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The Jamal Journal issue #1 is now published online, Please help us print it!
by The Jamal Journal (thejamaljournal [at] gmail.com)
Saturday Feb 20th, 2021 7:57 PM
We are excited to release issue #1 of our newly restarted newspaper. The Jamal Journal was last published in the mid-1990s by the uncompromising International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ). The lead story is our petition demanding that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner stop defending Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction.
jamaljournal1.pdf_600_.jpg
The Jamal Journal issue #1 is now published online, Please help us print it!


(Click here to read the petition)

(Click here to read Pam's Message to the Movement)

(Click here to read the interview with Johanna Fernandez about Kenneth Freeman)

We are excited to release issue #1 of our newly restarted newspaper. The Jamal Journal was last published in the mid-1990s by the uncompromising International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ). 

The lead story is our petition demanding that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner stop defending Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction. The petition summarizes the overwhelming evidence of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct that has forever tainted the legitimacy of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 1982 conviction and subsequent appeals process.

Pam Africa explains in her article about the petition that “ICFFMAJ has always called for Mumia’s immediate release because we believe he is innocent and that he should never have been imprisoned in the first place. At the same time, ICFFMAJ has always worked alongside anyone supporting a new trial, and we will continue to do this. But after 39 years in prison, Mumia is now an elder in poor health, and every day counts. Therefore, if Mumia’s conviction is overturned because of the well-documented police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct, Krasner should accept the overturned conviction and not retry him.”

The next front-page story is a full reprint of activist football player Colin Kaepernick’s November 16, 2020 statement in support of Mumia.

The last front page story is a heartfelt interview with filmmaker Johanna Fernandez about interviewing Mumia’s sister, Lydia Barashango, who died from Cancer shortly after giving the interview for Fernandez’s 2009 film Justice on Trial. During the interview, Lydia Barashango goes on the record and states that she and her family have always suspected that Kenneth Freeman was the actual shooter of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Authors J. Patrick O’Connor (The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, 2008) and Michael Schiffmann (Race Against Death, 2006) both reached a similar conclusion to Barashango’s. They conclude in their books on Mumia’s case that Kenneth Freeman was the actual shooter. Reviews of both Schiffmann and O’Connor’s books are published to accompany Fernandez’s interview with Jamal Journal.

Further supporting the petition, our newspaper is featuring a range of articles that focus on recent events in Mumia’s case, such as Linn Washington’s analysis of the six newly discovered DA file boxes that DA Krasner disclosed to Mumia’s legal team, and Dave Lindorff’s examination of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s denial of Maureen Faulkner’s King’s Bench Appeal.

At the center of the newspaper (pages 20-21), we feature original artwork by Seth Tobocman, generously created to support our petition campaign. Tobocman says to Krasner: “It is because of the work of incarcerated intellectuals like Mumia Abu-Jamal that a mass movement arose for criminal justice reform. If you feel you are part of that movement, we ask you to show Mumia Abu-Jamal the respect he deserves as an elder and predecessor. Show us that it is a new day in Philadelphia. Release Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

The second half of the newspaper is dedicated to articles from “The Archives,” which provide an important historical context for what is happening today to Mumia. Two important issues in Mumia’s current Court proceedings are (1) alleged eyewitness Robert Chobert’s credibility and (2) The Batson issue, about the use of peremptory strikes to remove otherwise qualified black potential jurors.

Several articles address Robert Chobert’s credibility as a witness, including the 2010 ballistics test conducted by Linn Washington and Dave Lindorff, which physically proved that prosecution eyewitnesses Robert Chobert and Cynthia White both gave false testimony at Mumia’s 1982 trial (the 2010 article is reprinted on the back cover of the newspaper, page 40). Washington and Lindorff concluded that “the whole prosecution story of an execution-style slaying of the officer by Abu-Jamal would appear to be a prosecution fabrication, complete with coached, perjured witnesses, undermining the integrity and fairness of the entire trial.”

The Batson issue is addressed with articles by Dave Lindorff, J. Patrick O’Connor and Michael Schiffmann criticizing the 2008 US Third Circuit Court denial of three claims that could have led to an overturned conviction, including the Batson Issue. Professor Schiffmann examines exactly what reasons the Third Circuit gave for rejecting Mumia’s Batson claim, and he concludes that they are all without merit.

