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No death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal: Not enough, supporters say

December 8, 2011 |  8:00 am

A 2000 Free Mumia protest.  Supporters say they won't be satisfied until Abu-Jamal is freed.

Mumia Abu-Jamal was spared the death penalty in the murder of a Philadelphia police officer on Wednesday. He'll spend the rest of his life in prison, the Philadelphia district attorney said. But only freedom will satisfy supporters of Abu-Jamal.

They call the former Black Panther an innocent, a revolutionary and a celebrated journalist, and Free Mumia will host an event Friday to mark the 30th year of the racially charged case, followed by a fundraiser.

On Dec. 9, 1981, Officer Daniel Faulkner stopped a car driven by William Cook, Abu-Jamal's young brother. Abu-Jamal was in a nearby taxi and ran to the scene. He exchanged gunfire with Faulkner, witnesses said. The officer was hit multiple times and died at a hospital.

Three decades later, Seth Williams, Philadelphia's top prosecutor, agonized over the decision to end the push for the death sentence. He said he remained convinced of Abu-Jamal's guilt and that he deserved to die.

Supporters have steadfastly maintained that Abu-Jamal was framed because of the activist's criticism and claims of brutality by Philadelphia police.

There's "strong and concealed evidence of his innocence," says supporter Johanna Fernandez, a professor at a New York college.

Speakers for Friday's event, to be held at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center, are to include Cornel West, Vijay Prashad and Michelle Alexander.

On Wednesday, Faulkner's widow, Maureen, said she accepted the decision not to pursue the death penalty but noted: "My family and I have endured a three-decade ordeal at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal, his attorneys and his supporters."

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Photo: Philadelphia police at a 2000 Free Mumia protest that got tense. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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