Rachel Wolkenstein [RachelWolkenstein.net]
* Defense of Mumia abu-Jamal attacked mercilessly by Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), 2014-03-18 by Rachel Wolkenstein [link]
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia abu-Jamal in Philadelphia: [215-476-8812]
Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia abu-Jamal
[PO Box 16222, Oakland, CA 94610]
Pay to: National Lawyers Guild Foundation
Earmark your check: Mumia abu-Jamal
Send to: Committee to save Mumia abu-Jamal PO Box 2012, New York, NY 10159
2013-07-05 Mumia mural by Chalkupy Oakland! at Oscar Grant Plaza. This action is in response to the criminalization in California of chalking political messages on walls and sidewalks. The mural of Mumia is perishable, and will not last more than day, but provides the message as only Chalkupy could've done, On the Streets!
An educational media event, with speakers Keith Cook, Mumia Abu-Jamal's older brother; and Rachel Wolkenstein, lawyer for Mumia, chief developer of much of the evidence of Mumia's innocence.
Joining them will be Jack Heyman, ILWU Local 10 retired, speaking on the longshore workers' West Coast port shutdown to free Mumia (1999), and Bob Wells, on the Oakland Teachers' Teach-in on Mumia and the Death Penalty (1999). Sponsored by "The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (LAC)" [www.laboractionmumia.org], and "Oakland Teachers for Mumia".
For more information: [650-996-7888].
TWO SHOWINGS IN THE BAY AREA!
July 5th, Friday, 7 PM
In Oakland at the East Side Arts Alliance [2277 International Blvd]
Between 22nd and 23rd Ave. From 14th & Broadway (12th St. BART) downtown Oakland...
Take the IR Bus/IR Rapid Bus to 23rd & Int'l Blvd.
July 7th, Sunday, 7 PM,
In San Francisco at [518 Valencia St., SF]
Between 16th & 17th Streets. Take BART to 16th St & Mission
Both events feature showings of Manufacturing Guilt, how Philadelphia's police and DA actively manufactured Mumia's Guilt, and suppressed his innocence.
"Manufacturing Guilt" is a new documentary short film by Stephen Vittoria, writer/director of "Mumia - Long Distance Revolutionary," with Rachel Wolkenstein, lawyer for Mumia, and legal consultant on this film. Co-produced by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio. "Manufacturing Guilt" is a riveting narrative description, with graphics, of how Mumia was framed and sent to death row for a crime he didn't commit.
2012-04-11 "FREE MUMIA"
He spent three decades on death row, but it seems nothing can break his resolve. RT speaks with one of America's most famous inmates. We're going to let Mumia Abu Jamal tell his story in his own words.
If by protection he meant using the espionage act to actively seek and prosecute more whistlblowers than any president in American history, then President Obama is on right track. We'll show you how blowing the whistle could cost you more than your career.
And last year might have been the Arab spring, but Occupy Wall Street might be the movement to watch in coming weeks. With the weather warming up, protesters are once again coming out in numbers. We'll find out what's in store for the so-called 99 percent spring.
“Occupy the Department of Justice” Demands Release of Mumia Abu Jamal, End to Mass Incarceration
VOICEOVER: On Tuesday, April 24th, hundreds of demonstrators rallied at the Department of Justice in downtown Washington, demanding the immediate release of Mumia Abu Jamal, considered by many to be a prominent black political prisoner, as well as calling for an end to mass incarceration in the United States. Mumia was convicted in the 1981 shooting death of a Philadelphia police officer and sentenced to death row in 1982. Mumia and many others have maintained his innocence, suggesting he was set up by a Philadelphia police force that was already under federal investigation for corruption and widespread civil rights violations, with 15 of the 35 officers involved in the evidence collection in Mumia’s case convicted and sentenced to jail on a number of misconduct charges. Activist and professor Johanna Fernandez has been involved with Mumia’s case and helped to organize Tuesday’s event. She says that the immediate focus of the occupy action is to release Mumia, but that the long term battle is to end to mass incarceration in the United States criminal justice system and push for increased social spending.
JOHANNA FERNANDEZ, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, BARUCH COLLEGE, CUNY: We are here to say that incarceration has nothing to do with solving the problems of American society it has everything to do with putting people in their place repressing people and it’s time for this to end, we want jobs, education, health care, we do not want jails…right now the United States represents 5 percent of the world’s population but we incarcerate 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, this in a nation that’s obsessed with the idea of freedom, the question is why, why do we incarcerate so many people than other places in the world, we clearly don’t have the answers so we are here to say we have to stand up for people like Mumia Abu Jamal.
VOICEOVER: Mumia Abu Jamal was removed from death row in 2011 following a number of court appeals, but remains imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole. A number of performers also participated in Tuesday’s rally, including activist and rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy and M1 of the revolutionary hip hop duo Dead Prez. M1 explains that demonstrators are not only demanding justice for Mumia, but for a number of other political prisoners and victims of police racism and violence.
M1, DEAD PREZ: Behind me on the wall it says this place is a place of hallowed justice, it should say this is a place of hollow justice, there’s no justice we’re right in front of the injustice department because for over 40 years we’ve seen Mumia Abu Jamal get no justice, we’ve seen Eddy Conway, we’ve seen Mutulu Shakur, we’ve seen Herman Bell, we’ve seen Jalil Muntaqim, and countless other colonial subjects shot down by the police department inside this country, no justice, we’re here today to demand that, the occupy movement and the understanding of what we have at stake today has permeated this particular event, and we’re occupying the justice department.
VOICEOVER: Malik Rhasaan is the founder of Occupy the Hood, a grassroots organization started shortly after the inception of Occupy Wall Street that seeks to bring attention to the social pressures facing black and Latino communities. Malik explains how recent high profile cases like the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the emerging Occupy Movement have broadened the discussion of everyday issues facing black communities that they have been organizing around for decades.
MALIK RHASAAN, OCCUPY THE HOOD: A lot of people said the Mumia case is broader the Trayvon case is broader the Ramarley Graham case is broader, it’s everyday for us, so the fact that one takes precedent over another, for example if we were able to free Mumia Abu Jamal that would open up cases for so many others, so I really don’t have an issue with names like Trayvon, names like Ramarley Graham taking the forefront because it’s regular for us Trayvon is not new to us it’s been happening and we’re kind of happy it’s been brought to the forefront because for a long time it’s been hidden.
VOICEOVER: After the Department of Justice headquarters rally, protestors marched through the streets of downtown before arriving to the White House, where 2 dozen activists were arrested in an act of civil disobedience. Activists are organizing a project they are calling the “Liberation Summer,” which aims to mobilize around issues of criminalization and mass incarceration affecting poor communities of color and immigrants.
Rally held outside Department of Justice followed by march through Downtown DC and civil disobedience arrests at White House
2012-02-04 "Our Contact Visit With Mumia" from Johanna Fernandez
Comrades, Brothers and Sisters:
Heidi Boghosian and I just returned from a very moving visit with Mumia. We visited yesterday, Thursday, February 2. This was Mumia’s second contact visit in over 30 years, since his transfer to General Population last Friday, Jan 27. His first contact visit was with his wife, Wadiya, on Monday, January 30.
Unlike our previous visits to Death Row at SCI Greene and to solitary confinement at SCI Mahanoy, our visit yesterday took place in a large visitor’s area, amidst numerous circles of families and spouses who were visiting other inmates. Compared to the intense and focused conversations we had had with Mumia in a small, isolated visiting cell on Death Row, behind sterile plexiglass, this exchange was more relaxed and informal and more unpredictably interactive with the people around us…it was more human. There were so many scenes of affection around us, of children jumping on top of and pulling at their fathers, of entire families talking intimately around small tables, of couples sitting and quietly holding each other, and of girlfriends and wives stealing a forbidden kiss from the men they were there to visit (kisses are only allowed at the start and at the end of visits). These scenes were touching and beautiful, and markedly different from the images of prisoners presented to us by those in power. Our collective work could benefit greatly from these humane, intimate images.
When we entered, we immediately saw Mumia standing across the room. We walked toward each other and he hugged both of us simultaneously. We were both stunned that he would embrace us so warmly and share his personal space so generously after so many years in isolation.
He looked young, and we told him as much. He responded, “Black don’t crack!” We laughed.
He talked to us about the newness of every step he has taken since his release to general population a week ago. So much of what we take for granted daily is new to him, from the microwave in the visiting room to the tremor he felt when, for the first time in 30 years, he kissed his wife. As he said in his own words, “the only thing more drastically different than what I’m experiencing now would be freedom.” He also noted that everyone in the room was watching him.
The experience of breaking bread with our friend and comrade was emotional. It was wonderful to be able to talk and share grilled cheese sandwiches, apple danishes, cookies and hot chocolate from the visiting room vending machines.
One of the highlights of the visit came with the opportunity to take a photo. This was one of the first such opportunities for Mumia in decades, and we had a ball! Primping the hair, making sure that we didn’t have food in our teeth, and nervously getting ready for the big photo moment was such a laugh! And Mumia was openly tickled by every second of it.
When the time came to leave, we all hugged and were promptly instructed to line up against the wall and walk out with the other visitors. As we were exiting the prison, one sister pulled us aside and told us that she couldn’t stop singing Kelly Clarkson’s line “some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.” She shared that she and her parents had followed Mumia’s case since 1981 and that she was overjoyed that Mumia was alive and in general population despite Pennsylvania’s bloodthirsty pursuit of his execution. We told her that on April 24 we were going to launch the fight that would win Mumia’s release: that on that day we were going to Occupy the Justice Department in Washington DC. She told us that because she recently survived cancer she now believed in possibility, and that since Mumia was now in general population she could see how we could win. She sent us off with the line from Laverne and Shirley’s theme song – “never heard the word impossible!”- gave us her number, and asked us to sign her up for the fight.
We’re still taking it all in. The journey has been humbling and humanizing, and we are re-energized and re-inspired!!
In the words of City Lights editor, Greg Ruggiero:”
“Long Term Goal: End Mass Incarceration.
Short Term Goal: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!”
2012-01-29 "'People Power' Pries Abu-Jamal from Punitive Administrative Custody" by Linn Washington Jr.
Credit ‘people power’ for getting internationally known inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal sprung from his apparently punitive, seven-week placement in ‘The Hole.’
For the first time since receiving a controversial death sentence in 1982 for killing a Philadelphia policeman, the widely acclaimed author-activist finds himself in general population, a prison housing status far less restrictive than the solitary confinement of death row.
Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation, telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, all things denied or severely limited to convicts on death row waiting to be killed by the state.
In early December 2011, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections officials, after the federal courts had removed his death penalty and the Philadelphia District Attorney opted not to attempt to re-try the penalty phase in hopes of winning a new death sentence, placed Abu-Jamal in Administrative Custody (a/k/a ‘The Hole’).
Administrative Custody is confinement in a Spartan isolation cell where conditions are more draconian than even death row.
The release of Abu-Jamal from Administrative Custody into general population on Friday, January 27, 2012 followed with a multi-layered protest campaign by his supporters worldwide that included flooding Pennsylvania prison authorities with telephone calls, collecting petitions containing over 5,000 signatures and a complaint filed with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.
Public pressure to release Mumia Abu-Jamal from the "Hole" trumped the pressure from those trying to keep torturing him (photo by Linn Washington
Supporters condemned the Administrative Custody placement, calling it retaliation for Abu-Jamal's having successfully defeated the state's efforts to execute him. Abu-Jamal, a model prisoner, did not meet any of the 11 specific circumstances listed in Pennsylvania DoC regulations dictating administrative custody placement.
Prison staff evaluations of Abu-Jamal since his December death row removal, sources said, listed him as “polite [and] respectful.” Those positive evaluations did not evidence any of the incorrigibility or other serious misbehaviors that usually trigger AC placement.
