Prison Legal News columnist Mumia Abu-Jamal was recently honored by the citizens of Paris, France who named a street in his honor.
The controversial Philadelphia figure has the dual distinction of being a hero in one country and a villain in another.
Convicted of the fatal shooting of a Philadelphia policeman in 1982, Abu-Jamal has spent over a quarter century on death row in Pennsylvania prisons.
Abu-Jamal was an outspoken journalist and a former Black Panther party member when policeman Daniel Faulkner was killed in a shootout. His constant criticism of Philadelphia police made Abu-Jamal a polarizing local figure. Convicted on the testimony of two prostitutes and a drunken cab driver, Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence.
In France, they see him as a towering figure, said activist Suzanne Ross. Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal is found in the civil rights district of the suburb of St. Denis.
Maureen Faulkner, widow of the slain policeman called the honor unnerving and insulting to the police officers of Philadelphia.
It's deplorable, said long-time policeman Richard Costello. Theyve made him some type of hero.
The Paris ceremony centered on a variety of U.S. civil rights deficiencies including its practice of the death penalty, and the 1985 Philadelphia police bombing of the MOVE headquarters which killed over a dozen black Americans and destroyed an entire city block.
Abu-Jamal is now memorialized in St. Denis along with other notable civil rights figures such as Nelson Mandela. He is also a quarterly columnist for Prison Legal News.
Source: Philadelphia. Inquirer
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