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Prof. Johanna Fernandez's account of Mumia Abu-Jamal's Health Emergency (from Verso Blog)
by Johanna Fernandez, reposted by Jamal Journal
Tuesday Mar 30th, 2021 8:47 PM
This article was originally published at the Verso Books blog on March 28, and is being reprinted here in full, no edits, with the permission of author Johanna Fernandez, from the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home. For the latest updates on Mumia’s health, please visit the Jamal Journal:
(ABOVE PHOTO: Johanna Fernandez with Mumia Abu-Jamal in 2012.)

The Only Treatment is Freedom: Mumia Abu-Jamal and COVID

(Written by Johanna Fernández, author of The Young Lords: A Radical History and a leading member of the movement to bring Mumia Abu-Jamal and other political prisoners home, reports on Mumia's COVID-19 diagnosis.)

History is not merely something to be read. And it does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally in the present in all that we do. –James Baldwin

Three weeks ago, on Friday, February 26, 2021 Mumia Abu-Jamal called Pam Africa, the person largely responsible for keeping alive the movement to save and free him for 40 years. Mumia told her that he was certain he had COVID-19; that he was having difficulty breathing as well as chest pressure and pain.

Within two hours of that call, the movement to free Mumia mobilized hundreds of supporters to call the prison and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office to demand immediate medical care for Mumia and his immediate release.

Tried and true, the call-to-action worked. The next day guards entered the imprisoned radio journalist’s cell and without notice, escorted him to the prison infirmary. On Monday, Mumia’s attorneys inquired about their client’s health with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections attorney who reported that Mumia had been tested for COVID over the weekend and the results were negative. None of us had heard from Mumia directly, however.

Amid tension, worry and stress (Pam Africa’s blood pressure shot up near the 200s), the movement issued a press release and prepared for a press conference in front of the DA’s office that Wednesday, March 3. We emphasized that Mumia reported serious COVID symptoms including chest pain— despite the negative test results reported by the prison. Near the end of the press conference, which was being streamed-live on YouTube, Mumia‘s attorney Bob Boyle phoned saying that the PA DOC attorney reported that a fourth test came back positive. Mumia had COVID 19.

But the PA DOC attorney failed to paint a full picture of the situation to Mumia’s attorneys. A clear sense of what happened emerged minutes after the conclusion of the dramatic press conference. Mumia happened to call from the prison infirmary as we were breaking down our impromptu stage; and there —in front of the Philadelphia DA’s office —he shared what actually happened: the day after he spoke with Pam Africa, guards came to Mumia’s cell and escorted him first to the infirmary and then to the hospital where doctors determined that he had water in his lungs and throughout his body. During four-days of hospitalization, the doctors informed him that he had COVID and Congestive Heart Failure and that ten pounds of fluid had been drawn from his lungs and body. As he was painting a picture of what he underwent, I thought of connecting him to his chosen doctor, who asked if he felt that he had been treated compassionately in the hospital. Mumia responded with a rote yes, said that he felt better, but emphasized that the most sobering challenge before him was to have to once again attempt to get a handle on the other crisis, the Job-like skin condition of biblical proportion that disfigured his entire body with open sores everywhere five years ago and that was back.

On another call, days later, Mumia’s breath was labored. When the imprisoned Black Panther called, I asked if he thought he was having a COVID relapse. He said, “nah, I think it’s my skin, it feels like my entire body is on fire.” When I suggested that he might need to be hospitalized to address this intractable, severe and debilitating chronic skin condition, the tension in Mumia’s famously calm voice jumped a few notches. He said that he couldn’t go back to the hospital. Mumia’s reaction resembled that of Complex-PTSD. I moved slowly in the conversation to try to understand what was going on. I suggested that he might have to be re-hospitalized for his skin condition. It was then that Mumia recoiled, saying that he couldn’t go back to the hospital. Recognizing from the sound of his voice that I was entering sensitive territory, I probed. Mumia had spoken to his wife, to Pam and to me numerous times in two weeks, but it took a trigger to reveal a situation that was hard to hear.

