Mumia Abu-Jamal: After 34 years of wrongful incarceration, showdown in federal court Dec. 18 over access to Hep C cure
by the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, Coalition to Free Mumia, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and MOVE
In Philadelphia on Dec. 9, 2015, supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal marked his 34th year of wrongful incarceration with a freedom honk on the west side of City Hall, a teach-in on his case and medical condition and a screening of the film, “Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.” Simultaneous demonstrations were held at the Harlem State Office Building on 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell in New York and in Mexico City, Paris and Heidelberg, Germany, among other cities around the world.
Finally, on Dec. 18, we have a rare, one-time opportunity to get Mumia the medical attention he desperately needs. U.S. Federal District Court Judge Robert Mariani will conduct an extensive public hearing on Mumia’s medical crisis and has asked for testimony from Mumia. Credit for this victory is due in no small part to the public outcry.
According to Pam Africa, “The fact that the judge has asked for testimony from Mumia at this hearing is a victory. Our consistent protests, here and around the world, against the inhumane denial of proper medical treatment for Mumia and others who our being sickened by the prisons are being heard.”
Our attorneys and the attorneys of Department of Corrections will present arguments. Our attorneys will argue that Mumia has the right to immediate life-saving treatment for his chronic and active Hepatitis C. The other side will insist that treatment be withheld until the final stages of the condition.
“It took an informal visit from a movement doctor to determine the cause of Mumia’s medical crisis. That doctor determined, just by eyeballing Mumia, that the problem was his untreated chronic and active Hepatitis C. But now the Department of Corrections is withholding treatment until the final stages of the condition – in other words, until it’s too late to save him,” said Johanna Fernandez of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home.
“A legal victory in Mumia’s medical case will also be a victory for the other 10,000 Pennsylvania prisoners afflicted by Hepatitis C, who have filed a class action suit,” said Suzanne Ross of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition in New York City.
Please join us in and outside of the court in Scranton, Penn., on Friday, Dec. 18. A bus and caravans will be leaving New York at 5:45 a.m. from Local 1199, 310 West 43rd St., and rides will also be available from Philadelphia. The hearing will be held in the William J. Nealon Federal Building, 235 N. Washington Ave., Scranton, Penn. 18503.
To secure a spot and for tickets, please email us immediately with your name and contact info at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call 212-330-8029. We will remain in Scranton until the court hearing has ended for the day, probably at 4 or 5 o’clock.
“Mumia Abu Jamal was viciously attacked and framed by the Philadelphia police 34 years ago, but in light of the current attention on police violence and corruption across the nation, the truth in this case will surface among a new generation of freedom fighters. Our work is not done until he is released,” said Ramona Africa, survivor of the MOVE bombing of 1985.
Immediately after the end of Abu-Jamal’s trial in 1982, 15 of the 35 police officers who collected evidence at the crime scene of Officer Daniel Faulkner’s shooting were convicted and jailed on charges that included graft, corruption and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions in hundreds of other cases. Chief Inspector Alfonzo Giordano, who led the crime scene investigation in Mumia’s case, was among those officers. But the jury that heard Mumia’s trial was not aware of these rampant police practices, so they believed what the police said at trial.
The photographs of the crime scene taken by freelance photographer Pedro Polakoff, discovered in 2006, demonstrate the illegal methods employed by the police in the Abu-Jamal case. In Polakoff’s photos, Officer James Forbes, who testified in court that he properly handled the two guns allegedly retrieved at the Faulkner crime scene, is seen holding the weapons with bare hands.
Finally, we have a rare, one-time opportunity to get Mumia the medical attention he desperately needs. Please join us in and outside of the court in Scranton, Penn., on Friday, Dec. 18.
In 1995, an investigation of the Philadelphia police department discovered that practices like these were widespread in Philadelphia. Amidst the scandal, former Philly District Attorney Lynne Abraham told the Legal Intelligencer that her office would “discard any cases where evidence surfaces that even one of the officers involved in an investigation lied in court or in written reports.”
Because of the uninterrupted history of judicial and prosecutorial corruption and police conspiracy in this case and because of widespread evidence of Mumia’s innocence, his supporters call on officials of Philadelphia to make good on Lynne Abraham’s promise through the immediate release of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
I visited Mumia on Friday, Nov. 27
by Suzanne Ross
I came back from visiting Mumia two days ago, on Nov. 27, and am witness to the fact that we have all experienced a miracle. Sisters and brothers, comrades and friends, we are saving Mumia’s life. He looked so healthy and radiant, so much like he used to, and he sounded so good. We both celebrated again and again his survival from the biggest threat to his life that he had yet experienced.
Mumia and many of us thought for sure that he was going to die. Didn’t he look like he was about to die? Remember those ghoulish frightening pictures with Mumia sitting in a wheelchair, looking like he could hardly hold up his head?
THEY WERE TRYING TO KILL HIM AND ALMOST SUCCEEDED. But the power of our movement and the thousands who called, wrote, demonstrated and prayed for Mumia’s life defeated this monstrous enemy that wanted him dead, that wanted him destroyed before our very eyes.
Mumia says that even when he was at his sickest, he could feel that love and energy of the people fighting for him and wanting him so badly to live. He says it gave him such strength.
No, Mumia is not cured. He still itches and still experiences pain, he’s still in the infirmary where for about six months he has never gotten any fresh air or sunshine, he still needs to cover his body two or three times a day with Vaseline and another cream to ease the itching, and he continues to need the palliative baths he takes two or three times a week. Plus, that itching could get worse again because the underlying problem of Hep C has not been addressed.
