Friday, October 21, 2011

December 9: All Out For Mumia at Philly Constitution Center

No Life in Prison!

Free Mumia Now!

On the 30th anniversary of Mumia Abu Jamal's incarceration and on the eve of International Human Rights Day, we say NO to life in prison for this innocent, revolutionary, and celebrated journalist.

Honor Troy Davis
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

December 9, 2011
7:30-10:30 pm
Constitution Center,

Cornel West
Michelle Alexander (by video)
Ramona Africa
Michael Coard
Vijay Prashad
Louisa Hanoune
Mark Lamont Hill
Immortal Technique
And more

Arundhati Roy
  • No to the racist death penalty!
  • Stop the massive incarceration of the poor and oppressed!
  • End torture and police terrorism!
  • Free all political prisoners!
  • Free Mumia!
IMPACT Youth Repertory Theatre, African Dance Ensemble, others T.B.A.

Info and bus reservations:
PHILA: 267-760-7344
NYC: 212 -330-8029.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lydia Barashango Reception

From Noelle Hanrahan:
Lydia Barashango  Reception

October 22  -- noon to 4:00 pm

H and H Catering
2036 E. Haines Street
Philadelphia, PA 19138

Listen to Mumia's tribute to his sister at
Lydia Barashango - Presente!

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial
Lydia Barashango, 64; nurse, sister of Mumia Abu Jamal

September 29, 2011

Lydia Barashango, 64, a nurse and social worker who was the sister of Mumia Abu Jamal, died Wednesday, Sept. 29, in Maryland after a long battle with breast cancer.
Mrs. Barashango was a strong defender of her younger brother, Mumia Abu-Jamal, 57. The former Philadelphia radio reporter and Black Panther who was born, Wesley Cook, was convicted and sentenced to death by a jury in 1982 for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

On Dec. 9, 1981, Officer Faulkner was conducting a traffic stop on a vehicle belonging to William Cook, Abu-Jamal's younger brother. During the traffic stop, Abu-Jamal's taxi was parked across the street. Shots were fired and both Abu-Jamal and Faulkner were wounded. Faulkner died. Police arrived on the scene and arrested Abu-Jamal, who was found with a shoulder holster, a revolver and spent cartridges in his revolver. He was later charged with first degree murder.

Supporters and opponents disagree on the appropriateness of the death penalty, whether Abu-Jamal was guilty or whether he received a fair trial.

Mrs. Barashango was interviewed in 2000 for an A&E documentary about the case. She said the day after the shooting she didn't recognize Abu-Jamal at the hospital because he had been "brutalized" by police. When she him if he was all right, he told her, "I'm innocent. I'm innocent."

In 1999, Mrs. Barashango participated in a march around City Hall in Philadelphia with 10,000 of her brother's supporters, many waving "Free Mumia" signs.

She told the crowd, "This rally takes our struggle to a whole new level." We aren't playing anymore. We are demanding a new trial."

Mrs. Barashango was married to Ishakamusa Barashango, a minister and African American scholar. He died in 2004.

According to friends, she had recently been living in Baltimore. Arrangements for services in Baltimore and Philadelphia are pending.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Video of Linn Washington/Judith Ritter on Mumia's recent appeals court ruling video of Linn Washington and Judith Ritter on appeals court decision on Mumia Abu-Jamal at

The case of Pennsylvania death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal took a surprising turn Tuesday when the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously declared his death sentence unconstitutional—it is the second time the court has agreed with a lower judge who set aside Abu-Jamal's death sentence after finding jurors were given confusing instructions that encouraged them to choose death rather than a life sentence. Now Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and journalist, could get a new sentencing hearing in court. Democracy Now! interviews Abu-Jamal's co-counsel, Judith Ritter, and Linn Washington, an award-winning journalist with the Philadelphia Tribune who has followed Abu-Jamal's case for almost three decades.

