Coalition asks Philly DA to not block justice for Mumia: Questions persist about newly-discovered files
The fight for justice and freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal continues.
As the month of January winds down, there looms a decision that will materially affect the future of Mumia Abu Jamal, in particular, and thousands who have likewise been wrongly incarcerated in general : Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court Judge Leroy Tucker decided to allow Mumia Abu-Jamal's right to an appeal. After decades of injustices, blockages, attacks on his health, Tucker is scrutinizing the body of evidence leveled against him.
The fly in the ointment is District Attorney Larry Krasne, who has until January 27, 2019 to decide to either allow Tucker's decision to stand, or block it, thereby thwarting Mumia's first real opportunity for justice since his incarceration 37 years ago.
On Tuesday, January 15, at a press conference called by Mobilization4Mumia, comprised of local Philadelphia activists and community leaders - along with a nationwide coalition of supporters - who came together to demand that Krasner keep his campaign promise of reform and transparency, to objectively review past convictions and free those wrongfully convicted, and not block Mumia's bid for justice.
They demanded Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner not stand in the way of justice for convicted journalist/activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, by not overturning the ground-breaking decision by Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker.
Tucker's ruling would give Abu-Jamal the right to reopen his appeal. The Tucker decision is an important ruling that could impact other prisoners whose appeals were similarly denied. This is the first time in the 37 year history of his incarceration that there has been an opening in Abu-Jamal's case.
Press conference speakers included Pam Africa, of the International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; Rachel Wolkenstein, co-counsel during Abu-Jamal's post-conviction appeal proceedings from 1995-1999; Paula Pebbles, National Action Network/Philadelphia Chapter; Michael Africa, Jr., son of MOVE Nine's Debbie and Michael Africa, Sr., and Sister Empress Phile Chionesu, of the Million Woman March.
Pam Africa stated, emphatically, “After almost four decades in prison suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, Hepatitis C and related ailments, years of court delays will be nothing less than a death sentence and a denial of justice for Mumia. The evidence is there! Our job is to stop the conspiracy to torture and murder Mumia. After 37 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, we are demanding that the charges be dismissed and he should be freed. What is happening to Mumia is happening to thousands of people in Pennsylvania’s prisons.”
In the days leading up to the January 15 press conference, over 200 community activists held a demonstration in front of DA Kasner's office, on January 5, 2019, demanding justice for Mumia. On January 7, they delivered over 4000 petitions to Krasner's office demanding he not overturn Tucker's ruling. If he appeals the groundbreaking ruling, there could be years of delay before he would be able to challenge his conviction. Abu-Jamal turns 65 on April 24, 2019.
Tucker's ruling has no doubt come as a surprise (shock) to many; as well as his decision to personally re-examine all the facts of Mumia's case to be sure that justice has been served. That said, it may well be what prompted the sudden “discovery” of previously undisclosed boxes of files labled “Mumia,” which were not included in the original body of evidence when he was first accused and tried for the shooting of Officer Daniel Faulkner. They were “discovered” in an abandoned furniture closet in the DA's office on December 28, 2018, after Tucker announced his decision.
A week later, on January 3, 2019, Assistant DA Nancy Kavanaugh then notified the courts and Mumia's attorneys of the files. But it was not until January 7, 2019 that the discovery was revealed to the public. All but one of the boxes had Abu-Jamal’s name on them and were labeled in such a way (18/29, 24/29, 29/29 etc.) to suggest that they are part of a larger set.
The group was suspicious of the recent “convenient discovery” of six boxes of files, and how it was that they had been “misplaced” for nearly 40 years. [Accident? I highly doubt it.] This surprise “discovery” comes after Judge Tucker demanded full disclosure from the DA's office. Frustrated by the lack of compliance with his orders, Tucker required that he personally review all of the Abu-Jamal files previously disclosed. It was only after his intervention that relevant material on which the new appeal was won was revealed.
Tucker has now ordered the recently uncovered files also be submitted for his review. It’s unclear whether this will have ny bearing on the January 27 deadline set for Krasner to decide whether or not to appeal Tucker’s decision.
After decades of scandal, corruption and mismanagement in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, that has routinely denied justice to Abu-Jamal, as well as many other Philadelphia residents, the coalition of activists are rightfully suspicious and questioning this new “discovery.”
Mumia has always maintained his innocence, has argued in past appeals that he was framed by police; and that the prosecution had manufactured evidence against him; and had suppressed proof of his innocence, in addition to other violations of his right to due process.
In handing down his decision, Tucker further ruled that former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille (also a former Philadelphia District Attorney, with close ties to the Philadelphia Police Department) had denied Mumia's right to fair and impartial hearings by not recusing himself from his appeals between 1998 and 2012. Yet, after his election, Krasner still appointed Castille to his 2018 Transition Team, which may portend continued bias and collusion on his part in any future .
The Coalition to Free Mumia, stemming from a wide range of backgrounds, is questioning why the boxes were suddenly “discovered” after Tucker’s decision, and want to know what’s in them. Abu-Jamal’s supporters and many others believe that the egregious practice of altering and destroying evidence, hiding witnesses and suspects, and fabricating police paperwork continues to this day.
Pam Africa asserted, “There could be nothing of importance in the boxes or there could be evidence that could free Mumia. Mumia was framed by withheld, suppressed and manufactured evidence, and supposedly lost ballistics tests. The DA’s Office is guilty of suppressing police corruption, prosecutorial misconduct and evidence of Mumia's innocence like witness recantations, exposure of false confessions, and photographic proof of crime scene tampering. The missing smoking gun evidence could be in those boxes. We want to know what’s in those files!”
Krasner ran on a platform “for justice, not just for convictions.” Now he has to decide whether or not to overturn Tucker’s decision and deny justice in this notorious case of injustice. The alleged “discovery” of these files provides a moral, if not legal, reason for Krasner to support the reinstatement of Abu-Jamal’s state appeal rights.
Many of the coalition of activists supported Krasner's election, and are now asking him to keep his promise and do the right thing.
According to Pam Africa, people can support Mumia Abu-Jamal by signing the petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/krasner-do-right-by-mumia,
or contacting Krasner by email: DA_Central@phila.gov
Phone: 215-686-8000 or
Twitter: @philaDAO, asking him to not stand in the way of justice for Abu-Jamal and to not appeal Tucker’s decision.
Justice for Mumia!!!
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Justice for Mumia!!!
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