia on Sept. 21. The film is officially endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and Murdered by Mumia authors Michael Smerconish and Maureen Faulkner, and based on the two trailers that have been released and public statements by the film-maker, Tigre Hill, that he believes death row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is unequivocally guilty, we can safely expect that the film will be biased against Abu-Jamal, as is the case with the majority of mainstream media coverage about Abu-Jamal, particularly so in Philadelphia.

Supporters of Abu-Jamal are mobilizing to confront Tigre Hill's film. This film can be particularly dangerous now because of Abu-Jamal's current legal situation, where the death penalty may be reinstated by the US Third Circuit Court. In response, Journalists for Mumia has just published the latest issue of our newspaper (viewable here), where we confront Tigre Hill by laying out evidence of innocence and why Mumia's trial was unfair.

In our newspaper, we feature an updated version of the 2009 SF Bay View Newspaper article about the campaign seeking a civil rights investigation for Abu-Jamal, which focused on five pieces of evidence that the 1982 jury never saw, including 1) evidence of another person, named Kenneth Freeman, in the car with Abu-Jamal's brother, Billy Cook--there was a driver's license application in the front shirt pocket of Officer Faulkner at the time of the shooting and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office withheld this crucial piece of information from the defense; 2) Newly discovered crime scene photos that show police manipulation of evidence were taken by press photographer Pedro Polakoff, who states that he was completely ignored by the DA's Office when he tried to give his photos to them for evidence in 1981/1982 and 1995. Accompanying this is a special section focusing on the ballistics evidence, showing exactly why the shooting scenario presented by the prosecution is physically impossible. This includes the observation already made in defense filings in 2001 based on police photographs and now resoundingly corroborated by the Polakoff photos, that there are no bullet marks in the pavement where Abu-Jamal allegedly shot downward and missed Officer Faulkner several times.

There is another powerful media project being unveiled that will certainly challenge the FOP-endorsed film by Tigre Hill. Another film, in production for over four years, entitled Justice On Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, will premiere next Tuesday, Sept. 21, the same day that Hill's film is unveiled. The 2pm showing will be held at the prestigious historical building, The National Constitution Center, where Barack Obama gave his famous "race speech."

On learning about the coming presentation of the Hill film and its probably biased character, the production team decided to accelerate the completion of their own documentary. Producer Johanna Fernandez, a Professor of History at Baruch College/CUNY, says that the filmmakers "decided to confront Tigre's film with a more thoughtful exploration of the case after we saw the series of initial trailers that he released six months ago. Contrary to his claim of having found "rare new insight' into the case, the trailers pointed to a rehashing of the basic arguments put forth by ADA Joe McGill, who wanted to win a death sentence by any means necessary. We want to elevate the dialogue at a time when reasoned voices are needed."

The film's trailer, just released this week, features interviews with press photographer Pedro Polakoff and David A. Love, whose October 24, 2007 article in the SF Bay View Newspaper was the first in the US to publish one of Polakoff's photos. Another interview is with J. Patrick O'Connor, the author of The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who argues that Billy Cook's business partner and friend, Kenneth Freeman, was the actual shooter of Officer Faulkner. Also notable is an interview Jack McMahon, featured in the infamous 1986 official training video of the Philadelphia DA's office that specifically trained new prosecutors how to unlawfully exclude African American jurors without appearing to do so.

A Tradition of Corporate Media Bias

When covering the Abu-Jamal/Faulkner case, the mainstream media has almost always presented it as "open and shut," with overwhelming evidence of Abu-Jamal's guilt. Accordingly, this narrative says there is no evidence of an unfair trial and Abu-Jamal's worldwide supporters (including Amnesty International, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, the European Parliament, Japanese Diet, and many more) must therefore be ignorant fanatics. Or, in the words of Sam Donaldson of ABC's news show, 20/20, who in 1999 produced an infamous anti-Mumia hit piece (critiqued in the film Framing An Execution): "The people who support his release don't do so from a position of knowledge"They either oppose the death penalty, or they're campus rebels, or they're African-American activists who believe that a black man was railroaded, and will continue to believe it, no matter what's presented to them."

