Mumia Abu-Jamal Faces U.S. Supreme Court as New Book and Fil

Re: Mumia Abu-Jamal Faces U.S. Supreme Court as New Book and

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The Affidavits by Kenneth Pate and Yvette Williams
by Free Mumia
October 6, 2008

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On Monday, October 6, the US Supreme Court rejected Mumia's PCRA appeal based on the affidavits of Kenneth Pate and Yvette Williams. The appeal had been filed in July, after it was rejected by the PA Supreme Court in Feb, 2008, and in 2005 by Philadelphia judge Pamela Dembe.

Below, here are the affidavits so you can read them for yourself

I. Declaration of Yvette Williams

I, Yvette Williams, declare:

1. If called as a witness in this case I would truthfully and accurately testify to the following from my own personal knowledge.

2. I was in jail with Cynthia White in December of 1981 after Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed. Cynthia White told me the police were making her lie and say she saw Mr. Jamal shoot Officer Faulkner when she really did not see who did it. She said she knew Mumia from seeing him drive a cab.

3. I was in jail with Cynthia White and knew she was a prostitute in center city Philadelphia around 13th Street. She used a lot of different names besides "Cynthia White" one of them was "Lucky" which is what I called her. She liked to wear a lot of different wigs. The word on the street was that she was a snitch for the police. Cynthia and I met due to being in jail for not wanting to testify in homicides.

4. In December of 1981, Lucky (Cynthia White) was locked up in "PC" (protective custody) in the "hole" for women, "G" Rear. I was in jail because the cops thought that I knew some-thing about a homicide - I didn't - but they wanted to get information out of me.

5. Our cells were directly across from each other. Sometimes the inmates would use me as a "runner" passing contraband between inmates in the hole and inmates in population, and I would stop and talk with Lucky when I went to her cell. I had been involved in violent crime and was interested in what prostitution was all about so I was asking Lucky about it, considering it as an occupation. She was nervous and frightened and glad to have someone to talk to. She was always crying and sad. She told me she was scared for her life. I asked her, "Scared of who?" she stated, "The guards and vice."

6. When Lucky told me she didn't even see who shot Officer Faulkner, I asked her why she was "lying on that man" (Mumia Abu-Jamal). She told me it was because for the police and vice threatened her life. Additionally, the police were giving her money for tricks. "The way she talked, we were talking "G's" ($1,000.00). She also said she was terrified of what the police would do to her if she didn't say that Mumia shot Officer Faulkner. According to Lucky, the police told her they would consolidate all her cases and send her "up" (Muncy), a women's prison, for a long time if she didn't testify to what they told her to say. Lucky told me she had a lot of open cases and out-of-state warrants and was scared of going to Muncy. She was scared that her pimp "would get pissed off" at all the money he was losing when she was locked up, and off the street. She was afraid that when she got out he would beat her up or kill her.

7. Lucky was worried the police would kill her if she didn't say what they wanted. She was scared of what the MOVE people would do to her after she testified against Mumia, but MOVE never threatened Lucky while incarcerated. She was scared when she told me all of this plus she was crying and shaking. Whenever she talked about testifying against Mumia Abu-Jamal, and how the police were making her lie, she was nervous and very excited and I could tell how scared she was from the way she was talking and crying.

8. Lucky told me that what really happened that night was that she was "on the stroll" (looking for and serving customers) in the area of 13th and Locust when Officer Faulkner got shot, but she definitely did not see who did it. She also told me that she had a drug habit and was high on drugs when it happened. She tried to run away after the shooting, but the cops grabbed her and wouldn't let her go. They took her in the car first and told her that she saw Mumia shoot Officer Faulkner.

9. While Lucky and I were locked up in the "hole", the detectives would come to the jail a lot and get her out to talk to her. When she came back she always had things they wouldn't let us have in there, like cigarettes and candy and even hoagies, syringes and white powders. They would let her out for two (2) hours recreation time during times the women's jail was on lock down for count.

10. I feel like I've almost had a nervous breakdown over keeping quiet about this all these years. I didn't say anything because I was afraid. I was afraid of the police. They're dangerous. They can hurt you and get away with it. I know, I've been trouble with the law and they know me. I'm still afraid of what they could do, but when Mr. Jamal's case was on TV and in "The Daily News," in the middle of December of last year, I couldn't get it out of my mind, I kept thinking that man could die because of all the lies that Lucky told on that witness stand and Mrs. Faulkner would never know the truth.

