Mumia Abu-Jamal was born on April 24, 1954 in Philadelphia. He was a radical politician and an activist in the Black Panther Party (Weinglass 16). He was a strong follower of religious teachings preached by John Africa. There are many versions that have been forwarded by the people who knew Abu-Jamal.
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These people describe him as a political prisoner due to spreading radical views through the articles he wrote as a journalist. Some people view him as a radical former member of the Philadelphian chapter of the Black Panther Party, while the others consider this movement as a vicious criminal gang which killed a police officer.
The case of Abu-Jamal showed the rot in the judicial system of the United States. His case raised the issue of the racial discrimination in the criminal justice system of the US where the rich and politically influential were favored by the state authorities. Abu-Jamal became interested in and joined politics at a very tender age.
At the age of 14, he first experienced violation of his rights by the Philadelphian police department. He and his other three friends who were also of African Americans origin from the Northern South of the city went onto the streets protesting against segregationist in the selection of presidential candidate.
A group of whites who were later identified as racists began beating them. Abu-Jamal ran into a police station to seek security but the police officer in charge turned against them and aided the white racists to beat them up. They were then arrested and fined for causing political insecurity. This accident motivated Abu-Jamal to help founding the Philadelphia Branch of the Black Panthers Party where he was elected as the Minister of Information.
That same year, he was found distributing pamphlets on black military revolution and expelled from school. In 1970, Abu-Jamal spend the summer in California working as a journalist for the Black Panther. This was the experience that charged him into writing provocative political literature. He then returned to Philadelphia, but since that time, his activist views was reflected in Philadelphian Inquirer newspaper.
It published his articles on the front page, and that aroused the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Philadelphian police. The government began to monitor his moves, and before he even reached the voting age, the government had declared him a state enemy.
The Black Panther Party fell into disarray in 1970, and Abu-Jamal joined radio journalism where he was called as the ‘voice of the voiceless’. His reporting for the black networks brought him closer to another African American political organization called the Philadelphia based MOVE. This movement became expressing extremely militant views and attitude in 1977 as its heavily armed members were used to fight against the police.
Abu-Jamal reported these incidences in favor of MOVE and challenged the speech given by Mr. Frank Rizzo who was the mayor of Philadelphia. A police officer, Daniel Faulker, beat and killed Abu-Jamal’s brother, William Cook. When Abu-Jamal came to his rescue, he was shot, and the police disappeared. This case was taken to court but since Abu-Jamal lacked a defense lawyer, it was dismissed.
That attracted a lot of attention of the public and American celebrities, left wing politicians and amnesty human rights group decided to back him. He took new defense lawyers who reinstated the case as a new trial. The report given by the police was inconsistent, and lacked facts. Abu-Jamal had still faced a death sentence for allegedly killing a police officer, Daniel Faulker, but later, it was changed to the life imprisonment (Matheson par. 3).
Matheson, Kathy. “Death penalty dropped against Mumia Abu-Jamal”. Associated Press 7 Dec. 2011. Web. <https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/dec/7/death-penalty-dropped-against-mumia-abu-jamal/>.
Weinglass, Leornard. Race for justice: Mumia Abu-Jamal’s fight against the death penalty. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1995. Print.