of May 31, 2000 article in Granma Daily
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
Mario Jorge Munoz
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
has to pay the price
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.
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.
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."
NIGHT HE MUST DIE
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
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.
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.
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
TRIAL WAS A FARCE
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.
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
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.
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."
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
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.
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.