11. I read in the papers that Mr. Jamal's lawyer was in California, but I didn't have long distance service. When I saw that Mr. Jamal had a lawyer in Philadelphia named J. Michael Farrell, I looked him up in the phone book yellow pages and called his office on December 18 or 19, 2001. I talked to one of Mr. Farrell's assistants and told him I had information about how Cynthia white lied at Mumia's trial. He took my number and told me someone would call me back.

12. Two or three days later, I got a call from Mr. Mike Newman, who told me he was a private investigator for Mumia Abu-Jamal's attorneys. I gave him the same basic information that is in this declaration. He called me back a couple of times with more questions, asking for more details.

13. Before calling attorney Farrell's office on December 18 or 19, 2001, I never had any contact of any kind with any of Mumia Abu-Jamal's attorneys, past or present. Before talking to Mr. Newman, as explained above, I never had any contact with any of the investigators, assistants or other agents of Mumia Abu-Jamal's attorneys. I do not know Mr. Mumia Abu-Jamal. I never met him, spoke to him, or had any contact with him.

14. I have carefully read this declaration before signing it to be sure that it is truthful and accurate. This declaration is made subject to the penalties provided for in Pa. Cons. Stats. Sec. C.S.A. 4904 for unsworn false statements to the authorities. I declare under penalty of perjury under the law of the United states of America that the fore-going declaration is true and correct and was executed by me on 01-28-02, 2002, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. YVETTE WILLIAMS (signed)

II. Declaration of Kenneth Pate

I, Kenneth Pate, declare:

1. I am related to Priscilla Durham, now known as Priscilla Ahmed, through marriage: My father, Perry Abner, married Priscilla's mother, Dolores Durham, about 20-25 years ago.

2. Sometime around the end of 1983 or the beginning of 1984 I had a telephone conversation with Priscilla Durham in which the subject of Mumia Abu-Jamal came up.

3. I asked Priscilla how she was and she asked me how I was. I was kind of teasing her about her job as a security guard at the hospital, saying "why would a woman need to carry a big old gun like that?"

4. Priscilla began to complain about the way she was treated on the job, about her back hurting, and them "treating her like that" after all she did for them they laid her off.

5. Then Priscilla started talking about Mumia Abu-Jamal. She said that when the police brought him in that night she was working at the hospital. Mumia was all bloody and the police were interfering with his treatment, saying "let him die."

6. Priscilla said that the police told her that she was part of the "brotherhood" of police since she was a security guard and that she had to stick with them and say that she heard Mumia say that he killed the police officer, when they brought Mumia in on a stretcher.

7. I asked Priscilla: "Did you hear him say that?" Priscilla said: "All I heard him say was: 'Get off me, get off me, they're trying to kill me.'"

8. Priscilla also said there was a lot of chaos and confusion going on when the police brought Mumia in and when they were talking to her.

9. I am presently imprisoned at SCI Greene where I have been for about 3 years. At the time of my telephone conversation with Priscilla Durham, described above, I was imprisoned at SCI Graterford.

10. Back in 1982-1984 Priscilla and I had many telephone conversations when I was at SCI Graterford. I would call her house to talk to her or her daughter Sharon. Since then Priscilla and I have written each other many times.

11. Sometime in 1984, after I was transferred to SCI Huntington, I read a newspaper article about the Mumia Abu-Jamal case. It said Priscilla Durham had testified at Mumia's trial that when she was working as a security guard at the hospital she heard Mumia say that he had killed the police officer. When I read this I realized it was a different story from what she had told me.

12. Mumia was also imprisoned at SCI Huntington at that time. I wrote a note to him about Priscilla and gave it to another inmate who was a "tier worker" to pass it on to him.

13. Sometime between December of last year (2002) and February of this year (2003) I was out in the prison yard at the same time Mumia was. I remember that the weather was still cold. We were a couple of cages away from each other. I mentioned to him about the telephone conversation I had with Priscilla back in 1983 or 1984 and that she said she did NOT hear Mumia say anything about killing the police officer. I told him that I thought she was still scared about telling the truth about what happened but maybe she would.

