‘ Murdered By Mumia,’ the Real Story
Murdered By Mumia is the title of new book by Maureen Faulkner and Michael A Smerconish (Lyons Press 2008). It is a concerted effort by apologists for the notoriously racist and corrupt Philadelphia police to permanently bury one of their many frame-up victims, the internationally renowned journalist and former Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal. Faulkner and Smerconish have been pumping this piece of hack journalism on numerous media, including on MSNBC, “The O’Reilly Factor” ( Fox News), and on NBC’s “The Today Show” on December 6, 2007.
Maureen Faulkner is the widow of the slain police officer in the 1981 killing for which Jamal was framed, and Michael Smerconish is a right-wing Philadelphia radio host (“The Big Talker”) and a former political adviser to the notorious former Philadelphia police chief and mayor, Frank Rizzo. It was Rizzo’s cops who, among many other things, after a raid on Black Panther headquarters in 1970, paraded the arrestees naked on the street in a scene reminiscent of a slave auction.
Murdered By Mumia a book full of omissions
Murdered By Mumia displays a frothing-at-the-mouth determination to kill Jamal based on the same lies used in the original 1981-82 frame-up by police and prosecutors. Most the cops involved in the frame-up were targeted in a federal corruption probe, and most of the evidence at Mumia’s trial was coerced or concocted by policebut you couldn’t tell that from Murdered By Mumia. The book doesn’t even mention the rampant corruption in, and federal probes of, the Philadelphia police at the time, let alone the numerous frame-up victims (Jamal not among them) whose felony convictions were overturned as a result of these investigations.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is currently entering his 26th year on death rowover a quarter of a century for a murder he didn’t commit. He is an outspoken revolutionary who was sent to death row on the basis of his political beliefsspecifically, a quotation from Mao Tse Tung (“power flows out of the barrel of a gun”). His case is currently before the Third Circuit Court; and a new order for Mumia’s executionwhich is the obvious aim of this bookcould be the outcome. (He could also get a new sentencing hearing or even a new trial, but that is unlikely.)
The photos the prosecution suppressed
The book follows the police fabrication that Jamal killed Daniel Faulkner, a Philadelphia police officer assigned to the central city district, by standing over the fallen cop and pumping several bullets at him, one of which hit him and entered his brain. But the official crime scene photoas well as newly revealed photographs of the crime scene, which were suppressed by the prosecutionshow this to be impossible, because there are no divots (marks of bullet impacts) on the sidewalk where Faulkner was found. The suppressed photos, taken by independent photographer Pedro Polakoff moments after the shooting and discovered recently by German investigator Michael Schiffmann, show gross mishandling and manipulation of evidence by the police, such as a cop holding the alleged murder weapon with his bare hands. The photos also confirm that prosecution witness Robert Chobert’s cab was not parked behind Faulkner’s car where he said it was during the shooting. This proves that he could not have seen what he said he saw, namely that Jamal shot Faulkner; and it debunks Faulkner/Smerconish’s repetition of Chobert’s lies from the 1982 trial (see pages 14, 37, and Chobert’s false statement on page 308). Some of these photos were shown on the “Today Show” on December 6th, much to the consternation of Faulkner and Smerconish, who were on the show to promote Murdered By Mumia.
Key witnesses lied at Jamal’s trial: Robert Chobert
The Polakoff photos are actually just the latest in a long list of new revelations and unheard or discounted evidence, which taken together, have solidly refuted the police fabrications in this case. Robert Chobert, for instance, admitted to a defense investigator in 1995 that he lied under police pressure at the trial: “Chobert told me that on December 9, 1981, he had actually been parked, in his taxi, on 13th Street, north of Locust... (He) told me that he did not see anyone standing over a prone Officer Faulkner, firing shots at the officer.” (Affidavit of George Michael Newman, 25 September 2001see resources, at the end of this piece.)
Just as importantly, prosecution witness Cynthia White, who along with Chobert specifically fingered Jamal as the shooter, was, according to several witnesses, not even on the scene at the time. While Murdered By Mumia repeats the prosecution lie that White “saw the entire incident” (p. 280); it was actually a local businessman named William Singletary who saw everything from start to finish, and he says White left the scene well before the shooting and then came back afterward and asked what had happened! (See statements of William Singletary, in resources.)
White was a local prostitute with numerous outstanding warrants, who later admitted privately to at least two different confidants that she was threatened by police, was in fear for her life, and was coerced to testify against Jamal on pain of being sent “upstate” to prison for a very long time. For cooperating, White got “money for tricks,” according to Yvette Williams, one of the confidants. (Declaration of Yvette Williams, 28 January 2002) Williams’ affidavit was submitted to the courts by one of Jamal’s previous legal teams, but her name doesn’t even appear in Murdered By Mumia. As if that wasn’t enough, the legal team that submitted her affidavitBrown, Grossman, Kamish and Farrellis blacked out of the book as well.
