An Activist Kills Policeman Daniel Faulkner - 12/9/1981

US History |

On this day in 1981, a Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner dead body is found lying on the street along with that of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a notable activist and independent journalist lying seriously injured close-by. A year later, Abu-Jamal was tried, found guilty of the murder and sentenced to death though many believed that the judgment was biased, and other activists challenged Abu-Jamal's imprisonment.

According to report, Abu-Jamal, who was a journalist with the National Public Radio, was fired because of his bluntness before he turned into a cab driver. While driving his taxi in the early hours of that fateful day, Abu-Jamal saw his brother fighting Faulkner on the street. According to evidence used during the trial, it was reported that Abu-Jamal interfered with a gun and exchanged shots with the police officer.

Judging from the way the trail began, many believed that it was unfair. The trial, which began on June 17, 1982, less than six months to the shooting, denied Abu-Jamal the privilege to attend most of the hearings because of the injury he sustained during the incident. In addition, the prosecutors made use of the situation surrounding the case to restrict the jury to only two blacks, while the white members were 10. This further confirmed to some observers that the judge Albert Sabo was unfair with the defendant. Abu-Jamal requested to speak for himself and permitted to do so, and he was compelled to have a court-selected lawyer as part of his own defense counsel, and was exempted from the voir dire because his questions to the jurors were somehow frightening the court claimed.

In the end, Abu-Jamal was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to death for first-degree murder. Many of the observers agreed that there is a possibility that Abu-Jamal was involved in Faulkner's death, but the ruling of the court was too harsh. During his time in prison, Abu-Jamal wrote several books and gave several radio talks supporting an end to racism, while also trying to lobby for another trial.

The authorities were heavily pressured to set Abu-Jamal free from his death sentence even though some believe him to be guilty of the offense. The mayor of New Jersey, several police associations and Faulkner's widow protested in January of 1999 a "Free Mumia" benefit concert, which featured Rage Against the Machine in New Jersey. 

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Edward Arroyo


Edward attended college at Northwestern University where he received his bachelors in journalism. After graduation he spent the next several years traveling the world writing about his experiences on his own personal blog. His hobbies include travel, photography, bicycling and hanging out with his dog Milo.