PHILADELPHIA – On Nov. 19 the office of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ) here was broken into by burglars. A spokesman for the ICFFMAJ says it was “an apparent political burglary.” The political burglars took the group’s computers, files and databases, but no other items of monetary value were taken.
A similar break-in at the same ICFFMAJ office occurred in June 2000, when lists of financial donors were stolen but nothing else.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, a progressive African American journalist, has been in prison for over 20 years, most of that time on death row. His lawyers and supporters say he was wrongfully convicted in 1982 for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
From the age of 15, when he was the communications secretary for the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party, Abu-Jamal was a target of the FBI’s antidemocratic COINTELPRO program. He has also been the target of right-wing, racist police harassment.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Oct. 8 against Abu-Jamal’s habeas corpus appeal. The court ruled that the Post Conviction Relief Act court had acted properly in blocking Abu-Jamal’s motion to introduce the sworn confession by Arnold Beverly that he killed Faulkner. The confession was not allowed because of its “untimeliness.”
The state’s Supreme Court also dismissed the testimony of Philadelphia court stenographer Terri Maurer Carter. Carter said in a sworn statement that she overheard Abu-Jamal’s original trial judge, Albert Sabo, say in regard to Abu-Jamal’s case, “Yeah, and I’m going to help ’em fry the n——-.” This evidence, the court said, was submitted in a timely manner, but it was disregarded because the issue of Sabo’s racism against Abu-Jamal had been previously raised and rejected by the courts.
Though the sentencing phase of Abu-Jamal’s first “trial” was judged by the courts to have been flawed and therefore the death sentence was (momentarily) suspended, it can be reinstated at any time. The district attorney only has to request that the sentencing phase be reopened. Mumia Abu-Jamal remains confined to a death row cell at SCI Greene in western Pennsylvania, and while his defense lawyers are going back to the federal courts, he remains in great danger.
For more information on his case, contact the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal at www.freemumia.org.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.