From the Archives: Mumia 911 (2000)

in Culture

In his first major interview in four years, America’s most well-known and outspoken political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, discusses his past, his counterculture roots with the Black Panther Party, and his hopes for a new trial and for the youth of tomorrow. Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, has been on Death Row since 1982. This past October, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge scheduled his execution for December 2. Abu-Jamal’s lawyers, who are appealing to the federal courts, immediately filed for a stay.

Abu-Jamal’s supporters argue that he received an unfair and biased trial, with a racist pro-police judge and a meager $14,000 defense budget. The two main witnesses against him were a prostitute and an arsonist who changed their stories several times. Even his harshest critics admit that his alleged emergency-room confession—which no one reported to police for two months—looks dubious, and witnesses who saw another gunman have emerged since the trial.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has become an icon against oppression and capital punishment around the world. The journalist and former radio reporter recently agreed to this HIGH TIMES interview. Because of prison rules, the interview was conducted on paper, with Abu-Jamal writing his answers to our questions by hand.

HIGH TIMES: A lot of people know who you are, but don’t know you. Could you tell us about yourself?

Mumia Abu-Jamal: I’m just a guy like you. I came from an unremarkable ghetto—a poor background just like millions of our people.

When did you become active in civil rights and revolutionary politics?

I heard about the black-liberation movement when I was twelve or thirteen years old. Some older sisters in the neighborhood gave me stuff to read and answered my questions about the movement. One sister, Audrey, gave me a copy of The …

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Author: High Times / High Times

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