Partisan Defense Committee Press Release
9 December 2007
Partisan Defense Committee P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station, New York, NY 10013
Contact: Kevin Gilroy (212) 406-4252
Protesters Counter Murdered by Mumia Media Blitz,
Demand Freedom Now for Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Chants of “Mumia is innocent! Free him now!” resounded outside NBC studios in New York on December 6, as Maureen Faulkner and right-wing radio broadcaster Michael Smerconish appeared on the Today show with Matt Lauer to push their book, Murdered by Mumia. The book rehashes police and prosecution lies used to falsely convict Mumia Abu-Jamal of the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner on 9 December 1981. With a decision on Mumia’s case by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals due any day, the book makes its purpose clear by placing front and center the call to execute this innocent man.
The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Journalists for Mumia and Educators for Mumia waged a campaign calling on the Today show to allow Mumia’s supporters to counter Faulkner and Smerconish. Following the December 6 protest, called by the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC), Partisan Defense Committee counsel Rachel Wolkenstein remarked, “What was clear in the Today show and on the streets today is that there are two clearly defined sides: those who fight for Mumia’s freedom based on his innocence and the forces of racist ‘law and order’ led by the Fraternal Order of Police who seek his execution.”
Wolkenstein, who served on Mumia’s legal team from 1995 to 1999, continued: “This is the case of a racist and political frame-up. Some 900 pages of FBI/COINTELPRO files show that Mumia was a target of the FBI and the Philadelphia cops from the time he was a 15-year-old Black Panther spokesman. He was further targeted when he became a MOVE supporter and a journalist widely known as the ‘voice of the voiceless’.”
Sparing no falsehood in trying to clear the road to Mumia’s legal lynching, Maureen Faulkner, Daniel’s widow, and Michael Smerconish paint a viciously lying portrait of MOVE, a back-to-nature communal group that Mumia supports, as a bunch of “lawless” and “dangerous” murderers. Capping a years-long campaign of state terror against MOVE was the May 1985 police firebombing of its Osage Avenue home, killing eleven people, including five children, and destroying an entire black neighborhood. The authors of Murdered by Mumia obscenely paint MOVE as responsible for this racist mass murder, which was carried out by the police under black Democratic mayor Wilson Goode and aided and abetted by the Feds.
Seeking to intimidate any who would take up Mumia’s cause, the book includes a frontal attack on the Partisan Defense Committee, which solidarized with MOVE and has fought for 20 years for Mumia’s freedom. Faulkner and Smerconish even attack Stuart Taylor, a conservative legal commentator who questioned the fairness of Mumia’s 1982 trial presided over by “hanging judge” Albert Sabo. Sabo, who also presided over Mumia’s post-conviction (PCRA) appeals, was overheard by a court reporter at the time of the trial saying, “I’m going to help them fry the n----r.”
Smerconish and Faulkner make no bones about the political nature of the frame-up, retailing the prosecution line that Mumia’s Panther membership proved that he had been planning to kill a cop for years. As the PDC’s Erica Williamson remarked, “The racist capitalist rulers want to see Mumia dead because they see in him the spectre of black revolt. The fight to free Mumia is a key focus of the struggle to abolish the racist death penalty, a legacy of chattel slavery.”
Rachel Wolkenstein commented, “In being written as a memoir, this book avoids having to refute the massive evidence of Mumia’s innocence that has been unearthed in the years following his trial. In fact, this evidence is irrefutable.” Mumia’s original trial was marked by racist jury-rigging, rampant intimidation of witnesses by cops and prosecutors, the concealing of evidence of his innocence and the manufacturing of phony ballistics and other “evidence” purportedly proving Mumia’s guilt. Then in 1999, Arnold Beverly came forward in a sworn statement saying that he, not Mumia, shot and killed Officer Faulkner (go to http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/innocent/ab.html). To those who base their protests on the call for a new trial for Mumia, Wolkenstein stated, “What is there to retry in this case? Mumia should never have spent a day in prison. There must be mass protests demanding that this innocent man be freed, now!”
Beverly stated in his affidavit that he and another man were hired to kill Faulkner, who was a problem for the mob and corrupt cops because he interfered with graft and payoffs over prostitution, gambling and drugs. At the time of Faulkner’s killing in the Center City area, the Philadelphia Police Department was under at least three federal investigations for corruption involving cop-mob ties. One-third of the cops in Mumia’s case were implicated in corruption charges. Wolkenstein remarked, “This underscores that the cops are insistent on Mumia’s death not only because he has been an outspoken voice for black freedom, but so that they can bury the proof of their own wrongdoing.” She noted, “Murdered by Mumia includes not one word about these investigations.”
