Racial Injustice (Mumia Abu Jamal The following paper will discuss the topic of racial injustice in the United States Legal System. Since this topic is so broad, it will deal with the trial of Mumia Abu Jamal in 1982. This paper will show how the system will try anything to keep a minority down. The system consists of upper middle class to upper class whites that believe minorities are inferior to them. The system is used is a political machine used by whites to keep these minorities from becoming powerful.
If minorities can speak their minds, have power, or bond together, they can be a threat to the status quo. This system still thrives in our world. A stunning article, Race and the Death Penalty reminds us that a low percentage of Whites were being executed for the death of a Black person. Meanwhile, almost triple the number of Blacks that were being put to death for the killings of a White people. Where is the justice in this so-called democracy? Imagine driving up to an intersection and seeing your own flesh and blood being beaten.. What do you do? Any normal person would try and help out. What if the one who is assaulting him/her is a police officer? Should it make a difference? A police officer is trained to serve and protect.
When he isn’t protecting you or your relatives, whom is he protecting? Mumia encountered this same scenario. He raced to the aide of his brother. And in the midst of battle, shots rang out. Mumia was shot, and later recovered. The police officer was killed. Witnesses reported two men fleeing the scene. However, when police arrived and realized that they had a black critic of the police department, who was also a member of the Black Panthers, they immediately beat him, and charged him with murder. In an interview with The Revolutionary Worker, Mumia referring to the question, How did they (the police) treat you? stated I would not say they ‘treat’ me, I would say that they ‘beat’ me.
They beat me in the street. They beat me in the paddy wagon.(Interview) Mumia was a broadcast journalist whose purpose was to give angered civilians an open forum for discussion. Mumia, like any person who speaks his/her mind, has their share of opposition. The only problem was Mumia’s opposition held some of the highest positions in politics. Having enemies in those positions isn’t a good thing.
During the time prior to the trial, Mayor Frank Rizzo had made attacks on several radical organizations. Stings and raids had filled the streets. Mumia let the radicals present their sides on the radio; this caused them to gain support. This counteracted what the mayor had planned. Once again, this angered the politicians who run the system.
(Weinglass, L.I., Jones, D.) Being a member of the Black Panther Party wasn’t much help either. They were upset that a Black man had such power and influence over his audience. They system once again stepped in and tried to destroy the reputation of the Black Panthers. They stated that the Panthers weren’t a credible organization claiming they were radical and terrorist in order to dissuade persons from joining them, or sympathizing with them. In a Standard English dictionary, radical means Departing markedly from the usual; extreme. That is what they thought of these groups, and in fact they were right.
These groups believed in what they thought was right, and were willing to pursue it to the very end. The word radical is often paired off with the word terrorist. The word terrorist means The political use of violence and intimidation. You may ask where is the connection between the two? Well, the government thinks that because these groups are radical and sometimes are forced into violent situations, they use this violence as a motivation builder. (American Heritage Dictionary) You also may ask where do they get these ideas of radicalism and terrorism. Do you think giving food to the hungry is radical? How about the creation of several social skills programs across the US? They aren’t but you can imagine what the government claims the driving force behind these groups.
Drugs, money, racism, that is what the government claims is going on. Do you see that? In the trial, Mumia, an educated black man, was not allowed to represent himself. Instead a court-appointed attorney, who obviously didn’t want any part of the deliberations, represented him. Mumia was barred from the court because his questioning of jurors for the case was so-called intimidating. Also, decreasing the chances of a fair trial, and a fair jury even more, Mumia’s attorney was threatened with contempt charges if he attempted to slow the jury selection process. This caused the selectors to overlook three potentially dangerous jurors.
Two of these had some connection to the police department, and one who openly testified that he couldn’t have an open mind in this case. The most damaging portion of Mumia’s case was that he was not allowed in the courtroom for most of the trial, although a majority of the case was researched and created by him for his defense. How could someone who isn’t on the same level of thinking come up with the same defense? They can’t. Mumia’s lawyer didn’t know what Mumia was thinking, and he really didn’t care to find out. That is what the court wanted. If they took Mumia out of his momentum, gave him an all white jury, and gave him all these loose ends to tie up, it was impossible for him to win.
To impede the investigation on the defense’s part, the court only allotted $150 for expenses. This money covered only two witnesses, and some other expenses. There was no limit to the money the prosecution spent on this trial. They were allowed to spend what they deemed necessary for the trial. With the money they allotted the prosecution, they had a whopping 125 witnesses, who tested everything from ballistics and pathology to the events of the days actions. The most damaging of the witnesses was a reputed prostitute who had given many different stories, and was contradicted repeatedly by the stories of other prosecution witnesses and her own testimony.
