He’s a martyr of America’s racist underbelly. He’s a filthy animal.
Whatever Mumia Abu-Jamal is to you, he is not a man defined so simply by either extreme. And that’s why Philadelphia will never completely come to terms with his fate.
But now that a federal appeals court has granted him a new sentencing hearing, the only real debate left, whether he received a proper sentencing hearing, can be properly addressed.
Reasonable people have settled on whether he did in fact shoot Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner to death one December night in 1981. But far fewer people agree on the way his death-penalty sentencing was handled. The ruling today has found that instructions for the jury were confusing.
Expect a big crowd in Center City the day he goes back into Philadelphia’s courthouse one last time.
Make no mistake — barring some unfathomable turn — Mumia will still never again see the light of day that shines on a free man. He is convicted of killing a cop. Cop killers die in jail.
But a new death-penalty sentencing will give some credibility back to the criminal justice system in many people’s eyes.
Just don’t think it’ll ever convince everyone that this case is settled. Some people only see in extremes.