Race against death [Elektronische Ressource] : the struggle for the life and freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal / Michael Schiffmann

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Race Against DeathThe Struggle for the Life and Freedom of Mumia Abu-JamalM i c h a e l S c h i f f m a n nWissenschaftliche ArbeitZur Erlangung des DoktorgradsRace Against DeathThe Struggle for the Life and Freedom of Mumia Abu-JamalTag der Abgabe28. April 2004Das Thema wurde gestellt vonProf. Dr. SchulzAnglistisches Seminar der Universität HeidelbergKettengasse 12, 69117 HeidelbergMichael SchiffmannIn der Neckarhelle 7269118 HeidelbergIch erkläre, dass ich die Arbeit selbständig und nur mit den angegebenen Hilfsmitteln angefertigt habe und dass alle Stellen, die dem Wortlaut oder dem Sinn nach anderen Werken entnommen sind, durch Angaben der Quel-len als Entlehnungen kenntlich gemacht sindHeidelberg, den 28. April 2004 __________________________Ort, Datum UnterschriftTable of Contents0. Introduction 11. From Civil Rights to Panther Movement: The Black Liberation Struggle After 14World War II1.1 Modest Beginnings 141.2 From Montgomery 1955 to Watts 1965 171.3 “ Powerþ 271.3.1 Monroe, 1957: Negroes With Guns 271.3.2 The Deacons of Defense and the Lowndes County Freedom Organization 281.3.3 From South to North and West 311.4 The Black Panther Party 331.4.1 A Program for Black Liberation 341.4.2 Exercising the Constitutional Right of Armed Self-Defense 351.4.3 Continuities and Differences with Black Power 371.4.4 The “ Programsþ of the BPP 382. The City of Brotherly Love 412.1 Race Relations: Historical Backgrounds 412.

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Race Against Death
The Struggle for the Life and Freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal
M i c h a e l S c h i f f m a n nWissenschaftliche Arbeit
Zur Erlangung des Doktorgrads
Race Against Death
The Struggle for the Life and Freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Tag der Abgabe
28. April 2004
Das Thema wurde gestellt von
Prof. Dr. Schulz
Anglistisches Seminar der Universität Heidelberg
Kettengasse 12, 69117 Heidelberg
Michael Schiffmann
In der Neckarhelle 72
69118 HeidelbergIch erkläre, dass ich die Arbeit selbständig und nur mit den angegebenen
Hilfsmitteln angefertigt habe und dass alle Stellen, die dem Wortlaut oder
dem Sinn nach anderen Werken entnommen sind, durch Angaben der Quel-
len als Entlehnungen kenntlich gemacht sind
Heidelberg, den 28. April 2004 __________________________
Ort, Datum UnterschriftTable of Contents
0. Introduction 1
1. From Civil Rights to Panther Movement: The Black Liberation Struggle After 14
World War II
1.1 Modest Beginnings 14
1.2 From Montgomery 1955 to Watts 1965 17
1.3 “ Power? 27
1.3.1 Monroe, 1957: Negroes With Guns 27
1.3.2 The Deacons of Defense and the Lowndes County Freedom Organization 28
1.3.3 From South to North and West 31
1.4 The Black Panther Party 33
1.4.1 A Program for Black Liberation 34
1.4.2 Exercising the Constitutional Right of Armed Self-Defense 35
1.4.3 Continuities and Differences with Black Power 37
1.4.4 The “ Programs? of the BPP 38
2. The City of Brotherly Love 41
2.1 Race Relations: Historical Backgrounds 41
2.2 A History of Decline: Glimpses of Philadelphia after World War II 43
2.2.1 Economics 44
2.2.2 Housing 46
2.2.3 Politics 50
2.2.3.1 Revolt in Columbia Avenue 51
2.2.3.2 A Neighboring Town Explodes: Newark 1967 52
2.2.3.3 “ Their Black Asses?: Philadelphia, November 17, 1967 54
2.2.3.4 The Revolutionary ’ Constitutional Convention in 1970 56
2.3 An Endemic Problem: Corruption and Brutality in the Philadelphia Police Department 593. A Black Revolutionary in White America 65
3.1 Family Background 65
3.2 Politicization by Nightstick 67
3.3 Militant Youth in the Black Panther Party 68
3.3.1 A Fateful Piece of Reporting 73
3.3.2 The Decline of the BPP in Philadelphia 75
3.4 Abu-Jamal 77
3.5 On the Air 78
3.6 Meeting MOVE 80
3.7 “ of the Voiceless? 83
4. Police Corruption and Brutality in the United States 88
4.1 Introductory Remarks: Lawbreaking by Law Enforcement 88
4.2 The U.S. Police as an Occupation Army 89
4.3 False Confessions, Faked Testimony: Two Case Studies 93
4.3.1 “ of Screams? 93
4.3.2 “ Kafkaesque Nightmare? 95
4.4 A Short Excursion on Other Corrupt Police Practices 97
4.5 The FBI?s COINTELPRO 99
4.6 The Assassination of Fred Hampton 102
5. December 9, 1981 and Its Aftermath 105
5.1 The Basics 107
5.2 The Prosecution?s Case 108
5.2.1 Some Obvious Question Marks 109
5.2.2 The Pieces of Damning Evidence 111
5.3 Heads I Win, Tails You Lose 114
5.3.1 Stacking the Bench 114
5.3.2 The Choice of the Prosecutor 118
