I’VE NEVER BEEN emotionally invested in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radio journalist convicted for the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1982. When he was jailed I was a middle school student, more concerned with the awkwardness of adolescence than issues of race and criminal justice.
Still, his case continues to rile his passionate supporters. From Hollywood mainstays like Ed Asner to black nationalists like Pam Africa, from liberal academics in New England to expatriates in Paris, Abu-Jamal’s backers are strident, unyielding, and persistent.
They believe Abu-Jamal was railroaded by a racist criminal justice system, and nothing short of his freedom can right that wrong.
Having grown up in Philadelphia under the reign of Frank Rizzo, I can understand that view. Philadelphia police were like an occupying army. They beat and harassed African Americans with impunity, earning the reputation as one of the most corrupt and brutal police departments in the country.
I understand those who view Abu-Jamal’s murder conviction as a pseudo-lynching. I understand the grief of Maureen Faulkner, the widow who continues to fight for her husband’s memory. But I don’t understand what happened after Abu-Jamal delivered a recorded graduation speech this month.
Click here to read the rest of this column on Newsworks
Photo credit: Flickr Commons/Prison Radio. Click here to see the original image.
Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com. Click here to learn more about Solomon