7/4/15 Update: MUMIA IN DANGER
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READ THE LETTER SIGNED BY ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN, RAMSEY CLARK, CORNEL WEST, ALICE WALKER, CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, DANNY GLOVER, AND OTHER SUPPORTERS.
The life of brilliant journalist, intellectual, revolutionary, and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is in great danger. Pennsylvania set two execution dates for Mumia in the ’90’s despite his innocence. Only the international movement stayed the hands of the executioner.
Now removed from Death Row, Mumia is once again subject to attempted execution, this time through medical neglect and malpractice. With no history of diabetes, and subsequent to having three blood tests only weeks earlier, on March 30, Mumia went into diabetic shock.
He was hospitalized on Monday, March 30, with life-threatening high blood sugar, but two days later was transferred back to the same prison that failed to diagnose or treat him even though he was still very ill. His diet is dangerous and his health is deteriorating. Once again, only massive pressure will prevent his death.
Call the following numbers and demand that Mumia be granted: treatment by specialists of his choosing who are outside the Dept of Corrections, an appropriate diet, and daily visits by family, friends, and attorneys.
John Wetzel – Secretary, PA Department of Corrections – (717) 728-4109
Thomas Wolf – Governor of Pennsylvania – (717) 787 2500
UPDATES: (click on the dates for more details)
- Saturday, July 4: Update from Suzanne Ross’s visit to Mumia on 6/29 + pictures
- Monday, June 1: Update from Suzanne Ross’s visit to Mumia on 5/28
- Thursday, May 21: Press release from 5/20, and pictures from trip 5/21 trip to Mahanoy (including pics of Mumia) and Wadiya’s interview outside the prison
- Tuesday, May 19: update on Mumia status, and legal paperwork filed
- Sunday, May 17: Mumia still hospitalized and held incommunicado
- Wednesday, May 13: Mumia hospitalized again
- Sunday, May 10: press conference video and pictures from May 7
- Sunday, May 3: pictures of activists delivering letter to Gov. Tom Wolf on 4/29
- Thursday, April 30: (1) Mumia medical update from attorney and (2)silencing act SB 508 struck down
- Wednesday, April 29: Mumia held incommunicado
- Tuesday, April 28: (1) Prison Radio update w/ picture of Mumia from Saturday, (2) press conference/trip to PA Governor office on 4/29, (3) MOVE and ICFFMAJ statement
- Monday, April 27: (1) Message from Mumia to the movement, (2) statement from MOVE and ICFFMAJ, (3) pictures from demo in Mexico for Mumia, and (4) letter from supporters in the Basque Country
- Friday, April 24: report from today’s visit, Mumia in worse condition
- Wednesday, April 22: Mumia’s filing for independent doctors rejected
- Thursday, April 16: Marylin Zuniga suspended for having her students write get-well cards for Mumia
- Tuesday, April 14: Update from Suzanne Ross’s Apr 13 visit with Mumia
- Monday, April 13: Note/update from Mumia’s wife, Wadiya Jamal
- Sunday, April 12: Update from Apr 10 demonstration and meeting
- Friday, April 10: Archbishop Desmond Tutu has joined the campaign for outside medical treatment for Mumia! Also, 4/9 commentary from Mumia
- Thursday, April 9: Updated list of events (above)
- Wednesday, April 8: BuzzFeed News writes about Mumia’s health condition.
- Tuesday, April 7: Two summaries from Apr 6 visit to the prison and PA DOC + pictures of Mumia.
- Monday, April 6: Petition created.
- Saturday, April 4: Summary from Apr 3 visit to the prison and PA DOC + pictures.
- Thursday, April 2: Online fundraising campaign created.
- Wednesday, April 1: Son and other brother allowed visit. Mumia transferred back to prison at night.
- Tuesday, March 31: Wife and brother allowed visit.
- Background of Mumia’s health
Saturday, July 4:
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
On Monday, June 29th, Keith Cook, Mumia’s brother, and I visited Mumia. We went partially because we had learned that Mumia had had a fever for eight days, and that there was no assessment as to what was causing this elevated temperature. We had called one of the attorneys, Bret Grote, to communicate that with such a sick person an eight day old fever should have been assessed as to its source and significance. Bret then called the DOC and they did blood and urine tests at the infirmary subsequent to our visit.
Keith noted that Mumia’s skin looked less flakey than it had just a few days earlier when Keith and Wadiya, Mumia’s wife, had visited him. He thought that overall Mumia looked somewhat better. To me, Mumia looked worse than he had the last time I had seen him on May 28. Mainly his skin, particularly on his forearms, was so unnaturally black, many, many shades darker than his natural skin color.. The three of us discussed how these ups and downs that characterized some visitors’ impressions, especially the ups, were actually minor, sometimes merely cosmetic, depending on how much vaseline Mumia got to put on his skin, and how soon after his therapeutic baths the visits were. We were visiting him right after his therapeutic bath (which he receives three times a week), and he had just covered himself with vaseline, so while he looked better than he had a few days earlier , within less than a half hour into his visit with us he was itching and quite uncomfortable. Mumia felt his itching was becoming worse again. He is, according to Wadiya, often given, despite this serious skin condition, filthy prison jump suits to wear when transported to the hospital.
Mumia’s sugar level, too, has once again risen and goes up to slightly over 100, not as alarming as his highest levels when he went into shock, but not as stable as it had been and indicating that the problem has not been solved. Of greatest concern to Keith and myself, and to Mumia, was that Mumia has still not been given a diagnosis. More and more tests have been done, and still no conclusion as to what is making Mumia so sick for so many months now. His legs continue to be very thin and are heavily bandaged, and his skin very cracked and sore. Though not as gaunt as he looked at his worst, he is still nowhere near his normal weight. He is able to walk and uses the wheelchair only when in the visiting room. Prison doctors have expressed concern about his falling in the visiting room and have ordered that he always use the wheelchair for those visits. They are no doubt concerned about possible legal suits.
On less urgent but nonetheless serious issues, Mumia has been wearing glasses in which one lens is broken and kept together with scotch tape for over a year now and his repeated requests to get new glasses have been met with “You have already filed this request”. Also, Mumia has not had access to his visiting list for many months, despite his requests for such, meaning that he is unable to make any adjustments that may be necessary or that he might wish to make. Though these not the most dangerous of the issues in Mumia’s health crisis, immediate legal action is necessary to address these violations of Mumia’s rights on the part of the DOC. Demands for clean clothing, which should be provided without any demand, but which are especially relevant when someone has such a serious skin disease as Mumia has does, should also be filed immediately.
Mumia’s outside doctors have yet to see him and permission for them to do so has still not been granted. It is clear that the current medical plan is not working and that immediate and urgent changes need to be made if Mumia’s underlying problems are to be addressed. Assessments of what the prison has done to cause or aggravate the kind of severe health problems Mumia seems to have developed in such a short period of time must be thoroughly evaluated by experts on the kinds of extraordinary conditions Mumia is demonstrating. Mumia’s health situation can not continue to be under the DOC’s control if he is to get better. Demands for his immediate release must escalate! Please keep calling John Wetzel, Secretary of the PA Department of Corrections, 717 728 4109, and Tom Wolf, Governor of Pennsylvania, 717 787 2500 explaining that the DOC has failed to address Mumia’s health problems effectively and that he needs to be released to get such care immediately.
In the struggle for our brother’s life,
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition and International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Dear Mumia Supporters and Friends,
My apologies for not getting this report out earlier. The Oscar Lopez Rivera protest and the Left Forum took pretty much the entire weekend from Fridaynight through Sunday night.
I saw Mumia for an extended visit this past Thursday, May 28. Mumia seemed much better able to handle a four hour visit than he had been when I last saw him, and had I not had to leave, it would have been an even longer visit. He was still in a wheel chair because his swollen feet and legs make it very painful to stand. Despite this pain he makes sure to walk at least a half hour a day. Though thin because of the huge weight loss, he looked a lot better than when I saw him about a month ago. He has gained some weight but is still way below his weight prior to getting ill. He is eating a great deal, ate much more than usual even during my visit, is still given a diabetic diet, and feels his body is trying to recover from the huge skin and weight loss. His face and right hand are completely clear. The rest of his body is not but the itching and pain are mostly gone.
Mumia spoke energetically and his mood was very positive. He spoke of how close to death he had been. Had there not been an international outcry about the lack of appropriate treatment, in fact AGAINST the “treatment” that was bringing him so close to death, he was sure he would not be alive today. He continues to be very grateful for the love and support he has received for several months now, and expresses graphically how he could feel it in the air. Once again, he was in awe of our movement, its power and effectiveness.
I had greeted him at the inmates’ entrance to the visiting room because I could see him struggling, recognizing his shower sandal covered foot sticking out into the visiting room, and went over to help him maneuver the wheel chair in. Even a small thing such as getting through a doorway with a large wheelchair is not made easier by the prison staff. By contrast, Mumia spoke of the extraordinary kindness and gentleness of the inmates who help him with ordinary activities such as bathing in the infirmary.
