Credit: Photo courtesy of Dr. Johanna Fernandez

A resounding community drum was sounded last week when the family, attorneys, doctors, and supporters of incarcerated activist Mumia Abu-Jamal could not locate him, or clarify whether or not he had undergone a medical procedure.

In a statement by the International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, they said, “Tuesday April 20 9:34 a.m.: Mumia’s medical attorneys have received word from the Open Heart ICU doctors. Mumia’s surgery was successful. There were no complications. He is receiving minimal oxygen and has one IV. 

“Mumia’s wife Wadiya was waiting all day yesterday, and all night for word and only heard this news this morning at 9:30 am.” 

Wadiya Jamal said, “I won’t know he is ok until I hear from him directly.”  

On Tuesday morning, April 20, educator and activist Dr. Johanna Fernandez told the Amsterdam News, “Mumia underwent surgery, we think it happened yesterday afternoon but we are not certain. However, our attorneys received a message from attorneys at the DOC stating that surgery went well and there were no complications. We await to hear from Mumia directly.”

Later on the same day, Fernandez added, “We are relieved that surgery went well, but we are concerned about the possible shackling of Mumia and the journey to rehabilitation after heart surgery. Freedom is the only treatment that will save his life.”

For 30 years Mumia Abu-Jamal and his supporters have stated that he is innocent of the December 9, 1981, murder of white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

The award-winning journalist and former Black Panther, was known for his investigative focus on the police, and his staunch pro-community stances.

He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that has since been exposed for perjured testimony and disputed evidence. Mumia Abu-Jamal became the poster child for America’s Death Row in Pennsylvania, and garnered massive international support which led to his being placed into general population in 2011 along with increased calls for a new trial.

Internationally known as “the voice of the voiceless” Mumia Abu-Jamal has been a prolific writer for all these decades. A myriad of articles, commentaries, and op-eds, from a prison cell the father, grandfather and husband has written eight books.

His 40 year incarceration has been the subject of hundreds of articles, radio shows and podcasts. His recent health challenges are causing major concern.

“We’re relieved that the surgery appears to have been successful,” Mumia attorney Bob Boyle told the Amsterdam News, “but obviously it’s major heart surgery, and recovery can be dangerous and life threatening…It appears he’s resting comfortably, but I have not spoken with him. I am unaware if his family has spoken with him,” the longtime Mumia Abu-Jamal legal representative said on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, the day after the surgery.

“This raises a larger issue of our elders in prison. He’s going to be 67 at the end of this week. He suffers from blocked arteries, congestive heart failure, he had COVID, and cirrhosis in the aftermath of our Hepatitis C litigation. On those facts alone he should be out of prison, he doesn’t pose a threat to anyone.”

Boyle added that for Mumia, “At the minimum we want him to get the medical care he is entitled to, and so he is safe––with his medical issues taken care of.

“Then of course the whole issue of his case, deemed innocent and denied a fair trial. It emphasizes the ridiculousness of keeping our elders who suffer from all of these issues in prison. It does nobody any good.”

The attorney raised the issue that, “There’s a lot of elders in the Pennsylvania prison system suffering with cancer, and debilitating diseases, and exposed to Covid.”

Asked about the likelihood of Mumia being brought home through a compassionate order, Boyle said squarely, “It is up to Gov. Tom Wolf. There’s a procedure that needs to be followed in Pennsylvania with the issue of a pardon or clemency which is release. The power rests with the governor’s office.”

Meanwhile, amongst other demands, the International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal are calling on the hospital officials and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to ensure that: “Mumia must not be shackled to his hospital bed during his recovery; [the state] let Mumia speak with his family; provide the appropriate rehabilitation plan for his recovery… As he recovers he MUST have access to his physician, exercise and a heart healthy diet.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s supporters are encouraging people to call and write to the Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and PADOC head John Wetzel “and let them know we are watching and that ‘Freedom is the only treatment.’”

As he turns 67 on Saturday, April 24, 2021, Mobilization 4 Mumia groups are holding a whole host of rallies, celebrations, and demonstrations this birthday weekend with activists such as M1 from Dead Prez, Immortal Technique and Marc Lamont Hill. Taking the Streets for Mumia presents the April 24th 2-6 pm EST. Folk are asked to meet at Philly City Hall for the rally and march “Demanding Mumia’s Immediate Release.”

For more information log onto http://letmumiaout.com.

Governor of PA, Tom Wolf

717-787-2500 ext. 3.  FAX 717-772-8284  EMAIL:  Brunelle.Michael@gmail.com