On the Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021 episode of WURD's Radio Courtroom, hosted by attorney Michael Coard, Pam Africa announced the release of the Jamal Journal issue #1, our newly restarted newspaper, last published in the mid-1990s by the uncompromising International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ).
After one week of fundraising that followed Pam's announcement, we raised over $2500 and were thus able to print 10,000 copies of the 40 page newspaper and still have almost $500 left for postage. In addition, since the paper's release, we have raised over $500 more that has gone directly towards postage costs. Special thanks to everyone who donated!
The newspapers are mostly being given out for free, but they are also used for donations at ICFFMAJ events, making the newspaper an important fundraising resource for ICFFMAJ.
We have now sent out almost all of the 10,000 newspapers we published. We now want to re-print issue #1 with the updated version of the Color of Change petition to DA Krasner. If we can raise enough money, we will also print a 24 page issue #2 with updates related to Mumia's health emergency. The updated petition now cites Mumia's health crisis in the very first paragraph, arguing that the new health issues are one more reason why we are calling for Mumia's immediate release.
By using all-volunteer labor, the Jamal Journal was able to get the most out of supporters' donations and we put everything we raised into printing and postage costs. Now, as the Jamal Journal moves forward, we would like to pay a part-time staffer to work on the newspaper and website for 32 hours/month at $15/hour, for a total of $480/month. If we can raise the additional $480, the job will begin in April. So far, our work has been all-volunteer.
We are now beginning a one-week fundraising campaign (ending on April 15) to print the updated version of issue #1. We want to print 10,000 more, or even 20-30,000 more if we can raise enough money.
If you have already seen issue #1 of the Jamal Journal, then you know that it is a powerful resource for confronting DA Krasner's continued defense of Mumia's unjust conviction. The newspaper presents irrefutable documentation of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct that is so extensive that it has forever destroyed the legitimacy of Mumia's 1982 conviction. Please help us to print more!
If you donate $10 we will send you the updated reprint of issue #1 (and possible four-page insert) as a thank you gift. If you donate $50 or more, we will also send you a gift copy of either one of the three volumes of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria's book series Murder Incorporated (please donate here).
Introducing staff photographer Joe Piette
Joe Piette and his wife Betsey are active members of the Workers World Party and longtime supporters of Mumia & the MOVE 9. With his camera, Joe has now been documenting the freedom struggle for several decades.
Last summer, in Philadelphia, while photographing extreme police violence directed towards protesters in Philadelphia, a police officer shot at Joe's face with a rubber bullet while Joe was operating his camera. Thankfully, Joe was not hit in the eye, but his camera was broken and his finger badly injured.
A community-based fundraising campaign raised enough money for Joe to buy a new camera. We thank him for his decades of tireless service to the community, and we are excited to announce him as a Jamal Journal staff photographer. We hope you enjoy looking at Joe's photos on our website where our left column lists over 100 different photo-essays documenting Mumia and MOVE related events going back to 2007. Joe's photos also feature prominently in our newspaper.
The Release of the Jamal Journal issue #1
We have four stories on the front cover. The lead story is our Color of Change petition demanding that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner stop defending Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction. The petition to DA Krasner summarizes the overwhelming evidence of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct that has forever tainted the legitimacy of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial and subsequent appeals process. Our newspaper then meticulously presents the irrefutable evidence of misconduct.
Next, Pam Africa calls upon all people to sign the Color of Change petition: “ICFFMAJ has always called for Mumia’s immediate release because we believe he is innocent and that he should never have been imprisoned in the first place. At the same time, ICFFMAJ has always worked alongside anyone supporting a new trial, and we will continue to do this. But after 39 years in prison, Mumia is now an elder in poor health, and every day counts.” Pam's article also responds directly to DA Krasner's Feb. 3 brief, where DA Krasner wrote that Mumia “refused to walk” into the hospital after he had been shot in the chest and nearly beaten to death by police. In her article Pam asks DA Krasner directly: Does he oppose lynchings?
The third front-page story is a full reprint of activist football player Colin Kaepernick’s November 16, 2020 statement in support of Mumia, where Kaepernick declares: "We're in the midst of a movement that says Black Lives Matter. And if that's truly the case, then it means that Mumia’s life and legacy must matter. And the causes that he sacrifices life and freedom for must matter as well."
The last front page story is a heartfelt interview with filmmaker Johanna Fernandez about interviewing Mumia’s sister, Lydia Barashango, who died from Cancer shortly after giving the interview for Fernandez’s 2009 film Justice on Trial. During the interview, Lydia Barashango goes on the record and states that she and her family have always suspected that Kenneth Freeman was the actual shooter of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Authors J. Patrick O’Connor (The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, 2008) and Michael Schiffmann (Race Against Death, 2006) both reached a similar conclusion to Barashango’s, arguing in their books that Mumia is innocent and that Kenneth Freeman was the actual shooter. Reviews of both Schiffmann and O’Connor’s books are published in the newspaper to accompany Fernandez’s interview with Jamal Journal.
In the newspaper’s front section we spotlight three elderly political prisoners: Sundiata Acoli, Ed Poindexter, and Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz. All three have ongoing action campaigns calling for their release, all stressing the urgent situation caused by their severe health issues. Please support the campaigns for their release!
