The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, America’s best-known political prisoner, starkly illuminates the brutal reality of racist capitalist justice in a country that advertises itself as the citadel of “freedom.” It is an extremely complicated case, and while the main elements are now known, pieces of the puzzle are still missing and ambiguities remain. In the following text, we attempt to outline both the essential elements of the case and the legal/political issues it poses.
The frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal for the killing of police officer Daniel Faulkner in December 1981 stands as a powerful refutation of all civics-class theories about the state as a neutral arbiter between conflicting interest groups. Mumia’s case graphically demonstrates the mechanisms through which the judicial system perpetuates the status quo of exploitation and racist oppression behind a facade of disinterested impartiality. It also shows that America’s rulers are neither so powerful nor so self-confident that they do not fear the truth and those who dare to speak it. They have been forced to pay a political price for the frame-up of this opponent of social injustice—the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal has educated tens of thousands of young people in the U.S. and around the world as to how “justice” is administered in the imperialist heartland.