In the approximately five minutes remaining of this timed, monitored and frequently interrupted prison call, I learned that per Department of Correction protocol, this sixty-six-year-old man diagnosed with COVID and Congestive Heart Failure, undergoing diareses and with an infernal skin condition, was shackled to the bed for four days during his recent hospitalization. He explained that while he had wounds all over his body, the bloody wound of his lower leg — captured in the photo taken by the nurse at the prison infirmary upon his discharge— he got from the shackles that dug into his already raw skin during the entirety of his four day stay in the hospital. He added that the nurse missed the ones on his other leg and the ones on his lower arms.

The movement decided to release photographs taken of Mumia upon his arrival at the prison infirmary from the hospital. The photo of the bloody wound on Mumia’s lower leg caused by the shackling and another showing Mumia with bloodshot eyes, noticeably gaunt —he had lost 30LBS — looking at the camera with gut-wrenching vulnerability.

The practice of shackling incarcerated people is commonplace across the United States. In fact, it is ordained by politicians and corrections “professionals” of all stripes who’ve been riding the coattails of Black Lives Matters denouncing White Supremacy in the public square but enforcing it in the daily practices of their institutions. Recall that Jacob Blake was shackled to a hospital bed after police in Kenosha had shot and paralyzed him from the waist down. Police unshackled him only after protesters exposed the gross injustice. In each of these cases, authorities cynically justify their inhumanity with a supposed concern for safety. But, if safety is the measure of their actions, why do they insist on holding old men and women who pose no threat to society in their COVID infected prisons? Safety is camouflage and pretext for the practice of authoritarian control that daily erodes standards of freedom for everybody in society.

Loud and clear are the echoes of slavery, which —as Eric Williams shows in Capitalism and Slavery — for the first time in human history produced the global distribution and mass use of handcuffs, shackles and fetters because after all, enslaved Africans had to be brought to heel.

The inhumanity of the COVID crisis —and its spread in the prisons, which are now death traps — is eye-opening for those in close proximity to it. And Mumia is not alone in his suffering. When 77-year-old Russell Maroon Shoatz, a Pennsylvania political prisoner with stage-four colon cancer, was diagnosed with COVID, medical staff sent him to a small, cold, dank prison gymnasium where others with COVID were being quarantined under inhumane conditions. When Maroon arrived, he was greeted by 29 other senior prisoners who said to him: "Welcome, we've been waiting for you, we figured it wasn't long before you got it too." In these already cramped quarters, 30 elderly men with COVID had access to one bathroom stall. In a phone call with his daughter, Theresa Shoatz, Maroon reported that because his corner of the gym had no light, he had to go to the bathroom on himself because under his condition he couldn't risk getting up and falling. As Dr. Ricardo Alvarez stated, for Mumia, Maroon and many others, “the only treatment is freedom.”

The decision of most governors to hold prisoners captive under these conditions, and their refusal to decarcerate even during a pandemic, is a crime against humanity. They underscore America’s entrenched commitment to racist barbarity. In the last 40 years, US incarcerated people have grown old serving life or decades-long terms in an indefensible system committed to excessive and draconian sentencing. Today’s reality has turned US prisons into cruel, old people’s homes for poor Black and Brown workers warehoused at the height of urban deindustrialization in the 1980s and 1990s, when American capitalism could not employ large swaths of city dwellers.

But these tortuous conditions aren’t the only problem. It’s about Americans’ right to know how society’s most powerless are treated, for in the end that’s a barometer of how we are all going to be treated. Arbitrary, whimsical, and sometimes deliberately deadly decisions are made daily by prison officials and corrections officers. Like so much in government bureaucracy, decisions that carry enormous weight in how we act as a society are vested in the hands of a few who are ill-equipped to decide public policy but are all too eager to wield their limited power to inflict cruelty on the prisoners they view as less than human.

That’s why at the very least, prison reform organizers and abolitionists are demanding the release of aging people in prison (RAPP) over the age of 50 or with pre-existing conditions, who face premature death if they contract the flu, cancer, hepatitis, pneumonia, COVID-19 or congestive heart disease, as in Abu-Jamal’s case. The only humane recourse is to let elderly and vulnerable prisoners go home. Ultimately, we want a society in which social problems are not solved with carceral repression.