For the video/audio podcast, transcript, to sign up for the daily news digest, and for today's entire show, visit

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

EMAJ: US Supreme Court Rejects D.A.’s Appeal in Mumia Case

From Educators For Mumia Abu-Jamal:

US Supreme Court Rejects D.A.’s Appeal in Mumia Case

For the news freshly announced, consult the report from the Legal Defense Fund here. An excellent analysis of the meaning of this is provided in Dave Lindorff’s new column.

In addition, Johanna Fernandez, EMAJ Co-Coordinator and historian at Baruch College/CUNY, sent in these words, reminding us all of the December 9 event at Constitution Center:

Today, the Supreme Court refused to hear arguments presented by the Philadelphia DA’s Office that would have challenged the Mills claim in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. That the Supreme Court refused to hear the DA’s arguments means that the high court has upheld Mumia’s Mills claim, a claim that was twice upheld previously by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. What is important about the Mills claim is that it calls for a new penalty-phase trial if defendants can prove that at trial jurors were poorly instructed on the rules governing the weighing of evidence mitigating against the death penalty, as in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

What this all means for the Abu-Jamal case is that the Philadelphia DA’s office has a limited amount of time to either call for a new penalty-phase trial or place Mumia, who is currently on death row, in general population to serve a life sentence of imprisonment without parole.

While this is confirmation on the part of the Supreme Court that Mumia’s trial was corrupt to the core and riddled with constitutional rights violations, the possibility of serving life in prison without parole is no victory for Mumia.

DECEMBER 9, 2011 is the next step in the struggle to release Mumia Abu-Jamal.

December 9th marks the 30th year-to-the-day of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s incarceration.

An innocent man, and an important humanist and revolutionary voice of our time, has been wrongfully imprisoned for 30 YEARS! 

So in the words of Joe Hill, let us “raise less corn and more hell;”  and let us take Occupy Wall Street and the struggle against the New Jim Crow to the City of Brotherly Love.

Join us at

The National Constitution Center, Philadelphia
December 9th at 7 pm

Cornel West
Arandhati Roy (via Video)
Michelle Alexander (via Video)
Ramona Africa
Vijay Prashad
Immortal Technique
Michael Coard
and many others.

In Struggle,

Johanna Fernandez, Ph.D.
Department of History
Baruch College, City University of New York
Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Writer/Producer, Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal

No New Penalty Trial Likely: Dave Lindorff article

From the Free Mumia Coalition, NYC:  Michael Schiffman of Heidelberg, Germany, Pam Africa, and the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition all agree that this is an excellent article.   For more discussion and building toward December 9th in Philadelphia, come to a meeting this Friday night, October 14,  7 pm at St. Mary's Church, 521 West 126 Street in Harlem

No New Penalty Trial Likely: 
US Supreme Court Confirms 3rd Circuit Ruling Lifting Mumia Abu-Jamal's Death Penalty

by: Dave Lindorff

Here's a prediction: Seth Williams, the district attorney of Philadelphia, will decide not to seek to reimpose the death penalty on Mumia Abu-Jamal, the world-famous journalist, former Black Panther and condemned prisoner who has spent the last almost 30 years of his life on Pennsylvania's overcrowded death row.

The choice belongs to Williams, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided, on its second time dealing with the issue, not to overturn the decision of a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which had, on orders of the Supreme Court, reheard, reconsidered and reaffirmed its earlier decision upholding the tossing out of Abu-Jamal's death sentence by a lower federal district court.

For years since the dramatic 2001 decision by Federal District Judge William Yohn overturning Abu-Jamal's death sentence on grounds that the trial judge's instructions to the jury had been faulty and that the jury verdict form was dangerously misleading, Abu-Jamal has remained in brutal solitary confinement at SCI-Green. That's the super-max facility that houses Pennsylvania's condemned prisoners, where Abu-Jamal and the others who are actually facing death are denied any human contact either with each other or with close relatives and friends (visits are conducted through heavy bullet-proof plexiglass, with the inmate in chains, for no good reason beyond simple gratuitous cruelty, since escape is impossible). He was kept there for the last decade through the machinations
of a vindictive DA's office, which argued that as long as the lifting of his death sentence was on appeal, he should have to stay put as if he were facing imminent death.