While certainly disgusting, the overt racism in Donaldson's comment about black activists is not unusual for big media coverage of Abu-Jamal.

This same mainstream narrative is now to be expected with the new film by Tigre Hill, "Barrel of a Gun," which has already been touted with great fanfare in the Philadelphia media. Indeed, Hill appears to take the anti-Abu-Jamal bias to an even more fanatical level with the argument, first presented with the release of the 2007 book Murdered By Mumia, that the shooting of Faulkner was a pre-planned hit, with Abu-Jamal and his brother Billy Cook out that night seeking to shoot and kill a police officer simply for the sake of killing a cop.

A Pre-planned Hit?

Granted, we have not yet seen the full-feature film, but the two trailers already released tell us a great deal about the film's perspectives.

The first trailer strongly implies that the killing of Officer Faulkner was the direct result of a long-harbored hatred of the police on Mumia's part and maybe even had been a pre-planned hit engineered by Mumia and his brother Billy Cook.

As noted above, this argument was first presented when the book Murdered by Mumia. A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice by Michael Smerconish and Maureen Faulkner was released in December 2007. At that time, Smerconish presented prosecutor Joseph McGill as a guest on his radio show, and there, Smerconish and McGill jointly promoted this new "hit" theory for the first time.

The new film seems largely based on this argument presented on that show, and upon inspection, we see that many of the facts presented by McGill and Smerconish to support this are plainly false.

For example, McGill argued on the 2007 show that Billy Cook may have deliberately gotten pulled over by Faulkner by driving the wrong direction on
13th Street, so as to create a situation where Abu-Jamal could then sneak up from behind and shoot a distracted police officer in the back. McGill said: "It was awfully coincidental, that his brother is stopped going the wrong way on 13th Street"and then he stops and he's getting out. And again, Mr. Jamal, the coward he was, would wait until his back was to him, and then he ran across, and it almost happened simultaneously, and it just seemed to me, although I couldn't prove it, that it was AWFULLY coincidental."

In reality, there is no evidence at all that Billy Cook was driving the wrong way on 13th street, and McGill never introduced any evidence suggesting this at either Abu-Jamal's trial or Cook's preceding trial for aggravated assault in March, 1982, where McGill was also the prosecutor.

The contention is even squarely contradicted by prosecution witness Albert Magilton's testimony at Abu-Jamal's trial, according to which Cook approached the later shooting scene from Locust and not
13th Street. To this day, nobody knows why Officer Faulkner stopped Cook, but McGill dishonestly presents this as the first part of a sinister scheme to lure a police officer into a situation where his back is unprotected.

"The Barrel of a Gun"

At the sentencing phase of Abu-Jamal's 1982 trial, McGill cited a statement that Abu-Jamal made as the 15 year-old Lieutenant of Information of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP), where Abu-Jamal, following the infamous assassination of BPP leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark by the FBI and Chicago police, quoted the works of Mao Zedong, "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun," in order to characterize the rule-by-force approach of police in the US. (Our newspaper features an article detailing the murders of Hampton and Clark, here .)

This statement has been repeatedly taken out of context by Abu-Jamal's detractors in an effort to depict him as a crazed and out of control cop-hater who wanted to make a political statement by killing Officer Faulkner. By choosing "the barrel of a gun" for the title of his film, Tigre Hill appears to be following this same path of distortion, and it is very unlikely that his film will fairly contextualize the said statement.

It is important to understand the climate of police repression at the time. On Dec. 8, 1969 (just days after the Dec. 4, 1969 murders of Hampton and Clark), the Los Angeles Police Department mounted a chillingly similar early morning attack on the LA offices of the BPP, including the party's main office on Central Avenue. This time, the Panthers were able to fight back against the police, until they finally surrendered, with six occupants of their headquarters wounded and thirteen arrested.