“When people are united around an issue they have power. This is the power of the people all races in many places,” said Pam Africa, director of the Philadelphia-based International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Abu-Jamal, in a statement released through his wife Wadiya Jamal, thanked his supporters for their hard work. “I am no longer on death row, no longer in the hole, I’m in population,” Abu-Jamal’s statement noted. “This is only Part One and I thank you for the work you’ve done. But the struggle is for freedom!”
Media reports quoted Pennsylvania DoC spokespersons confirming Abu-Jamal’s placement in general population at Mahanoy Prison, a medium security facility about 100 miles from Philadelphia in central Pennsylvania where he was transferred last December from another prison in western Pennsylvania that houses the state's death row.
DoC spokespersons had previously declined comment on Abu-Jamal’s Administrative Custody placement, citing regulations covering inmate privacy.
Prison officials advanced ever-changing rationales for keeping Abu-Jamal in AC at Mahanoy, including the curious claim of that they were waiting for legal clarification that the courts had formally replaced Abu-Jamal’s death sentence with life in prison.
That Kafkaesque claim contradicted the DoC’s own documents specifically acknowledging that federal courts had vacated the death sentence (thus requiring a default life sentence) and Philadelphia’s DA having dropped appeals to reinstate the death sentence.
Typical of the way that Abu-Jamal’s long-running case has shone a bright light on grievous abuses within the criminal justice system, his AC placement exposed what independent prison monitors have long contended is a dirty secret of Pennsylvania’s prison system: authorities using Administrative Custody isolation to maliciously penalize inmates who are not violating prison rules.
Bret Grote, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Human Rights Coalition, said during a media interview that prison authorities misuse Administrative Custody as repression against inmates for their political activism, their complaining about poor conditions in prison, their roles as jailhouse lawyers and often for racist reasons.
Grote said Pennsylvania’s DoC holds approximately 2,500 of its fifty-thousand-plus prisoners in solitary confinement on any given day. That's five percent of the total.
“Andre Jacobs and Carrington Keys, two members of a group of prisoners known as the Dallas 6 [Dallas is a Pennsylvania prison] have been held in solitary for approximately 11 and nine years respectively as a result of their speaking out against torture and other human rights violations inside the state's control units,” Grote said during an interview with Prison Radio.
Philadelphian Russell “Maroon” Shoats, a former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member, has spent 30 of his 40 years in prison inside an isolation cell despite not having any prison infractions, said his daughter Theresa Shoats during a press conference in Philadelphia held one day before Abu-Jamal’s release.
“Prison officials keep my Dad in solitary instead of releasing him into general population because they say he is a leader. My Dad turns 70 this year and he has medical problems, some from being in solitary for so long. Keeping him in solitary is unfair,” Shoats said about her father, who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia policeman.
“My Dad says he encourages young inmates to read to stay sane. Why does that make him too dangerous for general population? He told me that 15 young men hung themselves in SCI Greene during a one-year period.”
King Downing, director of the American Friends Service Center’s Healing Justice Program, said prison authorities nationwide misuse solitary confinement to “silence political prisoners.” Downing hosted the press conference where Shoats spoke alongside other speakers representing Abu-Jamal.
Last October, Juan Mendez, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, called on all countries worldwide to ban the use of solitary confinement of inmates as punishment and/or an extortion technique, except in very exceptional circumstances.
Mendez cited scientific studies establishing the mental and medical damage arising from prolonged isolation. His report stated that an estimated 20,000-to-25,000 persons regularly occupy solitary confinement cells across America.
Recently a federal jury awarded a New Mexico man $22-million for violations of his constitutional rights arising from his having spent two years in solitary confinement in a county jail in Albuquerque following a drunk driving arrest. Although during that entire time he was never even charged or brought to trial, authorities in Dona Ana County New Mexico vow to appeal that verdict, one of the largest damage judgements in history for illegal incarceration.
2003-10-24 "Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Innocence Is No Defense" from Workers Vanguard No. 812
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
The following statement was issued by the Partisan Defense Committee, a legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League, on October 19.
On October 8, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court yet again ruled that a court of law is no place for evidence of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s innocence. That evidence—centered on the sworn testimony of Arnold Beverly that he, not Jamal, shot and killed police officer Daniel Faulkner on 9 December 1981—blasts through all the cover-ups and lies used by the state to put Jamal on death row for a crime he did not commit.
The testimony of Beverly, who has allowed his confession to be recorded on video, is corroborated not merely by a series of affidavits but as Jamal’s attorneys described, “a stack of memoranda approximately the size of a New York City phonebook” written by PDC counsel Rachel Wolkenstein and Jonathan Piper, another attorney associated with the PDC. Yet it has been ruled out of order by both the Pennsylvania courts where Jamal has sought to overturn his sentence under the state’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), and the federal judiciary which has turned down Jamal’s habeas corpus appeals and slammed shut the courtroom doors on evidence of Mumia’s innocence.
The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal is a textbook example of a racist frame-up. A Black Panther Party spokesman at the age of 15, an award-winning journalist and a supporter of the Philadelphia MOVE organization, Jamal was saddled at trial with a lawyer he didn’t want—and one who did not want Mumia’s case—a judge, Albert Sabo, known as the “king of death row,” an overwhelmingly white jury, a prosecutor’s office that concealed and fabricated evidence and a parade of witnesses who were coerced by the notorious Philadelphia police into giving lying testimony against Mumia.
Jamal’s innocence has been evident from the outset. We have repeatedly exposed the D.A.’s case, which rested on three legs; eyewitness accounts that were secured through police manipulation, coercion and outright terror; a purported “confession” by Jamal while he was lying near death in the hospital, which didn’t surface until two months after the killing; ballistics “evidence” concocted by the police that the bullets that killed Faulkner were fired from Jamal’s gun.
This is Texas lynch law justice—up North. Not only did the court bar Beverly’s confession but rejected the sworn account of court stenographer Terri Maurer-Carter of a conversation she overheard in the courthouse where Mumia was tried, in which Judge Sabo declared in regard to Jamal’s case, “I’m going to help them fry the n----r.” As Jamal’s legal papers stated:
“Judge Sabo’s vile racist comment...meant that, in Judge Sabo’s courtroom, Mr. Jamal, like Dred Scott before him, was not a citizen with rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution, but rather an inferior being with ‘no rights which the white man was bound to respect’.”
The court justified its refusal to even consider Maurer-Carter’s testimony by claiming the issue of Sabo’s bias had already been litigated and ruled upon in Mumia’s 1995 PCRA appeal—before the same Judge Sabo, who exonerated himself of any racist animosity and prejudice toward Mumia!
This latest setback appears to terminate Mumia’s appeals before the Pennsylvania state courts, leaving only his habeas corpus appeals in the federal courts. Those appeals have been on hold pending the recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Nearly two years ago federal court judge William Yohn overturned Jamal’s death sentence while affirming the conviction, condemning him to a life of prison hell. Jamal’s attorneys appealed that decision, seeking to overturn the conviction. The state appealed as well, seeking to reinstate the sentence of death. Still on death row, Mumia remains just a short walk and maybe a few months from the death chamber. Workers, minorities and all opponents of racist capitalist repression must now redouble their efforts to mobilize mass protests centered on the social power of the labor movement to demand: Free Mumia now!
Death Penalty— Capitalist Barbarity -
Jamal’s case throws a spotlight on the barbaric, racist death penalty, a form of institutionalized state terror directly descended in the U.S. from the system of black chattel slavery. In the U.S., where the decaying capitalist system offers no future to millions of inner-city youth, the death penalty, the mass incarceration of black men and the elimination of welfare speak to the bourgeoisie’s impulse to genocide. For more than a decade, Democrats and Republicans did everything in their power to increase the number of victims and speed the pace of state-sanctioned murder. In 1993 the Supreme Court ruled in the Texas Herrera case that the execution of an innocent man was not unconstitutional. Such contempt for the lives of the black and Hispanic poor was clearly expressed earlier this year by prosecutor Frank Jung who, when asked by a Missouri Supreme Court judge, “Are you suggesting even if we find Mr. Amrine is actually innocent, he should be executed?” replied, “That’s correct, your Honor.”
Even as scores of men and women condemned to death have proven their innocence and won their freedom in recent years, numerous states have adopted laws with stringent time restrictions on filing death penalty appeals on newly discovered evidence. These restrictions make it virtually impossible for victims of prosecutorial frame-ups to uncover the evidence to prove their innocence of the killing for which they were sentenced to die. Pennsylvania’s law, enacted in 1995 explicitly to cut off Jamal’s appeal rights, provided the pretext for the current court ruling barring Beverly’s confession as untimely. The federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, signed into law by Democratic president Clinton in 1996, was the pretext for federal court judge Yohn also barring Beverly’s testimony in Jamal’s habeas corpus appeal.
Using these laws, the capitalist rulers send black, Hispanic and working-class men and women to their graves as if it were no more than a question of an overdue library book. In opposing Jamal’s motion for a stay of execution during his 1995 appeal the prosecution bared the state’s contempt for Mumia, grotesquely declaring, “The carrying out of a valid death sentence cannot constitute irreparable injury for purposes of requesting a stay”!
The entire history of the state’s vendetta against Jamal reveals that the courts have in fact spurned any provisions of the law that would allow this outspoken champion of the oppressed to walk out of prison a free man. As Jamal’s attorneys explained, his case is governed by the Pennsylvania death penalty statute’s exception to the filing deadline, where “interference by government officials” is responsible for the failure to previously raise a claim. As they demonstrated, in actively working to suppress Beverly’s confession and other evidence of Jamal’s innocence, Jamal’s attorneys at the time, Leonard Weinglass and Daniel Williams, “acted in function, if not in fact, as agents of government officials insofar as their actions served the interests not of petitioner, but of the District Attorney.”
Jamal’s current attorneys utilized information provided in Wolkenstein’s affidavit (reprinted in the PDC pamphlet Mumia Abu-Jamal Is an Innocent Man! [September 2001]), stating, “For nine whole years, attorney Weinglass and attorney Williams did more than any prosecutor could ever do to send Petitioner Jamal to his death. They strangled at birth the evidence which shows that he did not kill Police Officer Faulkner and, in the process, jettisoned numerous other decisive claims for relief.” Wolkenstein and Piper, in fact, resigned from Jamal’s legal team in 1999 precisely over the suppression of the Beverly confession. As she explained in her affidavit, Weinglass’ refusal to proceed with Beverly’s confession and other evidence “was also my final realization that attorney Weinglass would not carry out the defense demanded by our innocent client.”
That Weinglass and Williams played the role of prosecutor was set forth for the world to see in the publication two years ago of Williams’ false “inside account” of Jamal’s case, Executing Justice, published shortly before Beverly’s confession was submitted to court. Williams’ declaration that Beverly’s confession was “lunacy” was the core argument used by prosecutors in fighting to keep this conclusive evidence of Mumia’s innocence out of court.
The court didn’t merely reject the argument that Weinglass and Williams were acting as agents of the state, but pronounced that it wouldn’t even matter if they were. According to this court, five of whose members are former prosecutors, the state’s interests are not inimical to those of Jamal (or any other defendant in a criminal case). “The Commonwealth, having the obligation to seek justice, is not a ‘beneficiary’ of poor defense lawyering”—i.e., they’re claiming that incompetent defense doesn’t benefit the state and its prosecutors!
Among the judges endorsing this ruling is Ronald Castille, who was District Attorney at the time when his subordinate Jack McMahon made an infamous videotape instructing members of the D.A.’s office on how to exclude blacks from juries. Castille was the D.A. opposing Jamal’s first appeal, and was later one of the members of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who turned down Jamal’s appeal of Sabo’s denial of his PCRA in 1997. A number of defendants have had their convictions overturned on the basis of this racist jury-rigging—but not Mumia. Castille has blocked every effort by Jamal to determine his role in the production of the McMahon video.