The inextricable link between incarceration and standards of democracy in a country led the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky to observe that, “The degree of civilization in society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

Mumia spent 28.5 years in the absolute isolation of death row, without the ability to touch another person. In 2011, a federal court overturned that sentence arguing that it was unconstitutionally imposed on Mumia. In 2018, six boxes of new evidence in his case emerged. One of those boxes contained a letter penned by Robert Chobert, the original prosecutor’s star witness in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. In that letter, Robert Chobert asks then Assistant District Attorney Joe McGill, where’s my money and what do you need me to sign for me to get it. This suggests what we’ve known all along—that Robert Chobert —like other witnesses— was bribed by the prosecutor to finger then award-winning radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal as the shooter of a white police officer in Philadelphia. This year marks the 40th year of his incarceration. It’s time to bring Mumia, and all sixties-era political prisoners, home.

§Johanna Fernandez speaks for Mumia on Feb. 9, 2010
by Johanna Fernandez, reposted by Jamal Journal
Tuesday Mar 30th, 2021 8:47 PM
Photo by Jamal Journal staff photographer Joe Piette.
§Johanna Fernandez outside DA Kasner's office on March 3.
by Johanna Fernandez, reposted by Jamal Journal
Tuesday Mar 30th, 2021 8:47 PM
Photo by Jamal Journal staff photographer Joe Piette.
§Mumia with his wife Wadiya in 2012 after being transferred off death row
by Johanna Fernandez, reposted by Jamal Journal
Tuesday Mar 30th, 2021 8:47 PM
§Pam and Mumia, following Mumia's transfer off death row in 2012.
by Johanna Fernandez, reposted by Jamal Journal
Tuesday Mar 30th, 2021 8:47 PM
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by The Jamal Journal
Wednesday Mar 31st, 2021 4:26 AM

TAKE ACTION:  Color of Change petition to DA Krasner: Stop Defending Mumia's Unjust Conviction!  II  Let Mumia Out! (resource page for Phone call-in campaign and more)  II  Color of Change petition to PA Gov. Tom Wolf: Release Our Loved Ones!  II petition from France for Mumia to PA Gov Wolf

(PHOTO: Screen shot of the SF Bay View National Black Newspaper's March 28 front page lead story: Pam Africa responds to DA Krasner's Feb. 3 brief. The photo shown at the top of the SFBV website is of Mumia Abu-Jamal, then and now, taken at March 12, 2021 protest outside DA Krasner's office. Pam Africa, with the Jamal Journal Newspaper in hand, presented new photos of Mumia since the recent health emergency began alongside photos of Mumia when he was healthier. Photo by Jamal Journal staff photographer Joe Piette. View more photos from March 12 here.)

WATCH:  Todd Burroughs and Michael Schiffman on Mumia's health emergency: “They’ve said it. We’re not talking symbolically here. It is the goal of the State of Pennsylvania to kill him."  II  Pam Africa interviewed by Eddie Conway: "Mumia needs everybody's help right now...Do whatever you can do."


(Recent photo of Mumia's leg: full of sores and bloody wounds like this now cover his entire body.)

--Mobilization4Mumia Press Release for Saturday, March 6 event for Mumia: Virtual street meeting to demand freedom for Mumia and all incarcerated elders!  II  Watch the March 6 video, (also embedded above)

MEDIA COVERAGE:  March 4 KPFA Hard Knock Radio interviews Johanna Fernandez: Mumia Abu-Jamal and COVID-19  II  March 8 Philadelphia Tribune  II  March 8 Workers World: Message from Dr. Ricardo Alvarez about Mumia's health

As reported by WHYY and the Philadelphia Tribune, during the March 3 press conference at DA Krasner's office, supporters received a call confirming that Mumia Abu-Jamal has now tested positive for COVID (watch the full video from the March 3 event here or embedded above).  Read the entire March 2 press release, which announced the 11am, Wednesday Feb. 3 press conference at DA Krasner's office.


(PHOTO: Johanna Fernandez of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home speaks outside of DA Krasner's office on March 3, 2021. Photo by Jamal Journal staff photographer Joe Piette --view more photos here.) 

