Essay, Research Paper: Mumia Abu Jamal

Politics

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The following paper will discuss the topic of racial injustice in the United
States Legal System. Since this topic is so broad, it will deal with the trial
of Mumia Abu Jamal in 1982. This paper will show how the "system" will
try anything to keep a minority down. The system consists of upper middle class
to upper class whites that believe minorities are inferior to them. The system
is used is a "political machine" used by whites to keep these
minorities from becoming powerful. If minorities can speak their minds, have
power, or bond together, they can be a threat to the status quo. This
"system" still thrives in our world. A stunning article, Race and the
Death Penalty reminds us that a low percentage of Whites were being executed for
the death of a Black person. Meanwhile, almost triple the number of Blacks that
were being put to death for the killings of a White people. Where is the justice
in this so-called democracy? Imagine driving up to an intersection and seeing
your own flesh and blood being beaten... What do you do? Any normal person would
try and help out. What if the one who is assaulting him/her is a police officer?
Should it make a difference? A police officer is trained to "serve and
protect". When he isn't protecting you or your relatives, whom is he
protecting? Mumia encountered this same scenario. He raced to the aide of his
brother. And in the midst of battle, shots rang out. Mumia was shot, and later
recovered. The police officer was killed. Witnesses reported two men fleeing the
scene. However, when police arrived and realized that they had a black critic of
the police department, who was also a member of the Black Panthers, they
immediately beat him, and charged him with murder. In an interview with The
Revolutionary Worker, Mumia referring to the question, "How did they (the
police) treat you?" stated "I would not say they 'treat' me, I would
say that they 'beat' me. They beat me in the street. They beat me in the paddy
wagon."(Interview) Mumia was a broadcast journalist whose purpose was to
give angered civilians an open forum for discussion. Mumia, like any person who
speaks his/her mind, has their share of opposition. The only problem was Mumia's
opposition held some of the highest positions in politics. Having enemies in
those positions isn't a good thing. During the time prior to the trial, Mayor
Frank Rizzo had made attacks on several radical organizations. Stings and raids
had filled the streets. Mumia let the radicals present their sides on the radio;
this caused them to gain support. This counteracted what the mayor had planned.
Once again, this angered the politicians who run the "system". (Weinglass,
L.I., Jones, D.) Being a member of the Black Panther Party wasn't much help
either. They were upset that a Black man had such power and influence over his
audience. They "system" once again stepped in and tried to destroy the
reputation of the Black Panthers. They stated that the Panthers weren't a
credible organization claiming they were radical and terrorist in order to
dissuade persons from joining them, or sympathizing with them. In a Standard
English dictionary, radical means "Departing markedly from the usual;
extreme." That is what they thought of these groups, and in fact they were
right. These groups believed in what they thought was right, and were willing to
pursue it to the very end. The word radical is often paired off with the word
terrorist. The word terrorist means "The political use of violence and
intimidation". You may ask where is the connection between the two? Well,
the government thinks that because these groups are radical and sometimes are
forced into violent situations, they use this violence as a motivation builder.
(American Heritage Dictionary) You also may ask where do they get these ideas of
radicalism and terrorism. Do you think giving food to the hungry is radical? How
about the creation of several social skills programs across the US? They aren't
but you can imagine what the government claims the driving force behind these
groups. Drugs, money, racism, that is what the government claims is going on. Do
you see that? In the trial, Mumia, an educated black man, was not allowed to
represent himself. Instead a court-appointed attorney, who obviously didn't want
any part of the deliberations, represented him. Mumia was barred from the court
because his questioning of jurors for the case was so-called
"intimidating". Also, decreasing the chances of a fair trial, and a
fair jury even more, Mumia's attorney was threatened with contempt charges if he
attempted to slow the jury selection process. This caused the selectors to
"overlook" three potentially dangerous jurors. Two of these had some
connection to the police department, and one who openly testified that he
couldn't have an open mind in this case. The most damaging portion of Mumia's
case was that he was not allowed in the courtroom for most of the trial,
although a majority of the case was researched and created by him for his
defense. How could someone who isn't on the same level of thinking come up with
the same defense? They can't. Mumia's lawyer didn't know what Mumia was
thinking, and he really didn't care to find out. That is what the court wanted.
If they took Mumia out of his momentum, gave him an all white jury, and gave him
all these loose ends to tie up, it was impossible for him to win. To impede the
investigation on the defense's part, the court only allotted $150 for expenses.