Mumia remains in the infirmary. He continues to get the therapeutic baths prescribed for his skin problem. He is no longer taking ANY medication for the diabetic symptoms he had developed. Yet his sugar level which he monitors daily is in the 80’s suggesting that the so called medical “care” he had gotten at the infirmary had brought on the diabetic crisis. Once the medication was discontinued he seems to have recovered significantly from that aspect of his illness.
The big news, which Mumia told me with great relief as soon as he walked in, was that the prison doctor had just told him, as he was coming out into the visiting room, that the biopsy results were all negative! This was cause to celebrate … but with caution.
I say BIG CAUTION as all the reports Mumia is now getting are based on the prison doctors’ oral diagnoses. They are interpreting the hospital reports, and neither Mumia nor his wife, lawyers, or consulting doctors have been given the actual medical reports. The Department of Corrections is refusing to hand over these reports, claiming that they don’t have to do so because the case is now in litigation unless forced to by the courts. The health risks of not sharing the extensive hospital reports which were based on extensive testing are considerable as it is impossible for Mumia’s private doctors to advise the prison doctors on how to treat Mumia without having those full reports. This is one of the demands we must make immediately: RELEASE THE HOSPITAL RECORDS TO MUMIA, HIS WIFE, AND HIS LAWYERS so that they can immediately be shared with Mumia’s private consulting doctor. It is absolutely outrageous, and in violation of the Department of Corrections’ own regulations, to withhold medical records and reports from the client, his closest kin, and his lawyers. It is clearly dangerous to Mumia’s health for the DOC to be denying Mumia’s basis rights on this issue of medical record availability. Mumia’s lawyers have already challenged this latest threat to his medical care. We will keep you informed as we get additional information. In the meantime call and e-mail the DOC and demand that Mumia’s hospital records be released to him, his wife, and his lawyers immediately
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, SECRETARY JOHN WETZEL
Wetzel’s secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have definitely made some progress, but we have a long way to go. We still have no diagnosis of the diabetic picture, no diagnosis of the skin problem, and no diagnosis of the extremely swollen feet and legs. And, we have no hospital records. Most important, Mumia remains in prison where he cannot fully recover nor get the kind of care he needs. He never should have been in prison in the first place, but he surely should be released now.
For Mumia, for justice, for all our political prisoners,
Thursday, May 21:
Below are pictures from Wadiya Jamal’s (Mumia’s wife) trip to visit Mumia on 5/21. You can listen to her interview outside the prison here.Pam Africa, Suzanne Ross, and Bob Nash accompanying Wadiya Jamal in her first visit to her husband, the first visit by anyone to Mumia in almost ten days, We wanted to guarantee that she got in. They had the driveway barricades with six or more corrections officers and two vans. The local newspaper, the Republican Herald, sent a reporter who interviewed us and took pictures. Other pictures include Joe Piette of International Action Center and Henry Hagins of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition who were part of the group that accompanied Wadiya and her attorney, Rachel Wolkenstein. You can hear Wadiya’s description of Mumia’s health. Not great. A long way to go though there has definitely been improvement.
Below is a press release from 5/20:
Family and supporters for imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been discharged from the hospital and is now back at SCI Mahanoy, will hold a Press Conference for the purpose of reviewing Abu-Jamal’s rights to visitation by family, prison-approved visitors and lawyers. They will also be highlighting the importance of family and friends’ access to all medical records.The press conference will occur on Thursday May 21 at 1pm outside SCI Mahanoy, 301 Morea Rd, Frackville, PA 17932
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s wife Wadiya, and her attorney Rachel Wolkenstein will be visiting him on Thursday at 10am.
Human rights activists will wait outside the prison until Wadiya Jamal and Wolkenstein exit the facility, at which time they will speak to the press. Also available to the press will be Pam Africa of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Suzanne Ross of The Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition and others.
Family members and supporters were horrified to learn in a phone call to his wife just yesterday that Abu-Jamal, sick as he was and surely posing no security threat, was shackled the entire time he was hospitalized for more than a week. During that time, he was not allowed to communicate with the outside world. Doctors have testified about the danger to diabetic patients, not to mention those with extreme skin problems, to be subjected to shackling. The cruelty and inhumanity of such treatment to someone so ill has been roundly denounced and this was attributable to the Department of Corrections and its Secretary, John Wetzel, rather than to the hospital’s regulations.
Jamal’s lawyers met with POC lawyers by conference call yesterday to challenge his week-long incommunicado status which resulted only in guaranteeing that a lawyer could speak to Abu-Jamal by phone from the prison infirmary.
Abu-Jamal, while in transfer to the hospital and during his hospital stay, was held “confidentially,” say authorities. As a result, family did not hear from him for an entire week. International and national visitors repeatedly have tried to visit him in recent days, but were turned away. Family, lawyers and doctors advising Abu-Jamal have all been denied access. On May 20 Wadiya Jamal, Abu-Jamal’s wife, finally received one 15-minute call on the eighth day of his disappearance confirming his presence at the hospital despite DOC and hospital officials denying he was there.
On May 18, attorneys for Abu-Jamal filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of Pennsylvania federal court seeking immediate access to their client who has been denied all communication with them since May 12. Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and Robert Boyle are plaintiffs in the action along with Abu-Jamal. A motion for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order was filed, asking that the court issue an order granting Abu-Jamal visitation with his attorneys and wife.
The legal action seeks to immediately restore Mr. Abu-Jamal’s constitutional right to access the courts. Bret Grote notes “The DOC is once again demonstrating its contempt for human rights and proper health care by holding Mumia Abu-Jamal incommunicado from his family and lawyers. Instead of recognizing the value of family support and legal consultation in protecting and improving his health, the DOC is treating Mumia like a piece of property that it can withhold access to and information about arbitrarily and with impunity.”
According to Abu-Jamal’s attorney, Robert Boyle “The immediate relatives of a prisoner have a right to know the medical status of their loved ones in the case of hospitalization; and all prisoners have a right to communicate with their attorney, especially in case of an emergency. That my client and his family have been deprived of these rights is a constitutional violation.”
The press conference supports the legal action that now has been taken by Abu-Jamal’s lawyers and will underscore the legal arguments and foreground popular demands for Abu-Jamal.
Tuesday, May 19:
Below is an update from Suzanne Ross of the Free Mumia Coalition (NYC) on Mumia’s status as well as legal paperwork filed:
Mumia’s wife spoke with him for 15 minutes yesterday (May 18) morning. He sounded good, she said, is feeling better, feels his skin problem is improving. He has had many tests over these last ten days of hospitalization. This hospital has more specialists and facilities than the last one. A big relief for sure, but no cause for jubilation or letting up on the struggle. Mumia has still not seen his wife or other family members, has still not spoken with his lawyers, and his hospital records and the medical choices made have not been reviewed by an independent doctor. Ona Move! LONG LIVE MUMIA AND ALL OUR FREEDOM FIGHTERS WHO ARE SUBJECTED TO SUCH INJUSTICE, ASSAULT, AND CRUELTY!
We are pleased to announce that Mumia’s attorneys have filed emergency papers in court today. You can find them here:
- Declaration of Bret Grote
- Declaration of Wadiya Jamal
- Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
- Support of Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction and TRO
- Mumia Complaint as filed
Sunday, May 17:
The following is a statement released by: International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, International Action Center, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC), Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia once again taken to hospital outside SCI Mahanoy; held incommunicado from family, attorneys and doctor. We need to act now!Political prisoner and internationally renowned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal has once again been taken from the prison infirmary at SCI Mahonoy in Frackville , Pa. this time to Geisinger Medical Center in Dansville , Pa. about 3 hours from Philadelphia .
Having received no phone calls from Mumia, including on Mothers’ Day when he always calls, Mumia’s wife Wadiya Jamal called the prison infirmary on Tuesday, May 12 and learned of the transfer. Since then Mumia has been out of communication with his immediate family and doctor, despite the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ obligation and agreement to keep Mrs. Jamal informed of his medical condition.
State regulations also prohibit prison officials from blocking attorney’s access to their clients however visits by his attorneys have also been denied.
On Wednesday, May 13 Wadiya was told that immediate family visitation was approved by Superintendent John Kerestes and the DOC. This was confirmed by Laura Neal of the DOC Legal Counsel’s office.
Wadiya prepared to visit Mumia at the hospital on Wednesday, May 13, however she was then told by Neal that Geisinger Hospital would not permit the visit because Mumia was not in critical condition and the hospital has a policy of not allowing visits to prisoners.
Mumia’s family and attorneys have been given conflicting reports that updates on his medical condition were released to authorities at SCI Mahonoy. Wadiya was told repeatedly by medical officials at SCI Mahonoy that no medical updates were given to them. However Donald Zaycosky, Litigation Counsel at Geisinger told Rachel Wolkenstein, an attorney representing Wadiya Jamal, that a medical update had been provided to infirmary doctors on Thursday, May 14.
