In 1982 Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal was sentenced to death over the shooting death of a police officer in his home town of Philadelphia. In 2008, a federal appeals court reduced his sentence to life in prison over flawed jury instructions, and his appeals were thought to have been exhausted when his conviction was upheld in 2012. There are many questions that surrounding the verdict that sent Mumia to jail, like the police officers changing their stories, the ballistic reports stating that the bullet fired was a .45 caliber when the pistol found on the scene was a .38 special as well as, witness intimidation by the police department.
Racial bias was the underlying motive for the stop, the shooting , the verdict and the appeal in the Mumia case. Mumia had for years been a very educated and sophisticated speaker on the injustices in the black community and had been targeted for his ability to mobilize people around social injustices and racism. Philly, like Oakland, like Mississippi, have all experienced a very deep rooted hatred that finds itself romanticizing the color lines of people in way that for centuries has claimed the lives of innocent indigenous folk.
Three years after the conviction of Mumia a family organization called Move 9 was an affiliate of the Black Panther Party and their culture reflected a massive push towards freedom and sovereignty. One of the few times in American history in which a bomb was dropped on America soil on American citizens, the time previous to that, was Tusla Oklahoma's Black Wall Street, another segregated black community. Men, women and children were killed in both events but no charges were ever pressed against the perpetrators, nor were any arrests ever made.
More than three decades later Mumia Abu Jamal supporters are still pushing for a retrial, applying pressure to the Philadelphia district attorney to allow the appeal process to proceed. Judge Leon Tucker granted his appeal to the Philadelphia superior courts based on a finding of bias in his trail. What was bias is that the former district attorney Ronald Castille who was responsible for sending Mumia away was also responsible for upholding his sentence and denying his appeal as a judge years later.
Judge Tucker concluded that Ron Castille, a former DA turned PA Supreme Court Judge who ruled on a number of Abu-Jamal's appeals between 1998-2012, violated the Pennsylvania Rules of Judicial Conduct by refusing to recuse himself from hearing appeals
Judge Leon Tucker stated that the “slightest appearance of bias or lack of impartiality undermines the entire judiciary.” Judge Tucker decision has already been met with backlash as of January 25th 2019 when Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner placed an appeal hoping to block the chances afforded to Mumia by Judge Tucker for a retrial. This is a blatant move to keep incarcerated an innocent man just because the state has the power to do so.
In 2006 a street in Paris, France was named after Mumia Abu Jamal showing that Trans Atlantic dissonance among countries over the case and Mumia's international attention among Europeans who remain divided about the out come.
As a undergraduate at Sacramento State I often listened to Mumia's prison podcast before returning to class so that I would be in tune with the real sociology this country is facing. Still to this day I view the teachings and lived experiences of Mumia Abu Jamal to be prophetic and I have not found a professor who can compare to the insight and raw indignation of the American prison industrial complex. What the life of Mumia has shown me is that indigenous people very much exist within a prison industrial complex under the "black" status which is a legal code for a prison uniform. Prisoners of war way be more of an accurate depiction of our current state in north america. The black family in the western world encompass the experiences of our dear brother Mumia, his bondage is a representation of our present place in this brand of capitalism that we call the USA.