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Mumia Abu Jamal

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Beyond Punishment

This nation was inspired and conceived through the efforts of revolutionaries. When our colonies reached the pinnacle of their tolerance for tyranny they justifiably rebelled. The founding fathers of our nation have been heralded as divine symbols of excellence and virtue, but simply said they were terrorists. America refers to them as patriots or “Sons of Liberty”, I call them mere rabble-rousing extremists or better yet “The Anti-Redcoat Mafia”. Legendary names such as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams should inspire the same connotations as Timothy McVeigh, and even Osama Bin Laden (yes, I said Bin Laden). Who ever said history does not repeat itself? Mumia Abu Jamal once said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” I say, “A revolution may cause bloodshed but it will stop the bleeding!” And so we begin.

Mumia Abu Jamal is easily the most infamous political prisoner of our time. Chants of “FREE MUMIA!” ring in all corners of the world due to his international supporters. His story is as complex as it is simple. Partially because Mumia is as vocal as he is silent. Some call him a cop killer, others a voice of the voiceless (Bisson, 2000). I simply call him a man. A man that leads a life that few men could endure. Living a lifetime in solitary confinement, no sunshine, no joy, and no hope. Like all men Mumia should be free, free to laugh, free to cry, free to live. Mumia’s life has become the property of a criminal justice system that solely justifies the systematic criminalization of lives.

Mumia Abu Jamal was a well-known, award-winning Philadelphia journalist and activist. At the age of 15, he had been a founding member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party; in 1969, he became its communications secretary. In the mid-1970's, Mumia broadcasted on National Public Radio, the Mutual Black Network, and the National Black Network. In 1980, he was elected chair of the Philadelphia chapter of the Association of Black Journalists. In January 1981, “Philadelphia” magazine named him "one of the people to watch in 1981”(Komisar, 1998).

At around 4 a.m. on December 9, 1981 Mumia was driving his cab in the Philadelphia red light district (Mumia was forced to assume a 2nd job because his wages as an alternative radio journalists were far from sufficient). As he approached the corner of 13th and Locust he saw his brother William in a physical confrontation with Policeman Daniel Faulkner. Mumia ran across the street to intervene. Several shots were heard. Both Faulkner and Mumia were shot. On July 3, 1982, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted for the murder of Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death. Mumia had no prior criminal record. Beyond those facts, there are over half a dozen versions of the facts, though some are far more compelling than others:

THE INCIDENT

“His shift had nearly reached its midpoint when he pulled his patrol car, 612, behind a light blue Volkswagen Beetle near the dimly lit corner of 13th and Locust Streets. Faulkner had apparently stopped the Beetle for some sort of traffic violation. But at 3:51 A.M. something caused

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