Among those who wrote to the Today show demanding that it present a truthful account of this case was Veronica Jones, one of the witnesses intimidated by police (http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o59/jaysyro/JPGVJONES.jpg). Jones testified at a 1996 PCRA hearing that police had coerced her into lying at the 1982 trial, when she denied that she had seen someone run from the scene. That person could not have been Mumia, who was found seated on a curb bleeding profusely after having been shot by police. The district attorney arrested Jones while she was on the witness stand in 1996, hauling her away in handcuffs based on a years-old petty theft warrant.
Noting the “intimidation, threats and bullying I’ve endured since December 1981,” Jones wrote, “If there were no merit or questions looming regarding Mr. Jamal’s innocence, then can someone please explain to me why so much effort exerted to publicly try to discredit and humiliate me?” She offered in closing, “I knew Officer Faulkner and thought he was a nice person—to me. He helped and looked out for me several times. With that being said, I had no reason whatsoever to protect a man accused of murdering him—a man that I did not even know, that man being Mumia Abu-Jamal.”
In a 2001 affidavit submitted to state and federal courts, Wolkenstein showed that there was no evidence that Mumia’s gun was fired that night. The absence of divots in the sidewalk contradicts the cops’ tale that Mumia fired repeatedly as he stood over Faulkner, while bullet trajectories point to more than one shooter (see PDC pamphlet, The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal--Mumia Is Innocent! http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/innocent/rw.html).
Photographs by freelancer Pedro Polakoff, recently unearthed by Michael Schiffmann, further refute the cops’ scenario (http://www.abu-jamal-news.com/). In addition to showing the absence of divots, the photos confirm that a cabdriver who testified against Mumia was not where the cops and prosecutors claimed he was. They also clearly show police tampering with guns and other evidence in order to pin the murder on Mumia. Polakoff’s photos were featured at a December 4 press conference in Philadelphia which was picked up by Reuters. Matt Lauer showed some of them in questioning Faulkner, sending Smerconish into a fury.
The next day, Faulkner appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball, hosted by former Democratic Party speechwriter Chris Matthews, who did not even give the appearance of evenhandedness. Matthews rehashed the claim that “for 26 years” neither Mumia nor his brother Billy Cook, who was on the scene that night, ever gave an account of what they saw. In fact, Mumia and his brother both gave sworn statements that, like the Beverly confession, have been consistently disregarded by state and federal courts. Mumia declared in 2001, “I did not shoot Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. I had nothing to do with the killing of Officer Faulkner. I am innocent.” His statement describes 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” (http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/innocent/maj.html). Mumia was not only shot but beaten by cops who wanted to see him dead.
Billy Cook gave sworn statements in 1999 and 2001 that “Mumia Abu-Jamal did not shoot Officer Faulkner and I did not shoot Officer Faulkner” (http://www.partisandefense.org/pubs/innocent/wc.html). Cook states that Kenneth Freeman, a passenger in Cook’s VW, told him after the shooting that there had been a plan to kill Faulkner and that Freeman was part of that plan.
Maureen Faulkner also appeared on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor on December 6. While admitting that he had no idea what happened the night of the shooting, O’Reilly opined that Mumia must be guilty because his frame-up was upheld by the courts, declaring, “I’ve got to go with the system.” Gene Herson, Labor Coordinator of the PDC, responded, “There is no justice in this system for people like Mumia, for fighters for black freedom, for labor militants, for opponents of the capitalist system and its Democratic and Republican parties. The fact that the conviction and death sentence have been upheld by court after court despite overwhelming evidence of innocence shows this.”
Herson stressed the need to mobilize the social power of the labor movement, along with all fighters against racist injustice, behind Mumia’s cause: “The only pressure that will have an impact on the capitalist rulers and their courts is the fear of the consequences of executing Mumia or entombing him for life. It took a campaign of international mass protest, crucially including trade unionists, to stay the executioner’s hand when Mumia was under a death warrant in 1995.” Herson pointed to the call by the PDC and other organizations for day-after emergency protests in the event of a negative decision by the Third Circuit and a planned national protest in Philadelphia the third Saturday after (http://www.partisandefense.org/events/index.html). He emphasized, “These protests must serve as a springboard to revive mass protest behind the call: Mumia is innocent--Free him now! Abolish the racist death penalty!”
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The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization which champions cases and causes in the interest of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League.