Incarceration Nation

Mumia Wins Federal Court Victory
On Hep-C Treatment!

By Chris Kinder

On January 3rd, a federal court granted Mumia Abu-Jamal’s petition for immediate and effective treatment for his Hepatitis-C infection, which has hitherto been denied him. The judge struck down Pennsylvania’s protocols as “deliberate indifference to serious medical need,” said Rachel Wolkenstein, an attorney supporter of Mumia’s.

 Bret Grote, of the Abolitionist Law Center, and associate attorney Bob Boyle led the case in court. “This is the first case in the country in which a federal court has ordered prison officials to provide an incarcerated patient with the new [Hep-C] medications that came on the market in 2013,” said Grote.

This is a rare and important win for innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal in a court system that has routinely subjected him to the “Mumia exception,” i.e., a refusal of justice despite court precedents in his favor. Thousands of Hep-C-infected prisoners throughout Pennsylvania and the U.S. stand to benefit from this decision, provided it is upheld. 

But, it is up to us to make sure that this decision is not over-turned on appeal—something the State of Pennsylvania will most likely seek.

Hundreds demonstrated in both Philadelphia and Oakland on December 9, 2016, to demand both this Hep-C treatment for prisoners, and “Free Mumia Now!” In Oakland, the December 9th Free Mumia Coalition rallied in downtown and then marched on the Oakland Police Department (OPD) headquarters. The Coalition brought over two dozen groups together to reignite the movement to free Mumia; and now we need your support to expand and build for more actions in this new, and likely very dangerous year for political prisoners. 

The background

December 9th is the date in 1981 on which Mumia was shot by a cop, almost killed, and then framed for the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner, which had already taken place before Mumia arrived on the scene. Mumia was an anti-racist activist and journalist, whose activities and radio reports on police brutality had made him a target of both federal and local cops and politicians. 

Mumia’s trial before a racist judge was a crime scene in itself, with corrupted and lying “witnesses,” honest witnesses not called to appear, faked “evidence” and Mumia himself removed from most of his own trial! His State appeal was held before the same racist judge, and another man who confessed to the Faulkner killing was never called before any court.

Mumia contracted Hepatitis-C from a blood transfusion in the hospital in 1981 after his arrest. Decades later, this long-incubating viral infection exploded into a raft of debilitating secondary symptoms, and into the present threat Mumia faces of cirrhosis of the liver and likely death, unless he receives the newly-available curative treatment. While treating him for the secondary symptoms, the Pennsylvania prison Department Of Corrections has up to now refused the essential cure, due to its cost (while masking this in a litany of excuses.) 

In 1995, mass international demonstrations took place, which succeeded in stopping the threat of immediate execution, which had been leveled against Mumia by the PA governor.  And in 1999, Oakland teachers held teach-ins on Mumia and the death penalty, and longshore workers in the ILWU shut down all West Coast ports to free Mumia and massive demonstrations were held. More recently, the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal has organized demonstrations demanding treatment for prisoners suffering from Hepatitis C and against price-gouging by Gilead Sciences, the maker of the drug Harvoni, which all Hep-C victims need.

Now, we must ramp up all this movement to demand: Treatment for all Hep-C infected prisoners, and Free Mumia Now!

The Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (LAC) urges you to get involved and support the December 9th Coalition.

Contact: Tova, 510-600-5800; Jack, 510-501-7080; or Gerald, 510-417-1252.

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, January 4, 2017