Above: Free Mumia rally at Philly DA’s office: Abu-Jamal’s supporters rallied outside DA Krasner’s office on Friday, January 31, even though DA Larry Krasner asked the judge to postpone the date when Krasner has to announce whether or not he will challenge Mumia’s appeals. The coalition calls for Mumia’s release, regardless.
By Mobilization 4 Mumia
PRESS RELEASE: Jan 31 Rally to Free Mumia to focus on same misconducts that freed 10 Philly exonerees
Philadelphia, Jan. 30 – Mumia Abu-Jamal has always insisted on his innocence in the death of police officer Daniel Faulkner, blaming police, judicial and prosecutorial misconduct for his politically-tainted conviction. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is expected to announce his response this week to the legal briefs for Post Conviction Relief Act hearings and the request to remand Abu-Jamal’s case back to Common Pleas court, filed by his attorneys in early September 2019.
Abu-Jamal’s supporters will rally outside DA Krasner’s office at 4:30 on Friday, January 31, whether or not he challenges Mumia’s appeals. We call for Mumia’s release.
Recent exonerations of 10 Philadelphia residents unfairly convicted for crimes they did not commit reveal a simple truth – the Philadelphia police, courts and prosecutors convicted innocent Black men based on gross violations of their constitutional rights. The same patterns of constitutional violations plague the case of Abu-Jamal.
Since Jan. 2018, Sherman McCoy, James Frazier, Dwayne Thorpe, Terrance Lewis, Jamaal Simmons, Dontia Patterson, John Miller, Willie Veasey, Johnny Berry and Chester Holmann III have all been exonerated by DA Larry Krasner’s Conviction Integrity Unit.1
Philadelphia is not alone. The National Registry of Exonerations counted 165 exonerations last year. The registry has tallied 2,500 wrongful convictions since 1989, costing defendants more than 22,000 years of incarceration.2
Seven of the ten men released in Philadelphia were convicted by longtime district attorney Lynne Abraham, a “tough-on-crime” prosecutor who regularly sought maximum punishments and death sentences. Abraham as Common Pleas Court Judge arraigned Abu-Jamal in 1981and years later as District Attorney fought his post conviction relief hearings.
Ineffective counsel, false witness testimony, witness coercion and intimidation, phony ballistics evidence, prosecution failure to turn over evidence to the defense as required by law, racist jury selections — these and other legal errors led to the exoneration of these innocent defendants after decades in prison. These are the same police, judicial and prosecutorial misconduct practices Abu-Jamal’s attorneys and supporters have been citing since 1982.
In the late 1970s and early 80s, Abu-Jamal was a daily radio reporter for WHYY and NPR who earned acclaim for his award-winning reporting. As a journalist who reported fairly on the MOVE organization’s resistance against state repression, he drew the ire of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police and the notoriously racist Police Commissioner and later Mayor Frank Rizzo.
On Dec. 9, 1981, while driving a cab to supplement his income, Abu-Jamal happened upon his brother in an altercation with Faulkner. Faulkner was killed. Abu-Jamal, who was shot and severely beaten by police, was charged in Faulkner’s death, even though witnesses reported seeing another man, likely the passenger in Abu-Jamal’s brother’s car, running from the scene.
Imprisoned for nearly four decades, Abu-Jamal has maintained his innocence. He successfully won his release from Pennsylvania’s death row in 2011. In December 2018 he won the right to appeal his 1982 conviction because of biased judicial oversight by PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille
In early January 2019, DA Krasner reported finding six boxes of previously undisclosed evidence held by prosecutors in the case and allowed Abu-Jamal’s attorneys to review the files.
In September 2019 Abu-Jamal’s lawyers filed new appellate briefs, including a request that the case be returned for a hearing before the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court based on finding of concrete evidence of prosecutorial misconduct by the DA’s office in his 1982 trial.
On Sept. 9, 2019 Abu-Jamal’s attorneys Judith Ritter and Sam Spital filed a brief in PA Superior Court to support his claim that his 1982 trial was fundamentally unfair and violated the Constitution. They argue the prosecution failed to disclose evidence as required and discriminated against African Americans when selecting the jury. And, his 1982 lawyer did not adequately challenge the State’s witnesses.
The attorneys also filed a motion revealing new evidence of constitutional violations such as promises by the prosecutor to pay or give leniency to two witnesses. There is also new evidence of racial discrimination in jury selection.
Attorney Ritter contends that the new evidence shows Abu-Jamal’s trial was “fundamentally unfair and tainted by serious constitutional violations.”