The court’s lie that the prosecutors are just impartial truth seekers was shared as well by Weinglass and Williams. Williams’ entire book is an articulation of the idea that the capitalist state is some kind of neutral arbiter, expressing and defending the interests of all the people. But the state is not neutral. It is the instrumentality for organized violence by one class, the capitalist rulers, against the working class and all those at the bottom of this society. In the U.S., this is expressed in the terror and frame-ups carried out by viciously racist, brutal and corrupt police.
Williams’ hatchet job reflects the views of a layer of liberals whose function is to refurbish the credentials of the capitalist “law and order” system by curbing its “excesses” and giving it the appearance of fairness. They ignore the overwhelming evidence that Mumia is innocent and instead speak of his supposed “guilt.” Among the latest examples is Dave Lindorff, who writes for CounterPunch and the Nation and recently authored the book Killing Time, and filmmaker Michael Moore, who declares in his recent book, Dude, Where’s My Country?, that Mumia “probably killed” Faulkner but “that does not mean he should be denied a fair trial or that he should be put to death.” It is precisely to appeal to such liberals that the reformist left, most notably Socialist Action and the Workers World Party, subordinated any call for Jamal’s freedom to the demand for a “new trial” for Mumia—as if he could get a fair trial in the racist capitalist courts.
The latest ruling against Jamal underscores—again—that for a defiant and outspoken opponent of this racist system like Jamal, there is no justice in the capitalist courts. As we explained in the introduction to the pamphlet Mumia Abu-Jamal Is an Innocent Man!: “The long hidden and suppressed evidence of Mumia’s innocence is the truth. But in this capitalist system of injustice, the truth is insufficient to secure Jamal’s freedom. What we need is not just more truth but more social power. It is elementary that if labor’s power is to be brought to bear in a mighty blow on Jamal’s behalf, it must be mobilized independently of the very forces of the capitalist state that have worked for years to frame up and kill this innocent man.” Mobilize now to free Mumia! Abolish the racist death penalty!
Letter: On Dave Lindorff and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 814, 21 November 2003
New York City
16 November 2003
To the Editor:
In the Partisan Defense Committee statement "Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!" (WV No. 812, 24 October), author Dave Lindorff was cited, along with filmmaker Michael Moore, as one of those liberals who "ignore the overwhelming evidence that Mumia is innocent and instead speak of his supposed 'guilt'." It was inexact to equate the views of Moore—who says Mumia "probably killed" the police officer for whose 1981 murder he was framed—with those of Lindorff, whose recent article in CounterPunch (17 October) criticized Moore for this. In fact, Lindorff has played a far more pernicious role than Moore.
When Arnold Beverly's confession that he, not Mumia, killed Officer Faulkner was finally presented in court after being suppressed for two years by Mumia's former lawyers, Daniel Williams and Leonard Weinglass, Lindorff was an early and loud voice trashing this clear evidence of Mumia's innocence. His book Killing Time (2003) excoriates Mumia for firing the traitors Williams and Weinglass, attacks the competence of his subsequent legal team for seeking to present the Beverly confession and calls Mumia "to some extent—as his nemesis, prosecutor McGill, puts it—also 'the architect of his own destruction'." In an afterword coyly titled "So...Did He Do It or Not?" Lindorff says, "I don't think the evidence has ever been there that Mumia Abu-Jamal was a first-degree murderer," then concludes: "But did he actually shoot Faulkner? The answer has to be maybe." No! Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man! In racist America, Moore's and Lindorff's hairsplitting over "probably" versus "maybe" can only serve to alibi the U.S. injustice system; exposing such lies is crucial as we seek to mobilize the broadest possible forces, centered on the power of the labor movement, to save Mumia from execution and free him from prison hell.
for the Partisan Defense Committee
"'I killed Jamal cop' - new evidence suggests Mob and police involvement in Police murder in 1981" by Seán Mac Mathúna
"I never confessed to anything because I had nothing to confess to. I never said I shot the policeman. I did not shoot the policeman. I never said I hoped he died. I would never say something like that" Mumia Abu-Jamal
According to a report in Journalist (June 2001), the UK magazine of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has reported that a man has confessed to killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981 - a crime that Mumia Abu-Jamal always claimed he had been framed for and sentenced to death. What is sensational about this news is that the man, Arnold Beverley has claimed he shot Faulkner as a favour for the Mob and other corrupt policemen in Pennsylvania as he was "interfering" with their illegal activity.
The political activist and journalist has been on death row in Pennsylvania for 19 years. The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal is currently pending a habeas corpus action before Judge William H Yohn in the District Court. According to the Journalist, Abu-Jamal has for the first time produced a complete statement of the facts surrounding his case - he had stayed silent at his original trial.
In a report not even mentioned in the mainstream Irish and British media, the man, Arnold Beverly, has given a statement to Mumia Abu-Jamal's defence team that he shot the police officer in 1981. Results of the lie detector test have corroborated the confession of Beverly, and his statement has added credibility because the test was taken by a leading US polygraph expert, Charles Honts of Boise State University. In a statement, Beverley says:
"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".
In his original statement Abu-Jamal says he came across the scene in which his brother, William-Cook, had apparently been shot:
"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 to my knees. "I closed my eyes and sat still trying to breath. The next thing that I remember I felt myself being kicked, hit and being brought out of a stupor. When I opened my eyes, I saw cops all around me."
Here is the full statement by Beverley:
I, ARNOLD R.. BEVERLY, state that the following facts are true and correct: I was present when police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed in the early morning hours of December 9, 1981 near the corner of Locust and 13th Streets. 'have personal knowledge that Mumia Abu-Jamal did not shoot police officer Faulkner,
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.
Faulkner was shot in the back and then in the the head before Jamal came on the scene. Jamal had nothing to do with the shooting. Before the shooting, I was shown a picture of Faulkner and told that Faulkner was supposed to check something at Johnny Os (at 13th and Locust) sometime in the early morning hours of December 9. Two of us were hired for the shooting so that either of us could take the opportunity to make the hit, get the job done, and leave. The other guy gave Inc a .38 caliber policeman‚s special and I was also carrying my own .22 caliber revolver.
I waited at the speedline entrance at the north east of corner of Locust and 13th at the parking lot, I was wearing a green (camouflage) army jacket. The other guy waited on the south side of Locust street east of 13th Street towards Camac Street.
While I was waiting at the speedline entrance for Faulkner to arrive at the location, I saw police officers in the area. Two undercover policemen were standing on the west side of 13th north of Locust. Also a uniformed police officer was sitting in a car in the corner of the parking lot, They were there while the shooting of Faulkner took place. I was not worried about the police, being there since I believed that since I was hired by the mob to shoot and kill Faulkner, any police Officers on the scene would be there to help me.
After a while I saw Faulkner get out of a small police car parked behind a VW parked on Locust Street, east of 13th ~ Faulkner was alone. He got out of the police car end went up to the VW, I heard a shot ring out coming from east on Locust Street, Faulkner fell on his knee on the sidewalk next to the VW, I heard another shot and it must have grazed my left shoulder. I felt something hard on my left shoulder. I grabbed at my shoulder and got blood on my hand.
I ran across Locust Street and stood over Faulkner, who had fallen backwards on the sidewalk, I shot Faulkner in the face at close range. Jamal was shot shortly after that by a uniformed police officer who arrived on the scene.
Cop Cars came from all directions. Foot patrol also arrived. I saw a white shirt getting out of a car in the middle of the 13th & Locust intersection just as I was going down to the speedline Steps. I left the area underground through the speedline system and by pro-arrangement met a police officer who assisted me, exited the speedline underground about three blocks away. A car was waiting for me and I left the center city area.
The foregoing is stated subject to the penalties of 15 Pa.C.S. Section 4904 relating to unsworn falsification to authorities.
[signed] ARNOLD E. BEVERLY
This is the best news for Abu-Jamal and his defence team - if all this is true, then it means that Abu-Jamal has been fitted up for a crime committed on behalf of the Mob and corrupt police, which of course opens a whole can of worms about police corruption and the fact that this has led to a totally innocent facing the death penalty rather than the full facts being investigated. It also suggests that Faulkner was a honest cop trying to work against Mafia and police corruption in Philadelphia - something that he has paid for with his life.
2012-01-11 "William Singletary, 65, Courageous Witness of Mumia's Innocence" by Steven Argue
This is an article of Liberation News, subscribe free: [https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/liberation_news]
For more information on what you can work for Mumia’s freedom, see: [http://www.laboractionmumia.org/index.html]
William Singletary died on December 31, 2011 at 65 years of age. His wife, Jeannette, passed on this this final message to Mumia Abu-Jamal and all his supporters:
"I didn't know Mumia personally, but love him like a brother. I know what he's gone through and he is innocent. I would give up everything for Mumia to be free."
Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Officer Faulkner. In 2011 the prosecution announced they would not seek to reinstate Mumia’s overturned death penalty, but Mumia continues to sit in prison for a murder he did not do. William Singletary, at great personal cost, helped reveal the truth of Mumia’s innocence.
William Singletary gave an eyewitness account of Mumia Abu-Jamal not being the shooter. He also gave an eyewitness account, one of many, of police threats and intimidation to obtain false testimony against Mumia Abu-Jamal. While William Singletary did sign a statement saying that Mumia did it on the night of the murder, he immediately stated after that he signed that statement under the duress of police threats. Of that statement he says, “That's what they made me say, I stayed in there [in a police interrogation room] from 4:30 to 9:30 a.m. and when I left, I felt like I had been raped.”
That night, while trying to intimidate William Singletary for refusing to lie about what he had seen, the police told William Singletary that they would beat him up in the elevator and destroy his business if he didn’t sign. He came out immediately after saying that what they forced him to sign was a lie. Cops with guns drawn then showed-up at his business, trashing his work place and hassling the drivers working for him. This police intimidation and harassment caused William Singletary to close his business. He then fled Philadelphia fearing for his personal safety and the safety of his family.
William Singletary said he saw another man shoot Officer Faulkner, and it was not Mumia Abu-Jamal. He was in fact the only credible eyewitness to actually see who shot Officer Faulkner. He said that a man in a green army jacket got out of the VW stopped by police, shot Faulkner, and ran. Mumia Abu-Jamal was not wearing an army jacket that night and not riding in the VW. Nor did Mumia run away, he was shot and ran nowhere. The jacket Mumia was wearing is in evidence and it is a red quilted ski jacket with a couple blue stripes. Nor was William Cook, the driver of the VW, wearing a green army jacket. This account was corroborated by other eyewitnesses as well as by physical evidence.
The prosecution’s star witness, Cynthia White, gave two extremely different versions of events at two different trials. One version was given at William Cook’s trial, and a differing version at Mumia’s trial. At Cook’s trial she said there was a passenger in Cook’s VW. At Mumia’s trial she claimed there was no passenger.
In the case of Mumia, eyewitnesses have said that the passenger in Cook’s VW was one of the actual killers. Yet Mumia was not riding in the VW and the prosecution claims that Mumia was the lone killer. So in Mumia’s trial, it was useful for the prosecution to disappear the passenger from the testimony, despite White’s other testimony that there was a passenger. These two differing versions, obviously including perjured testimony, were cynically used by prosecutors to fit differing prosecutions.
There is also physical evidence of a passenger in the VW, evidence that was illegally suppressed by the prosecution for 13 years. That evidence was an ID found on the body of Officer Faulkner. It was in the name of Arnold Howard. At the time of the shooting, as a result of this evidence, Arnold Howard was arrested by the police and tested to see if he had fired a gun the night of the shooting (something interestingly enough never done to Mumia Abu-Jamal). Arnold Howard told the police that he had loaned his ID to Kenneth Freeman. (Transcript for August 11, 1995, pp. 130-131.)