The fact that Cynthia White’s testimony was being written and directed by the prosecution is shown by a key difference between her testimony at Mumia’s trial, and that at the trial of William Cook, Jamal’s brother. Cook, who worked as a local street vendor, was the driver of the VW that Police Officer Faulkner had just stopped prior to the shooting. He was charged with assaulting the officer, but not with murder: he was not the political target that Mumia was. Appearing at Cook’s trial for assaulting the officer, White testified she saw a passenger get out of Billy Cook’s car. When she later testified at Mumia’s trial, there was no passenger. The prosecution’s case at Mumia’s trial rested on only three people being presentFaulkner, Cook and Jamal. The presence of a passenger (whom Billy Cook identified as Kenneth Freeman) was confirmed by William Singletary, who identified the passenger as the shooter. Murdered By Mumia mentions Billy Cook, but says nothing about the conflict in Cynthia White’s testimony at the two trials.
Another prostitute, Veronica Jones, was called by the defense to testify at Jamal’s trial because, although she didn’t see the shooting, she said she heard shots fired, saw a policeman fall, and then saw two males flee the scene. (Other witnesses made similar statements about seeing one or two men flee.) But when she got to the stand she denied it, and said, “no one moved.” She courageously recanted her testimony in a 1996 appeals hearing, despite the threat of being arrested right after her testimony (which she was), saying she had lied at Jamal’s trial under police threats of many years in prison and loss of her children. She had accepted the “same deal” the police offered to Cynthia White (i.e., being able to work her corner in peace), if she would “just name Mr. Jamal as the shooter.” (PCRA transcript, Oct 1, 1996, p. 31) Her poignant confession of her earlier false statements appears in the HBO documentary, “A Case of Reasonable Doubt.”
While Murdered By Mumia can’t disappear Veronica Jones from its pages, authors Faulkner/Smerconish say that she “wins no points as a model citizen,” and calls her allegations of police manipulations of witnesses “fanciful,” because there is “no record of any deal being negotiated at any time for either Veronica Jones or Cynthia White.” (Pages 183-5) No doubt the police “lost” their carefully annotated “records” of their threats, intimidations and promises to these women! Actually, there is plenty of evidence of Philadelphia police manipulation of witnesses, especially in the City Center (6th District) area. See for instance Dave Lindorff, the author of Killing Time, an investigative book on the case published in 2003: “... the Philadelphia Police Department’s recordespecially in the 6th Police Districtis rife with eliciting false testimony from prostitutes during the late 1970s, early 1980s, and on into the 1990s.” (p. 244)
The Judge: “Yeah, and I’m gonna help ’em fry the nr”!
The judge at the 1995-96 appeals hearings, Albert Sabo, was the same judge who presided at Mumia’s 1982 trial, and he was an active participant in the frame up in both instances. A court reporter, Terri-Mauer Carter, filed an affidavitwhich was later dismissed by the courtsto say that she overheard Sabo to say privately, with regard to Mumia Abu-Jamal, “Yeah, and I’m gonna help ’em fry the nr!” (Affidavit of Terri-Mauer Carter, 21 August 2001) The name Terri-Mauer Carter also does not appear in Murdered By Mumia. The authors look very favorably on Sabo, but outside Faulkner/Smerconish’s narrow police-vision world, he was known as a blatant racist, and a “prosecutor in robes,” who sent more people (mostly people of color) to death row than any other sitting U.S. judge. (See the report, “A Life In the Balance, the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” by Amnesty International, February 2000.) Sabo actively aided the prosecution in 1982 and 1995-96, by squashing defense attempts to expose the corruption of false witnesses, facilitating the prosecution introduction without contradiction of a so-called “confession” by Jamal (which police concocted weeks after the event), and by removing Jamal from most of his own trial.
Faulkner/Smerconish’s book fairly reeks of the same racism exhibited by Judge Sabo. This comes out particularly with regard to MOVE, the local community group with which Jamal identifies, which is prejudicially described as “lawless, smelly, and dangerous” (page 79). Perhaps more importantly, in order to back up the “dangerous” part, Murdered By Mumia offers up a photo of “MOVE members armed to the teeth outside their compound.” (Photo caption, pages 206-7) The photo shows two armed men, with a few others, outside a building. The caption goes on to say that, “Not long after this picture was taken, MOVE members killed Philadelphia police officer James Ramp during a gun battle with police in 1978,” thereby transforming a brutal police assault into something resembling self-defense on the part of the police! While 9 MOVE members were framed for the killing, James Ramp was no doubt shot by other cops during the fusillade of police bullets. (In a similar raid a few years later, an entire city block was destroyed when police dropped an incendiary bomb on MOVE’s compound.)
