Both Sides of Mumia-Abu Jamal Debate Rally to Mark 20-Year Anniversary of Shooting

Several hundred supporters of death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal rallied Saturday for his release, marking the 20-year anniversary of the shooting of a police officer.

Carrying signs and chanting "Brick by brick, wall by wall, we are going to free, Mumia Abu-Jamal," about 250 demonstrators proclaimed Abu-Jamal's innocence and demanded his release.

In a separate rally Sunday, exactly 20 years after the shooting death of Daniel Faulkner, supporters of the slain police officer planned to dedicate a plaque in Faulkner's honor at the site of the shooting.

Members of Justice for Police Officer Daniel Faulkner say Abu-Jamal is an unrepentant, convicted cop-killer who deserves to die.

Jamal has maintained his innocence, saying he was shot by police as he ran to the scene and then beaten.

In the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 9, 1981, Faulkner had pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother and a scuffle ensued. Prosecutors say Abu-Jamal ran to the scene, shooting Faulkner in the back as he ran.

Faulkner then shot Abu-Jamal in the abdomen and fell. Prosecutors say Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner in the face and was found wounded with his revolver nearby.

The following year, a jury convicted Abu-Jamal, an award-winning radio journalist and former Black Panther, and sentenced him to death.

Abu-Jamal has argued that his former lawyers did a poor job and that he has new evidence that could clear him. His federal appeal is pending.

Celebrities, death penalty opponents and foreign politicians have rallied to Abu-Jamal's cause, calling him a political prisoner and saying he was railroaded by a racist justice system.