Mumia Abu-Jamal

Radio personality, Author

1954 –

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Who is Mumia Abu-Jamal?

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an American radical convicted for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His original sentence of death, handed down at his first trial in July 1982, was commuted to life imprisonment without parole in 2012. Described as "perhaps the world's best known death-row inmate" by The New York Times, supporters and detractors have disagreed on his guilt, whether he received a fair trial, and the appropriateness of the death penalty.

Born in Philadelphia, Abu-Jamal became involved in black nationalism in his youth, and was a member of the Black Panther Party until October 1970. Alongside his political activism, he became a radio journalist, eventually becoming president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. On December 9, 1981, Officer Faulkner was shot dead while conducting a traffic stop on Abu-Jamal's brother, William Cook. Abu-Jamal was injured by a shot from Faulkner and when further police arrived on the scene, he was arrested and charged with first degree murder.

Going on trial in 1982, he initially decided to represent himself, but was repeatedly reprimanded for disruptive behavior and given a court-appointed lawyer. Three witnesses testified that they had witnessed Abu-Jamal commit the murder, and he was unanimously convicted by jury and sentenced to death, spending the next 30 years on death row. In 2008, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the murder conviction but ordered a new capital sentencing hearing because the jury was improperly instructed. Subsequently, the United States Supreme Court also allowed his conviction to stand, but ordered the appeals court to reconsider its decision as to the sentence. In 2011, the Third Circuit again affirmed the conviction as well as its decision to vacate the death sentence, and the District Attorney of Philadelphia announced that prosecutors would no longer seek the death penalty. He was removed from death row in January 2012, and in March 2012 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that all claims of new evidence put on his behalf did not warrant conducting a retrial.

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Apr 24, 1954
Also known as
  • Wesley Cook
  • Mumia Abu Jamal
  • Mumia
  • Monotheism
  • African American
  • United States of America
  • Goddard College
  • California State University, Dominguez Hills
  • Benjamin Franklin High School

on July 23, 2013


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