Negroes with guns: armed self-defense against racist attacks
But more than this, the photo and caption raise the whole question of the right to self-defense. Philadelphia is known as a “southern city in the north,” and the racism of its police regime is infamous. (See for instance, “A Life in the Balance...” mentioned above.) While a black group being armed and organized to defend itself against racist attacks in such an atmosphere is understandable, to the authors of Murdered By Mumia the very idea of “Negroes with guns” is a terrorist threat. The long history of lynchings, police violence against blacks, and whole communities burned to the ground in so-called “riots,” is not on their radar screen.
The perceived “danger” of armed black revolutionaries is key to the state’s frenzied determination to execute Mumia Abu-Jamal. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover targeted leaders such as Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King, in order to prevent the rise of a “black messiah.” The Black Panther Party, to which Mumia belonged a few years before the shooting, was terrorized and almost wiped out in police raids that were often indistinguishable from outright murder. Panther leaders in Chicago, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, for instance, were shot down in cold blood. Hampton was riddled with bullets by police firing through a wall while he slept in his bed.
One of the Panthers‚ chief inspirations in their effort to defend black communities from police terror was Robert F. Williams, whose seminal work, Negroes With Guns (1962), told the story of the NAACP chapter in Monroe North Carolina, which armed itself against Klan nightriders and succeeded in driving them off for a time. Williams was persecuted and later forced into exile in Cuba and China.
The much-maligned witness, William Singletary
William Singletary stands out as the most important witness in the Faulkner shooting. A Vietnam War veteran, businessman and club owner, Singletary was in the vicinity to check on activities at a competitor’s after-hours club. Nobody doubts he was present on the scene, and most importantly, he had no reason to lie. Singletary said that Jamal arrived on the scene only after the shooting of Faulkner, and never shot anybody. As summarized by Rachel Wolkenstein, a former lawyer for Jamal who pushed to use him in appeals hearings, Singletary said, “a black male passenger wearing a green army coat got out of William Cook’s Volkswagen, shot Faulkner, and fled the scene.” (Affidavit of Rachel Wolkenstein, 28 July 2001) Mumia then arrived, unarmed according to Singletary, and was shot by Faulkner, who had collapsed and slumped into a sitting position against a building. Singletary, immediately volunteered his observations to the arriving cops. But when he went to the Roundhouse (police station) to make his statement on the incident, detectives tore it up, and demanded that he finger Jamal instead.
Eventually, in order to escape police clutches, he wrote a statement saying he hadn’t seen the shooting. But the cops still didn’t trust him. Police raided his gas-station business, broke his windows and harassed his tow-truck drivers, driving away customers and ruining his businesses. He was never called to testify at the trial, but worse than that, he was warned not to even be in town at the time of the trial, and was in fear for his life. He now lives in North Carolina. (For full details of what Singletary saw that night, see his statement, “Who killed Daniel Faulkner?,” as well as the author’s interview, “Conversations With William Singletary”in resources, below.)
In Murdered By Mumiaas in the 1995 appeals hearing where he did finally get to testify (for the defense)Singletary gets trashed not so much for what he said transpired in the shooting itself, but for other things he said... such as that he saw two helicopters over the scene that night. Faulkner & Smerconish conveniently assume that Singletary meant police helicopters, so they can triumphantly say that there were no police helicopters in Philadelphia at that time. (p. 28) But Singletary didn’t say they were police helicopters! As a veteran and former aviation worker, Singletary knew exactly what they were. One, he said, was an “ARCO Go Patrol (traffic) helicopter,” and the other, a Bell Jet Ranger, was significantly “a KYW News helicopter.”
Temple University Professor and journalist Linn Washington, who submitted an affidavit documenting how the police left the crime scene unattended later that morningan important testimony showing that police were engaged in a frame-upsaid he heard about the shooting on a KYW News report when he awoke at 6 A.M., a mere two hours after the shooting. According to Washington, the report mentioned, “one man ‘spread eagle’ on a building wall, and another man slumped on a curb.” (Affidavit of Linn Washington, May 3, 2001) The radio station could have heard about the shooting by monitoring police radio transmissions, and gotten a story on the air in two hours partly by sending their helicopter over the downtown scene. (This observation, by reporting “one man”presumably Faulkner “spread eagle on a building wall” also confirms Singletary’s description of the shooting and its immediate aftermath.)