Lastly, we spotlight the story of Pedro Polakoff’s crime scene photos because (1) We believe that the 1982 jury should have seen these photos, and (2) Polakoff states that the DA ignored him when he attempted to share his photos with them in 1981, 1982, and 1995. The DA never informed Mumia’s defense about the existence of Polakoff’s photos, which they are required by law to do. Therefore, this one more example of prosecutorial misconduct in Mumia’s case..

In the newspaper’s front section we spotlight three more elderly political prisoners: Sundiata Acoli, Ed Poindexter, and Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz. All three have ongoing action campaigns calling for their release, all stressing the urgent situation caused by their severe health issues. Please support the campaigns for their release!

The front section also features a tribute to Frances Goldin, a Mumia FAQ, a report from a recent demonstration for Mumia in Paris organized by French supporters, and an article by the UC Santa Cruz Mumia Abu-Jamal Solidarity Collective about Mumia’s enrollment in the History of Consciousness PhD program at UC Santa Cruz.

Support The Petition

We know that it is a bit unconventional to release a petition before our readers can actually sign it. However, we are pre-releasing it because we are still looking for one of the big online activist sites to adopt it and help us promote it to the widest audience possible,  like Color of Change, or another group with similar resources. 

We need to demonstrate to them that the petition will have wide-ranging support if it is sufficiently promoted with the best online activism resources available. You can help us do this by spreading the word, reposting and circulating this article among your various online networks, including social media. Then be sure to check back at www.JamalJournal.com for the latest developments. 

If you are interested in using our petition, please email us here: thejamaljournal@gmail.com

Our Fundraising Campaign

We have released the online version of the newspaper to begin our fundraising campaign to pay for the printing and postage costs. If we can raise $3,000 in the next few days, then we will have enough money to print 15,000 copies of the newspaper and we can begin distributing them within one week from today. 

At the top left corner of our website JamalJournal.com, you can click to donate for these printing and postage costs. Because of COVID preventing us from giving these out in person at events like we normally would, we are going to rely more on shipping & postage as a way to distribute them.

The Jamal Journal’s fiscal sponsor is the Redwood Justice Fund, which means that all donations are tax-deductible. If you donate $10 to the Jamal Journal, we will mail you the first issue of the newspaper when it is released. 

For a $50 donation, we will also send you a copy of Mumia’s new book, Murder Incorporated, Volume 3.

The Jamal Journal is a sponsored project of Prison Radio and The Redwood Justice Fund, a 501(c)(3) corporation, so your donation is tax deductible to the full extent provided by law. 

Click here to donate online.

Or make checks payable to:

"The Jamal Journal / The Redwood Justice Fund". 


Mail checks to: 

The Jamal Journal / Prison Radio 

PO Box 411074                          

San Francisco, CA 94141


§Final version of newspaper (new PDF file)
by The Jamal Journal
Wednesday Feb 24th, 2021 4:39 AM
final-jamaljournal1.pdf_600_.jpg
A few changes have been made for the final version, including an Angela Davis section on page 6. This is how the printed newspaper will look.
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by The Jamal Journal (thejamaljournal [at] gmail.com)
Sunday Feb 21st, 2021 6:59 PM
sethtobocmanpetition.png
(Artwork: This is one segment of the original artwork created by Seth Tobocman to support our petition campaign. It is the centerpiece of our newspaper and can be viewed on the website here. Special thanks to longtime Mumia supporter Seth Tobocman!)



Dear Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner,

We, the signers of this petition, declare:

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 1982 conviction is a travesty of justice, obtained through a combination of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct, as documented by Amnesty International. Abu-Jamal has suffered from extreme injustice at all levels of the criminal justice system. These numerous improprieties have tainted Abu-Jamal’s conviction beyond repair.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is currently represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. We the petitioners are not his lawyers and do not speak for them. Instead, we are the grassroots movement of people united by the fact that we care about the fate of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

We are outraged by the many different ways that racism and institutionalized white supremacy have irreparably harmed Mumia Abu-Jamal’s civil and human rights, and his rights to the fair adjudication of his case. The District Attorney’s continued defense of the 1982 conviction & subsequent appeals process only affirms the longstanding racial injustice that has marred this case.

Today, Mumia Abu-Jamal is in poor health, now suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, the result of a recent near-fatal bout with Hepatitis C, which went unattended until attorneys sued the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for failure to meet his most elementary healthcare needs. Abu-Jamal’s continued imprisonment clearly endangers his health.

Therefore, we respectfully urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to stop defending Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction. Please secure the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal as soon as you possibly can.

