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WE ARE WRITING IN response to “The Straight Dope” regarding Mumia Abu Jamal (7/28). It’s too bad that Cecil Adams couldn’t, and didn’t, deliver the straight dope without the use of incendiary pejorative adjectives.
First, the case of Mumia has received worldwide attention in radical circles, the alternative press, and the European press. In fact, Europeans know more about the frame-up of Mumia than Americans, who have been safely sheltered from the impending execution by the mainstream media, who, if they cover Mumia at all, have engaged in a disinformation campaign designed to turn him into Orwell’s Emmanuel Goldstein. (See the Washington Times‘ July 31 article, “Book and protests boost profile of a cause celebre on death row,” as well as recent stories in the Washington Post concerning Birdie Africa and Mumia’s book, Live from Death Row.)
Mumia reported on MOVE, was a black panther, and a journalist specializing in exposure of the racist Philadelphia police department. Since we can assume that Cecil Adams has never been to a demonstration supporting Mumia, we can assume that he has never seen the face of hatred and racism expressed by Philly cops. We were in Philly on June 5 and saw cops with their nightsticks out just itching to get a piece of us. I saw a cop spit at us.
Yes, Mumia is an unrepentant radical, a fighter for freedom, and a caged journalist whose life and work should shame those working in the mainstream media as pimps for American ruling-class interests and betraying the interests of the working class.
Mumia’s case is fraught with inconsistencies and injustices. Why was Faulkner beating Mumia’s brother? Since Mumia had no aforehand knowledge of the beating, how could he be charged with first-degree, premeditated murder? Since the spent bullets were .44 caliber, and Mumia’s licensed weapon was a .38, how could his weapon, which was left in his taxicab, be involved? How was Mumia expected to mount a defense for $150? Why were key witnesses not presented? Why were ballistics and other experts not hired? Why was Judge Sabo, whose wife is a Philly cop, not required to recuse himself, both then and now (especially since Sabo has sent more people of color to death row than any other judge in America)? Can Mumia’s trial be characterized as “fair” when the judge allowed the unconstitutional introduction of information concerning Mumia’s political associations and work as a journalist to be introduced as “evidence” to be considered by an all-white jury who were told that, despite the imposition of the death penalty, Mumia would have “appeal after appeal after appeal”? Yet his case is a textbook study in the failure of the American judicial system to function as a court of appeal.
The number of lawyers in a case are there to assure justice by being another pair of eyes and ears. Yet Adams states, “Many of the defense’s claims are speculative. No persuasive alternative explanation of Faulkner’s death has been offered.” Of course not!! Because the Philly cops have framed the man they want—a black panther, an eloquent journalist, and the “voice of the voiceless,” a relentless exposer of Philly police brutality.
The media blackout has been so effective that even many African-Americans, even at this late stage, don’t know who Mumia is and nothing about the 14-year siege of silence surrounding his case.
Ask why the National Association of Black Police Officers, who support Mumia and know he was framed, has not yet demanded that the case be reopened. A move which would automatically take Mumia off death row. Where has the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund been for the 14 years of Mumia’s incarceration?
Ask why Mumia is in disciplinary segregation for writing a book while racist cop Stacey Koon can write a book for the same purpose—raising funds to pay legal bills—and receive no penalties for doing so.
We’d like to read your response, Cecil.
Kenneth R. Kahn, Susan Meyers
Editors, Behind the Barricades, Baltimore, Md.