--Listen to Pam Africa on Black Agenda Radio: Mumia says he has Covid. "His breathing feels like an elephant sitting on his lungs.”  II  Read the Philadelphia Inquirer article  II  Dave Lindorff article, "Urgent news: Demand the immediate release of imprisoned activist journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal" 

URGENT! Please call these 4 phone numbers now:

SCI Mahanoy Prison: 

(570) 773-2158

PA DOC Secretary, John Wetzel: 

(717) 728-2573

Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner: 

(267) 456-1000; @DA_LarryKrasner

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf: 

(717) 787 2500


My name is _____ and I demand:

1. The immediate and unconditional release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has congestive heart failure, COVID-19, liver cirrhosis, and a worsening of the severe debilitating chronic skin condition.

2. The immediate release of all political prisoners.

3. The immediate release of all elders, aging prisoners over the age of 50, people who have contracted COVID, and all others who are especially vulnerable to death through COVID-19.

Write Mumia a personal note:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335

SCI Mahanoy  

PO Box 33028

St Petersburg, FL 33733 

Alert released March 9 by Prison Radio:

Let me be clear.

This is a life and death situation and we need to mobilize immediately.

Congestive heart failure. Unrelenting skin eruptions are causing damaged, ruptured, leathery, dry, exposed wounds. Not one spot on his body is free of dry cracked and bloody open wounds. No longer in an outside hospital, Mumia is back in the prison infirmary in excruciating discomfort and pain.

The message from his personal physician, Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, could not be clearer, “Freedom is the only treatment.”

Mumia requires: Treatment - Diagnosis – Liberation

We must not wait one moment, one day, one heartbeat. We must ACT NOW to treat these conditions: 

Congestive Heart Failure 

Covid-19 breathing difficulties

Organ failure of the skin

Mumia is being denied diagnosis and adequate treatment for his skin condition. He is held in isolation in the prison infirmary without healing salves and ointments that he had in his cell. He is also denied regular access to a phone or access to his tablet which provides the connection to his email. This communication is a vital lifeline.

Make no mistake, phone calls do work - last week your phone calls meant that he was whisked to the hospital for four days.  He was diagnosed and treated for congestive heart failure and they removed excess fluid in his body.  Those treatments must continue to be carefully monitored.

He is now in the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy: the same infirmary where he suffered medical neglect in 2014 that sent him into renal failure. That year his medical care required careful blood sugar monitoring and when he did not receive that, he went into a diabetic coma.  Abu-Jamal vs. Wetzel, a lawsuit over those conditions, is still pending.  

The Fraternal Order of Police has stated that it intends for Mumia to die alone, inside this prison.  We say no. 

CALL TO ACTION: Call, write, tweet, post and fax to demand “freedom, treatment, diagnosis, and access to his lawyers, doctors, and family for Mumia Abu-Jamal at SCI Mahanoy.”


Phone number: 717-728-2573

Contact form:

Email address:, 

Twitter page: @CorrectionsPA

Facebook page: @CorrectionsPA

John Wetzel, Secretary of Corrections - name Mumia Abu-Jamal and SCI Mahanoy in subject line

Phone number: 717-728-4109

Email address: or, 

Twitter page: @johnewetzel, @DOCSecretary

Tom Wolf, Governor

Phone number: 717-787-2500, pick option #3 for operator

Fax: 717-772-8284

Online form:


Office of the Governor

508 Main Capitol Building

Harrisburg, PA 17120

Twitter page: @GovernorTomWolf, @GovernorsOffice

Facebook page: @governorwolf, @TomWolfPA

Instagram page: @governortomwolf

Larry Krasner, District Attorney

Phone number: 215-686-8000, leave a message



Main Office

Three South Penn Square

Corner of Juniper and South Penn Square

Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499

Twitter page: @philadao

Facebook page: @philadao

Reach Philadelphia DA Krasner as he speaks at events - demand that he drop the case and free Mumia at once:

April 20 Author event at 6:30 p.m. CDT, free to register:

Vincent Hughes, State Senator

Phone: 215-879-7777 (District Office), 717-787-7112 (Harrisburg Office)

Fax: 215-879-7778 (District Office), 717-772-0579 (Harrisburg Office)


