Tuesday, May 15, 2007


UP FRONT News April 23, 2007
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.” www.tomsupfrontnews.blogspot.com


I was one of the very few reporters at an April 23 City Hall news conference at which City Councilman Charles Barron and several supporters accused the 9th precinct of the NYPD of utilizing intimidation tactics against the Remote Lounge, a Lower Manhattan nightclub where a hip-hop concert to support convicted radio-journalist and death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal was to be held on April 15. Attorney Michael Warren asserted that a number of explicit threats against the club appeared on a police “log” and that the club was suddenly violation-blitzed. Councilman Barron, who opposes Mayor Bloomberg’s use of the police to restrict political activism, is not likely to get much support from a City Council ruled by Speaker Christine Quinn, who sees eye to eye with the mayor on police matters and (except for the deceased West Side Stadium) development matters.

Mr. Barron made the constitutionally valid point that, regardless of what one’s opinion
might be of as to the guilt or innocence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American left wing radio journalist convicted of murdering a policeman in Philadelphia in 1981 and sentenced to death, the government has no right to interfere with lawful efforts in support of the death row prisoner.

Although I was not a witness to the 1981 incident which left police officer Daniel Faulkner dead and taxi-driver Abu-Jamal wounded on a Philadelphia street, it appears that the wrong man was convicted. There is credible evidence that Office Faulkner was shot by someone else and that Abu-Jamal did not get a fair trial. Perhaps a series of very anti-defense rulings in the trial might be explained when one learns that the judge, the now retired Albert Sabo, was overheard by a the court staffer named Terri-Mauer-Carter expressing his intent to help the prosecution “fry that nigger.” The case has a history of the Philadelphia police mishandling evidence, testifying falsely, and suppression of evidence that ties a friend of Abu-Jamal’s brother, Billy Cook, named Kenneth Freeman to the murder. Freeman later came to a violent end. Although an appeals judge later overturned the death sentence because of confusing directions given to the jury, Abu-Jamal remains on death row because the District Attorney, wanting to execute him, appealed the ruling.

There is a certain irony in the reality that some of the groups, such as the dictatorially run International Action Center, spouting free speech, are pro-Mumia loyalists. While the IAC is always at Free Mumia rallies and helps out in other ways, its Maoist, autocratic ways alienate many.

Mr. Abu-Jamal’s very strong case for a new trial is, however, being backed by a number of true human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.

There is a bigger irony, however, in the fact that the U.S. promotes justice in all the jurisdictions we invade or control more legitimately - but not in Philadelphia.
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