Now, having nearly succeeded in killing Mumia, these evil spokespeople and enforcers say that Mumia is not sick enough to receive the drug that’s known to cure more than 90 percent of the people who have Hep C and follow the 60- or 90-day regimen. No, of course Mumia is not “sick enough,” as the Department of Corrections (DOC) is claiming, for those who wanted him DEAD and nearly succeeded in killing him.
Remember, Mumia only got Hep C because the police tried to kill him in 1981 when they shot him in the lungs and beat him mercilessly after he was shot and en route to the hospital. He needed emergency surgery and blood transfusions. It was then that he was infected through those infusions.
Subsequently, while in prison on a death sentence, they tried to execute Mumia three times, once in 1994, but the peoples’ struggle persuaded Gov. Casey not to sign the warrant. Then in 1995 and 1999 Gov. Thomas Ridge signed two more death warrants and in both cases set an execution date. Ridge campaigned for office on a “Kill Mumia” platform. He subsequently became head of Homeland Security and now, in the post-Paris era, is a cheerleader for increased repression.
We finally got Mumia off Death Row in 2012, and that was a great defeat for them. They had to scramble for a new strategy. They tried keeping him in isolation. But we went straight to DOC headquarters with a sizable group and threatened to come back and fight this relentlessly. The next morning they put Mumia in general population.
Maureen Faulkner, mourning Mumia’s release from Death Row, issued a thinly veiled invitation for other prisoners to “take care” of him. But Mumia’s fellow prisoners love, respect and protect him.
He’s received amazing support from those like Major Tillery, who confronted the prison warden with a demand that Mumia get medical attention when he was very sick and still in general population, for which Major paid a high price: He was thrown into isolation and transferred to another prison. Others have shown care and love for Mumia throughout his sickness.
In 2014 the state resumed a deadly strategy. We don’t know all the details. We can only guess what their evil plans were. We can only conclude that for almost a year they were again trying to execute Mumia, not by medical NEGLECT as has been said, but by medical MALEVOLENCE.
Those of us who visited Mumia during his illness could hardly avoid noticing how much his skin looked as though it had been radiated. We remembered only too well that Puerto Rican nationalist leader, Pedro Albizu Campos, was actually exposed to radiation while in prison for fighting for his people’s independence, until he developed cancer and died.
Mumia developed a medically induced diabetes through the Department of Corrections’ treatment for his skin problem. They gave him a medication that the minute he took it felt like his whole body, including his head, got blown up to the point that he felt he had to straighten his head as much as possible in order to be able to breathe.
Through this same “medical” malfeasance, Mumia, who had never had diabetes before, suddenly had such a high blood sugar level that he was rushed to the hospital in a near-coma state. He almost died from a diabetes they induced but did not tell him he had until he was rushed to the hospital with a dangerously very high blood sugar level.
The medical personnel at the infirmary had actually known of the high blood sugar weeks earlier when they did screening tests upon his admission but neither told him or his family of this threatening condition.
And now these very same perpetrators of attempted murder are saying Mumia is not sick enough to get this medication. Does he need to die before they will consider him “sick enough”?
Mumia is still not out of danger. He has Hepatitis C, which could cause other symptoms to emerge, including the reemergence of the unbearable painful itching or the increased damage to his liver or some other development that they themselves could cause. Are we supposed to accept the Department of Corrections’ saying that Mumia is not sick enough to get this drug when Mumia’s consulting doctor, Dr. Joseph Harris, has stated unequivocally that Mumia needs this treatment as soon as possible?
We have consulted with dozens of other doctors who have agreed that Mumia should get this treatment right away. Even the American Liver Association has made it clear that this new medicine should be administered as soon as the illness is detected – in other words as soon as possible. Are we supposed to give the DOC another chance to kill our beloved and precious brother?
NO WAY! WE DEMAND TREATMENT NOW FOR MUMIA AND THE 10,000 OTHER PENNSYLVANIA PRISONERS WITH HEP C! We demand that the DOC recognize the basic human right, established internationally and even in the U.S., that those in state custody, in this case in prison, are entitled to the medical care they need. We will accept nothing less.
by Mumia Abu-Jamal
To the young, the life of the elderly is as distant as another country. To the healthy, illness happens to other people.
It takes time and change to teach us that all of us are united on the wheel of life, and that, if we live long enough, we will all enter the House of the Elderly.
When I recently became ill, it was more a shock than even the symptoms themselves, for, after almost 30 years on Death Row, sickness only touched me briefly, able to be counted on one hand with several fingers remaining. In fact, it rarely lasted longer than a day.
Then it struck like thunder, helped along by improper drugs administered by prison doctors.
The resultant effects, the systemic weakness, left me nodding in a wheelchair, for I was simply unable to ambulate. And even though I’m no longer in the chair, the experience taught me more than I ever wanted to know.
I cannot pass someone in a wheelchair, without at least nodding to them. For they are me.
I know, from bitter experience, that such chairs can be painful after hours of sitting.
Who knew? Now I know.
Illness, like aging, is part of the life cycle of the living. We are all on The Wheel of Time, waiting our turn to learn something anew.
© Copyright 2015 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Keep updated at www.freemumia.com. His new book is “Writing on the Wall,” edited by Joanna Hernandez. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit www.prisonradio.org. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews. Send our brotha some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.