by Wilberto Belardo
Mumia Abu-Jamal has been targeted by the government since the 1960s when he was a spokesman for the Black Panther Party. In the ‘70s he became a journalist, which gave him a larger platform to speak up for the voiceless masses in a city that was literally under siege by a racist police force.
When Mumia exposed the Philadelphia police force’s aggressive targeting of the largely Black back-to-nature group called MOVE, he was framed for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia KKKop named Daniel Faulkner. Needless to say, the government easily did what they do best by manufacturing false, incriminating evidence to convict him.
In a manner with which most of us are familiar, the prosecution terrorized witnesses and concocted a fake confession several months after his arrest. The trial was a travesty of justice. Most of the time, instead of presenting evidence of the crime that someone else committed, the prosecution zeroed in on Mumia’s political views. After his inevitable conviction he was sentenced to death.
Mumia, being the intelligent warrior that he is, didn’t lie down though. He continued to fight his conviction, but even after presenting a sworn confession by a man named Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, had shot and killed Faulkner, they still upheld his conviction. Nevertheless, Mumia never stopped fighting for his life; and in 2011 he gave back his death sentence in exchange for life without parole.
Though on paper they took Mumia off death row, it seems like the government has opted to passively murder the activist under the cloak of bureaucratic immunity. Mumia became gravely ill last March. On the verge of a diabetic coma, he was rushed to an outside hospital where the doctors were in shock to see that he had been suffering from an untreated debilitating skin rash over 70 percent of his body.
Months later it was determined that Mumia had a severe case of active Hepatitis C, a condition that can be fatal if not treated, yet the government continues to deny him the necessary care.
Though on paper they took Mumia off death row, it seems like the government has opted to passively murder the activist under the cloak of bureaucratic immunity.
Medical neglect of those incarcerated in America’s dungeons is widespread. One in six prison inmates is infected with Hepatitis C. Although a drug regimen approved by the Food and Drug Administration has a success rate of 95 percent, prison officials are reluctant to shell out for the costly drugs. This grotesque treatment of prisoners is exacerbated many times over for those, like Mumia, locked away for fighting against this racist order.
Yet Mumia has never been one to lie down. So he started pushing paper. After exhausting his appeals at the institutional level, he took it to the system in the federal courts. Recently, a federal magistrate judge named Karoline Mehalchick issued a recommendation that the district court deny Mumia Abu-Jamal’s requested treatment.
In the recommendation, Mehalchick declared with stunning cruelty that Mumia will not be “irreparably harmed” if he does not receive treatment. She went on to say that the interests of the Department of Corrections would be damaged because ordering the treatment Mumia requested would deny his jailers “an opportunity to treat Abu-Jamal’s Hepatitis C in accordance with their own established protocols.” But as prison staff told Mumia many times, they have no protocol for treating Hepatitis C!
Medical neglect of those incarcerated in America’s dungeons is widespread.
According to Mehalchick, immediate treatment is not warranted, “especially given the fact that it often takes significant time for Hepatitis C to progress.” In Mumia’s case, the disease has already progressed: Tests performed over the last several months have revealed “significant fibrosis” (scarring) and deteriorated function of the liver.
Other long-term effects of the disease, some of which Abu-Jamal has already experienced, include skin sores, inflammation of the kidneys and Type 2 Diabetes. He has also reportedly lost 25 pounds in recent months and is confined to the SCI Mahanoy prison infirmary. The state seems intent to allow the disease to “progress” until Mumia dies.
This is just another case of murder by the hands of a racist system. In the recent months, we’ve seen a lot of talk about the prison system needing to be restructured because of overcrowding. The politicians are taking up the cause under the guise of humanitarian relief, but that is nothing but a smokescreen, an attempt to save face for their blunder of the “war on drugs” of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The state seems intent to allow the disease to “progress” until Mumia dies. This is just another case of murder by the hands of a racist system.
Overcrowding isn’t the issue. We saw that when they had us living in triple bunks in gyms and outside on basketball courts. If they need room, they’ll find it. The true underlying issue is money! They are no longer showing their 1,000 percent profit margin of yesteryear because we’re getting older and healthcare costs are rising. Meanwhile, until they figure a way to save face and release the generation of Black and Brown men and women they enslaved in the past several decades, they are content to cut costs by denying us proper healthcare.
Until they figure a way to save face and release the generation of Black and Brown men and women they enslaved in the past several decades, they are content to cut costs by denying us proper healthcare.
We can’t allow this to continue. We must fight, take the route that Mumia and many other writers are taking and push paper; 602 the improper healthcare treatment they are passing off on us. Create a paper trail. Show solidarity in this approach because the truth of the matter is that it’s a life or death situation.
They’re killing our OGs y’all. Look at what they are doing to Mumia!
Send our brother some love and light: Wilberto Belardo, AI-4548, KVSP D1-202, P.O. Box 5104, Delano CA 93216.