Translation of May 31, 2000 article in Granma Daily

the newspaper
of Cuba,
writes about


For 18 years Mumia Abu-Jamal awaits his execution in a prison cell
This U.S. journalist could pay
with his life for his constant denunciations of the system's crimes

By Mario Jorge Munoz

"A young woman falls into a diabetic coma. She's in her car and the police shoot her, because, they say, she threatened them." Tyesha Miller, of Riverside California, is added to the list of victims by official violence.

Another youth is in his car in north Philadelphia and a squadron of armed police approach him. They shout at him from all sides: "Hands up!" But when he raises his hands, they gun him down, the police officer says he saw a pistol. Dontae Dawson becomes one more victim.

"Amadou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, Africa, comes to the U.S. and rents an apartment in the Bronx, New York. Four police come to the doorway of his building to investigate a violation (Diallo is not on the list of suspects.) They shoot 41 bullets; 19 hit the unarmed man. Amadou Diallo will never return to Africa again."

Such denunciations were written from a cold cell on "death row" in Pennsylvania. For 18 years, the author is aware that at any moment they could carry out the sentence. For that reason he expounds as if each moment were his last: the word continues to be his main weapon, giving cognizance to the inhuman conditions within U.S. prisons, the humiliating treatment that the prisoners receive.

The word, each day ever sharper, continues to be his most powerful weapon in unmasking the countless injustices of the system and to show his support for the countless noble causes that are still fought on the planet.

He has to pay the price
for his beliefs

There are many reasons to silence his voice. Mumia was a thorn in the side of the Philadelphia Police Department for his constant public criticism of the violence and open racism of the agents of "law and order." At 15 years old he was one of the founders, in his city, of the Black Panthers for Liberation, at 17, he was minister of information and reporter for the Black Panther newspaper.

And from that time he became one of the targets of the FBI and its COINTELPRO against the Black movement. It has been revealed that more than 800 pages of secret surveillance were gathered by the police on Mumia. They began to persecute him when he was barely 14 years old. They listened to his phone conversations, they planted spies. His friends and teachers were harassed.

But Mumia continued his struggle. He was elected president of the Association of Black Journalists in Philadelphia, his pen continuing to denounce the savagery of the Police Department of his city, the brutal racism that his brothers and sisters suffered. In the streets they began to call him the "voice of the voiceless," while the police chief, Frank Rizzo, said that "one day, and I hope that it's during my command, he will have to pay for all that he's doing today."


On December 9, 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal was driving his taxi through a main street of Philadelphia, when he saw a police officer beating his brother, William Cook, with a metal flashlight. He jumped to help, there was a fight. Everything was cloudy: Mumia lay bleeding from a bullet wound in his chest a few yards from the corner of 13th and Locust; close by, police officer Daniel Faulkner lay mortally wounded.

"It seems my real crime was that I survived their attack, but that night we were the victims," he wrote two months later. The punishment had just begun. That same night, a little later, at the scene of the incident, and with a lung and his diaphragm perforated, the police brutally beat him, ramming his head against a pole.

Mumia awoke with a pain in his kidneys. He opened his eyes and found himself with stitches in his body, tubes connected to his nose, a "law and order" agent smiled while he had his foot on the urine drainage bag so that urine couldn't drain into the bag.

Later they transferred him to a cold cell. They thought that in his delicate state of health, the "n." would contract pneumonia and die. But Mumia lived. He had no idea that his torture had just begun.


On June 1, 1982, Judge Albert Sabo had before him a new opportunity to unleash his history of racial prejudices. The Black journalist must die for the death of a white cop. The Black youth would face the anger of this member of the Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP), an organization which contributed to Sabo's election campaign. Before the trial began, Sabo had already decided the sentence.

"Justice is just an emotion, a sentiment," he had said. And his hatred of Blacks was on the list of his deepest sentiments. Sabo bears the record of the most cases sentenced to death in the United States: of 33 cases that he has sentenced to death, 95% were not white.

During the selection of the jury he didn't permit Mumia to interview the candidates. He said that his appearance (beard and dreadlocks) intimated them. The "impartial" judge picked his own jury. Coincidentally, none of them was against the death penalty. Coincidentally only one was Black.

The prosecutor interviewed more than 100 witnesses; but only presented those few who were willing to support his version. As to be expected, he didn't give the names of the others to the defense. Before the trial, four witnesses said that they had seen a man run from the scene of the crime. The prosecutor hid this from the jury. Years later, some witnesses declared that they had been threatened by the police. On July 3 the farce was concluded. Mumia summed up with his own words: "The pure truth is that for "n.", for the poor, the Puerto Ricans, and the Indigenous who remain after the genocide, justice is a cruel trick, a joke. I am innocent of the accusations that I have been charged with. To deny me my supposed "right" to represent myself, to deny me my right to my own advisor, the right to a jury of my peers, to question witnesses and to make statements at the beginning and end of the trial. I am innocent in spite of what you 12 may think, and freedom will free me! On December 9, 1981 the police tried to execute me in the street. This trial took place because they failed."

On October 26 last year, federal judge William H. Yohn Jr. signed, once again, a stay of execution for Abu-Jamal, which will remain while he reviews the petition of habeas corpus that was presented by the Defense. The petition shows the irregularities of the judicial process, the racial prejudices and evidence of 29 constitutional violations.


For 18 years, behind bars, the "voice of the voiceless" continues to be heard despite his total isolation, despite being denied physical contact with his family and friends, after hunger strikes, repression, death threats, and the continued deterioration of his health. His pen (translators note: can't understand this phrase), although they keep him confined 23 hours a day, although they read his correspondence, although they deny journalists the right to interview him.

Important humanitarian and progressive organizations all over the world have raised a strong campaign to win him the opportunity to a just trial. Time is running out. The order of execution could come at any time. In that case, the world would watch once again, another crime of the U.S. system without being able to stop it. Because as one of the many pages on the Internet dedicated to the international struggle for his freedom says, Mumia Abu-Jamal is not in prison for the murder of police Daniel Faulkner, he is sentenced to death for his opinions and political conduct.



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