A similar attack on Panther premises in Seattle, WA, planned for January, 1970 by federal agencies, was canceled only after Seattle's Democratic Mayor Wes Uhlman blocked it, expressing concern over "Gestapo-type tactics" that could lead to a time when every citizen would have to fear "the knock on the door at 2 o'clock in the morning."

This was the situation when a young Mumia Abu-Jamal was assigned to report on the state terror directed against the BPP. In this function, he flew to Chicago, personally inspected Fred Hampton's blood-soaked bed, reported on it for the BPP newspaper, and gave the keynote speech at Hampton's memorial service in Philadelphia.

It was in this function that he talked to the Philadelphia Inquirer's reporter, Acel Moore, for a front page article published on January 4, 1970. Moore wrote: ""Since the murders,' says West [for Wesley] Cook, Chapter Communication Secretary, "Black brothers and sisters and organizations which wouldn't commit themselves before are relating to us. Black people are facing the reality that the Black Panther Party has been facing: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.' Murders, a calculated design of genocide, and a national plot to destroy the party leadership is what the Panthers and their supporters call a bloody two year history of police raids and shootouts."

Notably, McGill's reference to Abu-Jamal's prior membership in the BPP was blatantly unconstitutional. When Abu-Jamal challenged this constitutional violation, the courts rejected his claim, literally ignoring legal precedents that have granted new trials in other similar cases. Veteran journalist Linn Washington writes that in the early 1990s, the U.S. Supreme Court twice refused "to consider Abu-Jamal's claim that prosecutors violated his First Amendment association rights with inflammatory references to his teenaged membership in the Black Panther Party. The U.S. Supreme Court, months after rejecting Abu-Jamal's first appeal, granted a new hearing to a murderer who challenged prosecutorial reference to his current membership in a violent white racist prison gang. Following the favorable ruling for the racist, Abu-Jamal unsuccessfully sought Supreme Court reconsideration of his association right claim citing that Court's ruling in the white racist's case."

"Months after spurning Abu-Jamal a second time, the Supreme Court granted a new hearing to a white murderer challenging prosecutorial reference of his membership in a devil worshipping cult. When giving relief to the devil worshipper, the Supreme Court cited the precedence of its ruling in the racist's case," writes Washington, concluding that "equal protection of laws seemingly should have provided an ex-Black Panther with the same protection of laws as a white racist and white devil worshipper given the similarities of their appeal circumstances."

Superior Knowledge?

The second trailer of Tigre Hill's film focuses on Officer Faulkner's widow, Maureen Faulkner, and carries a purely emotional message: Neither Danny Faulkner nor his widow Maureen will ever find peace unless Abu-Jamal is executed.

The first premise of this trailer's message is that, for some reason, Mrs. Faulkner has more knowledge of the events that led to the death of her husband than other people do, even though she, too, was not present at the scene. Thus, in her book Murdered by Mumia, co-authored with the Philadelphia talk show host Michael Smerconish, Mrs. Faulkner claims to know the exact facts of the case and how Abu-Jamal allegedly killed Officer Faulkner.

Unfortunately, Maureen Faulkner's claim to superior knowledge of the facts collapses on even the most superficial inspection of her book, a telling fact given the enormous resources in terms of access to the files of the DA's office that she and her co-author Smerconish could rely on while writing it.

Illustrative of the book's overall quality, are two grave factual inaccuracies from the very short chapter entitled "The Facts."

One is the assertion that key prosecution witnesses Cynthia White and Robert Chobert both "testified that they saw Abu-Jamal run across the street and fire at Danny." This is untrue in the case of Chobert, who actually only claimed to have seen the final, deadly shots at Faulkner. He never testified to having seen the beginning of the events, much less the alleged first shot from Abu-Jamal. This is an important distinction: If Abu-Jamal had indeed fired first and then also fired the deadly shots, this would in any case indicate first degree murder and thus eligibility for the death penalty.