Along with physical evidence, the VW driver, William Cook, also placed Kenneth Freeman as the passenger in the VW. In Cook’s signed declaration of what happened he also says Freeman was carrying a .38 that night. Cook went on to say, in that declaration, that after the shooting,
“Poppi [Kenneth Freeman] talked about a plan to kill Faulkner. He told me that he was armed on that night and participated in the shooting. He was connected and knew all kinds of people. I used to ask him about it but he talked but never said much. He wasn't a talker. I didn't see Poppi [Kenneth Freeman] for a while after that. Poppi [Kenneth Freeman] had been in Germany in the army. That night he was wearing his green army jacket.”
On May 14, 1985, according to the testimony of Arnold Howard, Kenneth Freeman’s naked corpse was found outside in the cold handcuffed. No investigation was carried out on Freeman’s death and the coroner reported the cause of death to be a heart attack.
The prosecution’s version of events denies anyone on the scene wearing a green army jacket. Besides Singletary and Cook, five other eyewitnesses also put a man in a green army jacket on the scene. These were stake out Officer Forbes (the putative first officer to arrive), Officer Stephen Trembetta, Robert Magiltan, Michael Scanlan, and Arnold Beverly, who has confessed to being one of two people who killed Faulkner. Beverly states in his confession that he was also wearing a green army jacket that night as well.
In addition, the prosecution’s version of events denies anyone running from the scene. Six eyewitnesses contradict this by saying they saw men running from the scene. These would have been the real shooter or shooters. Those eyewitnesses are Dessie Hightower, William Singletary, Veronica Jones, Robert Chobert, Arnold Beverly, and William Cook.
Before the trial, Veronica Jones gave a completely different version of events than was contained in an earlier police report. In her original version of events, contained in a report she gave to police, Veronica Jones said she saw two men running from the scene. Yet at the trial the two men running were missing from her testimony. This came as a complete surprise to the defense because Mumia’s supposed attorney, Anthony Jackson, did not even bother to interview witnesses before the trial. Earlier in the trial Mumia was denied his legal rights when his attempt to fire Anthony Jackson was denied by Judge Sabo.
Jones retracted her 1982 court testimony in 1996, saying that her original police report was the truth, and that she was coerced by the police into saying she didn’t see anybody running from the scene. She gave this testimony despite being forcefully reminded by Judge Sabo that her testimony could be seen as an admission of perjury and could land her seven years in prison. She was in fact arrested from the witness stand, but for a bounced check from a different state, being served with an insufficient warrant by out of state New Jersey State Troopers.
Despite the police harassment, and a review of her entire criminal history on the witness stand, including her life as a prostitute, Jones brought her children to court to learn from her mistakes. She explained that she was relieved to be setting things straight because what she did to Mumia with her false testimony had been eating her up inside over all those years.
On the stand, admitting to perjury, Jones explained that she was awaiting trial for an unrelated robbery charge in 1982 when police detectives approached her in her cell offering to give her a deal by changing her story as a witness in Mumia’s case. She had originally stated that she heard two shots, looked around the corner, and saw two men running from the scene. The two men running fit the version of William Singletary where he saw someone else shoot Mumia and run, but it didn’t fit the police/prosecution story being woven against Mumia.
She explained that the deal offered by the police was that she could go to prison for five to ten years and lose custody of her two young children or she could get out of the predicament by lying for the police saying that nobody was running from the scene.
Despite the importance of the testimony of Veronica Jones in Mumia’s case, both in corroborating eyewitnesses who say the actual killer or killers ran from the scene, and as another witness testifying to a clear pattern of police intimidation to acquire falsified testimony, Judge Sabo ruled in 1996 against her testimony being heard by a new jury trial.
Likewise, in the original trial, Sabo ruled in favor of prosecution objections when Veronica Jones was already admitting to being the target of the police in their attempts at gaining false testimony:
"I had got locked up [together with other prostitutes] I think it was in January . […] I think sometime after that incident. They were getting on me telling me I was in the area and I seen Mumia, you know, do it, intentionally. They were trying to get me to say something that the other girl [Cynthia White] said. I couldn’t do that."
As Jackson continued this questioning, Veronica Jones said, “we had brought up Cynthia [White]’s name and they told us we can work the area [as prostitutes] if we tell them [what the police wanted to hear].” At this point Judge Sabo ruled in favor of prosecutor McGill’s objections and would only allow further questions of Veronica Jones on what she saw the night of the shooting. As from the beginning of the trial, ruling after ruling has declared, police misconduct is not open to scrutiny and a court of law is no place for evidence of Mumia’s innocence.
So it is established, with her contradictory stories, that Cynthia White was not telling the truth. This would be bad enough. But, in fact, none of the nine eyewitnesses who testified at the trial and subsequent hearings can remember seeing Cynthia White at the immediate scene at all. None, this includes the other prosecution witnesses.
William Singletary states that he saw her earlier down the street. When he saw her she said, “Hey, how you doing? It's cold out here.” Then noticing his car she said “a brand-new Cadillac Eldorado, 1982 model, wow, that's a great car! You ain't that bad-looking either. But I don't date black guys.” To which Singletary says he responded, “And I don't date prostitutes.” Singletary says that she then walked down the street and didn’t actually see the shooting. ("Witness: Abu-Jamal didn't do it" Philadelphia Daily News Dec. 8, 2006)
In fact, Cynthia White confessed to both Pamela Jenkins and Yvette Williams that she did not see the shooting and that the police put the screws to her to lie. In addition, a mountain of testimony shows a clear pattern by the police to try to get similar perjured testimony from other people.
In a hearing after the trial, Pamela Jenkins testified, “I know that Cynthia White worked as a prostitute in the Center City area, specifically at Locust and 13th Street, during 1980 and 1981, and that she was a prostitute, police informant, and turned tricks for the police officers in the district.”
If in fact Cynthia White was a police informant, and this information was withheld from the defense by the prosecution, that alone would be legal grounds for a new trial, but it gets much worse.
Jenkins testified at hearings in 1997 that Police Officer Thomas Ryan tried to make her testify that she saw Mumia shoot Officer Faulkner at the original trial, even though she was not at the scene of the shooting. Jenkins, 15 and a prostitute, was the girlfriend of Officer Ryan at that time. She also testified that she worked both as a prostitute for the police and as a police informant for the corrupt Center City Police.
Jenkins also testified that Cynthia White told her in late 1981 that she was also being pressured to testify against Mumia, and that White was afraid for her life.
In a signed affidavit Jenkins states,
“Tom Ryan, Richard Ryan and other police officers pressured me and asked me if I had seen the shooting of the police officer and whether I had been in the area of the shooting that night. When I said 'no' they pressured (me) some more and asked me was I really sure that I hadn't been on the street that night and seen the shooting. It was clear to me that Tom Ryan and Richard Ryan wanted me to perjure myself and say that I had seen Jamal shoot the police officer."
Despite showing a clear intention by the police to frame Mumia, no jury has been allowed to hear Jenkins’ testimony in Mumia’s case. Not only is Pamela Jenkin's testimony essential evidence of a deliberate police conspiracy to frame Mumia by manufacturing perjured evidence, it also helps to destroy the testimony of the prosecution’s star witness, Cynthia White.
Jenkins' credibility has, however, been bolstered by the fact that she was a key witness used to unravel the massive police corruption in Center City District. Her testimony was instrumental in reversing the decisions of hundreds of cases of people thrown in prison through corrupt tactics and helped lead to the removal of the entire team of cops that led the “investigation” of Mumia’s case due to their corruption and mob connections.
Other eyewitnesses have said the same thing as Jenkins. In a signed affidavit Yvette Williams has stated,
“I was in jail with Cynthia White in December of 1981 after Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed. Cynthia White told me the police were making her lie and say she saw Mr. Jamal shoot Officer Faulkner when she really did not see who did it.”
Later in the Affidavit Yvette Williams states,
“When Lucky [Cynthia White] told me she didn’t even see who shot Officer Faulkner, I asked her why she was “lying on that man” [Mumia Abu-Jamal]. She told me it was because for the police and vice threatened her life. Additionally, the police were giving her money for tricks. “The way she talked, we were talking “G’s” [$1,000.00]. She also said she was terrified of what the police would do to her if she didn’t say that Mumia shot Officer Faulkner. According to Lucky, the police told her they would consolidate all her cases and send her “up” (Muncy), a women’s prison, for a long time if she didn’t testify to what they told her to say. Lucky told me she had a lot of open cases and out-of-state warrants and was scared of going to Muncy. She was scared that her pimp “would get pissed off” at all the money he was losing when she was locked up, and off the street. She was afraid that when she got out he would beat her up or kill her.”
According to legal papers filed by the defense,
“in the days after the shooting, [White] was arrested at least twice for prostitution. Her picture was posted in the 6th District with instructions for arresting officers to 'Contact Homicide'. Each time police picked White up and took her statement, she revised her story [on Faulkner's shooting]. Without explanation, bench warrants against her were not prosecuted.”
Pamela Jenkins has publicly asked Cynthia White to tell the truth stating:
“We know we can bring this down to a nutshell if you just come forward. We've all lost a lot by coming forward, I've lost somebody I love dearly... Just do it this one time, one favor, that's not asking a lot. Then maybe you can clean up your past, like the rest of us are doing.”
The prosecution does seem to be afraid of Cynthia White coming forward to tell the truth, and have presented false testimony of evidence that she is dead. In a hearing in Judge Sabo’s court, a Philadelphia police detective testified that the FBI had "authenticated" that a corpse had the same fingerprints as White. Yet the DA withheld the fingerprints at that time. When they finally produced them for the now cremated corpse, they didn’t match the fingerprints of Cynthia White.
Cynthia White’s own mother stated that the same corpse was not Cynthia White. Other eyewitnesses, that the defense attempted to have testify, testimony denied by Judge Sabo, had seen Cynthia White alive and walking around during the time she was supposed to be dead. Yet instead of hearing defense witnesses that stated that Cynthia White was alive, the only testimony Sabo would allow was the false testimony of the Philadelphia detective claiming “authenticated” fingerprints. Sabo snapped, “As far as I’m concerned she’s dead. I’m making a ruling. We’re finished.” Evidence has never meant much in Judge Sabo’s court, if the prosecution says she’s dead, she’s dead.
Judge Sabo was in fact heard by court reporter, Terri Maurer-Carter, telling another person during the time of Mumia’s trial saying, “I’ll help you fry the nigger”.
Besides Cynthia White, the only other “eyewitness” who said he saw Mumia kill Officer Faulkner was Robert Chobert.
Robert Chobert, a convicted arsonist who was driving on a suspended license and was on felony probation at the time of the shooting, has also recanted his testimony according to a sworn statement by prize winning investigator Mark Newman.
At the time of Mumia’s trial, Chobert was on felony probation for the firebombing of a school. Revocation of that probation could have meant over 20 years in prison. Chobert was in fact violating that probation by unlawfully driving his taxi on a suspended license that night. Thus, Chobert would have been easily manipulated by the police and/or by the prosecution.
Under penalty of perjury, Mike Newman stated in a signed affidavit that, “Chobert told me that he did not see anyone standing over a prone Officer Faulkner, firing shots at the officer. Chobert said that what actually happened was that he was sitting in his taxi when he heard gunfire.” And that he did not actually see the shooting.
According to that signed affidavit of Mike Newman, Chobert didn't see Mumia shoot Faulkner, wasn't parked behind Faulkner as he said he was at the trial, and that Chobert gave the police the false testimony they wanted in order to avoid having his parole revoked.
Physical evidence, as well as eyewitness testimony, proves that Chobert's cab was not parked behind Faulkner's as Chobert claimed in court. This evidence includes 31 photos taken by photojournalist Pedro Polakoff just minutes after the shooting. These photos clearly show that Chobert's cab was not parked behind Faulkner’s police car as Chobert had claimed in court.
