I argued in a previous post that honoring those who gave their lives to the revolution should be a mandatory sentiment amongst African people. Well, a fight for the freedom of a former Black Panther is currently in the works, and it looks like that sentiment is being put to the test.
Writer, journalist, community activist, and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, formerly known as Wesley Cook, is fighting for his freedom since his imprisonment in 1982. He was convicted of shooting and killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981 after Faulkner pulled over his brother during a traffic stop. Abu-Jamal was given a death sentence until 2011 when then-Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams ruled his sentencing unconstitutional. He was then issued a life sentence without parole.
Currently, Abu-Jamal’s freedom is no longer a fight for justice but a fight for medical treatment. According to The Guardian, he was hospitalized a few years back for Hepatitis C but received anti-viral medication. The viral treatment, which costs $1,000 per dose, had a 90-95% cure rate, but officials told him that he wasn’t eligible for those doses. Abu-Jamal sued the state of Pennsylvania; however, the US district court judge, Robert Mariani, stated that his lawsuit wrongly targeted the warden and the prison system’s medical chief. He should’ve named the members of the state’s Hepatitis C committee instead, but Abu-Jamal’s lawyers argued that the committee didn’t exist at the time of the lawsuit.
Judge Mariani advised that the state’s protocol is designed “to identify those with the most serious liver disease and to treat them first, and then … move down the list to the lower priorities.” Prisoners with esophageal varices, enlarged veins in their throats that have begun to bleed, would “move on to immediate treatment, and if they don’t have varices, they can wait.”
Additional court filings found, penned by a lawyer from the Pennsylvania prison system, that “there simply is not enough money to treat every individual.” Chronic Hepatitis C and treating all of them “would cost approximately $600m. Such an expense would effectively cripple the department.”
Another troubling update, by way of The Philadelphia Tribune, advised that Mumia Abu-Jamal has developed a skin condition that flares up, leaving bloodied open wounds all over his body, and that he’s lost 30 pounds after testing positive for COVID-19. An associate professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York, Johanna Fernández, along with Abu-Jamal’s supporters, are advocating for his release so that he can receive proper medical care.
Professor Fernández advised the following:
“That a prisoner is being held under these conditions suggests that all standards of decency, morality and humanity have eroded in American society.”
“Mumia is not alone: This is what medical care looks like in American prisons.”
Many throughout the country are fighting for the immediate release of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. To stay up-to-date with all of the calls to action, click here.
I’ll do my best to keep you all updated as well.
Until Next Time…
Photo Credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer
D’Onofrio, M. (2021, March 8). Mumia Abu-Jamal loses 30 pounds while recovering from COVID-19. Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://www.phillytrib.com/news/local_news/mumia-abu-jamal-loses-30-pounds-while-recovering-from-covid-19/article_c5da1e74-7639-5161-8558-57a7d68a2dd8.html
Feltz, R. (2016, September 1). Imprisoned ex-Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal denied hepatitis C treatment. Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/01/black-panther-mumia-abu-jamal-denied-hepatitis-c-treatment
Shaw, J. (2019, November 12). In Mumia Abu-Jamal appeal, officer’s widow seeks to remove Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner’s Office from case. Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://www.inquirer.com/news/mumia-abu-jamal-philadelphia-district-attorney-larry-krasner-maureen-faulkner-petition-state-supreme-court-20191112.html1
WHO IS MUMIA ABU-JAMAL? (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://www.freemumia.com/who-is-mumia-abu-jamal/