Their second glaring inaccuracy is writing that Officer Faulkner shot Mumia in the stomach. He was actually shot in the chest, and this an important distinction because a shot in the stomach (which is lower than the chest) corresponds better with the prosecution's theory that Faulkner fired at Abu-Jamal from below, as he fell, after being shot in the back. Since the bullet entered Abu-Jamal's chest at a downward trajectory, it means that he was actually shot from above--a shot from below being all but impossible. This contradiction is a major hole in the prosecution's theory, and Abu-Jamal's detractors have long sought to conceal this fact from the public, as they are unable to honestly address it.

Statements made by Maureen Faulkner since she appeared on the public scene to campaign for Abu-Jamal's execution, make clear that she is not interested in the truth about the horrible event that the death of her husband certainly was. Rather, she wants a revenge that takes precedence over truth.

Mrs. Faulkner's indifference towards the facts of the case was again demonstrated during the Dec. 6, 2007 Today Show segment on the day of her book's release. When she was confronted with the newly discovered photos by press photographer Pedro P. Polakoff that show mishandling, manipulation, and misinterpretation of the crime scene, she quickly dismissed their significance, even though the authenticity of Polakoff's photos is not in doubt.

At the show's end, host Matt Lauer asked her "Maureen, when you're alone with your thoughts at night, when you even see pictures of the protests like the one we have across the street, does it ever cross your mind that perhaps they're right? Do you ever allow yourself to consider the fact that perhaps he didn't do it?" Faulkner's response? "He murdered my husband in cold blood and there is no doubt in my mind."

The Irreproachable Grieving Victim

The second premise is that as a crime victim, Maureen Faulkner is in a privileged position to demand punishment, "closure," and even the death of the purported perpetrator since only such measures can get her the "peace" she is entitled to.

This is based largely on assuming for herself and her family a monopoly of suffering. It's as if Abu-Jamal's years on death row have been one big party, and as if Abu-Jamal did not have family and friends who are being put through hell together with him--a fact that Faulkner, the FOP, and big media outlets rarely, if ever, mention.

Since nobody else apart from her family and friends deserves empathy or sympathy here, this becomes the singular cause of "A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice," the subtitle of her book, and as a result of this now decade-long stance of Maureen Faulkner (and of the artistic and moral decisions of filmmaker Tigre Hill), the entirely widow-focused second trailer for Barrel of a Gun can be reduced to one sentence: "On account of my unique suffering, I need and deserve to have Mumia Abu-Jamal executed."

This premise is also at the root of the long-held assertion by Abu-Jamal's detractors that when the movement supporting him seeks a new trial and rightfully argues that he was framed, this is somehow the ultimate insult to the grieving widow, Maureen Faulkner. This logic is similar to the common assertion that if you support Abu-Jamal's right to a fair trial, you must also support the killing of police officers. Accordingly, Abu-Jamal's supporters are accused of being somehow opposed to "justice for Officer Faulkner," when, in fact, most supporters think Mumia is innocent and didn't kill Officer Faulkner.

While this narrative is patently absurd to any open-minded person, it has been a powerful tool for Abu-Jamal's self-declared enemies in seeking to obscure the irrefutable evidence of an unfair trial and a frame-up. Out of respect and a fear of offending the "grieving widow," most journalists are afraid to ask Mrs. Faulkner challenging questions about the facts of the case, even though she is presenting herself as an authority on the case, and calling for Mumia's execution based on her alleged knowledge of these facts..

When for once The Today Show's Matt Lauer asked her challenging but fair questions, both Smerconish and Faulkner would later publicly express outrage, arguing that it was an insult to both the memory of Officer Faulkner and to Mrs. Faulkner.