2401 North 54th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19131

(District Office)

545 Capitol Building

Senate Box 203007

Harrisburg, PA 17120-3007

(Harrisburg Office)

Online form:



Twitter page: @SenHughesOffice, @SenatorHughes

Facebook page:

Instagram page: @senhughesoffice

Cindy Bass, City Council of Philadelphia

Phone number: 215-686-3424

Fax: 215-686-1937

Online form:, contact field at the bottom

Twitter page: @cindybassphilly

Facebook page: @cindybassphilly

Instagram page: @cindybassphilly

Bernadette Mason, SCI Mahanoy Superintendent

Phone number: 570-773-2158

Office of Criminal Justice

Rachael Eisenberg

Director of Policy and Planning- Office of Criminal Justice at City of Philadelphia

Email: (Director) or call (215) 686-9027











(Recent photo of Mumia being held in the SCI Mahanoy infirmary)

Write our brother:

 (Though Mumia is incarcerated at SCI Mahanoy in Pennsylvania, all mail must be sent to the aforementioned physical address for electronic scanning. Keep in mind he only receives copies, no original mail.)

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335

SCI Mahanoy  

PO Box 33028

St Petersburg, FL 33733 

Follow these and your local Mumia Abu-Jamal organization for updates and calls to action

Prison Radio

International Concerned Friends and Family of  Mumia Abu-Jamal

Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

Alert released March 3, 2021 by Prison Radio:

On Saturday Mumia Abu-Jamal was hospitalized.  When he put in a sick call slip and was seen by the SCI Mahanoy medical staff he was taken immediately to the hospital suffering chest pain and shortness of breath. Diagnosed with congestive heart failure he was given a battery of tests.  It is unclear how long Mumia was hospitalized, but by Wednesday he was in isolation in the prison's infirmary.  This diagnosis of a weakened heart requires careful monitoring and treatment. 

At the hospital his seriology blood test was positive for Covid-19. This followed three negative, or false negative COVID-19, tests  and a negative antigen test administered recently by the medical staff at SCI Mahanoy. 

After initial treatment for fluid build up in his body, he was discharged from the local private hospital and put in isolation in the prison infirmary.   On Wednesday he was able to reach his supporters who were gathering in Philadelphia at 3 Penn Sq. outside the DA's office, demanding that he receive appropriate medical attention.  He expressed his gratitude for the world wide support and attention to his and other elders with life threatening conditions in prison. 

We must remember that the prison infirmary at SCI Mahanoy is the very same place that in 2014 diagnosed Mumia as having critically low blood sugar, ie a diabetic episode or reaction to a topical steroid he was taking for a raging skin condition.  The infirmary then ignored the notation in his chart to monitor his blood sugar levels for three weeks.  It was not until  he fainted and went into renal failure that he was rushed to the hospital.  His lawsuit in that case Abu-Jamal v. Wetzel is still pending.  It took a federal civil rights lawsuit, the order of a preliminary injunction, and world wide protests for Mumia to receive the fast acting anti viral cure to his belatedly diagnosed Hepatitis C. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has repeatedly failed to provide adequate care for our family members.

We. the people, must toss aside our fears.  It is not the time to hesitate and we cannot give into despair. Decarceration is not a dream; it is a necessity.   

We need to take action now!

by The Jamal Journal
Wednesday Mar 31st, 2021 4:41 AM
--Please sign our Color of Change petition to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner: Stop Defending Mumia Abu-Jamal's Unjust Conviction


(This is one segment of the original artwork created by longtime Mumia supporter Seth Tobocman to support our petition campaign--Thanks Seth!. It is the centerpiece (pgs. 20-21) of our newspaper and can be viewed on our website here.)

--Please support the Jamal Journal by donating here.  

The Jamal Journal issue #1 Table of Contents:

The Petition to DA Krasner

Pam Africa's Message to the Movement: People Power Will Free Mumia!

Johanna Fernandez on Interviewing Mumia's Sister Lydia Barashango about Kenneth Freeman

Colin Kaepernick Supports Mumia

Mumia Honors Frances Goldin

Mumia FAQ: Reprinted from

Free Sundiata Acoli!

Free Ed Poindexter!