Wolkenstein reported that on Friday May 15, Zaycosky stated that under the circumstances an exception could be made to the hospital’s “no visitors” policy. He explicitly stated that Geisinger did not object to phone calls or family or legal visitation, but wanted to make sure it was OK with the DOC.
On 9:30am Friday, May 15, Wolkenstein forwarded Zaycosky her correspondence with Laura Neal that stated the DOC approved family visitation. Since then, despite phone calls and emails, there has been no communication from either the prison infirmary or the hospital regarding either medical updates on Mumia’s condition or to confirm or deny family visitations.
Mumia’s family, attorneys and supporters are extremely worried about his current medical condition and alarmed that he is being held incommunicado while his wife, legal counsel and his private doctor are being denied any access to him.
When Mumia was first rushed to the emergency room this March in diabetic shock, a global network of supporters sprang into action to inundate phone lines of prison and hospital officials demanding that they allow visitation from his family and attorneys. Once again it’s time to activate that support.
Just last week supporters delivered a letter to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf calling on him to release Mumia from prison in order to get the proper medical care he needs. It was signed by numerous world dignitaries, including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Former President of the UN General Assembly, Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, New York Congressman Charles Rangel, President of Local 1199 SEIU, George Gresham, Danny Glover, Alice Walker and many more. For the full letter and list of signers, click here.
Please call the officials below to demand:
- Unrestricted hospital visitations by Mumia’s family,
- Demand access for his attorneys
- Let Mumia call family, supporters and doctors
- Stop state’s attempt to murder Mumia by medical mistreatment
- Release Mumia from prison to be able to obtain needed health care.
Use these demands appropriately for each of these venues. So with the hospital, we want to emphasize the access and communication issues, the first three demands.
- Geisinger Medical Center – 570-271-6211
- DOC Secretary John Wetzel – 717-728-2573; email@example.com
- PA Gov. Tom Wolf –717-787-2500; fax: 717-772-8284; firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: The hospital has Mumia on a “confidential” list so the operators will say they have no one named Mumia Abu-Jamal or Wesley Cook at the hospital. People should tell the operator that their call should be reported to the hospital administration and use both names.
Wednesday, May 13:
From Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio:
A SCI Mahanoy prison nurse called Wadiya Jamal Mumia’s wife at 8:50 pm last night May 12th and told her that Mumia had been moved to the hospital. This is a disturbing development and is cause for grave concern. There are reports that he had a fever, and that he has open wounds and sores on his legs. HIs attorney Bret Grote visited him on Friday. He was engaged, alert, yet he was in pain in his knees and leg.
We will be working to gather more information as the day goes on. His hospital conditions will be abhorrent: he will be chained to the bed. He could, as they did before, be arbitrarily and systematically denied visitors. The last time we were in the ICU they did not let his familly or lawyers see him, or give them any information for 24hrs. Even though they were the ICU waiting room just a few feet from Mumia’s bed..
Clearly Mumia’s chronic conditions remain undiagnosed and unsuccessfully treated. Mumia was given a skin biopsy on Monday of this week, and had been in the infirmary following that procedure.
Mumia’s legal team of Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center, has been augmented with the addition of attorney Bob Boyle. Mumia’s doctor has been speaking directly with Mumia, even though the time he has been allowed for the phone in the infirmary was limited. There is no phone at the hospital. Mumia’s expert medical team has been advising Mumia on the tests and the medications that have been done. This advice has been critical, and is now not possible.
As we noted in our last update oversight and close monitoring of any tests, especially the diagnostic tests are crucial. The prison is preventing Mumia and Mumia’s doctors from adequate oversight and input. Because communication is being limited by prison officials Mumia does not have access quickly enough to information he needs to advocate for his own care. We are clear that Inadequate testing, delays, and any deviation from the medically necessary course of treatment, will be challenged.
Obtaining a diagnosis is of paramount importance at this moment.
Mumia remains seriously ill. Public pressure has been key every step of the way, and remains extremely important. Please keep up the calls, emails and faxes. Demand that (1) Adequate diagnostic testing be done (2) That Mumia’s doctor is able to communicate freely and regularly with the prison infirmary physicians who are delivering Mumia’s medical care (3) His doctor has meaningful and regular phone access with Mumia. (There are no phones in the hospital, in the infirmary, his calls are limited to 15 mins and and he has limited access to the day room where the phones are). (4) And allow Mumia’s chosen doctor to conduct an onsite medical examination. And as many have said, it is past time for Mumia to be released from prison.
Below are videos and pictures from the powerful press conference that took place at Madiba Restaurant in Harlem on Thursday, May 7.
To watch a summary of the press conference, click here.
To watch the entire press conference, click here.
Update from the press conference, from Suzanne Ross:
On Thursday May 7 the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition hosted a powerful press conference to support the call — issued in a widely circulated letter signed by Archbishop Tutu, Minister Louis Farrakhan, and many others (see attachment) — demanding that Mumia be diagnosed and treated by independent doctors of his choosing. Additionally, the letter calls for Mumia’s release from prison based on his innocence and now his severe life threatening illnesses which, to say the least, have not been effectively addressed by the prison doctors and were surely aggravated if not caused by their treatment. Only Mumia’s release from prison will guarantee the full recovery he deserves and must get..
Speakers at the press conference were: Cornel West; Film Professor of Columbia University and and founder and director of the IMPACT Youth Repertory Theatre, Jamal Joseph; NY State Assemblyman, Charles Barron; State Senator Bill Perkins; Local 1199 Executive Vice President, Estela Vasquez; Assistant to the Mayor of Saint-Denis, Didier Paillard and member of Free Mumia Committee of Saint-Denis, Juliette Seydi; Larry Holmes of People’s Power Assembly; Dr. Joseph Harris of MD’s for Mumia; Noelle Hanrahan, Executive Director of Prison Radio; Pam Africa for International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (NYC) and Suzanne Ross (MC), Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition.
As the organizer of the press conference and as someone who has organized many such press conferences, I can say without any hesitation, that I cannot recall people ever responding as quickly and as eagerly to an invitation to participate as on this occasion. People changed their schedules on very short notice, offered spaces for the press conference that we’ve never been offered before, and the spirit was one of unstinting support for Mumia. This was a collective voice of outrage against what the State of Pennsylvania and its prison system is doing to Mumia, and a collective outcry of resistance, commitment and love to save, heal, and free Mumia!
Photo credit: Willy Vainqueur.
Sunday, May 3:
Below are pictures of activists delivering a letter on Wednesday, April 29, to Governor Tom Wolf in Harrisburg, PA, calling for proper medical care for seriously ill Mumia Abu-Jamal, and his immediate release from prison so he can get that care.
Photo credit for first 9 pictures goes to Joe Piette.
David Johnston, longtime Harrisburg supporter of Mumia Abu-Jamal delivering a letter to the secretary of the Governor.
Thursday, April 30:
Below is a medical update from Mumia’s attorney, Bret Grote:
I had a legal phone call with Mumia today. On that call I informed him of the medical opinion of the doctor that Mumia has chosen to assist in his diagnosis and treatment. He authorized me to share the following:
The doctor we are working with is recommending that Mumia be seen by an oncologist and given an occult malignancy workup, including a skin biopsy, in order to detect the potential presence of a hidden cancer. This workup should search for a Lymphoma, including the Exfoliative/Eczematous form of Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma. This is especially so given that medical records obtained this week indicate that a CT scan from April 15, 2015 showed abnormal lymph nodes in the groin and around the aorta. It is imperative that Mumia obtain a diagnosis of the underlying condition, whatever it may be, that has been responsible for the severe skin rash that has lasted several months so that a treatment plan can be developed and implemented immediately.
Mumia told me today that prison medical staff came to see him around 2:00pm yesterday to check his lymph nodes and tell him they may do a biopsy. This occurred approximately two hours after I sent the DOC the recommendations of Mumia’s doctor that he be seen by an oncologist, given an occult malignancy workup, including a biopsy, and searching for the presence of a Lymphoma.
I will be visiting Mumia tomorrow.
Mumia is still in the infirmary. He is no longer being given cyclosporine. His lower extremities are still swollen but not as severely as they were a few days ago he reports. His skin condition is the same as it has been, with a rash over much of his body, extremely itchy, dry, and flaking. His blood sugar levels have been stable, he is no longer on insulin but is taking glucophage twice per day.
Mumia sends his love to everybody.
Wednesday, April 29:
Below is an update from Noelle Hanrahan from Prison Radio.
On Monday, April 27, morning Mumia Abu-Jamal was ordered back to the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy in Pennsylvania. All that day his attorney Bret Grote was at the prison. No visitors were allowed, he and Pam Africa could not see Mumia. There has been no contact with Mumia since Sunday, by his family, doctors, lawyers or supporters and there is grave concern that his condition, untreated and mistreated by prison infirmary doctors, could result in his death.
Watch the video on Mumia’s health condition here.