14. My nickname or street name is "Kenny Stax." That is how I am known by Mumia and other inmates.

15. I am willing to take a lie detector test to prove I am telling the truth about my conversation with Priscilla Durham.

This declaration is made subject to the penalties provided for in 18 Pa. Cons. Stats. Sec. 4904 for unsworn false statements to authorities. I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that this declaration is true and correct and was signed by me on April 18, 2003, at Waynesburg, PA.

KENNETH PATE (signed)
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Re: Mumia Abu-Jamal Faces U.S. Supreme Court as New Book and

Postby admin » Wed Jun 15, 2016 7:53 am

U.S. Supreme Court litigation on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, death row, Pennsylvania
by Robert R. Bryan, lead counsel
September 12, 2008

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Introduction

There has been extensive news attention to the ongoing federal proceedings concerning my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal, on the hotly contested issue of racism in jury selection and the ordering of a new jury trial on the question of life or death. (Abu-Jamal v. Horn, 520 F.3d 272 (3rd Cir. 2008).) The massive issue of racism will be presented to the U.S. Supreme Court later this year. However, few are aware that we have been actively litigating separate issues concerning fraud and the subornation of perjury by the Philadelphia Police Department and the District Attorney of Philadelphia. We are now before the Supreme Court regarding this governmental misconduct which resulted in Mumia being convicted and sentenced to death.

U.S. Supreme Court On July 18, 2008, I filed on behalf of Mumia in the Supreme Court, a Petition for Writ of Certiorari. (Abu-Jamal v. Pennsylvania, U.S. Sup. Ct. No. 08-5456.) This arises from adverse rulings by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

The basis of the current litigation is that the prosecution persuaded witnesses to lie in order to obtain a conviction and death judgment against my client. The following are excerpts from what I have presented to the Supreme Court (without case citations and legal argument):

QUESTIONS PRESENTED FOR REVIEW

I.

Whether a new trial is mandated where there is newly discovered evidence establishing that the police (a) persuaded a witness to falsely identify a defendant as having shot a police officer, and (b) induced another to falsely claim she heard him confess, in violation of rights guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

II.

Whether a new trial is required where there is newly discovered evidence which establishes that the prosecution used a fabricated confession and false identification testimony in a capital murder trial, in violation of the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

III.

Whether the prosecutorial suppression of exculpatory evidence including the fact that (a) a witness was persuaded to lie that she had witnessed the homicide and (b) another encouraged to manufacture a false confession attributed to Petitioner, contravened Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and the right to a fair trial, due process of law, and a fair penalty trial guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

IV.

Whether it is error for a state court to deny a hearing on newly discovered evidence of prosecutorial fraud and innocence, where the new claims involving police-induced false testimony were previously unknown to a petitioner and could not have been ascertained by the exercise of due diligence because of state interference.

. . . .


REASONS FOR GRANTING THE WRIT

. . . .

I. THE NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE ESTABLISHES THAT THE PROSECUTION MANIPULATED A PURPORTED EYEWITNESS TO FALSELY IDENTIFY PETITIONER AS THE SHOOTER, IN VIOLATION OF THE FIFTH, SIXTH EIGHTH, AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS

Petitioner was deprived of his right to a fair and reliable determination of guilt and penalty, as guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution because the state's purported eyewitness, Cynthia White, was coaxed and coerced into providing false testimony against him. Her testimony was critical to the prosecution. If the jury had learned that her testimony was the product of threats and favors, there is a reasonable probability that the result of the trial would have been different. . . .

Newly discovered evidence from [Yvette} Williams establishes that White lied by falsely testifying that she observed Petitioner shoot police officer Daniel Faulkner. In fact, she did not see the shooting. White was threatened with imprisonment and in fear of being killed by the police if she did not help them by testifying against Petitioner. As Ms. Williams explained:

6. When [Cynthia White] told me she didn't see who shot Officer Faulkner, I asked her why she was “lying on that man” (Mumia Abu-Jamal). She told me it was because for the police and vice threatened her life. Additionally, the police were giving her money for tricks. “The way she talked, we were talking “G's” ($1,000.00). She also said she was terrified of what the police would do to her if she didn't say that Mumia shot Officer Faulkner. According to Lucky (White), the police told her they would . . . send her “up” . . . for a long time if she didn't testify to what they told her to say. . . .

