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Wrongs in Civil Rights Underlying Mumia Abu-Jamal's Conviction

By Linn Washington Jr.  Posted by Hans Bennett (about the submitter)     Permalink
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RELATED: NAACP Passes Resolution for Mumia Abu-Jamal and other prisoners II Take Action Supporting A Federal Civil Rights Investigation II SF Bay View Newspaper article about civil rights campaign II The Mumia Exception

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(PHOTO: Congressman John Conyers holds a poster of Mumia Abu-Jamal, part of the Campaign for a Civil Rights Investigation into the Case of Mumia Abu- Jamal, at the NAACP Convention, July 13, 2009)


By Linn Washington Jr.

During 1981, Philadelphia, Pa police proudly announced making arrests in four separate hi-profile homicides including the murders of two policemen.

However, investigations later revealed that police and prosecutors engaged in serious misconduct in each of those murder cases.

Two of those arrested in 1981 spent twenty-years in prison before newly discovered evidence exposed flawed confessions obtained by police. Another man spent 1,375-days on death row before his release, an ordeal that one judge described as a "Kafkaesque nightmare" due to illegal conduct mainly by police. A jury acquitted the teen arrested for one of the 1981 police killings citing lack of evidence.

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Ironically, the one 1981 homicide arrest generating the most attention internationally is the one arrest authorities in Philadelphia declare contains not a single instance of impropriety by either police or prosecutors.

This is the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal convicted of fatally shooting a Philadelphia policeman in December 1981.

The conviction of death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal is filled with serious violations of fundamental civil rights. Freedom from discrimination is a civil right, yet discriminatory actions by police, prosecutors and judges mar all aspects of the Abu-Jamal case.

The case against Abu-Jamal, cobbled from circumstantial evidence, constitutes a festering sore on America's justice system. Those demanding Abu-Jamal's execution cavalierly ignore inconclusive forensics, tainted eyewitness testimony and a specious confession.

Violations comprising the injustice of Abu-Jamal's conviction include the kinds of structural deficiencies that drive exonerations and official investigations nationwide: police fabricating evidence, multiple instances of prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of defense counsel plus judicial wrongdoing.

One of the most egregious violations is the public pronouncement by the judge presiding at Abu-Jamal's 1982 trial that he was going to help prosecutors "fry the n-word."

That odious admission by Judge Albert Sabo oozing lack of impartiality and racial bigotry clearly violated Abu-Jamal's constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair trial.

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