Singletary also said that Faulkner remained alive after being shot in the face long enough to say something about “get Maureen” and “tell the girls it’s going to be OK.” (Note that Singletary had no idea who “Maureen” was at the time, and only found out later that this was the name of Faulkner’s wife.) Faulkner/Smerconish, again triumphantly, point out that this is impossible because: 1. Faulkner was dead at that point, and 2. He and Maureen had no children. But the alleged statements by Faulkner came mere seconds after the shooting; and Singletary says Faulkner was shot with a .22 caliber (the favorite weapon of assassins) rather than a .38 as the police said; and that he was shot not between the eyes, but below the left eyeall of which would make survival for a short time at least a possibility.
Furthermore, Dr. Anthony Colletta, the attending physician at Jefferson Hospital to both Faulkner and Jamal, says that he and other doctors struggled to save Faulkner for a time before pronouncing him dead. (See the HBO documentary, “A Case of Reasonable Doubt.”) Faulkner was not pronounced dead at the scene. Singletary says that cops arriving on the scene were talking to Faulkner, and that he was “murmuring.” Again significantly, Singletary says that an hour later in the Roundhouse, the interrogating detective (Quinn) said, “Oh by the way, that cop died; maybe that will help you convict that cop killer. You will be the only witness to say I saw him shoot that cop.” (Singletary, Who killed Daniel Faulkner? emphasis mine) Besides affirming the death of Faulkner about an hour after the shooting, the cops here admitted that they didn’t have any other witnesses, and were counting on Singletary’s help to “roast” (their word) Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Between the eyes, or below the left eye?
Taken together, the facts detailed above point to the possibility that Faulkner, though mortally wounded, may not have died instantly, and may have been able to speak for a few seconds at least, after being shot. But more confirmation would help. Too often the prosecution scenarioin this instance, that Faulkner was shot between the eyes by a .38, and died instantlyis simply taken as fact by many in the general public and even by some in the defense movement. So, was Faulkner actually shot “between the eyes” (prosecution) or “below the left eye” (Singletary)? Inadvertently no doubt, Murdered By Mumia provides an intriguing clue. In the appendix, Faulkner/Smerconish present “Trial Testimony of Dr. Paul Hoyer, June 25, 1982,” explaining that, “Dr. Hoyer performed Daniel Faulkner’s autopsy.” Replying to the prosecutor (McGill) concerning Faulkner’s injuries, Hoyer testifies, with regard to the face wound, “External evidence of injury, on the face, five inches below the top of the head, and quarter inch to the left of the midline there is a gunshot wound of entrance, a gunshot wound of entrance here on the side of the nose.” (page 319) Five inches down, to the left of the midline, and on the side of the nose? In my opinion this confirms Singletary’s description.
But what about the ballistics? Was Faulkner shot with a .38 or a .22, as Singletary said? If it was a smaller-caliber .22, Faulkner’s chances of being able to speak after being shot would be greater. But the ballistics evidence in this case is such a complicated mish-mash of so-called “facts” and proven police falsifications that almost anything is possible. Singletary’s statement, for example, sayscontrary to later police testimonythat several cops at the scene were handling the murder weapon with their bare hands, passing it to one another, and thereby ruining any fingerprint evidence. Now, the newly-revealed Polakoff photos (mentioned earlier) confirm Singletary by showing exactly that: Officer Forbes is seen holding two gunsboth allegedly .38’s, supposedly Jamal’s and Faulkner’sin his bare hands.
Where was Mumia’s gun?
And, while Mumia did own a .38 Charter Arms revolver, which he kept in the glove compartment of his cab, it is entirely unclear that this was really found at the scene. Did he take it with him when he ran across the street, toward the scene of the shooting? Singletary says Jamal was unarmed when he arrived on the scene, and that he, Singletary, pointed the actual murder weapon out to the cops when they arrived, who then retrieved it and handled it. Furthermore, Singletary has affirmed that he saw a newspaper article in a Philadelphia paper, maybe two or three days after the shooting, saying that Jamal’s gun had been found in the glove compartment of his cab, which was in a police impound yard at the time! (See, “Conversations With William Singletary.”) While such an article does not appear in today’s newspaper web archives, it could have appeared in an early edition and then been “pulled” under police pressure. A little more investigation, if it confirmed this report, would be a major blow for Singletary’s veracity, and thus Mumia Abu-Jamal’s innocence.
There is also conflicting evidence from the police as to when the alleged murder weapon was found; and there is evidence that “Faulkner’s gun”which was uncharacteristically dirty and inoperable in one respectmay not have been his gun at all but a “throw away.” (See the PDC Fact Sheet, mentioned below, for more discussion of the ballistics evidence.) If Faulkner’s alleged gun may have been a plant, and the cops can’t agree as to when the murder weapon was found, why couldn’t Mumia’s gun have been planted as well?