Free Russell 'Maroon' Shoatz!

Angela Davis Supports Mumia

Claude Guillaumaud-Pujol: Liberons Mumia!

Mumia at UC Santa Cruz

Introduction to Murder Incorporated, Vol. 3

Linn Washington: Supreme Corruption in PA

Dave Lindorff: Maureen Faulkner's King's Bench Appeal Denied

How the DA Suppressed Evidence of Kenneth Freeman's Presence at the Scene

How the DA Suppressed Pedro Polakoff's Crime Scene Photos

How Judge Sabo Blocked Testimony From Officer Gary Wakshul About the Fake "Hospital Confession" 

How Veronica Jones Defied Police, Prosecutorial, and Judicial Intimidation

How Judge Sabo Blocked the Jury From Knowing Robert Chobert's Probation Status

Seth Tobocman's Artwork for DA Krasner Petition

From The Archives: Dave Lindorff on the 2008 Third Circuit Ruling (Batson and more)

Mumia Abu-Jamal Says Goodnight to Kiilu Nyasha

From The Archives: Kiilu Nyasha on Observing Judge Sabo in 1995, "Witness to a Lynching"

From The Archives: Michael Schiffmann on Judge Sabo, "Justice is Just an Emotional Feeling"

From The Archives: Michael Schiffmann on the Third Circuit's 2008 Batson Denial

From The Archives: J. Patrick O’Connor on the 2009 US Supreme Court Ruling

From The Archives: Linn Washington Jr. Reviews “The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal”

From The Archives: Yale RebLaw Conference Rescinds Keynote Offer to Philly DA Krasner

From The Archives: The Pedro Polakoff Crime Scene Photos: 20 FAQs --written in 2007 by Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal and Journalists for Mumia

From The Archives: 2010 Ballistics Test Performed By Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington, Jr. Proves That Robert Chobert and Cynthia White Lied at Mumia’s 1982 Trial

Even Before Linn Washington Jr. and Dave Lindorff's 2010 Ballistics Test, There Were Already Serious Problems With the Ballistics Evidence Used to Convict Mumia

On the Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021 episode of WURD's Radio Courtroom, hosted by attorney Michael Coard, Pam Africa announced the release of the Jamal Journal issue #1, our newly restarted newspaper, last published in the mid-1990s by the uncompromising International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ). 

After one week of fundraising that followed Pam's announcement, we raised over $2500 and were thus able to print 10,000 copies of the 40 page newspaper and still have almost $500 left for postage. In addition, since the paper's release, we have raised over $500 more that has gone directly towards postage costs. Special thanks to everyone who donated!

The newspapers are mostly being given out for free, but they are also used for donations at ICFFMAJ events, making the newspaper an important fundraising resource for ICFFMAJ.

We have now sent out almost all of the 10,000 newspapers we published. In response, we have decided to postpone the release of issue #2, and instead re-print issue #1, now with the updated version of the Color of Change petition to DA Krasner. If we can raise enough money, we also want to print a 4-8 page insert with updates related to Mumia's health emergency. The updated petition now cites Mumia's health crisis in the very first paragraph, arguing that the new health issues are one more reason why we are calling for Mumia's immediate release.

By using all-volunteer labor, the Jamal Journal was able to get the most out of supporters' donations and we put everything we raised into printing and postage costs. Now, as the Jamal Journal moves forward, we would like to pay a part-time staffer to work on the newspaper and website for 32 hours/month at $15/hour, for a total of $480/month. If we can raise the additional $480, the job will begin in April. So far, our work has been all-volunteer.

We are now beginning a one-week fundraising campaign (ending on April 5) to print the updated version of issue #1. We want to print 10,000 more, or even 20-30,000 more if we can raise enough money. We are also considering the publication of an additional four-page insert with even more information about Mumia's health emergency. This will depend on how much money we raise, so please consider making a donation.

If you have already seen issue #1 of the Jamal Journal, then you know that it is a powerful resource for confronting DA Krasner's continued defense of Mumia's unjust conviction. The newspaper presents irrefutable documentation of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct that is so extensive that it has forever destroyed the legitimacy of Mumia's 1982 conviction. Please help us to print more!