The Dept. of Corrections has turned down Mumia’s petition to be given a accurate diagnosis of his condition(s) and his need to be seen by appropriate medical specialists. His doctor has been prevented from talking to treatment staff and visiting Mumia. On Wednesday, April 29th we will be holding a press conference at Gov. Tom Wolf’s office in Harrisburg, PA at the Capitol Rotunda at 11am.
At this point we do not know what is happening with Mumia. Keep your eyes on Mumia! Demand family visitation, and legal access. We must speak out for our brother Mumia, just as he has always spoken out for us.
Tuesday, April 28:
(1) This is an update from Prison Radio – dated Monday, 4/27:
Pam Africa and Mumia’s lawyer Bret Grote (Abolitionist Law Center) attempted to visit Mumia at SCI Mahanoy today. The prison barred all visitors today for “health and security reasons”.
And this morning Mumia was given a mandatory order to report to the infirmary where he was readmitted.
As I was at Prison Radio’s studio in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon, the phone rang. Mumia called in with a message for his supporters. He reached out to us; it’s now time for us to reach out to him. His effort to record a commentary is a testimony to his courage and resilience. Please know that he remains critically ill and needs our support to get lifesaving medical care.
Mumia was seen Saturday for 2.5 hours by his wife Wadiya Jamal, and Rachel Wolkenstein. (Listen the audio of their report back here.) This visit revealed that Mumia was critically weakened and experiencing serious symptoms that are often associated with hyper glucose levels, kidney stress and failure, and renal failure. This image below shows the severity of his chronic skin condition, which has resulted in cracked and open wounds over his entire body. His limbs are immensely swollen and he is barely able to walk.
(2) Over the weekend we learned from Mumia’s wife Wadiya Jamal that his condition appeared to be deteriorating. When Mumia’s lawyer went to visit him on Monday he was told that Mumia had been moved back to the prison infirmary but was denied access to visit him, in violation of prison rules.
Since Sunday there has been no contact between Mumia and his family, lawyer or supporters and there is grave concern that his condition, untreated and mistreated by prison infirmary doctors, could result in his death. The Dept. of Corrections has turned down Mumia’s petition to be seen by medical specialists of his choice.
On Wednesday, April 29th we will be holding a press conference at Gov. Tom Wolf’s office in Harrisburg, PA at the Capitol Rotunda at 11am. If you are interested in car pooling to Harrisburg for this event please contact Joe Piette in Philly (610-931-2615) or email@example.com or Suzanne Ross in NYC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cars from Philly will leave at 7AM outside the 30th St. train station on JFK between 30th & 31st. (Across from the BOLT and METRO buses). Please call if you can go.
(3) Below is a statement from the MOVE Organization and International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal (ICFFMAJ)
On 4/27/15 our brother, Mumia Abu Jamal was ordered back to the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy in Pennsylvania. Ever since yesterday Mumia has been held incommunicado at the hands of prison officials. At this point we do not know what is happening with Mumia. Yesterday his lawyer, Bret Grote was not allowed in to see him– his own lawyer! Mumia’s attorney, Bret Grote and a member of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, Johanna Fernandez, both people who are supposed to have authorized access inside the prison at any time according to the DOC rules were denied. Prison officials want to keep Mumia isolated from outside visitors and to keep pictures of the medical neglect being inflicted upon Mumia by prison officials from being seen by the public. These sadists do not wanna be exposed for their role in premeditated murder. What the police failed to do on 12/9/81 and what this government failed to do in 8/1995 and 10/1999 prison officials are trying to do now and that’s murder Mumia. They are keeping him isolated from the world and slowly killing him. We cannot allow this to happen and it’s up to us to stop the state from committing murder just like we did in 95 and 99! Keep the pressure on! We must speak out for our freedom fighter brother Mumia, just as he has always spoke out for us. We can’t afford to relax with this situation for one minute. Make no mistake: they will murder Mumia if they think they can get away with it.
Monday, April 27:
(1) Yesterday, Mumia sent this message out to his supporters around the world.(2) Below is a statement from MOVE and the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ):
This government is actively killing Mumia right now at SCI Mahanoy. When Mumia was transferred to general population in December of 2012, Maureen Faulkner and the Fraternal Order of Police made it clear that they intended for him to die there. Maureen Faulkner stated that now the time “doesn’t seem so far off” before Mumia “stands before his ultimate judge.” She hinted that she hoped he’d be killed by another inmate. They are currently carrying out that exact plan with prison doctors! Mumia was held in isolation for thirty years. When they saw that he had emerged from that strong, healthy, and determined, they decided to come at him another way. Despite being shot and beaten on December 9th, 1981, Mumia survived. They failed at executing him despite two execution dates, and after thirty years of isolation they couldn’t break his spirit. Mumia’s medical condition goes far beyond medical neglect or incompetence– this is deliberate murder.
Mumia’s wife, Wadiya Jamal, visited him twice this week and witnessed that his condition is way worse than the previous week. Mumia came into the visiting room walking baby steps, in severe pain, and talking slowly and quietly. His face was sunken in, his skin is blackened like a burn victim with open wounds, and his arms, torso, legs and testicles are severely swollen with skin that is tightened and hard from swelling. Sitting down and standing up are both painful.
Prison doctors say they don’t know exactly what’s wrong with Mumia and yet they won’t allow outside doctors in to see him. It isn’t that they don’t know, it’s that they know exactly what’s happening and it is exactly what they intend to happen! One of the drugs Mumia is being given, Cyclosporine, is known to lower the immune system and to cause many of the symptoms Mumia is being tortured by: chills, aches, problems with speech or walking, muscle weakness, tremors or muscle spasms. Mumia is suffering horribly and he is stuck choosing between having no medical care or being treated by the people employed by an institution which is set on his murder. The only solution is for Mumia to be home with his family!
It’s no accident that this attack on Mumia comes as people are rising up across the country to protest the police murders of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray and many more. Mumia’s voice has been key in educating the world about these killings and in uniting people in struggle. As masses of people are rising up in rebellion they need Mumia silenced more now than ever. We must unite like never before to fight against this police terrorism and bring Mumia home! Mumia has given his life for this movement, he has sacrificed everything for true justice, now is the time to pay it back!
(4) Below is a note from Mumia’s supported in the Basque Country from 4/24/15:
Today, 24th of April 2015, is Mumias birthday and once again we tried to inform interested people about his situation in Pennsylvania prison.
We are a small solidarity-group in Bilbao (Bizkaia, Basque Country), working since 5 years in the Mumia campaign. Indeed, we have not enough forces to do big things, but at least we achieved to inform about the press about Mumias situation – we just do what we can.
And we didn’t want to pass Mumias birthday without remembering our friends in Bilbao of Mumias situation. Last week we organized a press conference to get into the Basque media. Some informed, and we continue doing so in our blog.
Our today idea was, to show Mumias profession as a writer. So we wrote some of his words on a banner, to make people read it.
Like you can see on the photos, we did that in Basque language. The place we did it was a Bilbao bridge where we had mobilized several times during our campaign actions. Four years ago, just in the moment when Mumia could leave death row, we renamed this bridge in Mumia Abu-Jamal Zubia – zubia means bridge in English.
Perhaps you know that there are a lot of political prisoners in the Basque Country. That means, people are quite sensitive with prison conditions. Mumia has become a well known person here. Together with the Basque PEN Club we organized a meeting where PEN members read several texts of Mumia, during the most important book-fair in the Basque Country. PEN is now thinking about how to act for their colleague Mumia in these extraordinary moments.
Some photos about our activities you can find here.
We send you our kind regards, please transmit Mumia our best wishes, all strength that he needs to overcome this complicated situation.
Together with Mumia and all his friends
WE ARE ONA MOVE
Euskal Herriko Mumiaren Lagunak
(Mumias Friends in the Basque Country)
Friday, April 24:
Mumia Abu-Jamal was seen today by his wife and his condition has worsened. He, is gravely ill. We are asking everyone to call the prison. Right now. It may be late, but call whenever you get this.Mumia needs 24 hour care and supervision. He can not be in this condition in general population. In this state he may not be able ask for help, he may lose consciousness. He is too weak. (He was released from the infirmary two days ago).
His condtiion: He is extremely swollen in his neck, chest, legs, and his skin is worse than ever, with open sores. He was not in a wheelchair, but can only take baby steps. He is very weak. He was nodding off during the visit. He was not able to eat- he was fed with a spoon. These are symptoms that could be associated with hyper glucose levels, diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and with kidney stress and failure.
Please call these numbers, and any other numbers you have for the Prison and the Governor.
Demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal see a doctor ASAP. Right Now!
Demand that the prison officials call his wife Wadiya Jamal and his lawyer Bret Grote immediately.
Demand that he be seen immediately, and the not be left to go into a diabetic coma.
