Review by Linn Washington Jr.
"Book Reveals Sex Angle in Abu-Jamal Case"
Philadelphia Tribune, October, 16, 2012
Members of Philadelphia’s criminal justice system brutally raped Veronica Jones – literally and figuratively.
Two policemen literally raped Jones in a remote section of Fairmount Park, according to her account contained in a recently released book, “Veronica & the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal as told to her sister, Valerie Jones.”
That book also recounts one of the most outrageous incidents in the sordid history of Philadelphia court system abuses.
Philadelphia’s district attorney’s office, aided and abetted by a local judge, figuratively raped Jones with an act of ugly witness tampering/intimidation: arresting her on the witness stand for a minor matter fished from the files of New Jersey police…police who were not pursuing that check-cashing charge.
That unusual and improper 1996 courtroom arrest should have incensed all due process-defending appeals court judge, but it didn’t – again dramatizing the officially sanctioned abuses rife in the Abu-Jamal case.
Veronica Jones became involved in the Abu-Jamal case on the December 1981 night when Policeman Daniel Faulkner was murdered. She recounted seeing two men flee from the Center City site of Faulkner’s murder.
Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have maintained that Faulkner’s real killer fled the crime scene – consistent with eyewitness accounts by Jones and others.
Months of persistent pressure from Philadelphia police – including threats – led to Jones’ denying her crime scene observations during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 murder trial that put him on death row for 30 years.
Jones’ attempts to clear her conscience for providing false testimony in 1982 led to that insulting 1996 courtroom assault.
Many will see the most tantalizing aspect of the book, penned by her sister after Jones’ 2009 death, as not the rapes she endured, but Jones’ first-ever revelations about her intimate relationship with slain Officer Faulkner.
Jones had always publicly stated that Faulkner was a friend who often helped her when she worked as a prostitute in Center City for a few years.
The book recounts the evolution of that relationship between Jones and Faulkner from one of respective work-related street contacts to consenting sexual encounters.
Now some will shout – and shout loudly – that Jones’ accounts of her intimate involvements with Faulkner constitute a despicable sliming of the dead officer’s memory.
However, her account contains particular physical descriptions evidencing knowledge plausibly obtained from carnal contact, since those descriptions are not contained in any publicly available documents.
While neither Faulkner nor Jones is alive to address Jones’ sex account, written and verbal records list her as persistently maintaining she knew Faulkner and Faulkner had helped her.
There is a Philadelphia Police Department detectives’ interview report on Jones six days after Faulkner’s 12/9/81 murder where she states, “I knew Faulkner he saved me from being robbed once and he helped me once when a guy was beating me.”
When Jones came forward in early 1996 to describe her 1982 trial deceptions, she stated she knew Faulkner and would do nothing to harm him. She said she needed to clear her conscience more than specially aiding Abu-Jamal.
Since 1996 Jones had repeatedly acknowledged that she felt Abu-Jamal was falsely convicted in part from her flawed trial testimony.
During that 1982 trial when Jones tried to describe police-orchestrated deceptions and deals, Judge Albert Sabo barred the jury from hearing that testimony at the request of the trial prosecutor.
Many will reflexively dismiss Veronica Jones’ accounts, just as they dismiss all evidence of grievous errors and omissions in the Abu-Jamal conviction. But simply saying it isn’t so doesn’t mean it isn’t so.
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In 1996 Judge Sabo caustically rejected Jones’ recantations weeks after he allowed N.J. detectives to arrest her inside his courtroom at the behest of Philly prosecutors. During that contrived courtroom arrest a sobbing Jones defiantly declared mistreatment would not force her to lie against Abu-Jamal again.
Typically, Sabo and prosecutors took no action against anti-Abu-Jamal witnesses who admitted committing crimes comparable to the offense triggering Jones’ arrest.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court curtly sanctioned Sabo’s mistreatment, but a federal district court judge reviewing an Abu-Jamal appeal found the “cold paper record” of Jones’ 1996 testimony believable.
Yet that federal jurist weaseled falsely, claiming he had no legal authority to right Sabo’s wrong against Jones or Sabo’s other violations warranting a new trial for Abu-Jamal.
That 1996 courtroom-rape incident resurfaced recently when Republican Party national officials played dirty politics in a suburban Philadelphia congressional race.
GOP officials unleashed a smear campaign against a Democrat challenging an incumbent GOP congressman, castigating that candidate as “radical” because her lawyer husband helped “cop killer” Abu-Jamal.
That husband represented Jones during that 1996 proceeding where she recanted her original testimony.
The low-balls thrown by justice system officials at Veronica Jones and others who counter the narrative of Abu-Jamal’s guilt convince millions around the world that this prolific writer is a political prisoner.
This past Saturday the French city of Bobigny named a street in honor of Abu-Jamal, making a statement about his unjust incarceration and his revered stature as a writer opposing injustice everywhere.
This Saturday an event for Veronica Jones’ book is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Black and Nobel book store in 1411 W. Erie Ave. The book contains a foreword and commentary by Abu-Jamal, who applauds her “courage!”
It also features a fact-providing legal afterword by attorney Rachel Wolkenstein, a longtime legal advisor to Abu-Jamal who was present during that ’96 courtroom rape of Veronica Jones.
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship Program.