That new evidence corroborated the testimony of Mike Newman when he stated, "Chobert told me that on December 9, 1981, he had actually been parked, in his taxi, on 13th Street, north of Locust (contradicting his trial testimony that he was parked behind Officer Faulkner's police car on Locust St., east of 13th Street.)" This is also relevant to Chobert not having the vantage for seeing the shooting.
Newman’s testimony is also corroborated by Chobert’s legal troubles and a clear pattern by the police to offer similar deals to other witnesses including three eyewitnesses, Pamela Jenkins, William Singletary, and Veronica Jones, stating publicly, and Cynthia White also stating privately, that they were coerced, threatened, or otherwise offered deals by the cops to give false testimony.
In fact Robert Chobert revealed at a 1995 PCRA hearing that Prosecutor McGill, while recognizing that Chobert had been driving on a suspended license at the time of the killing, had indicated that rather than prosecuting for the violation, he had promised to "look into" how Chobert could get his license reinstated. This would allow Chobert to continue his job as a taxi driver and kept him out of trouble for a parole violation. On the stand Chobert admitted that he believed McGill was intending to assist him. Yet information of a deal was not only wrongfully withheld from the jury, McGill mislead the jury further by asking, "What motivation would Robert Chobert have to make up a story?" So the jury was never allowed to hear that a deal was made with Chobert and Prosecutor McGill felt free to lie.
The police officer who got the “identification” of Mumia from Robert Chobert was Alfonzo Giordano. In the original police report Robert Chobert is said by Giordano to say it was the guy from MOVE that did it. Giordano was removed from the force and prosecuted for corruption related to the mob, a corruption probe that turned over many other police/prosecution convictions. In addition, Giordano had been involved in political operations against Philadelphia MOVE and the Black Panther Party. As such, Giordano would have instantly recognized Mumia, a former Black Panther and an independent journalist who had exposed police wrong doing against MOVE.
In a revealing set of moves, Giordano was never called as a witness at Mumia’s trial. This despite Giordano providing testimony at Mumia’s preliminary hearing of a “confession” in the van, despite his being the senior officer at the scene, despite his supposed firsthand identification of a witness, and despite his testimony of finding the “murder weapon”. During the trial Giordano was removed from active duty and assigned to a desk. The first working day after the trial was over Giordano resigned from the Philadelphia police force. In 1986 Giordano copped a plea on federal charges based on receiving tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payoffs during the 1979-80 period but didn’t spend any time in jail.
In addition to Giordono’s corruption, under racist Police Chief Frank Rizzo, Giordono was in charge of the Stake Out Unit of the Philadelphia Police that carried out repression against the Black Panther Party from 1968 –1970. Giordono also played a supervisory role in the 1977-78 police barricade and attack on the MOVE organization under Mayor Frank Rizzo. That police attack had followed earlier murders by the Philadelphia police of MOVE members and followed a long starvation blockade by the Philadelphia Police against the MOVE headquarters. In the police attack two MOVE members were shot, nine MOVE members were framed by the Philadelphia Police, MOVE children were stolen, and, as film footage shows, Delbert Africa was kicked and stomped by the police as he lay on the ground. In addition, Officer Ramp was shot and killed.
While nine MOVE members were railroaded to prison for the death of Officer Ramp, the evidence does not fit. The one bullet that killed Ramp came from behind and had a downward trajectory. Yet Ramp was facing the MOVE headquarters where MOVE members were in the basement and any bullets would have had an upward trajectory and hit him from in front. The evidence indicates it was a stray police bullet.
Presiding over the kangaroo court that convicted the MOVE 9 was Judge Malmed. Shortly after the trial and conviction of the MOVE 9, Mumia, as an independent journalist, called in to a talk radio show where he asked Judge Malmed, “Who shot James Ramp?” Judge Malmed honestly answered, “I haven’t the faintest idea.”
In the attack on MOVE the police and Mayor Rizzo claimed that the first shots came from the MOVE headquarters, but the independent eyewitnesses including a number of journalists present, confirm what MOVE members and the physical evidence says, that the first shot came from across the street and not from the MOVE headquarters.
At Mayor Frank Rizzo’s victory press conference on the 1978 police attack, Frank Rizzo directly threatened Mumia Abu-Jamal when Mumia asked him a question. Mumia was present as a freelance journalist and asked the gloating Rizzo, “What about the brutality?” Instead of answering Mumia’s question Rizzo responded angrily with a threat: “They believe what you write, and what you say, and it's got to stop. And one day, and I hope it's in my career, that you're going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do.”
In addition to commanding this attack against MOVE, Giordono, earlier, then under Police Chief Rizzo, carried out surveillance of leftists including the Black Panther Party.
With Mumia having been a former member of the Black Panther Party and a high profile critic of police actions against MOVE, there is no question that officer Giordono would have instantly recognized Mumia at the crime scene. This would be one of the motives for Giordono to want to falsify testimony and other evidence to pin the murder on Mumia.
Giordono rode with Officer Trombetta with Mumia in the van to the hospital after Mumia had been shot and beaten by the police. Inspector Alfonso Giordano, this senior officer on the scene in charge of the Mumia “investigation”, reported that on that van ride Mumia had confessed to shooting Faulkner. P.O. Trembetta was with Mumia during that entire van ride and, in direct contradiction to Giordano’s claim of a confession, reported that Mumia made no comment. With the van confession discredited, the prosecution manufactured new accounts of a confession at the hospital which were used during the trial. Those accounts have been thoroughly discredited by a number of eyewitnesses, yet the courts have refused to hear that evidence as well. Giordano was removed from the Philadelphia Police and prosecuted for corruption immediately after Mumia’s trial.
A number of other well-known political frame-ups have occurred in the United States. The prosecution of Mumia fits the pattern of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program against the Black Panther Party, where local law enforcement worked with the FBI in murdering some BPP leaders in cold blood, such as Fred Hampton in Chicago, and knowingly framed and prosecuted other innocent BPP members, such as Geronimo ji Jagga in LA who spent 30 years in prison before he was exonerated of the false charges against him and freed.
A possible additional possible double motive for framing Mumia can be found in the confession of Arnold Beverly. Beverly stated, “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.”
Beverly’s testimony is corroborated by, among other things, police corruption, three separate FBI investigations of police corruption in the Center City area at the time, evidence of fear that Faulkner was an FBI informant, evidence that Faulkner was an FBI informant, and the murder of other witnesses involved in cases against the Center City Police at that time. One of those murders was of Bertram Schlein, an eyewitness who testified against Central Division Chief John DeBenedetto. A suspect in that murder was Kenneth Schwartz, a former police officer and reported associate of Inspector Alfonzo Giordono.
A former Philadelphia Police Officer turned mob hit man, Ronald Previte, has testified as government informant on mob killings. Previte stated that during his ten years as a Philadelphia cop he “learned more about being a crook” than any other time in his life.
If the police were in fact involved in the murder of Police Officer Faulkner, this would mean that they would not be interested in finding the actual killer. They would want to pin the murder on someone else, and who better in the eyes of Giordano than his journalistic critic, Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Whatever the exact motive or motives, the mountain of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct in this case proves that the criminal “justice” system both had (and has) no interest in finding the real killer or killers while at the same time desiring to jail execute an innocent man.
Despite great personal cost, William Singletary stuck to his story and told the truth. He stands as an exemplary fighter in the struggle for justice.
2007-12-31 "Murdered by Mumia: Big Lies in the Service of Legal Lynching; Mumia is Innocent! Free Him Now!" from "Partisan Defense Committee (PDC)"
Murdered by Mumia (The Lyons Press, December 2007) by Maureen Faulkner and Michael Smerconish is a compendium of myths, falsehoods, misrepresentations and omissions—all aimed at the legal lynching of an innocent man, Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia is a former Black Panther Party spokesman, targeted by the Feds and cops since the age of 15, who later became a supporter of the MOVE organization and a respected journalist renowned as the “voice of the voiceless.” He was framed up for the 9 December 1981 killing of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death explicitly for his political views. An abundance of evidence proves Mumia’s innocence, including the confession of another man, Arnold Beverly [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQyWqm1l4KM], that he, not Mumia, shot and killed Officer Faulkner.
Published at a time of waning support for capital punishment—most recently demonstrated by New Jersey’s repeal of the death penalty—as well as the highly publicized release of inmates falsely convicted on murder charges, Murdered by Mumia is a rallying call for the barbaric death penalty, which in the U.S. is a legacy of black chattel slavery. In Murdered by Mumia, Maureen Faulkner, Daniel Faulkner’s widow and a major spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police campaign to execute Mumia, joins forces with right-wing radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist Michael Smerconish.
Faulkner and Smerconish make no bones about the political nature of Mumia’s frame-up, retailing the lie that Mumia’s Panther membership proved that he had been planning to kill a cop. They boast that the prosecution had “successfully established that Abu-Jamal had an anti-police, anti-establishment, anti-government philosophy that accounted for his desire to murder Danny” (page 44). It is because Mumia has always been an outspoken and unrepentant fighter for black people and the oppressed that the forces of “law and order,” represented by both the Democratic and Republican parties, want to see Mumia dead. To the racist rulers, he represents the spectre of black revolt.
Murdered by Mumia repeatedly claims that the records of Mumia’s 1982 trial and pre-trial witness statements “tell the story of how Abu-Jamal murdered my husband” (page 29). The trial records are replete with inconsistencies, unproven assertions, contradictory evidence and all the hallmarks of a racist frame-up. There is no evidence that Mumia shot Daniel Faulkner, and the “facts” claimed in Murdered by Mumia supposedly proving this story do not exist in the trial record. Since the 1982 trial, there has been a growing mountain of new evidence proving not only that Mumia is innocent, but that the police and prosecution falsified and suppressed evidence, coerced witnesses and orchestrated a monumental frame-up.
New York, December 6: Supporters of the Spartacist League, PDC and Labor Black League join protest outside NBC’s Today show, which featured appearance by Maureen Faulkner and Michael Smerconish.
This fact sheet will expose the enormity of the lies that underpin every premise in Murdered by Mumia. Our aim is to arm those fighting for Mumia with the facts to refute the mendacity of those who want to execute him. This is part of our effort to mobilize mass protest action on Mumia’s behalf that is centered on the social power of the labor movement and is based on the understanding that Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man, the victim of a racist and political frame-up who must be immediately freed!
In refuting the lies in Murdered by Mumia, we cite the transcripts, including the dates and page numbers where testimony appears, from the 1982 trial and pre-trial testimony and 1995-97 post-conviction relief (PCRA) hearings (all designated as “N.T.” [Notes of Testimony]), as well as declarations and affidavits that were filed in federal and state courts, and police investigation reports (IIR [Investigation Interview Record]). Citations from Murdered by Mumia are followed by the page number. Readers are also urged to review the July 2006 PDC pamphlet, The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal—Mumia Is Innocent!, which includes detailed presentations of the facts of the case as well as a series of affidavits and declarations. The pamphlet is available at [http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/innocent].
What Happened on 9 December 1981 -
Lie: In virtually every chapter of the book, Faulkner and Smerconish claim that neither Mumia nor his brother William Cook, who was at the scene of Faulkner’s shooting, gave an accounting of what happened on 9 December 1981. They write, for example, “Never, in twenty-five years and despite a worldwide campaign on his behalf, has he [Mumia] offered an explanation of what occurred on December 9, 1981” (page 47).