John Kerestes, Superintendent SCI Mahanoy: 570-773-2158 x8102 | 570-783-2008 Fax | 301 Morea Road, Frackville PA 1793
Tom Wolf, PA Gvrnr: 717-787-2500 | governor@PA.gov | 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg PA 17120
John Wetzel, PA DOC: 717-728-4109 | 717-728-4178 Fax | email@example.com | 1920 Technology Pkwy, Mechanicsburg PA 17050
Susan McNaughton, DOC Press secretary 717-728-4025. PA Doc firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, April 22:
Mumia is still in medical danger. He is weak, in the infirmary, and still needs a wheelchair to come out to visits. In a phone call on Monday his voice was hesitant and lacked its usual vibrancy.
Yesterday, the PA Department of Corrections notified Mumia’s Attorney Bret Grote (of the Abolitionist Law Center) that it would:
- Not allow Mumia to be examined by his own doctor;
- Not allow Mumia to be examined by an endocrinologist (diabetes specialist);
- And they denied access for the doctor to communicate with prison medical staff to assist or direct Mumia’s care; and the Pirson has refused to provide for regular phone calls between Mumia and his doctor. Currently, Mumia can only use the phone every other day for 15 minutes, as the infirmary does not have phone access.
Mumia is being held in the very infirmary that caused his chronic conditions of eczema and late-onset diabetes to become life-threatening. The medical personnel on site were prevented from ordering tests when he was ill in mid-March, and are under the same prison/corporate restrictions today. One postive note, at this time Mumia is being allowed to monitor his own blood sugar multiple times a day, and he is receiving insulin. Since Mumia was hospitalized in ICU on March 30th with life threatening complications from chronic conditions we have been advocating for his treatment. We have to step up our efforts.
Thursday, April 16:
Background (from Prison Radio):
Ms. Marylin Zuniga, a New Jersey public school teacher, demonstrated solidarity and concern when she encouraged her 3rd grade class to send get-well cards to Mumia last week. Unfortunately her positive intentions have caused a predictable backlash; she was immediately suspended and may lose her job.
These cards meant a lot to Mumia at a time when he is very isolated and extremely ill. Delivered by a small cadre of his close friends, including Professor Johanna Fernandez, Pam and Abdul Africa, these cards made Mumia chuckle in appreciation and gratitude. They made him smile at a time when he was so weakened from medical neglect that he could barely stand up. Zuniga tweeted about her excitment for Mumia to get the get-well letters from her students, saying: “My 3rd graders wrote to Mumia to lift up his spirits as he is ill”.
It is necessary that we defend Ms. Zuniga, a Columbia University educated teacher at the beginning of her career. Her actions should be applauded and seen as exemplary.
When Angela Davis was imprisoned on trumped up charges as a result of her political allegiances in the early 1970’s, one million school children in East Germany sent her roses in prison! Not that she was allowed to receive them! Rather, it was a symbol of love and solidarity that reverberated beyond the demarcation of national borders and prison walls.
The meeting with Orange School Board members that we attended last night was like nothing I’ve experienced in my life. We organized to get local people out and the turnout, over 100 people, was impressive. Dozens of people took the mic and spoke powerfully to clear the record on Mumia and in defense of Marylin Zuniga. We were especially impressed by the number of people who got up and spoke about Mumia. Here we have to thank our movement’s longstanding relationship with POP and Larry Hamm. We’ve been working closely with him and the night before the school board meeting, we went to a big event he helped organize at Bethany Baptist church with Cornel West. Larry asked us to talk about the issue from the front of the room, and many of those folks showed up at the Board meeting the next day.
Last night, the Orange School Board came in ready to terminate the teacher, and union lawyers had convinced her to resign at the meeting, in order to protect her teaching license. In fact they tried to convince her to call off the public meeting. But we kept at it with her, offering a challenge to the administration’s line and the public meeting happened. The local protestors were raucous, on fire, and their statements profoundly moving. Collectively we pushed the board back and when the board tried to stem the comments from the audience, one of the board members took a dramatic stance saying that if the public is not allowed to speak there was no reason for her to remain in the meeting, and at that point she walked out in solidarity with us. That was a game changer, a kink in their armor and at that time the crowd exploded with cheers. Before long the Board met privately and decided not to fire Marylin, to keep her salaried, although still suspended, and to reconvene at a later date to discuss the matter. The protestors also empowered Marylin to stand her ground and to reconsider her resignation which she was going to read at the meeting, but didn’t. She read an edited version instead. Below please find an article in the star-ledger with videos, and more videos. Please circulate.
Tuesday, April 14:
Suzanne Ross of the Free Mumia Coalition (NYC) visited Mumia yesterday, April 13 – here is her update:
I saw Mumia yesterday in the visiting room at Mahanory for a little over an hour. He wheeled himself in in a manually controlled wheel chair. This was not easy for him. I then wheeled him to the front desk and where we sat. He looked better than he did in those widely disseminated photos taken a week ago and, similarly, seemed a little better than Wadiya’s description when she saw him on Thursday. As I noted in an intro to Wadiya’s report, the different descriptions may reflect some differences in the eyes of the beholders, but mostly I think reflect the fluctuations in the diabetic condition he is suffering from.
To clarify some differences in reports. Mumia repeated that he had lost over 80 pounds. This enormous weight loss in such a short period of time causes him pain when he sits, apparently especially in the wheel chair. I suggested a pillow, which obviously should have been provided with the wheel chair, and he said he would get one. His skin continued to look motley, multi-colored, and very flakey. It felt dry, He said it did not hurt but itched badly, and he has to cover his body with the anti-itching cream he uses repeatedly, as he did before coming out for his visit. He is still shaking. Perhaps one of the doctors we are consulting can explain what the shaking is from. His speech was clear and not at all slurred. He says he does not have pneumonia, one of the conditions that has been referred to several times, and that his lungs are clear. The confusion was that one technician confused the scar from his gunshot wound obtained at the time of his original arrest and incarceration in1981 with possible lung damage from pneumonia. His diet has changed significantly: he is getting a lot of fruit and vegetables and his calorie intake is being monitored. It was just increased to 2500 calories a day. This diet improvement was certainly one of the victories of our campaign, as we expressed outrage at the diet he was being given (pasta for dinner and cake along with oatmeal for breakfast) following a blood sugar level that was so dangerously close to diabetic coma. The authorities must have been embarrassed by being caught in their wonton neglect of Mumia’s needs, whether coming from malpractice or malevolence.
Mumia was very alert and deep, as usual filled with extensive historical knowledge, as we discussed some of the same kinds of political issues we generally discuss when I visit. He was occasionally even humorous. His spirit and intellect remain unquestionably Mumia. But he is concerned about some loss in his ability to retrieve words, aphasia like symptoms, and he sometimes experiences fugue states. He apparently did not experience any of these symptoms while I was there. Mumia continues to be extremely dehydrated. Very notable to me was the trauma all this has imposed on Mumia, major, major, major physical and emotional trauma. He feels the steroids given him for his initial skin problem brought on the diabetes, and now the life threatening diabetic picture, not to mention the pain, the itching, the shaking, and the memory issues he described. ALL DONE TO HIM, IMPOSED ON HIM.
Important to note, in terms of Mumia getting the outside medical help he needs, is that he submitted a grievance he filed regarding the lack of appropriate medical care he is receiving. This step is necessary before any outside doctors can get permission to go in. Since all Mumia could do in terms of filing this grievance was to place it in a box, we want to be sure to have a record, albeit informal, of the filing of this grievance just in case it ‘disappears’.
Mumia is deeply grateful to the movement for its love and has great faith in its power. When I asked if he had any suggestions for what we should be doing, he said “Keep doing what you’re doing.” So let’s keep those calls, emails, faxes and educational meetings going.
Below is Noelle Hanrahan’s summary of what Mumia needs with regards to doctors. Please request these when you write or call the individuals listed at the end.
1) Mumia’s chosen private physician has immediate regular phone access to Mumia in the infirmary. Phone access is limited in the infirmary, and Mumia and his physician need to be in conversation throughout each week.
2) His doctor be allowed to communicate freely and regularly with the prison infirmary physicians who are currently overseeing Mumia’s care.
3) The PA Department of Corrections (DOC) allow Mumia’s doctor to schedule an immediate Independent Medical Examination in an examination room with a table and medical instruments.
4) The PA DOC develop a diagnostic and treatment plan adequate to understand any underlying conditions that have contributed to his current ongoing crisis, and that consultation with appropriate specialists be arranged in a timely fashion and be used to assist in this effort.
Monday, April 13:
– Suzanne Ross, for International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-JamalLetter from Wadiya:
April 11, 2015
On Thursday April 9, 2015 I visited my husband Mumia Abu-Jamal at SCI Mahanoy, with Rachel Wolkenstein my lawyer and sister. I had seen Mumia in the ICU at the hospital, where he was sitting upright, hand cuffed to a chair. I saw the photos taken of Mumia during the visit on Monday, April 6 with my sister Pam Africa, Abdul Jon and Johanna Fernandez. I cried when I saw those photos. But I still wasn’t prepared for how Mumia looked seeing him in the prison visiting room, he was worse. I felt my husband is about to die.