The front section also features a tribute to Frances Goldin, a Mumia FAQ written by the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, a report from a recent demonstration for Mumia in Paris that marked 25 years of French support for Mumia, an article by the UC Santa Cruz Mumia Abu-Jamal Solidarity Collective about Mumia’s enrollment in the History of Consciousness PhD program at UC Santa Cruz, and former political prisoner Angela Davis' Nov. 16, 2020 talk about Mumia.
To further support the petition, our newspaper is featuring a range of articles that focus on recent events in Mumia’s case, such as Linn Washington’s analysis of the six newly discovered DA file boxes that DA Krasner disclosed to Mumia’s legal team, and Dave Lindorff’s examination of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s denial of Maureen Faulkner’s King’s Bench Appeal.
Accompanying the petition are five examples of important evidence that the 1982 jury never saw because of police, prosecutorial, and/or judicial misconduct: (1) How the DA Suppressed Evidence of Kenneth Freeman's Presence at the Scene; (2) How the DA Suppressed Pedro Polakoff's Crime Scene Photos; (3) How Judge Sabo Blocked Testimony From Officer Gary Wakshul About the Fake "Hospital Confession" (4) How Veronica Jones Defied Police, Prosecutorial, and Judicial Intimidation; (5) How Judge Sabo Blocked the Jury From Knowing Robert Chobert's Probation Status
At the center of the newspaper (pages 20-21), we feature original artwork by Seth Tobocman, generously created to support our petition campaign. Tobocman says to Krasner: “It is because of the work of incarcerated intellectuals like Mumia Abu-Jamal that a mass movement arose for criminal justice reform. If you feel you are part of that movement, we ask you to show Mumia Abu-Jamal the respect he deserves as an elder and predecessor. Show us that it is a new day in Philadelphia. Release Mumia Abu-Jamal.”
From The Archives
The second half of the newspaper is dedicated to articles from “The Archives,” which provide an important historical context for what is happening today with Mumia's case. Two important issues in Mumia’s present Court proceedings are (1) alleged eyewitness Robert Chobert’s credibility and (2) The Batson issue, about the use of peremptory strikes to remove otherwise qualified black potential jurors.
Several articles address Robert Chobert’s credibility as a witness, including the 2010 ballistics test conducted by Linn Washington and Dave Lindorff, which physically proved that prosecution eyewitnesses Robert Chobert and Cynthia White both gave false testimony at Mumia’s 1982 trial (the 2010 article is reprinted on the back cover of the newspaper, page 40). Washington and Lindorff concluded that “the whole prosecution story of an execution-style slaying of the officer by Abu-Jamal would appear to be a prosecution fabrication, complete with coached, perjured witnesses, undermining the integrity and fairness of the entire trial.”
The Batson issue is addressed with articles by Dave Lindorff, J. Patrick O’Connor and Michael Schiffmann criticizing the 2008 US Third Circuit Court denial of three claims that could have led to an overturned conviction, including the Batson Issue. Professor Schiffmann examines exactly what reasons the Third Circuit gave for rejecting Mumia’s Batson claim, and he concludes that they are all without merit.
The unfairness of Judge Albert Sabo is another focus of the newspaper. For this we are reprinting a 1995 article by the late Kiilu Nyasha when she traveled from San Francisco to observe Mumia's PCRA Hearings in front of Judge Sabo. We are also featuring an essay that Mumia wrote to honor Kiilu when she passed away in 2018. Michael Schiffmann provides another analysis of Sabo's antics on the page after Kiilu's article.
We then spotlight the story of Pedro Polakoff’s crime scene photos because (1) We believe that the 1982 jury should have seen these photos, and (2) Polakoff states that the DA ignored him when he attempted to share his photos with them in 1981, 1982, and 1995. The DA never informed Mumia’s defense about the existence of Polakoff’s photos, which they are required by law to do. Therefore, this one more example of prosecutorial misconduct in Mumia’s case..
Lastly we feature a Workers World article about the Yale RebLaw Conference that disinvited Larry Krasner and instead invited Mumia Abu-Jamal to be the keynote speaker. This article features photos by Jamal Journal staff photographer Linda Ragin, for whom we will be making an archive similar to that of our other staff photographer Joe Piette.
Our Fundraising Campaign
At the top left corner of our website JamalJournal.com, you can click to donate for these printing and postage costs. Because of COVID preventing us from giving these out in person at events like we normally would, we are going to rely more on shipping & postage as a way to distribute them.
The Jamal Journal’s fiscal sponsor is the Redwood Justice Fund, which means that all donations are tax-deductible. If you donate $10 to the Jamal Journal, as a gift, we will mail you the updated version of issue #1 when it is released.
For a $50 donation, we will also send you a gift copy of either one of the three volumes of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria's book series Murder Incorporated.
The Jamal Journal is a sponsored project of Prison Radio and The Redwood Justice Fund, a 501(c)(3) corporation, so your donation is tax deductible to the full extent provided by law.
Or make checks payable to:
"The Jamal Journal / The Redwood Justice Fund".
Mail checks to:
The Jamal Journal / Prison Radio
PO Box 411074
San Francisco, CA 94141