Now there is no reason or excuse to keep him in that hell hole.

The only way he could face a death penalty at this point would be if the DA were to order up a new trial on the penalty phase of his case, with a new jury hearing arguments for and against sentencing Abu-Jamal to death all over again for the crime he was convicted of back in 1982: the shooting death of white Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. (There is no easy avenue for appeal of Abu-
Jamal's conviction at this point, as all his habeas claims of constitutional violations and trial errors have been rejected by the highest federal courts.)

Already, the wheels are turning against a penalty retrial.

Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Daniel Faulkner, who has been a tireless campaigner for Abu-Jamal's execution, has reportedly told a reporter from Associated Press, following word of the Supreme Court's decision, that she "wondered whether it was time to end the long-running drama." She is quoted as saying she worries about the cost of a rehearing of the penalty issue to the city of Philadelphia, and notes that "many of the relevant witnesses are dead." Plus she doesn't want to afford Abu-Jamal any more publicity, she says.

What she doesn't say, but what DA Williams surely knows, is that if there were a re-hearing of the penalty phase of this sorry case, there is virtually no way that a modern Philadelphia jury would vote to execute Abu-Jamal. First of all, it would not be possible for the DA, who in any case is himself an African-American for the first time in the city's history, to pack the jury with white people the way the prosecutor did in 1982 (and the way the DA's office routinely did in felony and especially murder trials until 1986, when the despicable practice, tantamount to lynching, was outlawed by the Supreme Court). Furthermore, Abu-Jamal has been a model prisoner for 30 years, earning a Bachelor's and a Master's degree while on death row, writing a number of highly-regarded books, including Live from
Death Row
, exposing the horrors of a life waiting for death, and of the nation's whole prison industrial complex. And of course, he has served those 30 years in prison, and still faces a future of life without possibility of parole even if he doesn't face execution. That is bound to seem punishment enough to at least one juror in a panel of 12 honestly selected individuals of the city of Philadelphia, making a unanimous death penalty sentence almost impossible to imagine.

But there is another reason I seriously doubt Williams will not retry Abu-Jamal to get the death penalty reimposed: the fear that such a court hearing could lead to a new trial on the conviction itself, which was the result of a trial process which was even more of a travesty, if that is possible, than the portion that led to his death penalty.

This is because in a penalty phase hearing, in order to refute prosecution claims to a jury that Abu-Jamal didn't just kill Officer Faulkner, but killed him in a way that was wanton and deliberate and even pre-meditated, Abu-Jamal's defense attorneys would certainly bring in witnesses, some from the original trial, and some discovered since that trial, who would raise serious questions about the veracity of the original trial's prosecution witnesses. They could do this because those witnesses were used at the trial to describe not just the supposed shooting, but the vicious manner in which it was supposedly carried out.

Just take the matter of the prosecution's depiction of an "execution-style" slaying of Faulkner, with witnesses describing Abu-Jamal standing astride the prone Faulkner, who was supposedly lying "on his back," and firing four shots downward almost point blank, hitting the officer once between the eyes.

As my colleague Linn Washington and I prove convincingly in a gun test we ran last year (see the film of our test by scanning down to the bottom of our homepage or go to: [1]), this story had to have been a fabrication, because three of those shots missed Faulkner, and there is no sign of bullet impacts anywhere in the concrete sidewalk around the bloodstained spot where Faulkner's body was lying. That lack of evidence would raise questions about whether the prime witness describing that certainly brutal slaying story could actually have seen what he said he saw.

The witness in question, a young white taxi driver named Robert Chobert, claimed at the trial that he  had parked his taxi directly behind Faulkner's parked squad car. The shooting was said to have occurred on the sidewalk two cars forward of Chobert's taxi, meaning he would have been viewing it from his seat at the wheel, through both the parked squad car and a parked VW Beetle belonging to Abu-Jamal's brother Billie Cook -- this at night and with Faulkner's dome lights and tail lights flashing in his eyes. But on top of this, there is no crime scene photo showing Chobert's taxi cab parked behind Faulkner at all, and the likelihood is that he was not even a witness.