Later on, after the three-hour visit with Mumia, we were guests on NMEMINDZ Radio with Prof. Griff and co-host ZaZa Ali. To you all who love and support Mumia, here are some edited excerpts and an update on Mumia’s medical condition.
Co-host ZaZa Ali welcomed me to the program, saying, “We stand on Mumia’s shoulders for all he has lived through and persevered through….” She asked me to explain how the medical crisis with Mumia started and how he is doing.Wadiya: I want to say something about what you just said… that you all stand on his shoulders. That meant that he is carrying you and all of US. It’s time for US to carry HIM. You understand? Because my husband, he is dying. Don’t feel no way if I get emotional, I’m feeling the way I’m supposed to feel. I’m not coming at you all. But I want to tell you that I just left that man in a wheelchair, trembling.
Mumia had to bring himself down to the visiting room from the prison infirmary in an old wheelchair, not motorized, had to use his arms that were weak and in pain; his breathing was labored.
I was in shock at how he looked. We embraced and kissed. When I saw him reading legal papers his hands were shaking hard. I put my hands on his hands and tried to steady him so he could read the information. He was shivering so hard, my hands were shaking as well. I put my arms around him and my head to his chest to hear his heart and to bring some warmth to his body because he said he was freezing. And then the guard comes and tells us “no hugging.” I was just trying to keep him warm. (Other couples were sitting close and snuggling.)
My husband is innocent. He killed no one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his only crime is he survived a severe gun shot to the chest and a serious ass-whipping by “Philly’s finest” and then they attempted to kill him in his hospital bed by stepping on his urine bag by flushing the poison back on him. And now they are trying to do it again.
The way my husband looks today, it looks like they are going to succeed, unless we get some real doctors up there to take care of him, I mean for real… Mumia’s life is at risk. It is execution by medical neglect and mistreatment… The only way I see that Mumia is going to survive this is if he is free, because I can’t trust any of them.
ZaZa Ali: Do you think his health condition was provoked or was the diabetes something he was struggling with…
Wadiya: Absolutely not. Mumia didn’t have a history of diabetes. Did you see the picture of Mumia, before his illness, how strong he is, how big he is? You see the difference in him now?!! I’ve never seen him so weak like this in my life. You have to understand that I am angry. I’m hurting. I was rubbing his arms and shoulders, he said baby, keep on rubbing them. I could feel his shoulder blades—that’s how thin he is. I was rubbing his thighs and I could feel the scabs underneath the jump suit. Whatever this stuff is, it is killing Mumia….and it’s on purpose…
I’ve never seen eczema look like that before – this beautiful brown skin, and I know his whole body from his head to his toes, for his body to be like we saw it today and how thin and weak he is…. [See the pictures we took of him showing the bumps and scabs on his arms.] Mumia’s skin was itching and he started scratching and I said to him let me do it and I started patting and that eased it. I was doing it for him and talking to him at the same time. But he’s in pain and I’ve had enough children that I can feel where infection is in your body. I can touch a certain wound or bruise and I can feel heat – that means infection is there.
[See below for an updated summary of Mumia’s medical condition]
Prof. Griff: Is it a farfetched request to push for a medical specialist to check on him?
Rachel: No. The prison is going to fight this, as they do everything, especially when it comes to Mumia. But I don’t believe this a farfetched request and we will get this. It is so necessitated by circumstances here, there has been an international hew and cry and the world is watching. We will get a specialist to look at Mumia and make treatment recommendations But given the way the prison system works, what they consider to be a decent diet and the standard of medical treatment, goes way beyond Mumia to the 2.3 million people who are imprisoned in this country, we need to make this a fight to get Mumia out.
Wadiya: They are killing my husband.
Rachel: Mumia opened up with Wadiya. He described and shared with her what he had not been able to say previously. It was extremely painful and difficult for this strong man, this private man to do. Mumia said that he thinks of himself as strong and while going through all these physical problems he couldn’t acknowledge, and be fully conscious of what was going on with his body.
Mumia said another prisoner, Major Tillery, kept after Mumia, telling him he was really sick, being damaged physically and emotionally; that Mumia needed real medical help. Major told Mumia that he was “fucked up” and “out of it.” Major Tillery filed grievances about the prison conditions leading to skin rashes. Major Tillery had gone directly to SCI Mahanoy Superintendent John Kerestes and point blank said he needed to get Mumia to the hospital. Major Tillery told the Superintendent, “Mumia is dying.” Kerestes told Major Tillery to “take care of himself.”Major answered back, “taking care of Mumia is taking care of myself.” We just learned that yesterday morning Major Tillery was transferred out of Mahanoy to SCI Frackville, where he had previously been kept in the hole. This is retaliation for fighting for Mumia.
Wadiya: So they sent him to another prison without even letting him pack up his property. They are trying to shut him up and sent him to another prison for saying Mumia needs help, he’s dying.
Prof Griff: What is the best way for us here and those who follow our show to do now and give our support?
Wadiya: Demand his freedom.
Rachel: Yes, demand his freedom and also demand the medical treatment needed. That means not only the essential but short term prospective of getting him this medical care, because he is threatened every day. This, as Mumia says is a fight not only for him, but also for all other prisoners. Mumia writes from imprisoned nation, being a lifer is slow death row.
Wadiya: Now that slow death row is speeding up, as we speak.
Rachel: Mumia’s ability to live out his life is tied to the struggle to get him out. That’s something to take seriously. The state wants to silence Mumia. The fight for his freedom should be understood as the best way to save his life.
Wadiya: There is such a conspiracy against Mumia. People should do more investigating. People should know the evidence that Mumia is innocent.
Rachel: Mumia’s mental condition is good, alert and interested in what is going on. We just heard he is taping a new commentary tonight with Prison Radio, on the police shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina. That is what Mumia is like …. And why they want to silence Mumia and continue in their attempts execute him.
Prof Griff: How do we intercede — how is this overridden?
Wadiya: We need to fight the same people who put him in prison… In a nutshell – they want to see black men imprisoned for the rest of their lives or in their graves. They want Mumia dead – sooner than later.
Rachel: Legal action is being started on Mumia’s behalf. Attorney Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center will be filing an action in the PA state courts demanding specialist medical treatment and Mumia’s own doctors and has already filed a demand with the PA Department of Corrections. We need to continue the public demands and protests.
From Prof. Griff to Wadiya: You have to stay strong sister.
Wadiya: I’m so weak from staying strong. Not only are we dealing with Mumia’s medical situation, but also we just lost our baby girl. Our baby girl is dead. In the past year, I’ve lost my mother, lost our baby girl. Now I’m supposed to see my husband die??? I have a big problem with that…
Rachel: I think it will also help to write to Wadiya, as well as Mumia especially in this very difficult period. Read Wadiya’s Open Letter of April 5 issued after speaking at the hospital press conference and getting medical reports from the hospital doctors and prison medical staff.
Most people don’t know that Wadiya was the spokesperson for Mumia at the very beginning of the international campaign for Mumia in the later 1980s and early 90s. She helped set the international stage for understanding Mumia’s case, his innocence and the need for us to fight for Mumia’s freedom. Being able to work through her pain and speak for Mumia is hugely important. She is Mumia’s wife and the first advocate for him.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI Mahanoy, 301 Morea Rd., Frackville, PA 17932Wadiya: Please, please, please, I beg of everybody to help my husband get free, because he is dying in there.
My eyes don’t lie, my touch don’t lie. I know what I see, I know what I feel. Things that he told us that are personal, I wouldn’t even tell you all the personal things that he said that’s going on with his body. He just needs to be home. He should never have been in prison to start off. Not a day. Thank you all for opening this up for us.
We love you. Ona Move.
Prof. Griff: We appreciate your coming on and we want you back whenever you can.
Wadiya: Love you back.
Send your message back to me via Facebook at:
Write to me at: Wadiya Jamal, PO Box 19404, Kingsessing Station, Philadelphia, Pa. 19143-9998Medical Summary
There was medical neglect and mistreatment of Mumia. In January Mumia asked for treatment for an increasingly serious skin problem that spread over his entire body. He was treated with antibiotics and steroids, both crèmes and pills.Mumia had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic they gave him. His body broke out violently in blisters. From the steroids Mumia described swelling up from his feet to his head, like a balloon, his skin ready to bust. He had trouble breathing.
Mumia told us a prison doctor said he looked like he was “in a suit of armor,” his skin was so tight and crusted, his chest raised up to his chin, to create space to breathe.”
It was Mumia who told the doctors he was having an allergic reaction to the medicine he was given. Mumia had at least three blood tests and also ultrasounds. Ultrasounds showed he had a patch of pneumonia and gallstones. Mumia was admitted into the prison infirmary for a week in February. On February 17 Mumia weighed 268 pounds. When he was discharged from the infirmary a week later he had lost over twenty pounds. On March 30, when he was taken to the hospital in a diabetic shock, his weight had dropped to 184 pounds. That’s a loss of 80 pounds in five weeks. His blood sugar levels registered high since at least February. Mumia’s blood pressure was high and the prison was monitoring it periodically.