Questions For Tigre Hill: The Crime Scene Photos

Along with many other events organized by Mumia supporters to which he was welcomed to, filmmaker Tigre Hill filmed the Journalists for Mumia press conference on December 4, 2007, featuring Pam Africa, David Love, Linn Washington Jr., and Dave Lindorff, where they focused on the newly discovered crime scene photos taken by press photographer Pedro Polakoff. Hill's film crew also came to our Dec. 8 slideshow presentation of the photos later that week. Therefore, we know, at minimum, that he is aware of the information we presented. If he chooses to not even acknowledge the Polakoff photos (as the mainstream media has almost uniformly done) this will be a deliberate choice on his part.

Big Noise Films' Justice on Trial trailer features several of Polakoff's photos alongside their interview with him, including the two-photo sequence showing that Officer Faulkner's hat was moved from the top of Billy Cook's car and then placed on the sidewalk for the official police photo. In contrast, Hill's first trailer shows many of the official police photos of the crime scene, but there is no mention of the Polakoff photos in the trailer or any other statements released by Hill. In light of this, we have some questions for him:

1) You feature the close-up police photo of Officer Faulkner's hat lying on the sidewalk. In your film, will you at least acknowledge that the newly discovered Polakoff crime scene photos show that the hat began on the top of Billy Cook's VW and was later moved to the ground for the police photos? Does this evidence tampering concern you?

2) None of the police photos you featured show prosecution witness Robert Chobert's taxi parked behind Officer Faulkner's car, where Chobert testified that he was parked when he allegedly witnessed Mumia shoot Officer Faulkner. Polakoff's photos also reveal that Chobert's taxi is missing, and this has been a key point we've made about Polakoff's photos in our campaign challenging the mainstream media to fairly report about them. There are many other problems with Chobert's trial testimony, like his contradictory initial statement to police that the shooter of Officer Faulkner had simply "ran away?" Will you fairly present this point we've made at two public presentations that you videotaped? What importance do you think this photo evidence has when evaluating Chobert's integrity as a witness?

3) Do you think the jury should have seen Polakoff's photos? What do you think is the significance of Polakoff's statement that he approached the Philadelphia DA's office to offer his photos as evidence and was ignored by them.

4) Testimony by the three core prosecution eyewitnesses Cynthia White, Robert Chobert, and Michael Scanlan, necessarily implies that bullets must have been fired into the sidewalk where Officer Faulkner came to lie. Since you have seen the Polakoff photos, as well as official police photos, you know that there are no bullet marks visible in the pavement. What, if anything, do you have to say about the implications of this?

Showdown in Philadelphia

As the September 21 duel of the opposing films approaches, the biggest question is whether or not the local media will give Justice on Trial fair coverage and in an amount equal to that received by Tigre Hill's The Barrel of a Gun.

Will the local media even acknowledge that the prestigious NationalConstitutionCenter, across from The Liberty Bell, is hosting a screening and panel discussion? So, far the entirety of media coverage in Philadelphia came from Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Dan Gross, in the form of a few short paragraphs in two separate columns (1 , 2).

However, this was before the later announcement regarding the ConstitutionCenter, so this significant development has yet to be reported on. As of Saturday night, the ConstitutionCenter showing has yet to be acknowledged. If this blackout continues, the Philadelphia public will be deprived from hearing about this historic venue. However, it will provide even further proof that the Philadelphia media is fanatically opposed to the public hearing the full story of the Mumia Abu-Jamal/Daniel Faulkner case.

--US journalist Hans Bennett and German author Michael Schiffmann are the co-founders of Journalists for Mumia Abu-Jamal, an independent media-activist organization that confronts mainstream media bias and creates its own multi-media projects. Their website is

Author's Website:
Author's Bio: Hans Bennett is a multi-media journalist mostly focusing on the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners. An archive of his work is available at and he is also co-founder of "Journalists for Mumia," created to challenge the long history of corporate media bias, whose website is:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Film: Justice On Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal

From Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal:


Johanna Fernandez, one of our coordinators at Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, has teamed up with a  film-maker, Kouross Esmaeli, and brought four years of video work to fruition in a new, high quality film on Mumia and his case. Check out the trailer above, and then also the press release and flyer that are attached.