Truth: From the beginning, Mumia has always made clear that he is innocent, including, in his allocution statement to the trial court. (N.T.7/3/82:14-15) On 3 May 2001, he gave a sworn declaration, as did his brother on 15 May 1999 and 29 April 2001, detailing what they saw the night of Faulkner’s shooting. On 8 June 1999, Arnold Beverly swore an affidavit detailing how he, not Mumia, killed Faulkner. Smerconish and Faulkner know this—the declarations and Beverly’s affidavit are on the original Daniel Faulkner Web site! (See http://www.danielfaulkner.com/original/testimony.html)
In his declaration, Mumia stated, “I did not shoot Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. I had nothing to do with the killing of Officer Faulkner. I am innocent.” He described how he ran from his parked cab in Center City after he heard shots and saw other people running, recognizing his brother staggering in the street. “I saw a uniformed cop turn toward me gun in hand, saw a flash and went down to my knees.” Mumia was shot in the chest and was critically wounded. He continued: “The next thing that I remember I felt myself being kicked, hit and being brought out of a stupor.” He recalled how cops were “hollering and cursing, grabbing and pulling on me.” “I was pulled to my feet,” he continued, “and then rammed into a telephone pole beaten where I fell and thrown into a paddy wagon.” He stated that later the police wagon door opened and a white cop in a white shirt “came in cursing and hit me in the forehead. I don’t remember what he said much except a lot of ‘n-----s’, ‘black motherfuckers’ and what not.” (See http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/innocent/maj.html)
In his 1999 declaration, William Cook stated, “Mumia Abu-Jamal did not shoot Officer Faulkner and I did not shoot Officer Faulkner.” Cook stated that he “was stopped by Officer Faulkner while I was circling around City Center in my Volkswagen with Kenneth Freeman.” He also stated that Freeman, his passenger and business partner, “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.” Cook also asserted that Freeman “ran from the scene after Officer Faulkner was shot.” In his 2001 Affidavit, Cook stated that Freeman was “wearing his green army jacket.” (See http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/innocent/wc.html)
In his affidavit, Arnold Beverly stated that “Mumia Abu-Jamal did not shoot police officer Faulkner…. Jamal had nothing to do with the shooting.” Beverly explained that he “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.” Beverly said that he was given “a .38 caliber policeman’s special and I was also carrying my own .22 caliber revolver.” Beverly, who like Freeman was wearing a green army jacket, stated that as he came onto the scene of 13th and Locust, he “saw police officers in the area,” but “was not worried” because “I believed that since I was hired by the mob to shoot and kill Faulkner, any police officers on the scene would be there to help me.”
Beverly described that he saw Faulkner get out of his patrol car and go up to a VW. He heard a shot and then another one that grazed his left shoulder. He continued: “I ran across Locust Street and stood over Faulkner, who had fallen backwards on the sidewalk. I shot Faulkner in the face at close range. Jamal was shot shortly after that by a uniformed police officer who arrived on the scene.” Beverly concluded that he left the area through the Speedline subway system “and by pre-arrangement met a police officer who assisted me when I exited the speedline underground about three blocks away. A car was waiting for me and I left the center city area.” (See http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/innocent/ab.html)
The sworn declarations by Mumia and William Cook and Arnold Beverly’s affidavit, along with a host of supporting evidence that we will detail below, were submitted to federal and state courts in 2001. (No. 99 Civ 5089; No. 8201-1357-59) But the courts have refused to even consider them. For their part, Faulkner and Smerconish dismiss Beverly’s confession as “pure idiocy” (page 28). Predictably, they say not a word about the rampant corruption of the Philadelphia Police Department, including its working relationship with the mob. At the time of Faulkner’s murder, the police department was under at least three federal investigations for corruption, including police ties with the mob. (See http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/innocent/rw.html)
The cops want to kill Mumia not only because he has been an outspoken voice for black freedom, but also so that they can bury the proof of their own criminality.
Freelancer Pedro Polakoff’s photos (click to enlarge), taken only minutes after Faulkner’s killing and suppressed for some 25 years by prosecution, confirm police and prosecution lied. Photos are © Pedro Polakoff.
Above, left: There is no car behind Faulkner’s cruiser, refuting claim that key prosecution “witness” Chobert was parked directly behind Faulkner.
Above, right: Photo shows no divots or bullet markings in sidewalk, proving prosecution scenario of Faulkner’s shooting was concocted.
Left: Cop mishandles gun found at scene with bare hands wrapped around grip, tainting key piece of evidence that was not turned in for nearly two hours.
The Eyewitnesses -
Lie: According to Faulkner and Smerconish, “three people saw Abu-Jamal do it—four if you count [Albert] Magilton who temporarily looked away” (page 42). The other three are Cynthia White, Robert Chobert and Michael Mark Scanlan. The “trial testimony and pre-trial statements from the eyewitnesses to the murder…provide lucid and consistent confirmation of Abu-Jamal’s conduct,” and “illustrate a high degree of specificity, recounting such details as Abu-Jamal’s brand of car, color of shirt, and style of hair” (page 29).
Truth: No witness testified to seeing Mumia, with gun in hand, actually shoot Officer Faulkner. Witness statements are confused, inconsistent and in their specifics describe someone other than Mumia as the shooter. Not a single prosecution witness ever described Mumia’s “brand of car”—i.e., his taxicab.
Mumia wore his hair in dreadlocks, was over 6 feet tall and weighed about 170 pounds. He was wearing a blue quilted ski jacket with a wide vertical red stripe on either side of the front.
Mark Scanlan, a 24-year-old white male, initially described the man he claimed to have seen shoot Faulkner as wearing a red and yellow, or red, yellow and black sweater and a black hat. Scanlan explicitly stated that the man did not have MOVE-like dreadlocks, but an Afro hairstyle. Scanlan further stated that he could not see the man’s face. (IIR 12/9/81) He testified at trial that he had been drinking and told police, “I don’t know which male shot the officer.” (N.T.6/25/82:13, 46; IIR 12/11/81)
Robert Chobert, a 23-year-old white cabdriver, first described a person he saw standing over and shooting Faulkner as heavyset and wearing a light tan shirt and jeans. (IIR 12/9/81) Three days later, he described the shooter as weighing 220-25 pounds and wearing a dark gray dress shirt with a red and green picture on the back. (IIR 12/12/81) He admitted both times that he did not see a gun, and in his second interview that he did not see any flash. (IIR 12/12/81)
Albert Magilton, a 26-year-old white male, testified that all he saw was Mumia walking fast into the street (N.T.6/25/82:100, 106) and that he didn’t have a hat. (N.T.6/25/82:92) He also stated that he did not see anyone with a gun. (IIR 12/9/81; N.T.6/25/82:100) Prosecution witness Cynthia White, a 23-year-old black prostitute, described the shooter as “short.” (IIR 12/9/81)
Some 20 witnesses who saw different portions of the entire incident from different vantage points, and saw each other, described varying accounts of what happened.
In addition to Beverly and Cook, six witnesses, including two cops and two civilian prosecution witnesses, reported that someone at the scene was wearing a green army jacket or coat. These witnesses include Mark Scanlan, Albert Magilton, Officer James Forbes, Officer Stephen Trombetta, Robert Pigford and William Singletary. (Scanlan: N.T.6/25/82:26 and IIR 12/11/81; Magilton: G.M. Newman 7/19/95 Interview; Forbes: IIR 12/9/81, 12/16/81; Trombetta: IIR 12/9/81; Pigford: IIR 12/9/81; Singletary: N.T.8/11/95:235-36) William Singletary testified at the 1995 PCRA hearings that a passenger in the VW, wearing an army coat, got out of the car, shot Officer Faulkner and ran away. (N.T.8/11/95:235-36) Witness Robert Pigford, who would go on to become a cop, told police the night of the shooting that immediately after hearing shots he saw a man in an army jacket bent over Faulkner. (IIR 12/9/81) Neither Mumia nor William Cook was wearing a green army jacket. In his 1999 affidavit confessing to the murder of Faulkner, Beverly stated, “I was wearing a green (camouflage) army jacket.” In his 29 April 2001 declaration, William Cook stated that he had a passenger in his car, Kenneth Freeman, and that Freeman was also “wearing his green army jacket.”
Lie: Faulkner and Smerconish write that Cynthia White “was a critical witness in our case” because “she was the one witness who, because of her location, saw the entire incident from start to finish” (page 280).
Truth: Cynthia White was not even there during the shooting. Prosecution witnesses Chobert, Scanlan and Magilton, as well as defense witness Veronica Jones, who knew White, all testified at trial that White was not on the corner where she claimed to see the shooting. (Chobert: N.T.6/19/82:227-28; Scanlan: N.T.6/25/82:58; Magilton: N.T.6/25/82:86; Jones: N.T.6/29/82:129-30) William Singletary testified that White came up to him after the shooting to ask him what happened. (8/31/90 Deposition 25)
Veronica Jones testified at the 1982 trial that White was given police favors in return for her false testimony. (N.T.6/29/82:129, 134-36) Faulkner and Smerconish falsely claim that Jones first raised this at the 1996 PCRA hearings (page 183). White’s photo was posted in Faulkner’s precinct with instructions to call Homicide when she was taken in. She was arrested twice in eight days after the shooting, and she was let go only after she signed new witness statements for Homicide. Each time, she changed her story to make a stronger case against Mumia. (N.T.6/21/82:159-90; 6/22/82:31, 33, 55-58) During the 1997 PCRA hearings, prostitute Pamela Jenkins testified that White told her that she was being threatened by police. (N.T.6/26/97:48) A 2002 sworn statement by Yvette Williams, who was in jail with Cynthia White, also stated that White was threatened by the police. (1/28/02 Declaration)
Lie: Faulkner and Smerconish write that cabdriver Robert Chobert, who during the 1982 trial “pointed at Abu-Jamal” as the killer (page 37), “witnessed Danny being knocked to the ground and the ‘gunman’ standing over him firing three more shots” (page 14). They include a claim by Chobert that he was parked behind Daniel Faulkner’s car at the time of the shooting (page 308).
Truth: In 1995, Chobert admitted that he never saw the shooting. (G.M. Newman 9/25/01 Affidavit) Chobert was not parked behind Faulkner’s police car, a fact confirmed by freelance photographer Pedro Polakoff’s recently unearthed crime scene photos, which the prosecution had suppressed for nearly 25 years. Taken only minutes after the shooting, the photos show no car parked behind Faulkner’s vehicle.
During the 1982 trial, Chobert admitted that Mumia did not fit the description Chobert had given the police of a heavyset black man. (N.T.6/19/82:234-35) Chobert initially told police the night of the shooting that the shooter “ran away,” which would have been impossible for Mumia given his near-fatal gunshot wound. (N.T.6/1/82:70; 6/19/82:234-35) It was only after further interrogation that Chobert changed his story. (N.T.6/19/82:236-37) Chobert was driving with a suspended license while on probation for being hired to throw a Molotov cocktail into a school. (N.T.6/19/82:220-22; 8/15/95:5-6) During the 1995 PCRA hearings, Chobert admitted he was secretly given favors by the prosecution in exchange for his testimony and was kept under wraps by the police at all times during the 1982 trial. (N.T.8/15/95:4-10)
Lie: Faulkner and Smerconish write, “Only two people were seen by the five eyewitnesses to have come that close to Danny—William Cook and Mumia Abu-Jamal” (page 172). Besides White, Chobert, Scanlan and Magilton, the fifth “witness” referred to is Robert Harkins. Faulkner and Smerconish describe his testimony at the 1995 PCRA hearings as “corroborating Chobert’s and White’s accounts” (page 23).