Blood tests taken on March 6, showed his blood sugar level of over 400. This is a dangerously high level indicating a medical emergency. Almost three weeks later on March 30, Mumia went into diabetic shock—his sugar glucose when he got to the hospital ICU was near 800, which can be fatal. When Mumia collapsed he had gone to the infirmary for a blood pressure check. His sodium level was also dangerously high and he was dehydrated. If Mumia had gone into the diabetic shock at night in his cell, he would likely have died.
Mumia was not previously a diabetic. This condition grew within a period of about three months during treatment for his skin—which is still covered with scabs. He was told he had eczema because there is a family history. But we heard from other prisoners that they had a similar developing skin condition and grievances were filed at the prison, but no responses.
Wadiya was given medical updates a few times from the Chief Medical Care Adminstrator at SCI Mahanoy. But since Wednesday, April 8, he was not available or his phone line not answered.
Mumia’s physical condition is far from stable. His blood sugar levels are in great flux now, from quite low (below 70) and back up to highs in the 200s.
Mumia told us the special diet he is now given is a 2500 daily calorie diet, with some meats, cereal, white bread and fruit, mostly oranges. But a diabetic diet is not a question of calories, but what foods are made available for him as part of a particularized diet, exercise and regulation of his blood sugars as best for him.
We are all fighting to get a specialist to examine Mumia and set up a treatment plan for him. The question will be what it will take to get that enforced over a continued period of time.
Sunday, April 12:
On Friday, April 10th, supporters of celebrated United States political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal took to the streets of Harlem NYC as a part of a national day of action to demand immediate and adequate medical care for brother Mumia Abu Jamal. A very diversified crowd of 100 people shut down 125th street during evening rush hour marching and demanding that Mumia get the necessary medical attention needed. Several members of the community joined in on our rally and march as well.
At 6:30pm, Mumia organizers held an emergency organizers meeting at Saint Mary’s church to discuss the issue of Mumia and his current medical situation. Ann Lamb of NYC Jericho gave wonderful overview of the issue of medical neglect in the United States prison system as it relates to our political prisoners. One of the highlights of the evening was a live call in from MOVE political prisoner Delbert Africa who called in live from the state correctional institution from Dallas Pa. Delbert urged the crowd to keep fighting for Mumia and also stressed the important need for unity with this work.
Professor Johanna Fernandez and Dr. Suzanne Ross both respectively of The Campaign To a Bring Mumia Home and the NYC Coalition to Free Mumia Abu Jamal both gave an overview of what’s needed next to help Mumia during this medical crisis and ultimately stated what’s need to bring Mumia home. We still have much work to do so let’s get it going special thanks to Saint Mary’s church Workers World Party / The international Action Center , The Campaign To Bring Mumia Home, Bob Lederer, The NYC coalition To Free Mumia, NYC Jericho movement and most importantly the youth and community members who made all of this possible. FREE MUMIA.
Friday, April 10:
Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, wrote a letter to the Secretary of the PA Department of Corrections, John Wetzel – you can read it here.
Also, a note from Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio:
Last night April 9th Mumia Abu-Jamal called Prison Radio and delivered this commentary “Of Punks, Predators, & Pigs” on the police shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina.
Honestly, my reaction when he called, was one of shock. Pam Africa was on my cell and we both said “Really Mumia, you want to work?” He said “I am a nerd what can I say”. I said “Dude, come on, we love you but really, I should not even press record. He responded with a weak chuckle and said “Noelle, you damn well better record!” Mumia is reaching out to us. Now we have to reach out for him. Today, Friday April 10th is the National Day of Action calling on people to demand that he have access to health care.
Mumia is not out of danger by any means. Again his condition is very serious. He has lost 50lbs, his blood sugar levels are not stable, and he has severe chronic conditions that require immediate and adequate attention. He went from the ICU just days ago (when he was too sick to stand) back to the infirmary at the prison. He at times is too weak to stand. Remember this is the same place where his chronic but treatable conditions became nearly fatal.
Let us be clear: The prison has the duty to provide health care. Yet, the pattern and their actions are not in the direction of access and care.
We can change that.
We have just pushed the goal of our Indiegogo campaign to $40 thousand dollars, we have raised $20K in the last week to pay for his Medical/Legal costs. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. Rise up for Mumia. Take Action Now. Call, Rally, and Demand he receive care.
Noelle Hanrahan, Prison Radio
Tuesday, April 7:
There are two updates from yesterday’s visit: one from Mumia’s visitors and one from supporters who went to the PA Department of Corrections.
UPDATE 1: Mumia’s Visitors (Pam Africa, Johanna Fernandez, Abdul Jon)
His blood sugar registered in the mid 200s today and continues to fluctuate, and although Mumia is still very weak, he was better than on Friday. He told us that the doctors gave him a double shot of insulin right before he came out for the visit, likely in an effort to make him appear temporarily more energetic than he is. This concerns us because insulin overdose is a possibility in these instances. Again Mumia has not yet been seen by a diabetes specialist, although the general practitioner told him today that perhaps he needs to see a nutritionist. This is a sign that our muckraking is working, since the news has gotten around that he was given spaghetti for lunch when his blood sugar registered at 336.
However, despite this modest progress Mumia struggled to get out of his wheelchair so that we could take a photo of him. He remained in the wheelchair for the rest of the visit. Mumia also told us that his mind is filled with a million things each day, but he only has the mental and physical capacity to focus on just one thought. He said that he has learned that because he has always had a strong constitution, he had failed to appreciate the centrality of life’s energy force to living. He also shared something that must have been profoundly humiliating and difficult to come to terms with.
Last Thursday, Mumia tried to go to the bathroom in the infirmary. Because he was so weak, he was not able to sustain himself on his feet. He slid down to the floor and waited there, helplessly and unable to call for assistance, for 45 minutes until he was found by a doctor and another prisoner.
We shared a touching moment with Mumia in an effort to raise his spirits. Two teachers delivered letters to us that their students had written to Mumia. One batch came from a 3rd grade class taught by Ms. Marylin Zuniga in Orange, New Jersey. The other batch was from a group of high school students in the Philadelphia Student Union, which fights for school reform and is led by Mr. Hiram Rivera.
It had been a long time since we had seen Mumia smile. He chuckled as he read excerpts from these touching letters.
We share these photos to give you a sense of the gravity of Mumia’s condition. He has lost over 50lbs and his entire body is covered with a hard, leathery layer of jet-black skin, that is bloody, painful and itchy.
We continue to demand that he be allowed to see an independent team of specialists chosen by his family and supporters.
UPDATE 2: Suzanne Ross and Supporters at PA DOC
Last Friday about 50 Mumia supporters traveled to SCI Mahanoy, where we knew Mumia was placed in the infirmary after being transferred there suddenly and inappropriately from the Intensive Care Unit at Skuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville two days earlier. No relative or friend had seen Mumia in two days, and given how sick he was it was urgent that we got people in to evaluate his health condition. As we previously reported, those who went in were extremely disturbed by Mumia’s worsening health, after some signs of stabilization of particularly his blood sugar level. Right after that visit, several carloads of supporters continued on to the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) Headquarters to demand a meeting with Secretary John Wetzel. After a long presentation to the press secretary for the DOC, Susan McNaughton, regarding Mumia’s need to have independent medical doctors, a suitable diet, access to specialists, etc. we made it clear that we wanted a response to these demands from Wetzel. Since Wetzel was not available on Friday, we let the press secretary know that we would definitely return on Monday to get that response.
By 10:30 AM, demonstrating our seriousness in following up on what we said we would do, about 15 of us, coming from four different cities – Pittsburgh , DC, Philly, and NYC – arrived at the DOC. Among our group was Ramona Africa, Attorney Martha Conley from Pittsburgh, Professor Tony Monteiro, Joe Piette of International Action Center, and Paulette D’Auteuil of National Jericho. We walked right into the lobby and began expressing our expectation of a response from Secretary Wetzel as to how he was going to respond to Mumia’s urgent medical needs which were clearly not being met. Specifically, we were asking for Mumia to have immediate access to outside doctors and specialists and to an appropriate diet for his serious diabetic condition. Security promptly tried to eject us. We gradually left the lobby and went outside, but refused to go to the “staging area” they designated for us.
The level of fear and insulation the DOC showed was striking. They even brought in four police cars from the local police force to address the 15 of us! We had called for people to deluge Wetzel’s office with phone calls requesting that Mumia have access to independent doctors. We know that the response to our call was very strong as the DOC eventually shut down their phone lines. It was clear that we were not speaking simply for our small group. Their fear of our movement was apparent.
Wetzel’s message was that he would not meet with us, and that we should ask to meet with the legal office. When we asked to meet with the head of that office, a Mr. Perez, he too did not respond to our request. With constant back and forth requests communicated through the head of security, we eventually received the message that the DOC would only meet with Mumia’s wife, Wadiya Jamal, or with attorneys representing Mumia.