‘Tell the girls it’s going to be OK”
As to the comment, “tell the girls it’s going to be OK,” which Singletary says Faulkner made after saying “get Maureen:” why should we assume Faulkner was referring to his own (nonexistent) children? Maybe he was referring to someone else entirely. As a City Center cop, he would have known and probably arrested lots of local prostitutes. Veronica Jones affirmed that she actually liked Faulkner: “I knew Officer Faulkner and thought he was a nice person. He helped and looked out for me several times.” (Veronica Jones, letter to the “Today Show,” November 26. 2007) And Singletary says that when Cynthia White returned to the scene after the shooting and was told what happened, she “screamed” and said, “Oh no, not Danny!” My question is, why couldn’t the mortally wounded Faulkner have perhaps been referring to these women, or others like them, when he mentioned “the girls”?
More importantly, why would Singletary have made any of this stuff up? What purpose would that have served? Unlike other witnesses (and so-called “witnesses”), Singletary had no reason to lie, and he got into a huge amount of life-changing trouble for telling what he believed to be the truth about the shooting. Therefore, those who are really looking for the truth of what happened in this case should examine Singletary’s evidence with much greater care, and benefit of the doubt, than has been granted him thus far.
The confession of Arnold Beverly
Then there’s the confession of Arnold Beverly. Beverly was a local mob hit-man who said, in a 1999 affidavit, that he and “another guy” were hired by corrupt cops to kill Faulkner in order to protect their central-city pay-offs and corruption. One would think that Jamal’s defense team would have brought out any such confession. But, as detailed in the 2001 affidavit of Rachel Wolkenstein mentioned earlier, Beverly’s confession was suppressed by Mumia’s legal team, then headed by the famed Leonard Weinglass, and Daniel Williams. Mumia later fired Weinglass and Williams, saying they had betrayed him after Williams published an “inside account” of the case, while he was still on the case! ( Executing Justice, May 2001) It was Williams’ account in this book that provided the legal pretext for the courts to refuse to admit Beverly’s dramatic evidence of Jamal’s innocence. The courts have refused even to take Beverly’s deposition!
Murdered By Mumia mentions Beverly briefly (p 27-28), without discussing what he actually said. Beverly said that, “I was hired, along with another guy, and paid to shoot and kill Faulkner. I had heard that Faulkner was a problem for the mob and corrupt policemen because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity including prostitution, gambling, drugs without prosecution in the center city area.” (Affidavit of Arnold R. Beverly, June 8, 1999) Interestingly, William Cook affirms in his affidavit (which Faulkner/Smerconish say he never wrote, lying that “to this day Cook remains silent” p 144) that, referring to his passenger, “Freeman told me after that night that there was a plan to kill Officer Faulkner, that Freeman was part of that plan, that he was armed that night and participated in the shooting.” (Declaration of William Cook, May 1999) Thus Beverly’s accusation that corrupt cops organized the killing of Faulkner, to be carried out by him and “another guy,” is substantially corroborated. But the courts, as I said, have made it clear that they don’t want to hear any of this: the truth be damned!
But would cops do a hit on one of their own? “Patently outrageous,” says attorney Dan Williams, commenting on the Beverly confession (“Executing Justice”, p. 329). But one has only to remember the shooting (fortunately non-fatal) just a few years earlier of Frank Serpicothe New York cop about whom a famous movie was made. He was testifying against police corruption at the time. Also, it’s not such an outrageous idea for Dave Lindorff. “Police have killed their own,” he states; “...there are a couple of cases of Philadelphia police officers who were talking to federal prosecutors being subsequently shot and killed.” ( Killing Time p. 24) Lindorff reports on Faulkner’s heavily-censored FBI file, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, which strongly suggests that the murdered cop may have been talking to the Feds (pages 329-30). Although Lindorff is skeptical of Beverly’s particular scenario of the hit, and furthermore he thinks that “maybe” Jamal did kill Faulkner (p. 344), the volume of evidence he cites in Killing Time is apparently too much for Faulkner & Smerconish to stomach. Nowhere in Murdered By Mumia does the name Dave Lindorff appear.
The corruption of the Philadelphia police department at this time is a documented fact. FBI undercover operative Donald Hersing, in a 1999 affidavit, recounts how his investigations and later testimony resulted in the convictions of “dozens” of officers, including Alfonzo Giordano and other central players in the frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal. According to “Big Lies In the service of Legal Lynching,” a Partisan Defense Committee Fact Sheet debunking Murdered By Mumia, “The Justice Department also had Philadelphia cops acting as sources in the investigations, including an officer whose brother was a cop. Faulkner’s brother was a cop.” If Faulkner was talking to the FBI about corruption, the motivation for crooked cops to put out a hit on him is established.