There were reports stating this prostitute bargained for immunity in return for this testimony. As Del Jones states, the corroborations, which should most definitely count as reasonable doubt, were merely passed over as if they were hearsay. The idea of reasonable doubt in our legal system is supposed to work to the favor of the defendant. Reasonable doubt, in theory means if by any chance a doubt can be established about the defendant’s guilt, this is reason for the jury to find him/her not guilty. Some of these discrepancies are the first witness accounts had stated that the man who fired the gun had an afro-hairstyle. Mumia wears dreadlocks (dreads).
Also for an investigation like this, a TRACE METAL TEST should have been performed. However, the police accidentally forgot. This test would have determined which, if any, of the assailants fired a weapon. This information would have been choice piece of evidence to waive charges. Another point that was brought out is the supposed confession of Mumia when he was in the hospital.
The police officer stated that ..as he lay on the floor he said ‘I shot the mother–cker, and I hope the mother–cker dies.’ However, no reports whatsoever were filed, or released. The guard on duty said that it was not true. Judge Sabo failed to call the officer to the stand; for he was on vacation. After this poor excuse of a fair trial, Mumia was convicted and sentenced death. About ten days before his scheduled execution, he was granted a stay of execution.
His case has been only one of few that the government has ever given. Great support by sympathizers helped influence this decision. Mumia’s supporters haven’t quieted down. They still shout mistrial. Some think that it was because of his lack of self-representation, and others think it was because of who was trying him. In any case, his supporters won’t back down until Mumia is free, and walking, or until he receives the fair trial he deserves. Mumia still sits and waits inside his 8 x 8-foot cell, for that day to come.
The cries of his family and friends still shake the walls of that prison. Hopefully, he will be returned to the proper earth. With all the press this story made, it has brought to the public a new awareness of the racial injustice around us. As Ms. Taylor pointed out clearly in a class discussion on July 5, it is shocking when you are presented with the facts.
If you are not confronted with them, you are able to brush off the obvious, and clear your mind of guilt, and look the other way. There are a couple of books that are written to bring out the point of racial injustices in every aspect of democracy. In the anthology, In Defense of Mumia, Writers from all over the world, write about there feelings towards The Mumia Abu Jamal case, the Rodney Kind beating, and other racial crimes against minorities. In the poem, Death to Killer Cops, Haqq gives a really scary feeling of what goes on in amerikkka. He uses the KKK in America to symbolize the control that the Caucasians have over the system, and its branches.
He also refers to the coming together of people to fight for their equality and the release of Mumia, while making it clear that corrupt cops should be killed. Once again this trails back to the article, which states that a Black man would most likely get executed than a White man. The point the author of the work is tries to get across is that although they want the corrupt cops to get fried, since most are White, it won’t happen. In conclusion, I believe that there is too much racial injustice in this country, or any country. This would be one reason why Communism wouldn’t work.
Everyone wants to be better than someone else is, the Whites make themselves out to be better than the Blacks. Mixed races try to assimilate themselves into both cultures, and are usually criticized for that reason. Where do you go when your own people don’t want you? The answer is nowhere, which is why more and more people become racially biased. The think retaliation is going to solve certain disagreements between cultures, when all it really does is create and everlasting cycle of violence, and hatred. Bibliography Works Cited Smolowe, Jill (1991, April 29). Race and the Death Penalty.
Time Magazine, pgs 68. Unknown. Refuse and Resist [On-line]. Available: http://www.walrus.com/~resist/mumia/051697brochure text.html; date visited: 7/13/98. Weinglass, L. I., Jones, D.
The trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal #’s 1 & 2, [On-line] Available: http://www.walrus.com/~resist/mumia/FFS.html; date visited: 7/10/98 Interview with Revolutionary Writer, [Online] Available: http://www.walrus.com/~resist/interview.html#assau lt; date visited: 7/12/98 The American Heritage Dictionary; Third Edition (1994) New York City, NY: Dell Publishing; pgs. 680, 835. Haqq, Abdul (1996), Death to Killer Cops, In Anderson, S. E., Medina, T., Allen, P. A.
(Eds.), In Defense of Mumia (pgs. 29-30) New York City, NY: Writers and Readers Publishing, Inc. Political Science.