Sincerely,



--------------------------------------------



Why:

DA Krasner, you have the authority to secure the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal. You have secured release of over a dozen persons whose unjust convictions were based on evidence of innocence deliberately ignored through improprieties by police and prosecutors. Abu-Jamal deserves the same level of fairness.

Mr. Krasner, if law has plain letter meaning, then please adhere to the 1889 directive from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that the District Attorney’s Office “…seeks justice only…” Also remember that same Court’s 1959 reminder that regardless of a DA’s belief in guilt, all defendants are “…entitled to all safeguards of a fair trial as announced in the Constitution…”

Evidence Supporting our Demand:

The racism throughout Abu-Jamal’s case is stark and unmistakable. Please remember that Albert Sabo, the 1982 trial judge, declared his intent to help prosecutors “fry the ni**er,” according to an 2001 affidavit by a court stenographer that was rejected by the Court. This and other egregious examples of overt racism thus form a key reason why he has attracted such wide-ranging support. This support includes the most prominent Black intellectuals of our generation, including Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Michael Eric Dyson, and Marc Lamont Hill. In November, the blacklisted football player and anti-racist activist Colin Kaepernick declared his support for Abu-Jamal. Outside the US, support for Mumia has come from such luminaries as Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, as well as the European Parliament, Japanese Diet and the country of France. The widely-respected human rights organization Amnesty International determined in its 2000 investigation that “numerous aspects of this case clearly failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings.”

One example of the injustice is the Batson issue regarding racial discrimination in the jury selection process. Even before your office’s discovery of the six previously undisclosed file boxes, we already knew that the trial prosecutor, Assistant DA Joseph McGill used 10-11 of his 15 peremptory challenges to strike otherwise qualified black potential jurors. In his 2008 dissenting opinion, federal Third Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro argued that this one fact alone was sufficient evidence for granting Abu-Jamal a Batson hearing. Therefore, he argued that the Third Circuit Court’s 2-1 ruling against Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim was unfair, and he wrote that the ruling went “against the grain of our prior actions…I see no reason why we should not afford Abu-Jamal the courtesy of our precedents.”

When, in 2009, the US Supreme Court then ruled against considering Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeal of the 2008 Third Circuit Court ruling, it effectively ended Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim. However, upon inspecting the contents of the six file boxes that you thankfully handed over to the defense as the law required, Abu-Jamal’s defense team found two major pieces of evidence. The first, a handwritten letter to assistant district attorney Joe McGill penned by Robert Chobert, a key prosecution's witness. In the letter, Mr. Chobert asks for his money—which suggests Mr. Chobert's testimony against Mumia may have been bribed. The boxes also reveal other handwritten notes on original files, closely tracking the race of jurors. These notes are new evidence of racial discrimination in Joseph McGill’s selection of the 1982 trial jury. And, as a result, the Batson issue is now up for reassessment and review.

When the Third Circuit majority ruled against Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim in 2008, it ignored irrefutable evidence that Abu-Jamal’s defense had been blocked from introducing the very evidence that the Third Circuit majority faulted the defense for not introducing. During the 1995 PCRA proceedings, Judge Albert F. Sabo (the original 1982 trial judge) literally had Abu-Jamal’s lawyer arrested for trying to subpoena clerks from the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia court systems as part of the defense’s PCRA petition argument that jury pools were not drawn “from a fair cross section of the community.” Outrageously, in 2008, when the Third Circuit Court ruled against Abu-Jamal’s Batson claim, the Court actually justified the denial by citing the absence of this very data that his lawyer had been arrested in court for trying to obtain.

Entire books have meticulously detailed the injustice throughout Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case, such as those by authors Dave Lindorff (Killing Time, 2003), Michael Schiffmann (Race Against Death, 2006), and J. Patrick O’Connor (The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, 2008). Veteran journalist Linn Washington, Jr. has been writing newspaper columns and articles about the Abu-Jamal case since it began on December 9, 1981 with the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and the near-fatal shooting of Abu-Jamal. Hence, the evidence of Abu-Jamal’s unfair trial is abundant and quite accessible to anyone who reads the work by any of these four writers.

In 2010, investigative journalists Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington performed a test to see whether bullets fired into the sidewalk at close range would leave visible markings. The test was designed to replicate the shooting scenario presented at Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial by ADA Joseph McGill, alleging that Abu-Jamal stood directly over Officer Faulkner and fired downwards at him, execution style. According to McGill’s theory, Abu-Jamal missed several times because Faulkner actively dodged the shots by rolling side-to-side, until the final shot entered Faulkner’s forehead and killed him.