7. Lucky was worried the police would kill her if she didn’t say what they wanted. . . . She was scared when she told me all of this plus she was crying and shaking. Whenever she talked about testifying against Mumia Abu-Jamal, and how the police were making her lie, she was nervous and very excited and I could tell how scared she was from the way she was talking and crying.

8. Lucky told me that what really happened that night was that she was . . . in the area . . . when Officer Faulkner got shot, but she definitely did not see who did it. She also told me that she had a drug habit and was high on drugs when it happened. She tried to run away after the shooting, but the cops grabbed her and wouldn't let her go. They took her in the car first and told her that she saw Mumia shoot Officer Faulkner.

Declaration of Yvette Williams, Jan. 28, 2002 at 2-3.

The declaration of Ms. Williams does not merely provide direct contradiction of the prosecution's key witness at trial, but it also materially undermines the integrity of the case against Petitioner. The fact that the prosecution witness testified falsely as a result of police inducement taints all of the evidence upon which the prosecution relied at the original trial, and offends the Constitution. Such proof would not only have impeached White’s testimony, but would have created doubt about the motives and trustworthiness of law enforcement personnel involved in this case. . . . The subornation of perjury from White results in the inescapable conclusion that the investigating officers caused other witnesses to lie, and that exculpa­tory and impeachment evidence was suppressed. Evidence that White was coerced into lying would have been far more significance than simply canceling out her testimony, which in and of itself was of major significance. It would raise a host of questions regarding why the police felt the need to fabricate evidence. . . .

II. NEWLY DISCOVERED EVIDENCE DEMONSTRATES THAT PETITIONER WAS FOUND GUILTY AND SENTENCED TO DEATH THROUGH THE USE OF A POLICE FABRICATED CONFESSION IN VIOLATION OF THE FIFTH, SIXTH EIGHTH, AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS

Petitioner was deprived of his right to a fair and reliable determination of guilt and penalty, as guaranteed by the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, because of the state's reliance on a fabricated confession and by its thwart­ing of defense efforts to expose that falsehood. Newly discovered evidence has established that Priscilla Durham, a hospital security guard who testified at trial to hearing Petitioner allegedly confess, has since admitted to concocting the story. Declaration of Kenneth Pate, Apr. 18, 2003. She admitted to Mr. Pate that in fact she never heard Petitioner make any incriminating statements. He recalls:

2. Sometime around the end of 1983 or the beginning of 1984 I had a telephone conversation with Priscilla Durham in which the subject of Mumia Abu-Jamal came up.

. . . .

5. Then Priscilla started talking about Mumia Abu-Jamal. She said that when the police brought him in that night she was working at the hospital. Mumia was all bloody and the police were interfering with his treatment, saying “let him die.”

6. Priscilla said that the police told her that she was part of the “brotherhood” of police since she was a security guard and that she had to stick with them and say that she heard Mumia say that he killed the police officer, when they brought Mumia in on a stretcher.

7. I asked Priscilla: “Did you hear him say that?” Priscilla said: “All I heard him say was “Get off me, get off me, they're trying to kill me.

Declaration of Kenneth Pate, Apr. 18, 2003.

Ms. Durham was the only civilian to claim that Petitioner admitted the shooting. There is a reasonable probability that if the jury was informed that Durham was pressured by police into lying, it certainly would have disregarded the alleged confession. Without proof of a confession, there is a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been different. . . .

Moreover, as in the situation of the fabricated testimony of Cynthia White, disclosure of the pressure placed upon Durham to falsely claim she heard the confession, would likewise create a reasonable probability that the other witnesses and evidence presented would be viewed by the jury with skepticism. In effect disclosure that the police caused both Durham and White to lie, would have brought into question the credibility and legitimacy of the other evidence presented again Petitioner. In that even the prosecution case against Petitioner would have collapsed like a house of cards.

By the prosecution concealing evidence that two of its crucial witnesses lied, Petitioner was deprived of his right to a fair trial and due process of law under the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. The petition filed on behalf of him in the state court addressed both governmental interference and newly discovered evidence that could not have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence. Both claims allege violations of recognized constitutional rights under Amendments Five, Six, Eight and Fourteen. Both claims allege the prosecutorial suppression of exculpatory material evidence and the presentation of false evidence in contravention of the right to a fair trial and due process of law guaranteed by the Constitution . . .