The statement they said Mumia never made
Perhaps the greatest depth to which Murdered By Mumia sinks is its attempt to resurrect the myth that Mumia has never proclaimed his innocence. In an oft-repeated assertion, the book says that Jamal has, “never offered an accounting” of his actions on the night of the shooting, “assuming he was doing something other than murdering Danny” (page 251). Faulkner and Smerconish clearly want the reader to assume that Jamal’s alleged “silence” indicates guilt.
The problem with this is that Mumia has never been silent about his innocence. Not only did he plead not guilty at his trial, but also, in pre-trial hearings, he demanded to be put in a line-up! As Marlene Kamish, one of Jamal’s former lawyers, put it in an address to a Mumia rally in May 2002, “No guilty man begs to be thrown up against a white wall with blinding lights in his face to risk being identified by an unknown and unseen person. Mumia is innocent.” (Quoted in The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, IBT booklet, July 2004) The line-up request was vigorously opposed by the prosecution and denied by the court, predictably, since the cops were busy fabricating the facts themselves and had no desire to put their scripted “witnesses” to the test.
As to an accounting of the events of December 9, 1981, Mumia Abu-Jamal explained in a sworn affidavit in 2001 (after once again proclaiming his innocence): “At my trial I was denied the right to defend myself, I had no confidence in my court-appointed attorney, who never even asked me what happened the night I was shot and the police officer was killed, and I was excluded from at least half the trial. Since I was denied all my rights at my trial I did not testify. I would not be used to make it look like I had a fair trial.” Furthermore, Jamal affirms...
“I did not testify in the post-conviction proceedings in 1995, on the advice of my attorney, Leonard Weinglass, who specifically told me not to testify. Now for the first time I have been given an opportunity to tell what happened to me in the early morning hours of December 9, 1981.”
Mumia Abu-Jamal: ‘This is what happened...’
Jamal now, in 2001, had an opportunity to tell what happened because he had fired Weinglass and Williams, and was now represented by the Brown/Grossman/Kamish legal team, which was determined to bring out all the evidence of Mumia’s innocence. He continues:
“This is what happened: As a cabbie I often chose 13th and Locust Street because it was a popular club area with a lot of foot traffic... I believe I had recently returned from dropping off a fare in West Philly.
“I was filling out my log when I heard some shouting. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw a flashing dome light of a police cruiser. This wasn’t unusual. I continued to fill out my log/trip sheet when I heard what sounded like gun shots. I looked again into my rear view mirror and saw people running up and down Locust. As I scanned I recognized my brother standing in the street staggering and dizzy. I immediately exited the cab and ran to his scream. As I came across the street I saw a uniformed cop turn toward me gun in hand, saw a flash and went down on my knees. I closed my eyes and sat still trying to breathe.”
Declaration of Mumia Abu-Jamal, 3 May 2001, lines 3-17 (line numbering omitted)
After that, he says he blacked out, and woke up to being beaten by a crowd of cops who were, “hollering and cursing, grabbing and pulling on me.” Jamal goes on to describe a brutal beating before being “thrown into a paddy wagon.”
‘Ramp, Ramp, Ramp’
Witness William Singletary confirms the beating, and adds a telling detail. According to Singletary, the cops picked up the wounded Jamal, three on a side, and rammed his head into a pole while shouting, “Ramp, Ramp, Ramp.” (Statements of William Singletary) Ramp was the name of a cop who had been killed, most likely by “friendly fire,” in a raid on a house belonging to MOVE in 1978 (see above). The young journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal had publicly defended and supported the arrested MOVE members, and exposed this murderous police onslaught. The senior officer on the scene of the Faulkner shooting, where Jamal was shot, beaten and arrested, was Alfonzo Giordano. Giordano had been involved in the stakeouts and the attack on MOVE. This explains why they were shouting Ramp’s name: the cops knew exactly who they had that night. It was second nature to them to begin not just the beating, but the vindictive persecution and frame-up of Jamal the very instant they found him.