If you donate $10 we will send you the updated reprint of issue #1 (and possible four-page insert) as a thank you gift. If you donate $50 or more, we will also send you a gift copy of either one of the three volumes of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria's book series Murder Incorporated (please donate here).

Introducing staff photographer Joe Piette

Joe Piette and his wife Betsey are active members of the Workers World Party and longtime supporters of Mumia & the MOVE 9. With his camera, Joe has now been documenting the freedom struggle for several decades. 

Last summer, in Philadelphia, while photographing extreme police violence directed towards protesters in Philadelphia, a police officer shot at Joe's face with a rubber bullet while Joe was operating his camera. Thankfully, Joe was not hit in the eye, but his camera was broken and his finger badly injured. 

A community-based fundraising campaign raised enough money for Joe to buy a new camera. We thank him for his decades of tireless service to the community, and we are excited to announce him as a Jamal Journal staff photographer. We hope you enjoy looking at Joe's photos on our website where our left column lists over 100 different photo-essays documenting Mumia and MOVE related events going back to 2007. Joe's photos also feature prominently in our newspaper.

The Release of the Jamal Journal issue #1

We have four stories on the front cover. The lead story is our Color of Change petition demanding that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner stop defending Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction. The petition to DA Krasner summarizes the overwhelming evidence of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct that has forever tainted the legitimacy of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial and subsequent appeals process. Our newspaper then meticulously presents the irrefutable evidence of misconduct. 

Next, Pam Africa calls upon all people to sign the Color of Change petition: “ICFFMAJ has always called for Mumia’s immediate release because we believe he is innocent and that he should never have been imprisoned in the first place. At the same time, ICFFMAJ has always worked alongside anyone supporting a new trial, and we will continue to do this. But after 39 years in prison, Mumia is now an elder in poor health, and every day counts.” Pam's article also responds directly to DA Krasner's Feb. 3 brief, where DA Krasner wrote that Mumia “refused to walk” into the hospital after he had been shot in the chest and nearly beaten to death by police. In her article Pam asks DA Krasner directly: Does he oppose lynchings?

The third front-page story is a full reprint of activist football player Colin Kaepernick’s November 16, 2020 statement in support of Mumia, where Kaepernick declares: "We're in the midst of a movement that says Black Lives Matter. And if that's truly the case, then it means that Mumia’s life and legacy must matter. And the causes that he sacrifices life and freedom for must matter as well."

The last front page story is a heartfelt interview with filmmaker Johanna Fernandez about interviewing Mumia’s sister, Lydia Barashango, who died from Cancer shortly after giving the interview for Fernandez’s 2009 film Justice on Trial. During the interview, Lydia Barashango goes on the record and states that she and her family have always suspected that Kenneth Freeman was the actual shooter of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Authors J. Patrick O’Connor (The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, 2008) and Michael Schiffmann (Race Against Death, 2006) both reached a similar conclusion to Barashango’s, arguing in their books that Mumia is innocent and that Kenneth Freeman was the actual shooter. Reviews of both Schiffmann and O’Connor’s books are published in the newspaper to accompany Fernandez’s interview with Jamal Journal.

In the newspaper’s front section we spotlight three elderly political prisoners: Sundiata AcoliEd Poindexter, and Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz. All three have ongoing action campaigns calling for their release, all stressing the urgent situation caused by their severe health issues. Please support the campaigns for their release!

The front section also features a tribute to Frances Goldin, a Mumia FAQ written by the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, a report from a recent demonstration for Mumia in Paris that marked 25 years of French support for Mumia, an article by the UC Santa Cruz Mumia Abu-Jamal Solidarity Collective about Mumia’s enrollment in the History of Consciousness PhD program at UC Santa Cruz, and former political prisoner Angela Davis' Nov. 16, 2020 talk about Mumia.

To further support the petition, our newspaper is featuring a range of articles that focus on recent events in Mumia’s case, such as Linn Washington’s analysis of the six newly discovered DA file boxes that DA Krasner disclosed to Mumia’s legal team, and Dave Lindorff’s examination of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s denial of Maureen Faulkner’s King’s Bench Appeal.