This money covered only two witnesses, and some other expenses. There was no
limit to the money the prosecution spent on this trial. They were allowed to
spend what they deemed necessary for the trial. With the money they allotted the
prosecution, they had a whopping 125 witnesses, who "tested"
everything from ballistics and pathology to the events of the days actions. The
most damaging of the witnesses was a reputed prostitute who had given many
different stories, and was contradicted repeatedly by the stories of other
prosecution witnesses and her own testimony. There were reports stating this
prostitute bargained for immunity in return for this testimony. As Del Jones
states, the corroborations, which should most definitely count as reasonable
doubt, were merely passed over as if they were hearsay. The idea of reasonable
doubt in our legal system is supposed to work to the favor of the defendant.
Reasonable doubt, in theory means if by any chance a doubt can be established
about the defendant's guilt, this is reason for the jury to find him/her not
guilty. Some of these discrepancies are the first witness accounts had stated
that the man who fired the gun had an afro-hairstyle. Mumia wears dreadlocks
(dreads). Also for an investigation like this, a TRACE METAL TEST should have
been performed. However, the police "accidentally" forgot. This test
would have determined which, if any, of the assailants fired a weapon. This
information would have been choice piece of evidence to waive charges. Another
point that was brought out is the supposed confession of Mumia when he was in
the hospital. The police officer stated that "...as he lay on the floor he
said 'I shot the mother--cker, and I hope the mother--cker dies.' "
However, no reports whatsoever were filed, or released. The guard on duty said
that it was not true. Judge Sabo failed to call the officer to the stand; for he
was on vacation. After this poor excuse of a fair trial, Mumia was convicted and
sentenced death. About ten days before his scheduled execution, he was granted a
stay of execution. His case has been only one of few that the government has
ever given. Great support by sympathizers helped influence this decision.
Mumia's supporters haven't quieted down. They still shout mistrial. Some think
that it was because of his lack of self-representation, and others think it was
because of who was trying him. In any case, his supporters won't back down until
Mumia is free, and walking, or until he receives the fair trial he deserves.
Mumia still sits and waits inside his 8 x 8-foot cell, for that day to come. The
cries of his family and friends still shake the walls of that prison. Hopefully,
he will be returned to the proper earth. With all the press this story made, it
has brought to the public a new awareness of the racial injustice around us. As
Ms. Taylor pointed out clearly in a class discussion on July 5, it is shocking
when you are presented with the facts. If you are not confronted with them, you
are able to brush off the obvious, and clear your mind of guilt, and look the
other way. There are a couple of books that are written to bring out the point
of racial injustices in every aspect of democracy. In the anthology, In Defense
of Mumia, Writers from all over the world, write about there feelings towards
The Mumia Abu Jamal case, the Rodney Kind beating, and other racial crimes
against minorities. In the poem, "Death to Killer Cops", Haqq gives a
really scary feeling of what goes on in "amerikkka". He uses the
"KKK" in America to symbolize the control that the Caucasians have
over the system, and its branches. He also refers to the coming together of
people to fight for their equality and the release of Mumia, while making it
clear that corrupt cops should be killed. Once again this trails back to the
article, which states that a Black man would most likely get executed than a
White man. The point the author of the work is tries to get across is that
although they want the corrupt cops to get fried, since most are White, it won't
happen. In conclusion, I believe that there is too much racial injustice in this
country, or any country. This would be one reason why Communism wouldn't work.
Everyone wants to be better than someone else is, the Whites make themselves out
to be better than the Blacks. Mixed races try to assimilate themselves into both
cultures, and are usually criticized for that reason. Where do you go when your
own people don't want you? The answer is nowhere, which is why more and more
people become racially biased. The think retaliation is going to solve certain
disagreements between cultures, when all it really does is create and
everlasting cycle of violence, and hatred.

BibliographySmolowe, Jill (1991, April 29). Race and the Death Penalty. Time Magazine,
pgs 68. Unknown. Refuse and Resist [On-line]. Available: http://www.walrus.com/~resist/mumia/051697brochuretext.html;
date visited: 7/13/98. Weinglass, L. I., Jones, D. The trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal
#'s 1 & 2, [On-line] Available: http://www.walrus.com/~resist/mumia/FFS.html;
date visited: 7/10/98 Interview with Revolutionary Writer, [Online] Available:
http://www.walrus.com/~resist/interview.html#assault; date visited: 7/12/98 The
American Heritage Dictionary; Third Edition (1994) New York City, NY: Dell
Publishing; pgs. 680, 835. Haqq, Abdul (1996), Death to Killer Cops, In
Anderson, S. E., Medina, T., Allen, P. A. (Eds.), In Defense of Mumia (pgs.
29-30) New York City, NY: Writers and Readers Publishing, Inc.
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