Mark Taylor

Justice On Trial:  The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Special Press Screening  2 PM   With Press Discussion to follow
Constitution Center
Independence Mall
525 Arch St.   Philadelphia PA

Media members interested in attending should RSVP by emailing, or calling  215/ 265-5471

Public Sneak Preview  8  PM
Ritz East
125 S. 2nd Street   Philadelphia PA

Suggested donation $8.      Tickets available at box office.

NYC Travel Info: 212 330-8029

Big Noise Tactical Media
For more information and to see the trailer, please visit

NYC-International Perspectives on Police Terrorism and the Death Penalty

Panel Discussion:

International Perspectives on Police Terrorism and the Death Penalty

Thursday, October 7 at 6:00 pm
St. Mary's Church
521 W126th Street, between Amsterdam ave and Broadway

JR, Minister of Information, POCC/ and Host, Block Report Radio
Viola Plummer, December 12th Movement
Pam Africa, International Concerned Families and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Malcolm Shabazz (Grandson of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz)

Special Guest:
Cecil Guzmore, Pan-African Activist and Scholar, United Kingdom; Lecturer at the University of Jamaica; Columnist, Jamaican Daily Gleaner

Info: Call the Free Mumia Coalition, 212-330-8029


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Mumia Abu-Jamal : “I am an outlaw journalist”

On August 29th, 2010, Reporters Without Borders Washington DC representative, Clothilde Le Coz, visited Mumia Abu-Jamal, prisoner on death row for nearly three decades. Ms. Le Coz was accompanied by Abu-Jamal’s lead attorney, Robert R. Bryan, and his legal assistant, Nicole Bryan. The meeting took place in room 17 of the State Correctional Institution (SCI) in Waynesburg, Greene county, Pennsylvania.

Reporters Without Borders: As a journalist who continues to work in prison, what are your latest reports focused on?

Mumia Abu-Jamal: The prison population in the United States is the highest in the world. Over the past year, for the first time in 38 years, the prison population declined.

Some states, like California or Michigan, are taking fewer prisoners because of overcrowding. State budgets are restrained and some prisoners are released because of the economic situation.

Prisons in America are vast and the number of prisoners is immense. It’s impressive to see how much money is spent by the US government and how invisible we are. No one knows. Most people don’t care. Some journalists report when there is a drama in prison and think they know about it. But this is not real : it is sensationalist. You can find some good writings. But they are unrealistic. My reporting is what I have seen with my eyes and what people told me. It is real. My reporting has to do with my reality. They mostly have been focusing on death row and prison. I wish it were not so. There is a spate of suicides on death row in the last year and a half. But this is invisible. I broke stories about suicide because it happened on my block.

I need to write. There are millions of stories and some wonderful people here. Among these stories, the ones I chose to write are important, moving, fragile. I decide to write them but part of the calculation is to know whether it’s helpful or not. I have to think about that. As a reporter, you have a responsibility when you publish those kind of stories. Hopefully, it will change their lives for the better.

Do you think the fact you were a reporter affected your case ?

Being the "Voice of the Voiceless" played a significant role. And this expression actually comes from the title of a Philadephia Inquirer headline after I was arrested in 1981. As a teenager, I was a radical journalist working on the staff of the Black Panthers national newspaper. The FBI was actually monitoring my writings since I was 14. My first job was being a reporter. Because of my writings, I am far better known that any inmate in America. If it were not the case, I think there would have been less pressure for the Court to create a special law to affect my conviction. Most of the men and women on death row are not well known. Because I continue to write, this is an element that would have affected the thinking of the judges and made them change the ruling for not giving me a new trial. I think they were thinking “You’re a big mouth, you won’t get a new trial”. You expect a little more from a federal Court. Because of my case, a dozen of other cases can be affected.

