Yesterday, Philadephia DA, Seth Williams, announced he would no longer seek the death penalty for Mumia Abu Jamal, who has been on death row for nearly 30 years. Abu Jamal, who was convicted of shooting Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981, will serve a life sentence, with no possibility of parole, behind bars.
This is a bitter sweet victory–bitter because Abu-Jamal, is not getting a new trial and will remain in jail; and sweet because he will not be executed– for people who support Mumia and people who oppose the Death Penalty. But it should also be celebrated by people who support things like the constitution, due process, fair trials and oppose things like institutionalized racism, police corruption, witness coercion, and racists judges who say things like, “I’m going to help them fry the N****r.” And, though Mumia supporters are often presented as fringe, extremist and blind sycophants, there is ample evidence, including ballistic evidence, suggesting Abu-Jamal’s innocence. So, even people who support the death penalty, don’t particularly heart due process, but don’t want innocent people to be executed should be relieved by the state’s decision not to pursue Mumia’s execution.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu points out in his call for Abu-Jamal’s immediate release, a life sentence without parole is still a death sentence:
Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on death row in the first place, justice will not be served by relegating him to prison for the rest of his life—yet another form of death sentence. Based on even a minimal following of international human rights standards, Mumia must now be released.
Listen to a recent interview Abu-Jamal gave just one day before he would learn he’d no longer face the death penalty, in which he discusses race, the prison-industrial complex and Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow.
And go to a historic event for Abu-Jamal December 9th at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia featuring Cornel West, Michelle Alexander, Vijay Prashad, Immortal Technique, Mark Lamont Hill, Ramona Africa, Michael Coard, Louisa Hanoune, Amiri and Amina Baraka, IMPACT Youth Repertory Theater, African Dance Ensemble, and surprise guests. Can’t make it? Check out the livestream here.