Mumia Abu-Jamal went to court yesterday (Monday) for a hearing on his Post Conviction Relief Act petition in Pennsylvania state court. The hearing was to decide whether to overturn appeals that have been denied by the corrupt Pennsylvania Supreme Court between 1995 and 2008.
It is common knowledge there is ample evidence showing Philadelphia police and prosecutors manufactured false evidence implicating him while also suppressing evidence which could have proved his innocence. He was convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer and given a death sentence simply for political reasons. Having been a member of the Black Panther Party and a vocal supporter of the MOVE organization was considered dangerous to the powers that be. The fact that he is a charismatic and highly intelligent person with opinions that don’t align with the dominant culture made him a marked man during his time with the Panthers. That, combined with the fact that he demanded to be treated with respect and refused to be intimidated by police harassment, made the confrontation leading to his arrest inevitable.
The petition brought into Pennsylvania Supreme Court is based on a recent Supreme Court case, Williams v. Pennsylvania, in which it was ruled that an appellate judge can’t participate in a case which he or she had a significant role in during prosecution.
Ronald Castille was the District Attorney in Mumia’s 1989 appeal. In 1994, he won an election for the position of State Supreme Court justice. He based his campaign on the fact that his office had prosecuted and sentenced to death 45 men – including Mumia Abu-Jamal. As a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, Castille denied appeals every time Mumia appeared before him.
An interesting side fact is that Castille has been honored by the Fraternal Order of Police, the same racist, right wing organization known to violently oppose the Black Panther Party and which enthusiastically endorsed Donald Trump for president.
The issue of political prisoners being targeted by law (order) enforcement officers around the U.S. is something that needs to be given more attention in corporate media. The U.S. judicial system is as rampant with corruption as police departments. Judicial brutality is as much a problem as police brutality.
From the MumiaNYC website: “Our ultimate goal is to win Abu-Jamal’s release as well as freedom for other politically targeted political prisoners, virtually invisible in the modern day concentration camps we call prisons.”
A decision on Mumia’s petition is expected to be made at a later unscheduled date.
Oh, one more thing: yesterday Mumia turned 63. He has spent 36 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.