Allow me to underscore that neither Jamal’s 2001 statement, nor Billy Cook’s statement (which in addition to telling what happened to him, also affirmed his brother’s innocence), nor Alfonzo Giordano (who was not called to testify, and quit the force one day after Jamal’s trial because of corruption charges to which he later pled guilty), get any mention in Murdered By Mumia. The brutal beating of Jamal, meanwhile, gets magically transformed into resistance by the wounded victim to being arrested, which is then used to excuse the lack of tests performed on Mumia’s hands for gunpowder residue! (p. 172-3)
Timing: the crucial issue of innocence
The fact affirmed by Jamal himself in the statement that Murdered By Mumia says he never madethat he arrived on the scene on December 9, 1981 only after hearing “what sounded like gunshots”is, as we have seen, importantly confirmed by both witness William Singletary and confessed hit-man Arnold Beverly. Crucial as this evidence of Jamal’s innocence obviously is, it is not only defamed or ignored by cops, courts and Faulkner and Smerconish; it is also ignored or underrated by many of those who profess to be Mumia’s defenders! Daniel Williams, Jamal’s former lawyer whose book, Executing Justice, traitorously sabotaged the Beverly confession evidence, agonizes over the “ambiguity” of what happened that night; while Dave Lindorff ( Killing Time), says he has “doubts” about both those who defend Jamal’s innocence (although he says he “leans” toward them, p. 344), and those who seek his execution.
Following Williams and Lindorff, whom he says he principally relies on, is Michael Schiffmann, the German researcher who turned up the suppressed Polakoff photos of the crime scene (his now translated book in German, Race Against Death awaits an English-language publisher). Schiffmann says: “Mumia is no murderer. If he shot at all, he shot to defend his own life, after he intervened at the scene in the first place to protect his brother (who had already been beaten bloody).” (An Interview with Michael Schiffmann, by Hans Bennett, Abu-Jamal News, premier issue, www.abu-jamal-news.com)
Schiffmann is here accepting key parts of the prosecution scenario (which was that Mumia ran across the street to defend his brother who was being beaten by Faulkner, after which the prosecution says he shot Faulkner) instead of Mumia’s own description, that the shots happened while he was still in his cab. But there is no evidence that Jamal ever fired a gun! Tests were never performed on his hands, the prosecution “witnesses” were all liars (now proven), ballistics evidence was fabricated, etc, etc, so why should those who seek to defend Mumia invent scenarios out of the whole cloth that have him shooting Faulkner?
Clearly the most disinterested witness in the caseWilliam Singletarysays that Jamal was unarmed, and that his gun may have been found in his cab days later! But Schiffmann also accepts prosecution arguments against Singletary, about the helicopters, Faulkner talking, Mumia’s gun being found at the scene, etc. These are arguments, which a good defense investigator should be looking into with a view to trying to confirm Singletary’s vivid description of the events, and thus help prove that Jamal didn’t shoot anyone and is absolutely innocent. But no, Schiffmann says that what Singletary says “did not happen”! (Personal correspondence with the author) Why? The mind boggles.
Mumia Abu-Jamal is considered an enemy of the state
Schiffmann (along with Williams, Lindorff, others) of course agrees that Jamal did not get a fair trialbut that’s an easy conclusion, to say the least. Discounting the witnesses Singletary and Beverly, however, and ignoring Mumia’s own statement, shows more than just poor judgment. What it shows is a misunderstanding of the basic nature of this case: like the Panthers before him, Mumia Abu-Jamal is considered an enemy of the state!
The persecution of Jamal is an expression of a fundamentally corrupt and racist, class-based system. The campaign to frame and execute Mumia Abu-Jamal flows right out of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program of surveillance and disruption against radical black groups and leftists who were perceived as a threat. Mumia was targeted by FBI for surveillance for his political activities from the age of 15. COINTELPRO, and prosecutions such as Jamal’s, are on a par with historic red scares such as the McCarthyism in the 1950s, and political persecutions such as that of Sacco and Vanzetti, immigrant workers and anarchists who were sent to their deaths in 1927. Sacco and Vanzetti were blatantly framed, tried in a politically-motivated kangaroo court, and later executed for a murder that they didn’t commit. They became the focus of an international campaign against capitalist injustice, as has Mumia. The entire case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, from the frame up that began at the moment of his arrest, to the 25-plus years of death hanging over him, is as important to the ruling class as it is to all of us, for opposite reasons. It is a threat to all blacks, workers, immigrants and anti-war activistsstand up against the system at your peril!
‘Free Mumia’ vs. trying him again’?
To the state (cops, prosecution, courts, etc), this perception of a threat to the system is all that matters. The truth is not an issue, just as it is not for Murdered By Mumia authors Faulkner and Smerconish. They want Jamal dead: even leaving him in lock-down for the rest of his life is insufficient. As Mumia himself once said (paraphrasing), they want to silence him more than they want to kill him. That’s why relying on the call for a new trial for Jamal, which so many supporters such as Schiffmann do, is as inadequate as it is unrealistic. Expecting the same criminal justice system that rigged Jamal’s first trial, (and then put the same racist judge in charge of his 1990s appeals hearingswhich rejected a new trial), to somehow find the errors of its ways and grant him a fair trial, is ridiculous. Supporting Jamal’s legal efforts to gain a new trial, when better options are unavailable, is one thing. But why should his supporters base their political strategy on calling for him to be re-tried on such bogus charges?