While this interaction was going on, one of our lawyers was filing a request with the DOC for precisely the same right: for Mumia to be treated by independent doctors. At the end of the several hours we spent at the DOC, Pam Africa, Abdul Jon, and Johanna Fernandez who had visited Mumia joined us so we could all pull the day’s activities together. We will continue to exert pressure on the system to do what it must do for Mumia on all levels available to us.
A luta continua!
Monday, April 6:We created a petition calling for the following:
- Allow daily visits by Mumia’s family, friends, and attorneys.
- Allow Mumia’s choice of specialist doctors to examine and schedule treatment for him – NOW.
- Provide Mumia with a diet that meets his particular medical needs.
- Launch a full investigation of prison healthcare in Pennsylvania.
- Mumia is innocent and should never have been incarcerated. Release him immediately!
Please sign and share widely!
WE ARE GOING BACK TO CAMP HILL ON MONDAY, APRIL 6, TO FOLLOW UP WITH PA DOC SECRETARY, JOHN WETZEL! JOIN US IF YOU CAN! CALL (212) 330-8029 IF YOU CAN JOIN US. THE PRESSURE MUST CONTINUE!
Yesterday, Friday, April 3, a caravan of about 15 cars coming from Philadelphia, NYC, and DC gathered at Mahanoy Prison in a dramatic presence on the road. With banners, signs, videos, interviews, and chanting the prison was well aware of our presence. We were demanding that Mumia’s family and supporters be allowed in and that Mumia be seen by outside doctors to treat his very serious medical problems.
The prison initially refused to allow anyone in, but with increasing phone calls and our physical presence they ultimately relented and allowed five visitors to come in for one hour. Though not enough, this was surely a victory and surely a response to the relentless international pressure which continued through the time we were at the prison. After much negotiating and arbitrary changing rules, the five people did enter.
Their report was very troubling. On the positive side, our people, including Mumia’s brother, Keith, got into the prison and actually saw Mumia, and let him know about the worldwide support. They said Mumia’s spirit remains strong, and that he was completely alert, and responsive. On the negative side, Mumia was brought in in a wheelchair, his blood sugar went up again, he is very weak, he has lost an enormous amount of weight, approximately 80 pounds or so in three months, and he is clearly uncomfortable. The diet he is being given is completely inappropriate, and dangerous, for someone suffering from such a life threatening condition of diabetes.
(@pastpostal65:Mumia’s visitors report to supporters. Slurring words, in a wheelchair, said “I believe in the power of the people.”)
We then went to Camp Hill, headquarters of the Department of Corrections of Pennsylvania, right outside Harrisburg. With our banners, t shirts, sweatshirts, cameras etc, arriving at about 4 PM when they were closing, we were more than visible. The usual “No, no one is available”, etc. etc. and our usual “We demand that we meet with the Secretary Wetzel or his representative now” scenario played out and we did get a meeting. It was a stand up, disrespectful way of meeting with us, but nonetheless we met with the Press Secretary and let her know in no uncertain terms that we want outside doctors to see Mumia, evaluate and treat him, and that the prison system has so far brought him close to death. We were very insistent with this one demand: we want outside medical doctors to evaluate and treat Mumia immediately. We said we would return on Monday to follow up on this demand.
(@pastpostal65: Prison press scty taking complaints fm Pam Africa – we want mtg Monday!
(@pastpostal65: Dr Susanne Ross telling Prison Rep. Mumia needs real care.
Phone calls to Wetzel’s office in particular, but also to Kerestes should continue as much as possible reiterating this demand: Mumia is deathly ill, the prison system has made him sicker and sicker, and has certainly not shown any signs of helping him recover his health. We, therefore, demand that outside doctors of Mumia’s choosing be allowed to evaluate and treat him immediately. Cite institutional connections if you can.
PA Secretary of Department of Corrections John Wetzel: 717 728 4109, Raemail@example.com
Superintendent of SCI Mahanoy, John Kerestes: 570 773 2158
In the face of this life threatening crisis for Mumia,, caused by the Department of Corrections willfully, in yet another attempt to silence Mumia once and for all, the international movement in support of Mumia, has been amazing! With demonstrations in Berlin and Paris two days ago, that we know of, three demonstrations yesterday between Mahanoy and Camp Hill, Philadelphia, and New York, we are surely on the move! We will be planning more activities and an overall all out battle plan! In the meantime, we will be confronting Wetzel at Camp Hill again on Monday, April 6. Please join us if you can.
There is an online campaign to raise $20,000 for the following:
- Pay for lifesaving medical care from Mumia’s doctors who he wishes to consult with
- Increase our legal and medical campaign to ensure Mumia and his family will be given all new information on Mumia’s condition
- Obtain Mumia’s medical records for review (his records cost $1.50/page)
- Cover costs for Mumia’s family, friends and core organizers as they travel to the Medical Center in Pottsville, PA and the prison in Frackville, PA
- Cover legal fees for Mumia’s attorney
At 7pm last night, April 1, Mumia Abu-Jamal was transferred back to the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy- the same prison infirmary that failed to identify his diabetes, gravely misdiagnosed him, and gave him severely detrimental treatment.
CALL NOW to demand that Mumia’s family, attorney and sister Pam Africa be allowed visitation in the infirmary: 570-773-2158 x 8102
Mumia’s youngest brother, Bill Cook, and his oldest son, Jamal Hart, have been able to visit him today for 30 minutes each. Mumia’s condition was distressing. Jamal Hart left the room after ten minutes, distressed that his father was in pain. Bill Cook reports that Mumia was very ill. He had labored breathing, was in pain, thirsty, and he was shaking. He also had difficulty getting out of bed. He was chained with one hand to the rail. Except for the two short visits on Monday and Tuesday, he was without any family contact. He was denied all other visits including legal visits.
As of today, a new prison rule is going to prevent his wife Wadiya and his brother Keith from visiting again for an entire week. The new rule states that only one visit per week per immediate family member will be allowed. This also means that there will be many times when we will not have any contact with Mumia during this critical week. Please do continue calling the prison and medical center to demand that Wadiya and Keith can visit Mumia again this week!
Tuesday, March 31:
Thanks to the deluge of calls to Pa. prison officials demanding that Mumia’s family be allowed to visit him, his wife Wadiya and brother Keith Cook were granted 30-minute hospital visits on Tuesday (March 31) morning. They reported that he was coherent, alert, and eating heartily, but weak. But there’s no guarantee as to when and how often they can return, nor when his lawyer can see him.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION:
We need everyone to keep calling the Pa. prison authorities to demand that his case be reviewed by doctors representing his family (also give his birth name, Wesley Cook).
- Corrections Secretary John Wetzel, 717-728-4109 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pennsylvania Bureau of Health Care Director Chris Oppman, 717-728-5311
- Schuylkill Medical Center Superintendent Mark Lory, 570-621-5000
- Mahanoy State Correctional Institute Superintendent John Kerestes, 570-773-2158
The fight-back is strong and continues:
- There is a large international campaign to get Mumia the care he needs.
- There was a press conference on the afternoon of March 31 outside the hospital, featuring his family, lawyer, and supporters drew significant corporate media coverage. See AP account here.
- “Family and friends are not leaving Pottsville. Mumia is not out of danger and we will remain vigilant and mobilized.”
- For the past three months Mumia has been suffering from an extreme eczema outbreak, with raw, blistered and bloody skin. During this time, Mumia alerted several supporters and prison doctors about the depths of his concern. Not only did they fail to adequately address the situation, but, as Pam Africa said, “They gave him the wrong medication which made his condition worse.”
- Bret Grote, one of Mumia’s attorneys, with the Abolition Law Center, said: “Mumia does not have a history of diabetes, but had been experiencing a series of symptoms that should have alerted medical staff at the prison to the onset of the disease. Instead, he was not given comprehensive diagnostic treatment and a medical crisis emerged that could have resulted in his slipping into a diabetic coma or worse.”
- Pam Africa of MOVE said, “Prison officials are lying. Mumia is going through torture at the hands of Department of Corrections through medical neglect. It is clear to people that they want to kill Mumia. Inmates on the inside who questioned what was happening have been subjected to direct retaliation by the superintendent. They have been moving concerned inmates out of Mumia’s unit in an effort to both bury and keep this critical information from the public.”
- In December, in alarmingly similar circumstances, political prisoner Phil Africa of the MOVE organization was suddenly hospitalized and denied family visits as well as medical updates, and within a week he died.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
As Bret Grote wrote today: “The state keeps trying to kill Mumia – spied on by the FBI since he was 15, shot in the chest and severely beaten on December 9, 1981, framed for a killing he did not commit and put on death row, held in solitary confinement under threat of execution for 30 years, and now denied competent, basic medical care. He is alive because the movement has fought like hell to make it so. The government of the united states of apartheid can never be trusted to protect the rights or respect the lives of Black people or those held in prison. Never forgive, never forget. Stay alert and ready to act. Free Mumia!”
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