The newly discovered facts establish that the police as part of the prosecution were involved in obtaining false material testimony against Petitioner at trial. The result compromised not only his fair trial rights, but led to a death judgment that violated the very essence of the Eighth Amendment.

CONCLUSION

The declaration of Yvette Williams discloses that Cynthia White told her that she lied on the stand because she feared reprisals from the police if she refused to do so. The declaration of Kenneth Pate reveals that Priscilla Durham lied in testifying against Petitioner because she was pressured to so by the police. The witnesses’ fears, created by the prosecution through the police, not only explains the false testimony but also why the witnesses did not come forward. The prosecutor in Petitioner’s trial had an absolute obligation to disclose the threats and efforts to suborn perjury. . . . By suppressing exculpatory evidence which included the fact that (a) a witness was persuaded to lie that she had witnessed the homicide, and (b) another was encouraged to manufacture a false confession attributed to Petitioner, contravened the right to a fair trial, due process of law, and a fair penalty trial, guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

On August 21, 2008, the Philadelphia District Attorney filed a brief in opposition to the relief we seek on procedural grounds, that prior counsel failed to raise the issues in a timely manner. Even though the Supreme Court considers only an incredibly small number of cases at this stage, we remain hopeful in view of the prosecution's egregious misconduct.

Later in the year we will be going separately before the Supreme Court concerning the denial of an entirely new trial by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Third Circuit. That court did grant a new jury trial on the question of penalty, life of death. Nonetheless, we are pursing an entirely new trial. The issue of racism in jury selection will be presented, along with the fact that the prosecutor made misrepresentations to the jury in order to obtain a murder conviction against Mumia.

Conclusion I will not rest until Mumia is free. That he remains in prison and on death row is a travesty of justice and an affront to civilized standards. We must all continue to fight for what is right, and not lose hope. Free Mumia.

Yours very truly,

Robert R. Bryan
Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal
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Re: Mumia Abu-Jamal Faces U.S. Supreme Court as New Book and

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Book Asserts Black Reporter Didn’t Kill White Officer in ’81
by Jon Hurdle
Philadelphia
May 2, 2008

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A book published on Thursday asserts that a black radio journalist convicted of murdering a white Philadelphia police officer more than 26 years ago is not guilty of the crime and that it was actually committed by another man who is now deceased.

The book, “The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” by J. Patrick O’Connor, asserts that Officer Daniel Faulkner died on Dec. 9, 1981, from shots fired by Kenneth Freeman, a business partner of the brother of the convicted man, Mr. Abu-Jamal, who has been on death row for 25 years for a crime he says he did not commit.

The book, published by Chicago Review Press, is the latest to cast doubt on the conviction, which critics have said was tainted by racism, police corruption and judicial bias, turning Mr. Abu-Jamal into a cause célèbre for death penalty opponents.

“Abu-Jamal’s trial was a monumental miscarriage of justice,” Mr. O’Connor writes, “representing an extreme case of prosecutorial abuse and judicial bias.”

The police charged Mr. Abu-Jamal with the murder, the book says, because he had antagonized them as a Black Panther and as a radio reporter.

Hugh Burns, chief of the appeals division in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case in 1982, dismissed the new accusations, saying, “There is zero credible evidence Freeman was involved.”

Mr. Burns also rejected the book’s assertion that two key prosecution witnesses had changed their stories after inducements from prosecutors determined to prove their case.

In March, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Mr. Abu-Jamal’s conviction but said his sentence might be reviewed.
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Re: Mumia Abu-Jamal Faces U.S. Supreme Court as New Book and

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Can the Media Continue to Ignore “The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal”?
by Hans Bennett
June 26, 2008

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J6EYVC5hME#t=228

Despite an important NY Times article written on the day of The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal‘s release in May, the mainstream media has virtually ignored this powerful new book which argues in painstaking detail that Abu-Jamal is innocent and that the actual shooter of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was a man named Kenneth Freeman. The one exception to this media blackout was an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by Milan Simonich. Instead of ignoring it like the rest of the mainstream media, Simonich chose to dishonestly present the book, contending that O’Connor “is guilty of writing the sloppiest, most one-sided crime book of the year,” by mixing “recycled conspiracy theories with his own sweeping pronouncements, most devoid of fact.”

