Revisiting The Injustice of The Justice System: The Case of Mumia

November 12, 2010  |  

On December 9, 1981, in Philadelphia, near the intersection of 13th and Locust Streets, police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and murdered and Mumia Abu-Jamal was shot and injured.

Albert Magilton, a pedestrian, said he didn’t see the murder but witnessed Faulker pull over Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother, William Cook, who reportedly told police at the crime scene “ I ain’t got nothing to do with this.”

A drunken cab driver who said he’d been parked behind the officer’s vehicle fingered Mumia Abu Jamal as the shooter, begging the question; how many cab drivers with D.U.I.s voluntary roll up on the police?

A garden variety prostitute testified that a man (presumably Jamal) emerged from a parking lot and shot Faulker.
But wait, it was later discovered that the prostitute’s eyewitness descriptions of the crime scene were found to be inconsistent. Apparently, her descriptions of the crime scene  described a scene in which Abu-Jamal’s car was both present and absent (I guess it’s hard out there for both the pimp and prostitute).

Vietnam veteran William Singletary said he witnessed the shooting and Abu-Jamal was not the shooter but police forced him to hightail it out of town before the trial began. In the end, journalist and Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal was convicted of murder via unanimous verdict. The “voice of the voiceless” was silenced, sentenced to the death.
I don’t know who’s on second, who’s on third, or who shot Officer Faulker on that night in Philly. But the fact that I don’t know and worse, have no idea, speaks to the fact that Mumia Abu Jamal deserves a new trial.

Before you pummel me with stones, let me say that I am not mocking the complexities of this case, or Mumia Abu-Jamal’s life behind bars.  To the contrary, I am highlighting the inefficacy of a judicial system unable to make the most logical choice available when faced with an accumulation of new evidence and the weakened veracity of old evidence.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday over jury instructions given during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial. Jury instructions?  Our judicial system sometimes sweats the small stuff; jury instructions, jury sequestering, sentencing guidelines and the like. But where the over-arching questions of guilt and innocence are concerned, our system is overwhelmingly inept.

If Abu-Jamal is guilty, no one cares about the jury’s instructions, or whether he gets life or the death penalty? The people who are spending every ounce of energy defending him are doing so because they believe him innocent. This is the central question that must be asked and answered. Everything else is just playing with inconsequential moving parts, putting in miles on the gerbil wheel.

Abu-Jamal has modeled himself as the mythical American revolutionary.  A young, bright, enigmatic rebel wrongfully convicted while poised on the precipice of a movement. It is time to separate mythology from history. Time for a once and for all verdict on Abu-Jamal’s guilt or innocence. Everything else is just vacuous posturing.

Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, and

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