Lynne Stewart Reviews Veronica's Memoir
"A Common Thread of Courage"
Two Books Reviewed by Lynne Stewart
October 26, 2012
The John Carlos Story, with Dave Zirin, Haymarket Books, 2011
Veronica and the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal as told to Valerie Jones, Xlibris, 2012
Two books—very different and yet with a common thread of courage. If the names do not immediately resonate with you, it is only because time and political circumstances are always changing. John Carlos is the man and track star who electrified us when he and Tommie Smith and Peter Norman registered their protest to the USA’s denial of Black equality from the winners' podium at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Veronica Jones (now deceased) is the witness to the shooting that Mumia Abu Jamal was convicted of, who came forward after lying at his trial, to clear her conscience and the record in 1995. I was struck by the fact that the two subjects, both African Americans, of these books were so different in outlook and upbringing but who in the crunch elected to stand up. Both suffered afterward for their acts of courage and that is an important part of these stories as well.
Veronica was raised by her mother and ended up in Camden, New Jersey, a dying industrial town across the river from Philadelphia. The mother of three daughters by the time she was 18, she found herself hanging out in the seamy side of Central City Philly with a group of women who earned money by turning tricks. She also became part of the “life” and so found herself on December 9, 1981, in proximity to the spot where Officer Faulkner was murdered. Interviewed by Police subsequently, she said that what she saw were two black men, that she thought she recognized as “vendors” (street sellers) jogging away from the scene after she had heard three shots at the location.
I know from my professional experience, as a defense lawyer who has handled a goodly number of such cases, that cop shootings are “different”. This is especially true if it is a white cop and it is a Black/Revolutionary person who has been chosen to take the rap. The rabid intensity of the police and prosecutorial investigators to “get” the person who they have agreed upon as the “Perp” is unparalleled. Like sharks at a feeding frenzy, they descend upon the potential witnesses and twist and tailor their testimony to fit their official version. They make untoward promises and if that doesn’t work, they resort to intimidation. The “Blue Line” of silence of the fraternity of police is invoked.
Veronica tells us first how her first interview conformed with what she saw that December night. Thereafter, while arrested on what was undoubtedly a weak if not non existent case of accessory to Armed Robbery, she is visited by detectives at the jail who threaten her with double digit jail terms and worse—separation from her children. When she, without any preparation by either defense or district attorney is brought directly from her cell in jail clothes to the court—she believes she is going for her own case. When she gets there, easily intimidated, this 20 year old testified that she had not seen two black men running away from the scene. She admirably, would not finger Mumia as even being there. We will never know the impact of her lack of testimony on the jury but we know the result of that trial—Mumia was convicted and he has been fighting back ever since.
Veronica’s charges were subsequently dismissed and she wasted no time disappearing. Only through the untiring efforts of Rachel Wolkenstein, a lawyer on Mumia's defense team and her investigators was she discovered in time for the 1996 PCRA hearing. By this time, she had made up her mind to clear the record of her previous lack of truth and she did so only to have an old warrant enable the District Attorney to have her arrested by New Jersey State Troopers while she was still on the witness stand.
Her outrage and pain at this, reflected in her book, is indicative of a fundamental difference between her and John Carlos. While both were born into and raised in the Black community, Veronica Jones never “got it”, the fundamental understanding that in this United States there was and is an enemy and that enemy, white police and their Black toadies is unrelenting. They must always be viewed as totally without scruple where Black people are concerned, and even more so when a white cop was alleged to have been killed by a Black revolutionary like Mumia. Her book made me sympathize with this street-smart but hopelessly naive girl/woman who ultimately found the strength to tell the truth and then become a supporter of Mumia and MOVE.
John Carlos was a man of the same color but who had race consciousness stamped into his genes. Growing up in Harlem of the ’50s and ’60s his book tells the story of a young resister who from his exploits as a would-be Robin Hood taking cartons off the freight trains in the Bronx and distributing them to the people back home in Harlem, his devoted attachment to Malcolm X, his political confrontations with the power structure over minor but telling obstacles (bugs in the trees, food served in his cafeteria) he was always AWARE. Marrying while still in high school, he went to Texas on a track scholarship and learns the bitterness of living in a southern (Texas) society where racial inferiority is a given and permeates even the utopia of competitive athletes.
It was at that time that there began the rumblings of an Olympic Boycott by Black athletes of the 1968 Games in Mexico City. In the organizing for that, John met with the later, and more militant metamorphosis of Martin Luther King who was willing to support the boycott and coined for him the idea that we go out to fight not only for ourselves but for the people who can’t fight and those who won’t fight. John Carlos also accurately portrays the racist control by Avery Brundage, the Chairman of the US Olympic committee and the threat that was implicit for any athlete that might dare to participate. Ultimately the boycott was abandoned but when so confronted, (as have been so many of us activists by thwarted plans,) John Carlos KNEW he had to do something and enlisting his teammate Tommie Smith, they knew after finishing first and second in the popular 200 meter run, that they would have the victors’ podium to showcase their resistance to the treatment of Black people in the United States. They appeared barefoot to symbolize the poverty and with beads around their necks to echo the African ancestry. They donned the black gloves and raised their fists and bowed their heads during the Anthem. It was a moment of history! It electrified all of us back in the day when struggle was an everyday, recurring dedication and confrontation.
To contact or write to Lynne Stewart go to: http://lynnestewart.org