To learn more about Framing and the meticulous arguments made by O’Connor, you can watch my video-interview with him at Philadelphia City Hall on the day of the book’s release (PARTS 1, 2, and 3) and read my text-interview with him a few weeks before that, which focused on how exactly the frame-up happened, Kenneth Freeman, the March 27 court ruling, and Frank Rizzo’s legacy. Abu-Jamal-News.com also features an excerpt, a previous interview, O’Connor’s review of “Murdered By Mumia,” and his response to the March 27 ruling.

For irrefutable evidence of mainstream media bias against the world famous death-row journalist considered by many to be a political prisoner, just compare this coverage of Framing to last December’s release of Murdered By Mumia, written by Michael Smerconish and Maureen Faulkner. The attention was massive and almost uniformly absent of any serious questioning of the book’s assertion that Abu-Jamal received a fair trial and that the evidence of his guilt is clear-cut. The Philadelphia Inquirer actually featured three days worth of excerpts from Murdered, but would not even mention any of the criticism of the book from Abu-Jamal’s supporters.

On December 4, two days before the book’s release, Journalists for Mumia organized a press conference to present our side of the story, arguing that Abu-Jamal did not receive a fair trial, and that there is evidence of his innocence that the court needs to consider. Along with a presentation of the newly discovered crime scene photos, our event featured Pam Africa (of The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal) and local journalists Linn Washington Jr, David Love, and David Lindorff who passionately argued for the legitimacy of the new photos as an important story deserving of media coverage, which they argued was just one more reason that Abu-Jamal needs a new trial. Despite my personal invitation to every Philadelphia media outlet I could find, not one single reporter from the local mainstream media covered our event. The only mainstream coverage came from British journalist Jon Hurdle of Reuters.

Hurdle’s article was the very first mainstream report of the new crime scene photos, and his article was cited the following week on Philadelphia’s NPR show Radio Times, and in an uncharacteristic Philadelphia Weekly article, which challenged Smerconish and Faulkner’s argument that the Abu-Jamal/Faulkner case is “open and shut”. While not cited directly on the controversial Dec. 6 Today Show, by co-host Matt Lauer, Hurdle’s article almost certainly helped persuade the Today Show to air the photos and, therefore, become the first television show to even acknowledge them.

By asking Faulkner and Smerconish challenging questions and accurately representing what Abu-Jamal supporters were saying about the photos, Lauer and the Today Show became the clear exception to the rule. As a result, right-wing media critics went crazy with outrage, and both Faulkner and Smerconish publicly vented their anger at Lauer, particularly for his last question to Faulkner: “Maureen, when you’re ever, when you’re alone, when you’re alone with your thoughts at night, when you even see pictures of the protest like the one we have across the street, does it ever cross your mind that perhaps they’re right? Do you ever allow yourself to consider the fact that perhaps he didn’t do this?”

Following the Today Show, I frantically sent personal emails to all of the same mainstream media folks (both local and national) that I invited to our Dec.4 press conference, and said: “Hey, this story of the crime scene photos is getting even more credibility! Isn’t this news now? Isn’t it only fair to present the opinions of Abu-Jamal’s supporters alongside those of Faulkner and Smerconish?” To top this off, I told the media about the slideshow presentation of the photos I would be giving on Dec. 8, for which I had contracted the use of the photos so that the media could film the event and therefore feature the photos on their news program. Guess what? Not one reporter showed up!

If these December events are not proof enough of the media’s inexcusable bias, just compare this to the abhorrent treatment of The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Faulkner, Smerconish, and other advocates of Abu-Jamal’s execution constantly say to “read the transcripts” for clear evidence of a fair trial and Abu-Jamal’s guilt. Now, here is a book that is based almost entirely on the court transcripts, but the author argues that these transcripts reveal a frame-up of a factually innocent man! This is not published by a leftist Abu-Jamal support group, but rather by an established publishing house. The most basic notions of journalistic fairness demand that Framing be given equal coverage, so that the public can hear both side of the debate and decide for themselves what they think of this case

This media blackout of Framing is even more scandalous following the May 2 NY Times article by Jon Hurdle, who also wrote the Dec.4 Reuters article. Being recognized in the NY Times should have been an impetus for more coverage by other media outlets, but instead, the mainstream media was uniformly silent until the dishonest May 18 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by Milan Simonich. Immediately after reading the article that day, I submitted this “letter to the editor,” but it was not published:

Milan Simonich “is guilty of writing the sloppiest, most one-sided” book review “of the year.” This dishonest review (5/18) gives further credibility to author J. Patrick O’Connor’s allegation of mainstream media bias against death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.