Truth: Five witnesses said that one or two black men ran away eastward after the shooting. At the 1982 trial, defense witness Dessie Hightower insisted that he saw someone run from the scene. (N.T.6/28/82:125-27) Debbie Kordansky, Veronica Jones and Robert Chobert initially reported to the police that they saw someone flee the scene (Kordansky: IIR 12/9/81; Jones: IIR 12/15/81; N.T.6/1/82:70), though Jones and Chobert denied this at the trial after police pressure. (N.T.6/19/82:236-37; 6/29/82:99-102) During the 1996 PCRA hearings, Veronica Jones recanted her 1982 trial testimony, explaining that she had been threatened by the police with many years in prison on felony charges and loss of her children if she did not testify against Mumia. (N.T.10/1/96:20-24, 32-33) During the 1995 PCRA hearings, William Singletary testified to seeing the passenger emerge from the VW, shoot Faulkner and run away (N.T.8/11/95:235-36), and Hightower reiterated that he saw a man flee the scene of the shooting and stated that he had faced harassment from the police for telling the truth. (N.T.8/3/95:18-19, 23-24, 103)
Harkins’ statements to police were so varied from the prosecution witnesses and scenario of how Faulkner was killed that the prosecution did not call him to testify at the 1982 trial. In his statements to police (IIR 12/9/81, 12/17/81) and during the 1995 PCRA hearings (N.T.8/2/95:205-06), Harkins asserted that he saw only one person in proximity to Faulkner, the shooter.
Lie: Faulkner and Smerconish uphold the prosecution’s story that William Cook was alone in his VW when he was stopped by Faulkner, claiming that Cook “never told the police that there was anyone with him in the Volkswagen” (page 141).
Truth: There was a passenger, Kenneth Freeman, in the car with William Cook. In both his May 1999 and April 2001 sworn declarations, William Cook confirmed that Freeman was in the car with him. During the 1995 PCRA hearings, William Singletary testified that there was a passenger, that he was wearing an army coat (confirming Cook’s declaration), that this man was the shooter and that he ran away. (N.T.8/11/95:234-36)
During the 1995 PCRA hearings, it was also revealed that police had found the driver’s license application of one Arnold Howard in Faulkner’s possession. (N.T.8/9/95:6; 8/11/96:131, 139-40, 167) This information was concealed from the defense at the 1982 trial. It was critical because Howard had given the application to Kenneth Freeman. Freeman’s presence in the car would explain how Faulkner got Howard’s license application. In 1995, Howard stated that Freeman told him that he was in the VW at the time of the shooting. (N.T.8/9/95:9-10, 23; Howard 8/8/95 Affidavit)
Joseph McGill, who prosecuted Mumia in 1982, had, prior to that, prosecuted William Cook on assault charges. At Cook’s trial, Cynthia White—who according to other witnesses did not see the shooting and had asked Singletary what had taken place—testified that there was a passenger in Cook’s VW who got out of the car when Officer Faulkner approached the driver’s side. (N.T.3/29/82:33; Singletary 8/31/90 Deposition 24-25) At Mumia’s trial, she changed her testimony to claim that there was no one else on the sidewalk. (N.T. 6/22/82:134)
Even in her book, Maureen Faulkner acknowledges that after pulling William Cook over, Daniel Faulkner made “the normal call for a backup before getting out of his car, and then changed his request, saying to the dispatcher, ‘on second thought send me a wagon’” (page 22), indicating that there was likely another person in the car.
The Phony Confession -
Lie: Faulkner and Smerconish write: “In the ER, Abu-Jamal was heard by two eyewitnesses to shout defiantly, ‘I shot the motherfucker and I hope the motherfucker dies’” (page 24). The two “eyewitnesses” were hospital security guard Priscilla Durham and Police Officer Garry Bell.
Truth: There never was a confession. As Mumia stated in his 2001 affidavit, “because of the blood in my lungs it was difficult to speak, and impossible to holler. I never confessed to anything because I had nothing to confess to.” The “confession” was manufactured by the prosecution at a roundtable meeting with cops two months following the shooting (N.T.8/1/95:78-79, 91), after it became clear that an earlier bogus confession concocted by Inspector Alfonzo Giordano, who was a target of a corruption investigation, could not be used (see below).
Gary Wakshul, the police officer assigned to guard Mumia throughout the night of the shooting, reported that same day: “The negro male made no comments.” (IIR 12/9/81 and N.T.8/1/95:38) The prosecution and Judge Albert Sabo prevented Wakshul from testifying at the 1982 trial, but at the 1995 PCRA hearings he testified that neither Durham nor Bell were even present at the time of the supposed confession. (N.T.8/1/95:23, 51) In several reports, Stephen Trombetta, the other police officer assigned to guard Mumia, made clear that Mumia made no confession, including at the hospital. (IIR 12/9/81, 12/17/81, 2/12/82)
In fact, at the hospital Police Officer Garry Bell threatened Mumia, stating “if he [Faulkner] dies, you die.” (LeGrand: IIR 2/2/82; Prayer: IIR 2/8/82; Durham: IIR 2/9/82) None of the cops and hospital security guards reported hearing what Bell and Durham claimed to have heard, even though Durham reported some 15 or 20 cops were in close proximity. (N.T.6/24/82:57) Neither Bell nor Durham even report that the other was present. Bell never mentioned the “confession” in his police log that night nor in a statement he gave to detectives on 16 December 1981. Bell first reported hearing Mumia confess on 25 February 1982.
Faulkner and Smerconish point to an unsigned, typewritten piece of paper—supposedly dated December 1981 and written by Durham’s supervisor—recording the “confession” (pages 309-10). But at trial Durham denied that she had ever seen that report. (N.T.6/24/82:98-99) In 2003, Durham’s stepbrother, Kenneth Pate, submitted a declaration that Durham told him she was pressured by the cops to falsely say Mumia confessed. (4/18/03 Declaration)
Smoke-and-Mirrors Ballistics -
Lie: Faulkner and Smerconish write that the bullets removed from Faulkner “matched the gun purchased by Abu-Jamal” (page 24).
Truth: There was never a “match,” not even any evidence that Mumia’s gun was fired that night! The police firearms unit claimed that the main bullet fragment removed from Faulkner’s head was too damaged to test, and a second bullet fragment removed from the head wound simply disappeared without a trace. (N.T.6/23/82:108; 8/2/95:62-66, 75-77) Incredibly, the police did not report ever testing Mumia’s hands and gun for evidence of gunpowder or that the gun had been fired that night. (N.T.8/2/95:66-72) As the Polakoff photos show, the cop who collected the guns at the scene was improperly holding them with bare hands. He did not turn them in to the firearms unit for two hours, providing more than ample time for tampering with them. (N.T.6/19/82:169; 12/9/81 Prop. Rect.)
Faulkner and Smerconish state that a bullet removed from Faulkner was “consistent” with Mumia’s Charter Arms gun (page 24) and include a snippet of testimony at the 1982 trial by the cops’ own ballistician Anthony Paul (page 318). “Consistent” is a code word prosecutors use when they cannot match evidence. Indeed, Smerconish and Faulkner omit the next two pages of testimony where Paul admits that the bullet would be consistent with “multiples of millions” of other guns as well. (N.T.6/23/82:168-69)
Lie: Murdered by Mumia states that the defense has “never offered any shred of evidence” that there is a missing bullet fragment (page 117).
Truth: The lead fragment and its measurements (10x3x2 mm) are recorded in the Medical Examiner’s autopsy report. (12/9/81 Postmortem Report) As already noted, this fragment has disappeared and was not preserved as part of the ballistics evidence—facts established by Mumia’s expert witnesses at the 1995 PCRA hearings. (N.T.8/2/95:75-77; 8/4/95:40-42; 8/9/95:151)
Murdered by Mumia cannot refute the fact that the Findings of the Medical Examiner, whom the D.A. qualified as an “expert” in ballistics at the 1982 trial (N.T.6/25/82:176), state that Faulkner was shot with a .44 caliber bullet; Mumia’s gun was a .38 caliber. (12/9/81 Findings; N.T.8/2/95:73-74; 8/9/95:190) The disappeared fragment could be the remains of the .44 caliber bullet initially recorded by the Medical Examiner or from the .22 caliber revolver that Beverly said he was carrying the night of Faulkner’s shooting.
Lie: Faulkner and Smerconish claim that Mumia’s gun “was recovered at the scene along with five cartridges, all of which had been fired,” that Mumia shot Daniel Faulkner in “his upper back” and then in the “center of his face,” and that “both bullets were fired from less than twenty inches away” (page 24). Throughout the book, Faulkner and Smerconish retail the prosecution’s story that after shooting Faulkner in the back, Mumia stood over him as he lay on the pavement and fired at least three shots at his face.
Truth: There is no evidence of these three or four bullets, all but one of which supposedly missed their target at near pointblank range. As the Polakoff photos confirm, there are no divots (or bullet markings) in the sidewalk, proving that the prosecution’s scenario is concocted.
Lie: Murdered by Mumia states that “the shells found in Abu-Jamal’s gun were all Special +P ammunition (4 were Federal brand, 1 was Remington),” “a unique bullet with an extra heavy load of gunpowder” that “devastates its target” (page 115). Faulkner and Smerconish claim that this shows that Mumia was “fully resolved to shoot and seriously injure or kill someone,” that he wanted to carry out “the execution of anyone who crossed his path” (page 87).
Truth: Mumia’s gun did not have Plus P ammunition. The police Firearms Identification Unit report of 5 January 1982 does not identify the cartridges in Mumia’s gun as Special Plus P even though such cartridges would have been clearly stamped. Demonstrating the web of inconsistencies in the prosecution’s lies, Police Officer James Forbes, who had possession of the guns after the shooting, testified during the 1982 trial that the cartridge casings in Mumia’s gun were Winchesters, not Federal or Remington brands. (N.T.6/19/82:175-76)
Mumia had a legally registered gun that he carried for protection after he had been robbed at gunpoint while driving his cab.
Lie: Smerconish and Faulkner write, “The bullet that struck Abu-Jamal was determined to have been fired from Danny’s police-issued .38-caliber Smith & Wesson gun” (page 24). The prosecution has always claimed that Faulkner fired his gun as he was falling down after being shot. (N.T.6/19/82:12)
Truth: The prosecution’s scenario is disproved by the fact that Mumia’s wound took a steep downward path. (N.T.8/4/95:16-19, 21-22) The Medical Examiner’s record from 9 a.m. on 9 December 1981 (some five hours after Faulkner’s shooting) stated that Sergeant Westermann of Homicide told a Medical Examiner’s investigator that Mumia was shot by “arriving police reinforcements.”
The weapon that Faulkner purportedly used to shoot Mumia was not in a condition one would expect from a hunting enthusiast and ambitious officer about to take a detective’s examination, and one patrolling Philadelphia’s Center City at 4 a.m. According to the police ballistics report, the gun had a bent hammer spur, contained powder fouling, dirt and lint in the chambers and could not cock as designed in single action because of oversized rubber grips. The gun was likely a “throwaway.” Finally, not a single prosecution witness testified to seeing Daniel Faulkner shoot Mumia. (Chobert: N.T.6/19/82:267; White: N.T.6/21/82:104; Scanlan: N.T.6/25/82:47; Magilton: N.T.6/25/82:88-89)
The Frame-Up Trial -
Lie: Faulkner and Smerconish describe Judge Albert Sabo, who presided over the 1982 trial and the 1995-97 PCRA hearings, as a “reserved and dignified” judge who “had a reputation for being very seldom reversed on appeal” (pages 31-32).
Truth: Sabo was reversed on appeal in more than a third of his cases (J. Henderson, “Philadelphia’s Judge Sabo: The Judge Who Became Death Row’s King” ). At the time of the 1982 trial, he was overheard by court reporter Terri Maurer-Carter as saying, “I’m going to help them fry the n----r,” a fact completely disappeared in Murdered by Mumia. Sabo banished Mumia from the courtroom for nearly half the trial, depriving him of the ability to participate in his own defense. During the 1995 PCRA hearings, the Philadelphia Inquirer (16 July 1995) wrote of Sabo: “The behavior of the judge in the case was disturbing the first time around—and in hearings last week he did not give the impression to those in the courtroom of fair-mindedness.” A 1996 study showed that Sabo sent more than twice as many men, overwhelmingly black and Latino, to death row than any other sitting judge in the country. He was a retired member of the Fraternal Order of Police and was widely known, including by the Philadelphia legal establishment, as a “prosecutor in robes.”
