Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / February 23, 2000

So… .once again some of our Hollywood celebrities, being the repository of allwisdom because they are cute and can memorize lines, have begun lining up to support a cause.

The cause these over-paid, over-indulged, and over-rated celebrities are hooting about this time is the cause of one Mumia Abu-Jamal.

You may remember the case. Eighteen years ago, a Philadelphia policeofficer, Officer Daniel Faulkner, made a traffic stop on a street at 3:45 a.m.During the stop, the driver became combative and while the officer was struggling with him his brother, the celebrated Mumia Abu-Jamal, came up behind the officer and shot him in the back. The officer went down, but notbefore returning fire and striking Abu-Jamal in the chest. Unfortunately, itwas the officer and not Abu-Jamal who was incapacitated, because, as he lay on the street, Abu-Jamal walked up and shot him in the face, killing him instantly.

When officers arrived at the scene they found Abu-Jamal, who was wounded and sitting on a curb after murdering Officer Faulkner. They found the gunnext to his left hand, a .38-caliber Charter Arms revolver registered in hisname. They found three witnesses who saw Abu-Jamal shoot the officer. Andlater, at the hospital where Abu-Jamal was treated for the gunshot wound, a police officer and a security guard heard him spouting off about how he had shot Faulkner and he hoped he died.

Now, I’m no Judge Wapner, I’m not even a Judge Judy, but that seems pretty darn cut and dried to me. And it sounded pretty cut and dried to the jury,too, because they found him guilty of first-degree murder. And the very nextday they sentenced him to death.

Finally, in 1995, a death sentence date was set, and Mumia Abu-Jamal was scheduled to get what he deserved in the murder of a husband and father.

Enter our wonderful celebrities.

A full-page ad appeared in the New York Times later in 1995 asserting that Abu-Jamal had received an unfair trial. It was signed by the likes of SpikeLee, E.L. Doctorow, Alec Baldwin, Roger Ebert, Norman Mailer, Tim Robbins(that’s Mr. Susan Sarandon to you), Susan Sarandon, (who protestseverything anyway), Oliver Stone, Maya Angelou, and the music groups Rage Against The Machine, and The Beastie Boys. Message to the BeastieBoys.if I’m ever in trouble, just stay away. Please.Before I go any further, let me qualify what I’m about to say with this. If infact this animal did receive unfair treatment at the hands of our judiciary system, I’d be hooting and hollering right along with those wonderful folks from the Disney Planet. But I have a slight problem. I try not to ignore trivial things like the facts in the case.

Fact one: Mumia Abu-Jamal was STILL AT THE SCENE when police got there.

Fact two: It was HIS GUN that shot Officer Faulkner. Fact three: There werepeople who SAW HIM DO IT. And here is a fourth fact that has only recentlycome to light.

Sometime in the early 1990’s, a teacher named Phillip Block spoke with Abu- Jamal at length about prison life. During the course of the conversation Blockasked him if he had any regrets about killing Faulkner. Before he thoughtabout his reply, he said, “Yes.” He has, of course, denied ever saying that since then.

I would like to convey my sincerest thoughts and feelings to those celebrities who have decided that they should defend this guy. First off, I want them toknow that they are entertainers. Their opinions have the same value as theopinions of a circus clown or a fire-eater or juggler or something. The factthat they get paid more doesn’t give them some moral high ground. Second,their opinion means even less than that of some guy who just works his butt off every day to support a family, and who is decent and honest, and just does his best to get by. Sort of like, oh, say, that cop who was murdered onthat Philadelphia street.

And third I would like to say, shut up. No, wait. Make that SHUT UP! Why don’t you protest the fact that teachers are under-paid, or that we still have people starving in the inner cities and in Appalachia? Because you might have to get your hands dirty or spend some of that hard-earned cash you’re over-paid with if someone challenges you to put up or shut up, that’s why.

And finally, I noticed that a whole cottage industry seems to have sprung up around this guy. They are selling the inevitable T-shirts, videos, books, totebags, and stuff like that. There is even a mouse pad with his picture on it.Hey, I decided. I, too, can be a contributor to the cause. I want somethingwith his picture on it for my home.

Imagine my disappointment when I found they were all out of the Special Collector’s Edition of the Commemorative Mumia Abu- Jamal Toilet Paper.

And I had just the place all picked out for it, too.


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