Calling for a new trial for Mumia now is like “New Trial for Nelson Mandela” would have been under the apartheid regime in South Africa: the whole case exists because of something much more fundamental than an unfair trial. The “unfairness” of the trials is built into the system, in apartheid South Africa and, yes, in racist 21st Century U.S.
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case fairly screams out: Mumia is innocent! Release him now!
Mumia Abu-Jamal, after a quarter of a century in a box “no bigger than your bathroom,” is still doing the same thing he was doing at the start of his incarceration: supporting the struggles of others fighting the same system that locked him up and still tries to execute him. His 1982 piece, “A Christmas Cage,” for instance, written just after his initial incarceration, spends some time looking at the case of another jailed victim. People like Mumia, who do stand up against the threat of their peril from the system, should be an inspiration to all of us to join the struggle for a fundamentally transformed world of peace and justice.
© Chris Kinder, 2008
Chris Kinder is an Oakland, California activist, and member of the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (LAC).
Opinions expressed here are the author’s, and not necessarily those of the LAC.
Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
PO Box 16222, Oakland CA 94610.
Permission is given to reprint this article for free distribution only, as long as you don’t change anything!
Affidavits and Declarations referred to in this piece, including Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 2001 statement of what happened, the confession of Arnold Beverly, and declarations of Rachel Wolkenstein, Yvette Williams, Donald Hersing, Linn Washington, George Newman and others, are all available from the Partisan Defense Committee, www.partisandefense.org, or from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (LAC), www.laboractionmumia.org.
A Case of Reasonable Doubt, theHBO documentary, is available on the Journalists for Mumia web site www.abu-jamal-news.com, or inquire at the LAC address above about a DVD.
“A Life in the Balance: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal” by Amnesty International (February 2000) is available at the AI website, www.amnesty.org. Look under “Library” for this and other material relating to Mumia Abu-Jamal.
“Big Lies In the Service of Legal Lynching”, the PDC Fact Sheet, is an excellent, well documented, point by point debunking ofMurdered By Mumia . It is available from the PDC web site, (see above) or as a hard-copy printout, free from the Labor Action Committee (at the address above).
Hans Bennett’s interview with Michael Schiffmann, as well as numerous other articles on Jamal’s case by Schiffmann and numerous other authors, is available at the Journalists for Mumia web site, www.abu-jamal-news.com
Marlene Kamish‚ address to Mumia rally, May 2002, is available at www.laboractionmumia.org (The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal). Although not recently updated, this site makes available numerous documents by the Brown/Grossman/Kamish team, such as the extensive August 2001 Amended Habeas brief, which, like so many other items in this case, was never accepted for consideration by the courts.
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Commentaries, which he writes frequently, are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan ofPrison Radio , and made available at www.prisonradio.org. Transcriptions of the commentaries are made available by the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ) at www.mumia.org, and by the LAC through email distribution. If you would like to receive Mumia’s commentaries regularly by email, send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Negroes With Guns , by Robert F Williams, the seminal 1962 work describing armed self-defense by blacks in the South in the 1950s, was republished in 1998 by Wayne State University Press, http://wsupress.wayne.edu.
Sacco and Vanzetti , the 1927 case of execution of two innocent immigrant workers, is the subject of an interesting brief showing its relevance to Mumia’s case, by the Brown/Grossman/Kamish legal team. This is available at www.laboractionmumia.org.
Statements by William Singletary,Who killed Daniel Faulkner ? as well as the author’s interview, “Conversations With William Singletary”, and Singletary’s statement of greetings to Mumia rallies on May 17, 2007, are available in hard copy free from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (address above).
The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal , published by the International Bolshevik Tendency (89 pages, 2004). The booklet contains a thorough discussion of the case from the stand point of Mumia’s innocence, as well as all the above-mentioned affidavits. It’s available for $3 from the Labor Action Committee, shipping included (address above).
The Polakoff photos of the crime scene are copyright protected, but some of them may be viewed at www.abu-jamal-news.com
Transcripts of the 1982 trial, as well as the 1995 and 1996 PCRA (appeals) hearings, are available at the Daniel Faulkner web site, www.danielfaulkner.com. And while Arnold Beverly’s confession is also posted there, remember that most of the affidavits, declarations, etc., which debunk the false testimony of trial witnesses, and have for the most part never been heard by the courts, are ignored by this site.
Veronica Jones’: Letter to the Today Show” (26 November 2007) is available at www.abu-jamal-news.com.
Web Sites by Mumia supporters, besides those already mentioned, include: www.freemumia.org, (The Mobilization To Free Mumia), www.freemumia.com (Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition), and www.emajonline.com (Educators for Mumia).