Mumia abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook in 1954) is a convicted murderer currently serving a prison sentence in Pennsylvania for the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner of the Philadelphia Police Department on December 9, 1981. Abu-Jamal maintains his innocence, and remains a cause célèbre among activists who make up the "Free Mumia" movement. The movement has gained attention among celebrities, such as actor Ed Asner and rock band Rage Against the Machine, who have put out songs with lyrics supporting Abu-Jamal.
Abu-Jamal had been a Black Panther activist and underground journalist, and was affiliated with MOVE, a Philadelphia-based radical anti-technology organization.
Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death in 1982, but his death penalty was overturned in 2001. Joseph McGill, who was the lead prosecutor for the trial, has said that "that case was the strongest case that I ever had." Currently, Abu-Jamal appears to be facing life in prison. Politicians such as Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell have expressed interest in putting Abu-Jamal back on death row, but even if this occurred, Abu-Jamal might not ever be executed. The state of Pennsylania does not frequently execute criminals; 226 people sit on death row in the state as of January 1, 2007, but only three executions have taken place in the state since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.
A number of the specific details of the crime have been questioned by Abu-Jamal's supporters, who maintain that Abu-Jamal is the victim of a racially or politically motivated conspiracy. Faulkner's widow, Maureen, has spent the last 25 years trying to tell her side of the story and to specifically rebut the claims of the "Free Mumia" movement, but has found herself constantly harassed by Abu-Jamal's supporters. She has stated that "she fears for her life".
- 25 years later, Mumia Abu-Jamal's case to be argued in appeals court, AP, May 16, 2007
- Death Penalty Information Center, Pennsylvania section
- Hollywood's Unlikely Hero, by ABCNews.com, hosted by FrontPageMagazine.com