Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
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Supreme Court Denies Hearing For Political Prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal

US Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Case of Mumia Abu Jamal

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

This is indeed the age when a black boy can become president of the United States. It's also the age when another black mother's son in that same United States can begin his third decade as a political prisoner. Furthermore, it's the age when prosecutors are permitted to deliberately exclude African Americans from jury pools to boost their conviction rates, while the US Supreme Court turns a blind eye to the practice.

The Supreme Court has just refused to hear the argument that Mumia Abu Jamal's conviction should be overturned because the Philadelphia prosecutors' office had a policy of arbitrarily, or to use the legal term, peremptorily removing African Americans from juries. The existence of this longstanding policy is beyond dispute, since recordings of the training sessions for new prosecutors have come to light in which supervisors instructed newbies to routinely violate professional ethics and the rights of accused persons to fair trials before a jury of their peers in precisely this manner. Despite the clear and straightforward evidence of this unconstitutional practice in the Philadelphia prosecutors' office, or perhaps because the evidence is so clear and incontrovertible, the Supreme Court will not allow Jamal's attorneys to make their case in open court. Prosecutorial ethics and the Constitution are one thing, it seems, while politics are quite another.

This is the clearest proof anyone could want that former Black Panther and working journalist Mumia Abu Jamal is indeed a political prisoner. His conviction, his death sentence and his continued incarceration have never been anchored in the purported evidence offered at his trial, and they are, as the Supreme Court has shown once again, quite independent of the law and the Constitution. That's not legal. That's political.

No reasonable or fair minded person believes that contradictory and coerced testimony, long since recanted are a proper basis for decades of imprisonment, let alone the death penalty.

Less than a week ago, an outraged black federal judge threw out the conviction of a white Republican senator on grounds that prosecutors lied and withheld evidence. If the same standard were applied to Mumia Abu Jamal's prosecutors and trial judge, he would have been free long ago. But again, facts and law matter little in the cases of political prisoners.

Europeans, despite their own problems and their own bloodstained history, possess the necessary distance from white America to discern this easily. That's why they have streets and municipal holidays named after Mumia Abu Jamal in France, and why people in a dozen other countries in Africa and Asia know more about his case than many Americans, including many African Americans.

We may have a black president. But we also have black political prisoners, whose incarceration has nothing to do with the crimes of which they were accused and convicted. Some things change more slowly than others.

Those who want to learn more about the case of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal should visit on the web. That's Mumia Abu Jamal's online commentaries are available at, again that's

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon.

Category:general -- posted at: 11:51am EDT