July

July 11, Philadelphia Tribune

Mumia: More lies fuel movement for freedom

By Linn Washington Jr.

A vivid example of abject stupidity is the outraged reactions of some local, state and federal officials to the April 2006 naming of a street in a suburb of Paris, France in honor of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

This volcanic outrage centers on anger that this small suburb with a history of naming streets in honor of those they consider opponents of injustice recognized Abu-Jamal – a Pa death row inmate convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.

Interestingly, major errors riddle the legislative actions taken by these angered officials – condemning the city of St. Denis for its street naming.

Ironically, errors by police, prosecutors, jurists and other authorities during the arrest and conviction of Abu-Jamal fuel the worldwide belief that Abu-Jamal did not receive a fair trial and is thus unjustly convicted.

The anti-St. Denis Resolution approved by Philadelphia’s City Council at the end of May, for example, contains the erroneous declaration that “Mumia Abu-Jamal has exhausted all legal appeals…”

Since the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals, headquartered
in Philadelphia, approved Abu-Jamal’s request for an appeal late last year, it is factually incorrect to contend that Abu- Jamal “has exhausted” all of his appeals.

Not only did the 3rd Circuit agree to hear the appeal claim of that prosecutors used racial discrimination while selecting the jury for Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial, the Circuit Court also took the unusual step in granting appeal on other items like allegations of judicial bias during a 1995 appeals hearing for Abu-Jamal.

The intensity of the bias exhibited by Judge Albert Sabo during that 1995 hearing offended even Philly’s normally anti-Mumia mainstream news media to the point of publishing editorials condemning Sabo for both making a mockery of justice and providing Abu-Jamal supporters with additional ammunition to back their claims of gross injustice.

That Philadelphia City Council Resolution supported a congressional Resolution introduced in mid-May by two Philly area Congresspersons, Republican Michael Fitzpatrick and Democrat Allyson Schwartz.

This congressional Resolution contains fundamental errors.

The Fitzpatrick/Schwartz Resolution, in recounting facts of the case, makes the erroneous claim that “Mumia Abu-Jamal struck Officer Faulkner four times in the back with his gun…”

The official Justice for Daniel Faulkner web site contains no claim of Abu-Jamal striking Faulkner four times in the back with his gun. This web site, according to its founders, exists to provide “an accurate source of information…”

The “Evidence” section of the Faulkner web site states that Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner while Faulkner was in the process of arresting Abu-Jamal’s younger brother.

According to “The Evidence” section, Abu-Jamal ran toward Faulkner with a drawn gun and “from less than two feet away, Jamal fired a shot; which hit Officer Faulkner in the back.”

This Faulkner web site includes the transcripts from Abu- Jamal’s 1982 murder trial containing the account of the crime delivered during the June 19, 1982 opening statement to the jury by prosecutor Joseph McGill referencing nothing about Abu-Jamal striking Faulkner four times.

McGill tells the jury during his opening statement that “Mr. Jamal…shoots Officer Faulkner right in the back.”

McGill says nothing about Abu-Jamal battering Faulkner with his pistol before firing that pistol at Faulkner.

Now, perhaps there is a misunderstanding in word usage in the Fitzpatrick/Schwartz Resolution.

Perhaps this Resolution is not literally saying that Abu-Jamal struck Faulkner as in pistol whipping the policeman but is using the word struck in the form of striking Faulkner four times in the back with bullets fired from his gun.

Small problem with this interpretation!

Police and prosecutors contend that Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner in the back and after the policeman collapsed to the sidewalk on his back, Abu-Jamal straddled the wounded Faulkner and fired ‘several’ more shots –one striking Faulkner between the eyes “blowing his brains out” as McGill told the jury.

Since Abu-Jamal carried a five-shot revolver, how can the Fitzpatrick/Schwartz Resolution reconcile the contradiction between their contention that Abu-Jamal fired four shots into Faulkner’s back with the police/prosecution account that after shooting Faulkner in the back Abu-Jamal fired ‘several’ more shots at Faulkner as he laid on the ground?

No witnesses ever testified that Abu-Jamal reloaded his weapon…so it is impossible for a person with a five shot weapon to fire four shots and then fire ‘several’ more shots without reloading.

The Fitzpatrick/Schwartz Resolution contention that Abu-Jamal either fired four shots at Faulkner’s back or pistol-whipped him four times before firing is factually incorrect…inconsistent with the facts police and prosecutors have asserted since the day of Faulkner’s December 9, 1981 murder.

“No one ever claimed Mumia struck Faulkner’s back four times. While this may evoke the image of a heroic officer striking back against all odds, it is sheer fantasy,” writes Dr. Michael Schiffmann, author of a new book on the Abu-Jamal case.

“One might say such “details” are unimportant, but if they are so unimportant, why bring them up?” Schiffmann wondered in a recent communication about the Fitzpatrick/Schwartz Resolution.

Answering his rhetorical question, Schiffmann says this erroneous information makes “something these law and order representatives know nothing about seem more real.”

St. Denis officials did not complain in 2001 when local and state officials renamed most of Roosevelt Blvd. “Daniel Faulkner Memorial Highway.”

Pushing false facts is the type of stupidity that solidifies international claims that Abu-Jamal is falsely incarcerated.


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Linn Washington Jr. is an award-winning writer who teaches
journalism at Temple University.