As detailed in an interview at Abu-Jamal-News.com, O’Connor does not “ignore the prosecution’s side of the story.” He doesn’t interview either the prosecution or defense. Instead, he relies entirely on the court transcripts and a few mainstream news articles to argue that the actual shooter of PO Daniel Faulkner was a man named Kenneth Freeman (who was mysteriously found dead the day after the infamous May 13, 1985 police bombing of MOVE). This transcript-based approach is powerful, because Abu-Jamal’s critics always say to “read the transcripts” for proof of a fair 1982 trial and Abu-Jamal’s guilt.

Simonich writes that O’Connor ignores/downplays Abu-Jamal’s alleged “hospital confession.” Actually, this alleged confession is central to the book’s “frame-up” thesis, because he (like Amnesty International) sees it as an obvious fraud. The “witnesses” allegedly forgot about the confession for over 2 months! While a hospital security guard did testify at the 82 trial that she immediately reported it to her supervisor, the trial was the very first time she mentioned this report, and she actually disavowed the alleged written (and unsigned) report that the prosecution presented in court. Further, her supervisor was never called to testify!

Sounds fishy, huh? This is just one part of the obvious frame-up that O’Connor exposes.

*****
Then, a few days after writing the Post-Gazette, I wrote this letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer, which was also not published:

I am disappointed that The Inquirer has yet to acknowledge the new book The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, by J. Patrick O’Connor. Just released by Chicago Review Press, it has been featured by the NY Times, and at my website, Abu-Jamal-News.com.

Advocates of Abu-Jamal’s execution always say to ‘read the transcripts’ for proof of a fair 1982 trial and Abu-Jamal’s guilt. However, O’Connor cites the trial transcripts to argue that police framed Abu-Jamal, and that the actual shooter of Officer Faulkner was a man named Kenneth Freeman, who was mysteriously found dead in a Northeast lot (reportedly naked, gagged, hand-cuffed, and with a drug needle in his arm) the day after the infamous May 13, 1985 police bombing of MOVE.

When Maureen Faulkner and Michael Smerconish released ‘Murdered by Mumia’ in December, The Inquirer featured three days of book excerpts, and more. In the interest of fairness and balance shouldn’t ‘Framing’ be featured in at least one substantive article?

I do applaud the Inquirer‘s publication of the April 2 editorial by author Dave Lindorff titled “The Mumia Exception” that criticized the March 27 court decision denying Abu-Jamal a new guilt-phase trial. Please extend this same fairness to coverage of Framing.

*****
To recap, when Murdered By Mumia was released in December, the book received major coverage both locally and nationally. Almost uniformly, the coverage was uncritical and the book’s critics were ignored. When The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal was released in May, it was virtually ignored. Can the bias be more obvious?

On Monday, J. Patrick O’Connor kicked off his East Coast book tour with an appearance on the Washington DC, Pacifica Radio show Jazz and Justice and a book-signing event at Baruch College in New York City. Tuesday night, he is appearing at The Brecht Forum alongside Pam and Ramona Africa. Wednesday, he comes to Philadelphia for an event organized by Journalists for Mumia. The San Francisco Bay Area is now preparing for a similar tour this Fall.

The question now before us is whether or not the mainstream media can continue their shameful behavior in reporting on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A century ago, the journalist and former slave, Frederick Douglass said that “power concedes nothing”. Therefore, it is up to us to confront the mainstream media and demand that they stop ignoring this important new book. When we flexed our power last December, and wrote NBC’s Today Show to ensure fairness, we were rewarded with a stunning victory. Please help today by urging the national media, as well as our local media outlets, to report on this important book.

Hans Bennett is a Philadelphia-based photo-journalist who has been documenting the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners for over five years. Read other articles by Hans, or visit Hans's website.

This article was posted on Thursday, June 26th, 2008 at 5:00am and is filed under Justice.
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