Former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal no longer faces the death penalty after 30 years on death row.
Prosecutors in Philadelphia announced on Wednesday of last week that the state was abandoning its efforts to execute him. However it has not overturned his conviction and plans to keep him in prison for the rest of his life.
Mumia has been fighting to prove his innocence since he was convicted of killing a police officer in 1982.
Amnesty International is among many organisations who say his original trial was unfair. Socialist Worker has always argued his innocence. The evidence used to convict him was inconsistent and contradictory.
Mumia had been radicalised by police racism and joined the revolutionary Black Panther party at the age of 15. During the 1970s Mumia became a journalist for Philadelphia’s local radio station. He was dubbed the ‘voice of the voiceless’ because he spoke about those marginalised and oppressed in US society.
He was made president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Association of Black Journalists in 1980. He exposed the state’s vicious campaign of harassment against the radical black organisation Move.
The radio station fired him for his comments on a brutal police attack on Move’s headquarters, and he then worked as a taxi driver.
He was driving his cab when shortly before 4am on 9 December 1981, he saw his brother, in an altercation with a police officer. He got out of his taxi and approached the scene. Minutes later when more police arrived, the first officer had been shot dead, and Mumia had been near-fatally shot in the chest.
The police claimed it was an open and shut case. Yet the evidence used to convict Mumia has all since been shown to be flawed during his many attempts to have his conviction overturned.
The fight to prove Mumia’s innocence will continue.
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