It would also certainly be presented by the defense at any penalty hearing that contrary to the trial  prosecutor's assertion to the jury that "this man" (Chobert) had "no reason to lie," he actually had  plenty of reason to do so. The original jury, thanks to a biased and clearly ludicrous decision by the  trial judge, Albert Sabo, never was informed that Chobert at the time he allegedly parked behind  Faulkner's vehicle, and at the time of the trial, was driving on a drivers and a hack license suspended for a DWI conviction, and that he was on probation for felony arson, for the fire-bombing of an elementary school! Furthermore, it only became known to the defense in 1995 that Chobert had also asked the prosecutor if he might be able to "fix" his driver's license problem (a request that the prosecutor should by law have immediately made known to the defense, and to the court, since even if he did nothing to help Chobert, it meant that Chobert was likely to have been hoping for a reward for testifying favorably for the prosecution).

Of course, this is only one example of the peril posed to the state's case against Abu-Jamal by any public rehearing on his death penalty. There are many, many more such perils, too.

While on the one hand, it is surely a relief that this atrocity of a case will almost certainly not result in Abu-Jamal's execution, thanks to the Supreme Court's decision to stay out of it, in a perverse way it is unfortunate. This is because once Abu-Jamal is sentenced to life without parole rather than to death, and is transferred to a general prison population, where he will have freer access to his loved ones and to the public, as well as to the state's huge prison population, the national and global movement to free him will likely weaken, for he will no longer be the icon of the anti-death penalty movement that he has been.

He will of course be able to combat this thanks to his journalistic skills, which will be easier to apply once he's sprung from SCI-Green and has at least occasional access to a computer and to a library. But let's face it: remaining a leading symbol of the nation's death penalty madness will be harder once the threat of execution is finally lifted.

This means that those of us who believe that Abu-Jamal's original trial was a scandal of the worse  proportions, and that his guilt was never proven thanks to the epic misconduct by the prosecution, the lying by prosecution witnesses, the clear pro-prosecution bias of the judge, the ineptness of the defense attorney, the packing of the jury, the lack of funding for any defense experts, and myriad other flaws, will have to work all the harder at trying to win this long-suffering victim of the American injustice system a new trial, not on the penalty, but on his original conviction.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of  Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Penalty Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal [2] (Common Courage Press, 2006).
Source URL:


US Supreme Court Affirms That Mumia's Death Sentence is Unconstitutional



Media Contact: Mel Gagarin; (212) 965-2783

October 11, 2011

United States Supreme Court Rejects Appeal from Philadelphia DA's Office
Mumia Abu-Jamal's Death Sentence is Unconstitutional

(New York, NY) --  Today the United States Supreme Court rejected a request from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office to overturn the most recent federal appeals court decision declaring Mumia Abu-Jamal's death sentence unconstitutional.  The Court's decision brings to an end nearly thirty years of litigation over the fairness of the sentencing hearing that resulted in Mr. Abu-Jamal's being condemned to death.  Mr. Abu-Jamal will be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole unless the District Attorney elects to seek another death sentence from a new jury.

The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Professor Judith Ritter of Widener Law School represent Mr. Abu-Jamal in the appeal of his conviction and death sentence for the 1981 murder of a police officer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The Supreme Court's decision marks the fourth time that the federal courts have found that Mr. Abu-Jamal's sentencing jury was misled about the constitutionally mandated process for considering evidence supporting a life sentence.

"At long last, the profoundly troubling prospect of Mr. Abu-Jamal facing an execution that was produced by an unfair and unreliable penalty phase has been eliminated," said John Payton, Director-Counsel of LDF.  "Like all Americans, Mr. Abu-Jamal was entitled to a proper proceeding that takes into account the many substantial reasons why death was an inappropriate sentence."  Professor Ritter stated, "Our system should never condone an execution that stems from a trial in which the jury was improperly instructed on the law."

Mr. Abu-Jamal's case will now return to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas for final sentencing.