Accompanying the petition are five examples of important evidence that the 1982 jury never saw because of police, prosecutorial, and/or judicial misconduct: (1) How the DA Suppressed Evidence of Kenneth Freeman's Presence at the Scene; (2) How the DA Suppressed Pedro Polakoff's Crime Scene Photos; (3) How Judge Sabo Blocked Testimony From Officer Gary Wakshul About the Fake "Hospital Confession" (4) How Veronica Jones Defied Police, Prosecutorial, and Judicial Intimidation; (5) How Judge Sabo Blocked the Jury From Knowing Robert Chobert's Probation Status

At the center of the newspaper (pages 20-21), we feature original artwork by Seth Tobocman, generously created to support our petition campaign. Tobocman says to Krasner: “It is because of the work of incarcerated intellectuals like Mumia Abu-Jamal that a mass movement arose for criminal justice reform. If you feel you are part of that movement, we ask you to show Mumia Abu-Jamal the respect he deserves as an elder and predecessor. Show us that it is a new day in Philadelphia. Release Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

From The Archives

The second half of the newspaper is dedicated to articles from “The Archives,” which provide an important historical context for what is happening today with Mumia's case. Two important issues in Mumia’s present Court proceedings are (1) alleged eyewitness Robert Chobert’s credibility and (2) The Batson issue, about the use of peremptory strikes to remove otherwise qualified black potential jurors.

Several articles address Robert Chobert’s credibility as a witness, including the 2010 ballistics test conducted by Linn Washington and Dave Lindorff, which physically proved that prosecution eyewitnesses Robert Chobert and Cynthia White both gave false testimony at Mumia’s 1982 trial (the 2010 article is reprinted on the back cover of the newspaper, page 40). Washington and Lindorff concluded that “the whole prosecution story of an execution-style slaying of the officer by Abu-Jamal would appear to be a prosecution fabrication, complete with coached, perjured witnesses, undermining the integrity and fairness of the entire trial.”

The Batson issue is addressed with articles by Dave Lindorff, J. Patrick O’Connor and Michael Schiffmann criticizing the 2008 US Third Circuit Court denial of three claims that could have led to an overturned conviction, including the Batson Issue. Professor Schiffmann examines exactly what reasons the Third Circuit gave for rejecting Mumia’s Batson claim, and he concludes that they are all without merit.

The unfairness of Judge Albert Sabo is another focus of the newspaper. For this we are reprinting a 1995 article by the late Kiilu Nyasha when she traveled from San Francisco to observe Mumia's PCRA Hearings in front of Judge Sabo. We are also featuring an essay that Mumia wrote to honor Kiilu when she passed away in 2018. Michael Schiffmann provides another analysis of Sabo's antics on the page after Kiilu's article.

We then spotlight the story of Pedro Polakoff’s crime scene photos because (1) We believe that the 1982 jury should have seen these photos, and (2) Polakoff states that the DA ignored him when he attempted to share his photos with them in 1981, 1982, and 1995. The DA never informed Mumia’s defense about the existence of Polakoff’s photos, which they are required by law to do. Therefore, this one more example of prosecutorial misconduct in Mumia’s case..

Lastly we feature a Workers World article about the Yale RebLaw Conference that disinvited Larry Krasner and instead invited Mumia Abu-Jamal to be the keynote speaker. This article features photos by Jamal Journal staff photographer Linda Ragin, for whom we will be making an archive similar to that of our other staff photographer Joe Piette.

Our Fundraising Campaign

At the top left corner of our website, you can click to donate for these printing and postage costs. Because of COVID preventing us from giving these out in person at events like we normally would, we are going to rely more on shipping & postage as a way to distribute them.

The Jamal Journal’s fiscal sponsor is the Redwood Justice Fund, which means that all donations are tax-deductible. If you donate $10 to the Jamal Journal, as a gift, we will mail you the updated version of issue #1 when it is released. 

For a $50 donation, we will also send you a gift copy of either one of the three volumes of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria's book series Murder Incorporated.

The Jamal Journal is a sponsored project of Prison Radio and The Redwood Justice Fund, a 501(c)(3) corporation, so your donation is tax deductible to the full extent provided by law. 

Click here to donate online using a credit card.

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