Lie: Faulkner and Smerconish state that Joseph McGill, the 1982 trial prosecutor, was “determined to qualify as many black jurors as possible” (page 156).
Truth: Joseph McGill used 11 out of 15 peremptory strikes to bar black people from Mumia’s jury. A statistical survey showed that Philadelphia prosecutors in the 1980s were 5.2 times more likely to throw blacks off juries than whites. In 1987, the Philadelphia D.A.’s office produced an official training tape, based on its longstanding practice, on how to exclude black jurors and get away with it. A one-minute excerpt of the video is posted on YouTube by Journalists for Mumia. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv9SJPa_dF8) It features Assistant D.A. Jack McMahon advising prosecutors to choose jurors that are “unfair and more likely to convict”! He also advises prosecutors to avoid “the blacks from the low-income areas,” warning, “you don’t want smart people.”
The Facts About the Arnold Beverly Confession -
The 8 June 1999 Arnold Beverly affidavit detailing how he was hired to kill Faulkner, who had become a problem for the mob and corrupt cops, is a key piece of evidence that clearly demonstrates the depth of the frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal. As they dismiss the Beverly confession out of hand, Faulkner and Smerconish barely say a word about the 2001 federal and state court proceedings in which the defense sought to present the confession and a substantial body of supporting evidence. Along with the sworn declarations of Mumia and William Cook, this included the affidavits of Donald Hersing, an FBI confidential source during its 1981-82 investigation of Center City police corruption, and private investigator Michael Newman. It also included the 28 July 2001 affidavit of Partisan Defense Committee counsel Rachel Wolkenstein, who served on Mumia’s legal defense from 1995-99. Wolkenstein’s affidavit described the body of substantial evidence supporting Beverly’s confession and why Mumia’s prior lead attorney, Leonard Weinglass, had refused to present that evidence in court.
Murdered by Mumia so studiously avoids the Beverly confession and supporting evidence that the authors do not even mention the lawyers who headed up Mumia’s defense at that time—Marlene Kamish, Eliot Grossman and Nick Brown—instead falsely asserting that Mumia’s current lawyer, Robert Bryan, “replaced Leonard Weinglass,” whom Mumia fired in 2001 (page 292).
The fact is that Faulkner and Smerconish cannot refute Beverly’s confession and the mountain of evidence that backs it up.
Fact: At the time of Faulkner’s killing, the Philadelphia Police Department was under at least three federal investigations for corruption involving cop-mob ties. (D. Hersing 5/10/99 Affidavit) The Justice Department also had Philadelphia cops acting as sources in the investigations, including an officer whose brother was also a cop. Faulkner’s brother was a cop. Faulkner also owned a very expensive “Topcon” camera model often used by the FBI at the time, and had used it the night of his death. (Wakshul IIR 12/16/81) The camera, which was in the possession of Philadelphia cops, has since disappeared. In Murdered by Mumia, Maureen Faulkner cryptically recounts that during the 1982 trial, defense attorney Anthony Jackson “asked me a very odd question. He asked me if Danny owned a camera. I said he did” (page 36).
Fact: Maureen Faulkner writes that Ed Frederick, a member of the Philadelphia police Stakeout unit, informed her that after meeting Daniel Faulkner at Broad and Race Streets, Faulkner “had to leave around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. to do ‘club checks’ when the bars let out” (page 18). In his 10 May 1999 affidavit, FBI informant Donald Hersing explained: “Uniformed officers would perform routine ‘club checks’ at the Morning Glory and other after-hours clubs to count the number of people at the clubs. The purpose of collecting this information was to help them determine how much of a payoff they should demand.”
Fact: Virtually the entire chain of command for the “investigation” of Faulkner’s death was under suspicion in federal corruption probes, including the head of the Central Division, John DeBenedetto (convicted), and the head of Homicide, James Carlini (unindicted co-conspirator). Inspector Alfonzo Giordano, who pled guilty to corruption in 1986, was the senior officer at the scene after Faulkner’s shooting and played a key role in initiating and orchestrating the frame-up. Donald Hersing declared under oath that Giordano was part of a group of police officers engaged in corruption activities. (D. Hersing 5/10/99 Affidavit) Hersing also stated that police knew about the FBI investigations. Murdered by Mumia does not mention Giordano’s name even once.
Fact: Giordano was the right-hand man for Frank Rizzo, Philadelphia’s racist police chief and later mayor in the late 1960s and ’70s. From 1968 to 1970, Giordano was in charge of the Stakeout squad, which helped lead a police raid on the Black Panthers’ headquarters in 1970. He was also the supervisor of the 15-month police siege of MOVE’s Powelton Village house in 1977-78, which resulted in nine MOVE members being sent to prison on frame-up charges of killing a cop who had been shot in the police cross fire. Giordano knew exactly who Mumia was. The senior officer on the scene, he had both motive and opportunity to frame up Mumia for Faulkner’s killing.
Fact: Giordano originated the claim that Mumia’s gun—the putative murder weapon—was lying beside him on the street despite the fact that according to police records, the cops were still looking for the gun some 14 minutes after hordes of police had arrived on the scene. (Police Memo. 12/17/81) It was Giordano who claimed that, while in the back of the police van at the scene, Mumia confessed to shooting Faulkner. (IIR 12/9/81) This claim was refuted by Stephen Trombetta, who was in the van with Mumia and made clear that Mumia made no such statement. (IIR 12/9/81)
Giordano is also the cop who arranged for Chobert’s supposed identification of Mumia. (N.T.6/1/82:70-71) Giordano was a key witness for the prosecution against Mumia at the January 1982 preliminary hearing and bail hearing. (N.T.1/8/82:90-99; 1/11/82:71-78) He testified again at a 1 June 1982 hearing regarding the bogus confession. (N.T.6/1/82:67-98) Nonetheless, Giordano was not called to testify at the 1982 trial. He was reassigned to desk duty and resigned from the Philadelphia police force one working day after the trial was over. As Rachel Wolkenstein noted in her 28 July 2001 affidavit, the fact that Giordano was not called to testify by the prosecution is a “powerful indication that the prosecution knew of Giordano’s involvement in corruption and thought it would be too risky to present him at Mr. Jamal’s trial.” Notably, not only do Faulkner and Smerconish disappear Giordano from their book, but these pre-trial hearings are conspicuously missing from the transcripts on the Faulkner Web site.
Fact: As already noted, at least six witnesses, including two cops, reported someone at the scene thought to be the shooter wearing a green army jacket. Both Beverly and Kenneth Freeman, William Cook’s passenger, were wearing green army jackets. Substantiating Beverly’s assertion that he was hired with another man to kill Faulkner is Cook’s 15 May 1999 declaration in which he states that Freeman told him he was part of the plan to kill Faulkner and had “participated in the shooting.” Beverly’s statement that Mumia was shot by a “uniformed police officer who arrived on the scene” is substantiated by the account of Sergeant Westermann, a Homicide police officer, who stated that Mumia was shot by “arriving police reinforcements.” (12/9/81 Medical Ex. Inv. Log)
Fact: Beverly stated he saw two undercover cops and a uniformed police officer in a car nearby. In late 1996, an eyewitness named Marcus Cannon came forward with information that he saw two white men who appeared to be undercover police officers on the scene during Faulkner’s shooting. (N.T.6/30/97:123-25) William Singletary has testified that he saw two police “white shirts” and other cops at the scene immediately after the shooting. As Beverly put it in his affidavit, “any police officers on the scene would be there to help me.”
Mobilize to Free Mumia Now!
Referring to those fighting to prove Mumia’s innocence, Faulkner and Smerconish write, “It’s like that old Nazi propagandist said, if you tell a lie, tell it big enough, tell it often enough, it becomes truth” (page 30). This, in fact, is exactly the methodology of Murdered by Mumia.
In her drive to kill Mumia, Maureen Faulkner brags that she and the Fraternal Order of Police have taken every measure to prevent Mumia’s voice from being heard from prison, openly boasting about trampling upon his First Amendment rights. She and Smerconish attack the most basic of democratic rights, ranting against Mumia’s exercise of his right to appeal to fight his frame-up conviction. Murdered by Mumia oozes with racism—from its attacks on Mumia and his supporters, to its description of members of the MOVE organization as a bunch of “lawless” and “dangerous” murderers, to its use of code words that are the stock-in-trade of racist demagogues. Faulkner and Smerconish take pride in the support they have gotten from racists and xenophobes such as Joey Vento, who owns Geno’s restaurant, which carries a sign declaring, “This is America. When ordering speak English.”
Smerconish himself was a political advisor to Frank Rizzo. An outspoken proponent of racial and ethnic profiling by the cops and federal agents, Smerconish has made a name for himself by dismissing the torture at Abu Ghraib as “naked pyramid pictures” and calling for the mass arrest of undocumented immigrants who protest for their rights.
Smerconish and Faulkner portray Black Panthers such as Mumia as committed “cop killers” and Mumia’s supporters as friends of “cop killers” who, like “terrorists,” should have no rights. This is a sinister call for police terror not only against Mumia’s defenders but all opponents of racist oppression, imperialist war and capitalist exploitation. In their mendacity, they write that MOVE was responsible for “an exploding bunker” that caused the death of eleven people, five of them children on 13 May 1985. They disappear the fact that it was the cops under black Democratic mayor Wilson Goode, aided and abetted by the Feds, that dropped a bomb on MOVE’s Osage Avenue home, killing eleven MOVE members and their children and destroying a black neighborhood.
Among those cited for honorable mention by Smerconish and Faulkner are a number of Democratic Party officeholders, such as Philadelphia D.A. Lynne Abraham and Ed Rendell, the District Attorney who prosecuted Mumia. Rendell was later the mayor of Philadelphia and is currently governor of Pennsylvania. At the same time, Murdered by Mumia targets even mainstream media spokesmen who say that while Mumia may be guilty, he should get a new trial given the evidence of misconduct by the cops, courts and prosecutors. These spokesmen primarily seek to refurbish the image of the American “justice” system. In attacking them, Faulkner and Smerconish are trying to clear the path for Mumia’s execution by intimidating anyone who even raises a question.
Over 800 individuals and organizations, including unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers, have signed a PDC statement titled, “We Demand the Immediate Freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an Innocent Man,” that also calls for the abolition of the racist death penalty. Signatories include Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer, black intellectuals Manning Marable and Henry Louis Gates Jr., actor Danny Glover and numerous trade unionists around the world. The crux of the PDC statement was echoed by the March 2007 issue of Shopsteward, published by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which represents hundreds of thousands of workers. The unions that have gone on record in support of Mumia must be mobilized in action to combat this racist frame-up.
Mumia is the victim not of a rogue cop, bad prosecutor or racist judge, but of an entire “justice” system intent on silencing this courageous fighter for the oppressed. The capitalist state—at its core made up of the cops, courts and prisons—is an instrument of repression to uphold the class rule of the bourgeoisie. The lies peddled by Smerconish and Faulkner have been refuted many times over. That they are now given a renewed platform on national news stations should make it clear that those fighting on behalf of Mumia must be mobilized on the basis that he is an innocent man.
Every legal avenue must be utilized to fight for Mumia’s freedom. But there should be no illusions that the forces that have kept him in the shadow of death for 26 years will give him justice. The only pressure that will have an impact on the rulers and their courts is the fear of the consequences of executing Mumia or entombing him for life. What is crucially needed is the mobilization of the social power of the international labor movement in the fight for Mumia’s freedom. If undertaken with a mobilization of the union movement, the fight to free Mumia and abolish the racist death penalty would be a first, giant step toward infusing workers with the consciousness that this system must be overturned through proletarian socialist revolution. Free Mumia Abu-Jamal now! Abolish the racist death penalty!