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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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