Dec 6 Today Show re Mumia Abu-Jamal

Dec. 6 Today Show re Mumia Abu-Jamal


It has come to my attention that you are presenting the authors of Murdered by Mumia on your program December 6. One of the authors, of course, is the widow of the slain police officer, Maureen Faulkner. I believe she is a member or at least a supporter of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOI) that has conducted an unholy campaign to execute Mr. Abu-Jamal over the past 26 years.

I learned about this case some 20 years ago, and traveled to Philadelphia as a journalist for Pacifica Radio in August, 1995 to further investigate and possibly meet Mr. Abu-Jamal. I saw him in court, but was given an appointment for an interview that was arbitrarily cancelled, as were other journalists' visits, at that time.

Nevertheless, I have continued a correspondence and received phone calls from Mumia over all these years, learning much more about him and the details of his case. I have discovered a warm, intelligent, very concerned and dedicated journalist and writer, father and grandfather, who knows how to be a good friend even from a prison cell. There is absolutely nothing in Mumia's background that would suggest he's capable of cold-blooded murder -- but then, he didn't get anything resembling a fair trial.

Given your resources, you could have one of your staff visit Abu-Jamal to speak to him directly, hear his own story of the events of December 9, 1981, and include it in your Today Show.

It seems to me that's the least you can do, since Abu-Jamal cannot be on the program to defend himself, nor have you invited anyone who might tell a different story, the truth.

Here's a fellow journalist, a brilliant one, who has spent nearly 26 years on Pennsylvania's death row; suffered the signing of two death warrants (which immediately places one on 24-hour death watch, worsens the isolation and sensory deprivation, not to mention the increased anxiety/stress); and has not had a contact visit in all that time -- for a murder he insists to this day he did not commit. And there's plenty of evidence to prove his claim of innocence.

Abu-Jamal's case is currently in limbo awaiting the decision of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Philadelphia, as to whether he will receive a new trial based on the relatively few issues granted a hearing (many more issues are not being heard). Abu- Jamal's lead attorney, Robert Bryan, noted: "I have not seen a case more riddled with such significant constitutional violations, racism, fraud, and unfairness. My goal remains to achieve a reversal of the conviction, and at a new jury trial win a jury acquittal so that Mumia can go home to his family -- a free person."

Adverse publicity at this critical time could damage Abu-Jamal's chances of being granted a new trial in which to finally prove his innocence. Are you willing to jeopardize this possiblity with a biased, highly prejudicial discussion of the case on national television?

You certainly have it within your power to provide a more balanced approach by having at least one more guest favorable to Abu- Jamal and/or visiting him to videotape his own remarks or quoting him appropriately.

I urge you to do the right thing.

Yours sincerely,

Kiilu Nyasha
Journalist and TV talk-show host (SF Bay View & SF Live)