Acquired papers from ‘political activist Mumia Abu-Jamal’
A convicted cop killer will be honored at Brown University after it acquired a collection of his artwork and papers, the Ivy League school announced recently.
The John Hay Library “has acquired a vast set of records, writings and artwork from political activist Mumia Abu-Jamal,” the university announced on August 24. “A journalist who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1982, Abu-Jamal’s incarceration and sentencing have stirred fierce national debates about racial injustice and the ethics of the death penalty.”
Abu-Jamal remains in prison after being convicted in the December 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Danny Faulkner, whom he shot while the cop tried to arrest someone else. Abu-Jamal “ran from across the street and shot the officer in the back” and “stood over the downed officer and shot him four more times at close range, once directly in the face,” according to a website dedicated to the legacy of Faulkner. The Philly police officer shot Abu-Jamal once in the stomach.
The news release stated that Brown University had also acquired “related personal papers from Johanna Fernández — a Brown Class of 1993 graduate and esteemed historian of social movements and 20th century American history — who has been a longtime advocate for Abu-Jamal and has for decades maintained his innocence.”
“Questions about Abu-Jamal’s guilt have prompted deep legal examination and fueled international discussion since the 1980s, and the acquisition of his papers is part of a broader initiative to advance research on incarceration,” the university stated.
That’s why the papers will be included in a series on the “Voices of Mass Incarceration.”
“The carceral system touches millions of Americans’ lives, yet the historical archive has a scarcity of stories of incarcerated people,” library director Amanda Strauss stated in the news release. “This Voices of Mass Incarceration collecting focus aims to provide researchers with unprecedented access to the first-person accounts they need to understand the experiences of people who have spent time in prisons and jails, enriching our collective understanding of how the expanding carceral system has transformed American society.”
John McNesby, the president of the Philadelphia police union, criticized the collection in comments to The Washington Free Beacon.
“It’s unconscionable that not one person from the university reached out to [Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the murdered cop] prior to this announcement,” McNesby said. “Convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal should remain in prison for the rest of his life.”
Goddard College, Evergreen State College and Antioch College have all hosted Abu-Jamal as a commencement speaker.
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