Rants & Essays
How to Kill Cops and Influence People
By Mike Royko
Here is some career advice for anyone who plans on becoming
a murderer: develop your writing skills. This is especially true if you land on
Were seeing a classic example in the case of Mumia
Abu-Jamal, 41, who was convicted of the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia cop.
Abu-Jamal wears dreadlocks and is a former Black Panther who had become a
writer and radio reporter. He is also described as an activist,
whatever that means these days.
According to evidence presented at Abu-Jamals trial,
at about four oclock one morning, his brother was being questioned about
a traffic violation by police officer Daniel Faulkner, 26. An argument broke
out. The trial record then indicates that Abu-Jamal, happening on the scene,
came up behind the officer and shot him in the back. Faulkner managed to shoot
Abu-Jamal in the chest, and a moment later Abu-Jamal, standing over Faulkner as
he lay on the ground, put a bullet between his eyes.
Abu-Jamal was found wounded. A .38-caliber
pistolregistered in his namewas lying at his side. During the
trial, the prosecution presented ballistics evidence showing that this was the
pistol used to kill Faulkner. Witnesses said they saw Abu-Jamal shoot the cop.
The defense said somebody else did it and ran away. But Abu-Jamal and his
brother didnt testify, so the jury never got their firsthand account of
how he happened to get shot by the cop, or how the cop was killed with the gun
registered to Abu-Jamal.
Since the trial, Abu-Jamal has written essays from his cell
about his life and the injustice he has suffered. Lately his fameas a
victim of injustice, a political prisoner and a heroic underdog in an
oppressive societyhas exploded, even across borders and oceans.
In Rome, supporters claimed that some 100,000 people signed
free-Mumia petitions. Over 2000 protesters marched in Berlin and chanted
Free Mumia! At a big literary gathering in Paris, a famous Chinese
poet read a poem about the case. And in New York, big-name authors got together
with members of the Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal and held a press
William Styron, who wrote Sophies Choice, said
Abu-Jamals death sentence is considered an evil and barbaric act
not only by millions of people in the United States but also by vast numbers in
virtually every democratic country in the world. Styron didnt say
how these vast numbers of people throughout the world feel about the children
and widows of dead cops.
All of this just shows how important it is to pay attention
to your English teachers and learn how to write a good essay. Throughout
Americas prisons, there are tens of thousands of convicted killers, many
of whom could tell true-life stories as interesting as Abu-Jamals.
Why dont we hear about them? Because most of them
cant even write a post card. You cant expect people like Whoopi
Goldberg, E.L. Doctorow, Ed Asner, Jesse Jackson and all those other famous
deep thinkers to be inspired by the third-grade scratchings of some ordinary
cutthroat. They expect literary style.
This might explain why almost nothing has been said or
written about Daniel Faulkner, the cop whom Abu-Jamal was convicted of
murdering. Whether the cop could write anything more than traffic tickets
isnt known. And its too late to ask.