5.3.3 The Defense Attorney 118
5.3.4 The Pre-Trial Period 1215.3.4.1 The Denial of a Line-Up 121
5.3.4.2 Hampering Defense Efforts 122
5.3.4.3 The Denial of Funds 123
5.3.4.4 The Denial of Legal Assistance 124
5.3.4.5 The Sabotage of Self-Defense 125
5.3.5 Stacking the Jury 126
5.4 The Exclusion of John Africa 130
5.5 The Trial 133
5.5.1 The Prosecution 133
5.5.2 The Case of the Defense 138
5.6 The Uncanny Return of the Hampton Assassination 142
5.7 Lock Down 144
6. The Punitive Trend in the American Criminal Justice System 148
6.1 The Race Towards Incarceration 149
6.2 The American Way of Death 152
6.3 The Gutting of Habeas Corpus 155
7. On the Move 157
7.1 Oblivion 158
7.2 The Legal Arena 159
7.3 Recapturing the Offensive: The Human Face of Death Row 160
7.3.1 On the Air Again 163
7.4 The Battle in the Streets 164
7.5 The Return of Judge Sabo 166
7.5.1 Several Feet Closer to Hell 167
7.6 Making the Facts Known: The PCRA Hearings 1995-1997 168
7.6.1 The Courtroom Spectacle 169
7.6.2 New Revelations 170
7.7 The Breadth of the Movement 173
7.8 The Motives of the 175
7.9 Addendum: A Still Deeper Abyss 1807.9.1 The Protagonists Talk 181
7.9.2 Background to a Corrupt Investigation 182
7.9.3 Reflections on the Code of Silence 185
7.9.4 The Nail in the Coffin 188
8. Conclusion: The Power of the People 190
Bibliography 194120. Introduction
In the early morning hours of December 9, 1981, a police officer by the name of Daniel Faulkner
was shot and killed in the Center City area of Philadelphia. Found near Faulkner, who was lying
in a pool of blood from a shot between the eyes, was the locally well-known radical black radio
journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who had also been shot and critically wounded. Abu-Jamal was ar-
rested, indicted for murder and, in the following summer, sentenced to death in a trial that was
described by prosecutor Arlene Fisk as “ of the most famous murder trials in the City of
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Philadelphia.? For the larger part of the general public, the news about his conviction was the
last thing that was heard of him for a long while. He has spent his life in prison ever since.
Later on, however, the case of the black American death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal has
galvanized an international movement that has, at times, spanned the globe in such varied
countries and locations as Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, Croatia, South Africa, Antarctica,
and others. But what enabled such a world-wide movement was of course the fact that at its
core were activists in many dozens of cities, universities, and unions in the United States it-
self. Their activities brought such popularity and fame to the case that it was hardly an exag-
geration when, at the end of the year 2000, Abu-Jamal?s biographer Terry Bisson described
2him as “ world?s most famous political prisoner since Nelson ”
Beginning in the early 1990s, a broad spectrum of political forces in the U.S.A. had rallied
behind the demand to stop the execution of Abu-Jamal and to grant him a new trial. Indeed,
the case had begun to take on a political and moral dimension of its own. The remarks of the
well-known actor and civil rights veteran Ossie Davis on Abu-Jamal were not untypical for
the feelings of many people drawn towards and into the movement: “ generation has its
3own moral assignment: Ours is to save the life of Mumia Abu-”
What were the reasons behind sweeping comments such as this one, and how was it that the
case of a single prisoner, and one with an African/Arabian name at that, could attract the sup-
port of so many people? What were the political and social issues around which this particular
case revolved and continues to revolve? What are the contending forces that are pitted against
each other in the struggle for and against the life and freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal?
A sample of statements by liberal and leftist activists and celebrities on Abu-Jamal that was
published by the American monthly Z-Magazine on its website under the title “ Com-
ments on the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal? provides useful hints for answering these ques-
1 Protocol of Abu-Jamal?s hearings according to the Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRAH), August 9, 1995, p. 172.
2
Terry Bisson, On a Move. The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal (New York: litmus books, 2000), p. 2.
3 In an interview in the HBO TV program “ Case for Reasonable ” produced and broadcast in 1996.
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