What do you think of the media coverage of your case ?

Once, I read that I was no longer on death row. I was sitting here when I read it. I haven’t stopped sitting here for one second.

Because I was coming from the craft, a lot of reporters did not want to cover my case because they feared they would be attached. They had to face criticisms for being partial and sometimes they were told by their editors they could not cover it. Since the beginning of the case, people who could cover me best were not allowed to. Most of reporters I worked with are no longer working. They retired and nobody took the work over.

But the press should have a role to play here. Millions of people saw what was done in Abu Ghraib. Its leader, smiling on the pictures that have been published, worked here before going to Abu Ghraib. In death row, you have people without a high school degree who can decide whether someone lives or dies. For whatever reason, they have the power to make you not eat if they don’t want to. And none of that power is checked by anyone. There are informal rules. These people can make someone’s life a living hell on a wink. When I chose which stories I want to write about, I am never short on material. From a writing perspective, this field is rich.

No matter what my detractors are saying about me, I am a reporter. This country would be a whole lot worse without journalists. But to many of them, I am an outlaw reporter. Prior to prison, in my work for various radio stations, I met people from all around the world and despite my conflicts with some editors, I had the greatest job.

The support you receive in Europe compared to the support you receive here in the United States, is very different. How do you explain the difference and do you still believe international mobilization will be helpful ?

Of course it will. The European mobilization might be pressuring the US regarding the death penalty. Foreign countries, like European ones, went through a specific history of repression. There was an in-their-bones-knowledge of what it is to be in prison. They know about prison, death row and concentration camps. In the US, very few people had that experience. That speaks to how cultures look at things in the world. In Europe, the very ideal of death penalty is an anathema.

9/11 changed a lot of things in the US. People challenging or opposing the government would not be supported anymore. The press also changed. Things that were “allowable” became unacceptable after 9/11. I think 9/11 changed the way people thought and it changed the tolerance of the media. For example, even though 9/11 happened in Manhattan and Washington DC, the jail was closed for an entire day, here in Pennsylvania, and we were locked down.

To motivate more people around your cause, it might be helpful to get an up to date picture of you, today, on death row. Does the fact that we don’t have any updated picture of you affect your situation and the ability of more people to mobilize around your cause ?

Having a public image is partly helpful. The essence of an image is propaganda. Pictures are therefore not that important. The human image is the true one. There, I try to do my best. In 1986, prison authorities took recorders from reporters and you were only allowed a pen and a paper. Now that there is only the meaning of one article left, one can make monsters and models from his article.

If the Supreme Court agrees on a new trial, only your sentence will be reviewed. Not your conviction. How do you feel about staying in prison for life, if you are not executed ?

In Pennsylvania, life sentence is a slow death row. And under the state law, there are 3 degrees of murders. The first degree is punished by life sentence or death. The second and the third ones are punished by life sentence. People do not get out. The highest juvenile rate of life sentences is here in Pennsylvania. But here is my point, in Philadelphia, there were two other cases around my time were people killed a cop. The first one got aquittal. The second once, caught on a surveillance camera, did not get a death sentence.

How do you manage to “escape” death row ?

I have written on History, one of my passions. I would love to write about other things. My latest works are about war, but I also write about culture and music. I have an internal beat that I try to keep through poetry and drums. Very few things have matched the pleasure that I get from learning music. It’s like learning another language. And to write, that’s a challenge ! A music teacher comes every week and teaches me. A whole new world is opening to me and I get a better grasp of it now. Music is one of the best thing mankind has done. The best of our lives.

For further information and to offer support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, contact: Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan 2088 Union Street, Suite 4, San Francisco, CA 94123-4117,38278.html