on March 6, 2000
I am a student who has been following the case for a couple of years. Those of you who believe that Mumia is guilty may be correct. I personally believe he is innocent. But that doesn't really matter in the whole scheme of things. The fact is that Mumia Abu-Jamal did not, and never has received a fair trial. This book has assembled the facts well, and the only reason it's not a five is because all of this info is on the internet already.
on February 25, 2001
This book was published in 1995 and is, I believe, made up of the documents prepared by Mumia's lawyers, led by Leanard I. Weinglass, in preparation for his entrance into the state apellate courts. It is somewhat dated, without the information that came to light in the following two years, not always easy to read, it being a legal document of course and there are quite alot of details to digest. But Weinglass does a very good job of making Mumia's side of the story acessible.
In brief, one witness--a cab driver serving probation for arson-- substantially altered his initial story that a much heavier man, "a Jamaican" shot officer Faulkner and ran away down South Locust street, but was prevented from being challenged for credibility and being cross-examined by Mumia's attorney by judge Sabo; another witness, a prostitute, though having engaged in mild consumption of alcohol and marajuna in the preceding hours, saw "one or more" people running down South Locust street; another witness who passed a polygraph test though the defense was not told this, viewed a "Jamaican" running down South Locust street; another witness claimed to have seen a man other than Mumia shoot Faulkner but was forced to sign a false affidavit and, under threats to his life, fled to North Carolina; another witness, a prostitute, the only one to have claimed to have seen Mumia actually fire the gun, substantially altered her story in several interviews with police, most of which took place after she was twice arrested for prostitution in the days after the shooting. She was never prosecuted for those offenses and evidence was witheld from the defense that she was operating her business under police protection. Veronica Jones, the first prostitute, testified at the trial on June 29 1982 that police offered her to continue to work the streets without police interference (Cynthia White, the second prostitute's name was refered to in the interview)if she testified that Mumia was the killer and various threats were made against her. This testimony was ordered stricken from the record by judge Sabo and she later changed her story and said that Mumia was the killer.
Mumia, being indigent, was accorded by the court very scant resources to provided expert testimony in his defense. He was unable to provide an expert in pathology or ballistics, who could have pointed out the absurdity of the prosecution's theory that officer Faulkner shot an upright Mumia while falling to the ground after supposedly being first shot by him--the bullet in Mumia's chest had a distinctly downward trajectory--or pointed out that the police failed to smell Mumia's gun to see if it had been fired recently or tested Mumia's clothes and hands for chemicals or pointed out the lack of sodium nitrate on officer Faulkner's back. The police were unable to prove that the bullet in officer Faulkner came specifically from Mumia's gun. The bullets in Mumia's gun and the bullet in Faulkner, though similar, were too mutilated for adequate comparison.
One of the main factors in Mumia's conviction and death sentence was the claim by three witnesses that he had confessed to the crime after entering the emergency room the night of the shooting. But one witness, Gary Waksul, wrote in his log after Mumia began to be operated on that "the Negro male made no comments." The defense attempted to havbe the court locate Wakshul who was supposed to be available for the trial but he, for some reason, was "on vacation" and Judge Sabo dismissed the matter. Another officer, Faulkner's "best friend" Gary Bell, made no record of the alleged confession in his log or in subsequent interviews with investigators until two months later. A lady hospital security gaurd, a friend of Faulkner's also came forward three months later to say she heard a confession. She claimed she had reported this confession to her supervisors with a handwritten note, but for some reason, despite often having contact with police, it was not reported to them until months later. A typewritten copy of the alleged original note was later produced but the security gaurd said she didn't recognize it. Despite its dubious authenticity, Judge Sabo admitted into evidence. All three of the supposed witnesses reported hearing the "confession" after Mumia had complained of being beaten by officers after his arrest.
In his closing remarks the prosecutor swayed the mainly white jury by quoting a newspaper column Mumia had written when he was sixteen years old where he had stated "power belongs to the barrel of a gun." Mumia had no criminal record or history of violent activities despite being a prime target of the FBI's COINTELPRO and the Philadelphia police for his leadership in the Philadelphia Black Panthers and other anti-establishment activities. The prosecutor argued that that article from twelve years earlier proved Mumia capable of killing a police officer. See Weinglass's analysis and quotation from the trial transcript on pgs 115-117. The prosecutor also declared that Mumia's belligerent attitude towards judge Sabo because the latter was denying him his sixth amendment and other rights proved his "arrogance, visciousness" and so on. He urged the jury to convict Mumia because it would show their neighbors that they were really concerned about law and order.
Plainly Mr. Abu Jamal deserves at the very least a new trial, one not presided over by someone in the pay of the Fraternal Order of Police like the old cad Sabo.
on July 16, 2007
Definitely an easier read than court transcripts but, unfortunately, it does not contain the truth. The "real" truth is damming, this book is only a fairytale conceived by a cop killer and his lawyer. I wish that I could rate it a zero but unfortunately I had to give it one star
on November 23, 2011
I am an attorney and an advocate for the wrongly convicted (West Memphis Three, Darrell Edwards, Michael Morton, the Norfolk Four, Tommy Arnold, Tim Howard, etc). I have an open bias in favor of believing convictions may be wrongful and that the system isn't fair.
That said - Mumia is guilty. Anyone who doubts this, spend 30-45 minutes on Daniel Faulkner dot com and read the trial transcripts and view the evidence. It's overwhelming and leaves no room for doubt. To the extent that the trial was a circus, Mumia made it one - intentionally.
This book is lying and is propaganda. I can't decide which pisses me off more - that he continues to cause pain to his victim's family or that he siphons off the care, concern, and donations of those who are concerned about those who actually are NOT guilty.
Sure, read this book - but then double-check its facts by looking at the trial record. You'll be pissed that they attempted to snooker you.
I was there was a "zero stars" rating - but I suppose it deserves one star as a great work of fiction.
on February 21, 1999
If there's one thing you won't learn in this farrago of nonsense it is that the subject of the book was caught, literally, with a smoking gun. The evidence of his guilt is overwhelming. It is an insult to the memory of a brave police officer that this murderer, properly tried and sentenced with two black jurors having heard the evidence, should be presented as some sort of political prisoner. He isn't; he's a thug.
on February 11, 2000
I am lost for words. This book has somehow managed to breed an international campaign to free a brutal thug. If you interested in myths and mass institutionalised ignorance then by all means buy this book. I personal recommend the trial transcripts and case notes which are freely available on the internet if you are really intersted in this case. Then you will be shocked and possibly appalled at the way Leonard Weinglass had viciously manipulated the truth, apparently just to sell more copies of this particular book and become wealthy on the back of it. This book is an abomination of left-wing bandwagon jumping at it`s most sickening extreme.
on September 6, 1999
This is book is interesting in this sense that it a document of the one of the great myths of our time: the myth of Mumia Abu-Jamal's innocence. Every single assertion the author makes can be proven wrong by even a casual examination of the facts and evidence of the case. I would be interested in what standard of proof Mumia supporters would find acceptable for a murder conviction. Evidently, multiple eyewitness testimony, confessions on two occasions, no plausible counter-scenario for the crime, and THE FACT THAT HE WAS WOUNDED ON THE SCENE WITH THE MURDER WEAPON IN HIS HAND do not count. This book is absolute garbage.