On December 9, 1981, a white Philadelphia police officer was fatally shot. On July 3, 1982, Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black man, was convicted of his murder and sentenced to death. On May 22, 1996, he received a second trial and was again convicted of the same charge. He is sentenced to die on December 2. The hours grow short until this man, who has promoted through his writings and speeches an image of himself as falsely accused, is ushered into the record books as one more name dealt justice by the American people. But who constitutes the American people? Is it a judge in a courtroom, or the thousands of people who have protested Abu-Jamal's death as the death of an innocent, an intellectual, and above all, a black man in a white man's system?
The validity of the conviction has been widely questioned in the press. Stuart Taylor Jr., who covered the case for Court TV, states that Abu-Jamal "received an unfair trial, tainted by . . . flagrantly biased judging and, in all probability, police fabrication of evidence and intimidation of witnesses." However, more interesting and more important than the legal aspects of the trials is the emotional aspect, the outpouring of support for Abu-Jamal. Bill Bickel, after having recently made an extensive survey of the opinions voiced about the case, found literally hundreds of websites protesting the death sentence and only one website supporting it-created by the police officer's family. It has been pure gravy for Mumia, a wealth of public indignation for, as the organization Refuse & Resist dubs him, "an unrepentant Black political prisoner who is the voice of the voiceless."
This near canonization of the man goes beyond anything which can be attributed to charisma or ...
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...it can potentially undermine the only means we have to attempt to effect equal justice. The protest signs of angry crowds call for "Justice for Mumia," and in effect justice for all black people. But how can we achieve this if the very means of justice are dismantled to save one man?
Bickel, Bill. "Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Murder of Daniel Faulkner: Using the Internet to Search for the Truth." 16 Nov. 1999 <<http://crime.about.com/culture/crime/library/weekly/aa070698.html>>
Davis, Angela Y, June Jordan, and Alice Walker. "The Life of a Black Man." The Nation. 15 Nov. 1999 <<http//www.thenation.com/>>
Refuse and Resist. Home page. 16 Nov. 1999. <<http://mojo.calyx.net/~refuse/mumia/index.html>>
Taylor Jr., Stuart. "Jamal's Last Stand." Court TV Casefiles. 11 June 1996 <<www.courttv.com/casefiles/mumia/analysis.html>>
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