Lindorff and Washington sought to test a central argument of German author Michael Schiffmann’s 2006 book Race Against Death, written as his PhD dissertation at the University of Heidelberg. Dr. Schiffmann examined the crime scene photos, including those taken by freelance photographer Pedro Polakoff, and concluded that there were no visible divots or markings in the pavement, which Schiffmann asserted should have been visible if the testimonies of key prosecution eyewitnesses Robert Chobert and Cynthia White had been accurate.

In 2010, Lindorff and Washington tested Schiffmann’s assertion by firing a .38 caliber revolver several times into a concrete slab. They then closely analyzed the bullet marks left in the concrete slab. They concluded, without any ambiguity, that the bullets had indeed left visible markings. Therefore, if ADA McGill’s theory (supported by Robert Chobert and Cynthia White’s trial testimony) was truthful, there must have been similar bullet markings in the pavement next to where Officer Daniel Faulkner’s body was found.

For their 2010 test, Lindorff and Washington also examined the 1981 Abu-Jamal / Faulkner crime scene photos taken by Pedro Polakoff, scrutinizing the exact area of the sidewalk pavement where Faulkner’s body was found. Lindorff and Washington had one of Polakoff’s 1981 photos and a 2010 gun test photo compared & analyzed by a NASA photo analyst named Robert Nelson. They concluded definitively that the 1981 photo did not show any markings similar to what was visible in the 2010 photo, meaning that “the whole prosecution story of an execution-style slaying of the officer by Abu-Jamal would appear to be a prosecution fabrication, complete with coached, perjured witnesses, undermining the integrity and fairness of the entire trial.”

Before publishing their findings, Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington informed the Philadelphia DA’s office about the results of their test, and specifically asked the DA for a quote to explain the lack of photographic evidence or testimony about bullet impact marks in the sidewalk around Faulkner’s body. The DA’s office responded to their questions with what Lindorff and Washington considered to be “a non-response.” All the DA’s office told them was: “The murderer has been represented over the past twenty plus years by a multitude of lawyers, many of whom have closely reviewed the evidence for the sole purpose of finding some basis to overturn the conviction. As you know, none has succeeded, and Mr. Abu-Jamal remains what the evidence proved – a murderer.”

Unfortunately, there is even more in this story that reflects poorly upon the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. Freelance photographer Pedro Polakoff told Dr. Michael Schiffmann in Race Against Death, that he approached the DA’s office with his photos in 1981, 1982 and 1995 but that the DA completely ignored him. Polakoff also told Schiffmann that because he had believed Mumia Abu-Jamal was guilty, he had no interest in approaching the defense, and never did. Furthermore, the DA never informed Abu-Jamal’s defense team about the existence of Polakoff’s photos, as they are required by law to do.

Consequently, neither the 1982 jury nor Abu-Jamal’s defense ever saw Pedro Polakoff’s photos. “The DA deliberately kept evidence out,” declared Pam Africa, representing The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal at a Dec. 6, 2008 protest outside the Philadelphia DA’s office. “Someone should be arrested for withholding evidence in a murder trial,” said Africa

Mr. Krasner, we have presented sufficient evidence to explain why we believe that police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct has forever destroyed the legitimacy of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 1982 conviction. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to stop defending Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction. Please secure his release as soon as you possibly can. Ending the persecution of Abu-Jamal upholds the sworn duty of the District Attorney to obey the Constitution, that document that is supposed to ensure justice for all.
by The Jamal Journal
Sunday Feb 21st, 2021 7:06 PM
sm_mumia-krasner1.jpg
This original artwork by Seth Tobocman was generously created to support our petition campaign. Tobocman says to Krasner:

“It is because of the work of incarcerated intellectuals like Mumia Abu-Jamal that a mass movement arose for criminal justice reform. If you feel you are part of that movement, we ask you to show Mumia Abu-Jamal the respect he deserves as an elder and predecessor. Show us that it is a new day in Philadelphia. Release Mumia Abu-Jamal.”
by The Jamal Journal
Sunday Feb 21st, 2021 7:14 PM
sm_mumia-krasner2.jpg
This original artwork by Seth Tobocman was generously created to support our petition campaign.

Tobocman says to DA Krasner: “It is because of the work of incarcerated intellectuals like Mumia Abu-Jamal that a mass movement arose for criminal justice reform. If you feel you are part of that movement, we ask you to show Mumia Abu-Jamal the respect he deserves as an elder and predecessor. Show us that it is a new day in Philadelphia. Release Mumia Abu-Jamal.”
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