Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal (Courtesy photo)

Continued steadfastness is required by those who love freedom for the oppressed. Two innocent, Black liberation freedom fighters — Mumia Abu-Jamal and Imam Jamil Al-Amin — are demanding justice from the courts, not “just us.”

There is encouraging news for former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. A judge ruled he can reargue his appeal in his case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He has always maintained his innocence. He may get a chance to retry his stacked trial, with ample new, exculpatory evidence which was blocked at his original murder trial.

There is no new, good news however about former SNCC and Black Panther Party leader Jamil Al-Amin (known then as H. Rap Brown). He remains on lockdown, 10 floors underground, in a federal supermax prison, ostensibly for a state of Georgia crime.

**FILE** Former Black Panther Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (R) listens to the proceedings in Fulton County Superior Court at the start of jury selection for his First Degree murder trial January 8, 2002 in Atlanta. Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, is accused of killing a Fulton County Sheriff’s deputy and injuring his partner as they attempted to serve him with a warrant in March of 2000. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty in the case. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)

These heroes and all U.S. political prisoners should be freed!

Abu-Jamal — for whom journalist and law professor Linn Washington coined the expression, called “the Mumia Abu-Jamal Exception,” a cruel double standard in the courts of Pennsylvania which meant that decisions rendered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court applied to every case in the state except Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case — has won a chance to reargue his appeal because a Supreme Court Justice invoked the Mumia Abu-Jamal Rule.

An appeals judge ruled in late December, citing former Chief Justice Ronald Castille’s failure to excuse himself from the Abu-Jamal case due to his prior role as Philadelphia district attorney when Abu-Jamal was appealing his case. Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner but has always maintained his innocence. I do not believe Mumia killed that cop.

Abu-Jamal’s lawyers argued that statements Castille made about people accused of killing police officers indicated he should have recused himself. In 2011, Abu-Jamal was re-sentenced to life without parole after the state lost an appeal on his death penalty. Prosecutors feared that the court-ordered rehearing on the death penalty might open the door for Abu-Jamal to appeal on other grounds, including seeking a retrial on the facts.

“The only reason the government wants Mumia killed or locked up for life is because he has been so successful in exposing the hypocrisy, racism, oppression and deadliness of this system,” said Pam Africa, of the International Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal more than a decade ago, and it’s still true today.

I believe Mumia Abu-Jamal is an innocent man who never should have even been arrested let alone convicted and sentenced to death. The same is true of Jamil Al-Amin.

It is easy to see the flaws in the case against Abu-Jamal. You don’t need a law degree, nor do you need to read 15,000 pages of trial transcripts understand that his trial and conviction was racially manipulated by police and prosecutors, in front of a mostly White jury which was presented tainted evidence — and that is a gross injustice.

We’ve known all along that the jury pool was tainted, stripped of Blacks, that he was framed by a police force, a prosecutor, and a judiciary tainted by racism. But there’s even more. A decade ago, pictures from the night of the shooting emerged, revealing police evidence tampering and other contamination of the crime scene. The photos were taken by freelance photographer Pedro Polakoff the night of the shooting, and Abu-Jamal’s supporters insist they prove that the conspiracy to blame him began that night at the crime scene.

“There’s a number of shots showing deliberate manipulation and corruption of the crime scene,” Washington told this writer at the time.

And so the beat goes on. The efforts to suppress any Black leader, whether he’s a militant journalist like Mumia Abu-Jamal or a dedicated Atlanta Muslim leader like Imam Jamil Al-Amin, continue in full effect. But with a steadfast and sincere defense of the truth, we will prevail.

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Free Imam Jamil Al-Amin. Free all Black political prisoners in the U.S.

Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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