Additional Information on Mumia Abu-Jamal

● Below is a timeline of the major events related to Abu-Jamal’s case after his 1982 trial:

  • June 1, 1995: Abu-Jamal’s death warrant is signed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, but is suspended pending post-conviction review.
  • 1995–96: Several post-conviction review hearings are held.
  • 1998: The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rules unanimously that all post-conviction issues raised by Abu-Jamal, including the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, are without merit.
  • 1999: Prison outreach activist Phillip Bloch recounts a 1991 conversation in which Abu-Jamal acknowledged having killed Faulkner.
  • October 4, 1999: The U.S. Supreme Court denies a petition for certiorari against the 1998 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision.
  • October 13, 1999: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge signs a second death warrant for Abu-Jamal, but it is stayed while the defendant seeks a habeas corpus review.
  • 2000Amnesty International demands a new trial for Abu-Jamal.
  • December 18, 2001: Judge William Yohn Jr. of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania upholds Abu-Jamal’s conviction but voids the death sentence. Yohn awards a new sentencing hearing, on grounds that the jury instructions in Abu-Jamal’s trial were flawed. Both parties subsequently appeal.
  • December 6, 2005: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit admits four issues for appeal of the ruling of the District Court: (a) in relation to sentencing, whether the jury verdict form had been flawed and the judge’s instructions to the jury had been confusing; (b) in relation to conviction and sentencing, whether racial bias in jury selection had existed to an extent tending to produce an inherently biased jury and therefore an unfair trial; (c) in relation to conviction, whether the prosecutor had improperly attempted to reduce jurors’ sense of responsibility by telling them that a guilty verdict would be subsequently vetted and subject to appeal; and (d) in relation to post-conviction review hearings in 1995–6, whether the presiding judge, who had also presided at the trial, had demonstrated unacceptable bias in his conduct.
  • March 27, 2008: The Third Circuit Court’s three-judge panel upholds the decision of the District Court by a 2–1 majority.
  • July 22, 2008: The Third Circuit Court denies a petition to rehear Abu-Jamal’s case before the full Third Circuit panel of 12 judges.
  • April 6, 2009: The U.S. Supreme Court denies a petition to rehear Abu-Jamal’s case.
  • January 19, 2010: The U.S. Supreme Court orders the Third Circuit Court to reconsider its decision to rescind the death penalty.
  • November 9, 2010: The same three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court convenes in Philadelphia to hear oral arguments.
  • April 26, 2011: The Third Circuit Court again grants a new death-sentence hearing for Abu-Jamal, on the premise that jurors may have received potentially misleading instructions during his 1982 trial. Finding that the jury instructions and verdict form were indeed ambiguous and confusing, the Court reaffirms its prior decision to vacate the death sentence.
  • October 2011: The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the case.
  • December 7, 2011: Prosecutors in Philadelphia announce that they have halted the state’s effort to execute Abu-Jamal, meaning that he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

● In May 1994, the National Public Radio program All Things Considered arranged to have Abu-Jamal deliver a series of monthly three-minute commentaries on crime and punishment. But public condemnations by such notables as U.S. Senator Bob Dole and the Fraternal Order of Police, the broadcast plans (and the accompanying payment arrangement) were canceled.

● Abu-Jamal remains an icon of the radical Left. Besides Philadelphia, the principal nodes of support for him are located in leftist enclaves of Hollywood, Paris, and San Francisco. Believers in his cause have included such luminaries as Maya Angelou, Ed Asner, Alec Baldwin, Richard Barnet, Harry Belafonte, Derrick Bell, Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, Calvin Butts, Naomi Campbell, Fidel Castro, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Ben Cohen, James Cone, John Conyers, Angela Davis, Ossie Davis, Ron Dellums, David Dinkins, Carl Dix, Snoop Dogg, Roger Ebert, Eve Ensler, Mike Farrell, Chaka Fattah, Henry Louis Gates, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Dee Dee Halleck, Woody Harrelson, Marc Lamont Hill, Molly Ivins, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Van Jones, Casey Kasem, Barbara Kingsolver, Arthur Kinoy, C. Clark Kissinger, Ron Kuby, Tony Kushner, Norman Lear, Spike Lee, Norman Mailer, Robert Meerepol, Michael Moore, Paul Newman, Frances Fox Piven, Charles Rangel, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Tim Robbins, Salman Rushdie, Susan Sarandon, Pete Seeger, Gloria Steinem, Oliver Stone, Edith Tiger, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Cornel West, Peter Yarrow, and Howard Zinn.

● A number of Abu-Jamal advocates have started their own websites to promote his innocence. One of them, FreeMumia.org, is run by the longtime Trotskyite communist Jeff Mackler of the California Federation of Teachers. Mackler is also a leading member of Socialist Action USA.

● Among the organizations to publicly declare their solidarity with Abu-Jamal are Amnesty International, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Products, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Committees of Correspondence, Deep Dish TV, Human Rights Watch, the International Action Center, International ANSWER, the NAACP, the National Lawyers Guild, and Refuse and Resist.

● Revered by the academic Left, Abu-Jamal has been a guest speaker at a number of college commencement ceremonies—in each instance delivering his addresses via video transmission from the confines of his prison cell. In 1999, for instance, he spoke to the graduating class of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Likening himself to persecuted social-justice leaders of the past, he explained that he was a revolutionary seeking to raise public consciousness about America’s alleged repression of blacks and other minorities. “Revolution, according to the Declaration of Independence, is a right” of all oppressed people, said Abu-Jamal. Among the other schools whose graduates Abu-Jamal has addressed are Antioch College, Kent State University, Occidental College, Merrill College at UC Santa Cruz, and his alma mater, Goddard College (in October 2014).

● The Left’s devotion to Abu-Jamal is a phenomenon that extends far beyond the borders of the United States. Indeed he has been made an honorary citizen of approximately 25 cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Montreal, Palermo, and Paris. And in 2001, he received the sixth biennial Erich Mühsam Prize, an award that recognizes activism in line with that of its namesake, the late anarcho-communist essayist.

● Additional books that Abu-Jamal has published include All Things Censored (2000, with a foreword by Alice Walker); Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience (2003, with a preface by Cornel West); We Want Freedom: A Life In The Black Panther Party (2004, with an introduction by Kathleen Cleaver); Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USA (2009, with an introduction by Angela Davis); and The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America (2011, co-authored with Marc Lamont Hill).

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