By JR Valrey, the People’s Minister of Information
Former Black Panther, award winning international journalist, and political prisoner of war Mumia Abu Jamal has been locked up on bogus charges, in Pennsylvania, for the last 40 years, knowingly by the government because of his political beliefs, and his journalism. After being diagnosed with Covid 19, congestive heart failure, and Hepatitis C, Mumia Abu Jamal’s health is slipping, and his only road to recovery is through us freeing him.
Mumia Abu Jamal is a political prisoner of war, that we must free immediately, just like some of the other veterans from the Black Power Movement who became victims of the FBI’s Cointelpro program like: Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Veronza Bowers, Ruchell Magee, Ed Poindexter, Kamau Sadiki, Sundiata Acoli, Mutulu Shakur, Romaine Chip Fitzgerald, Russell Maroon Shoatz, and more. There are also political prisoners being created daily in this era, people like Aaron Patterson, Chief Malik, Larry Hoover, Abdul Shakur and so many others, are still being prosecuted because of their actions and political beliefs, against a white supremacists capitalist order. As people living outside of the prison walls, it is a political and spiritual obligation for us to fight relentlessly to free our freedom fighters and elders, from unjustified charges and incarceration.
Mumia Abu Jamal has authored over 12 books and thousands of radio commentaries, that have described the inner racist and classist bowels of “America the Beautiful”, as well as the political nature of the capitalist world, with the help of Prison Radio. Beyond his service in the Black Panther Party, Mumia Abu Jamal is still one of the most politically astute voices giving a political analysis, from inside the American empire.
Professor, organizer, author, and WBAI morning show host Johanna Fernandez has tirelessly worked for decades in the forefront of the “Bring Mumia Home Campaign” and gave the Black New World readers an exclusive interview and update on one of the biggest inspirations for the Black New World Media site. Free Mumia! Free’Em All!
JR Valrey: DA Krasner recently made a move in court, can you explain to us what is going on and why is it significant to the case?
Johanna Fernandez: In December 2018 a judge ordered all of Mumia’s appeals reopened, because he determined that one of the judges in the PA Supreme Court who heard and denied Mumia’s appeals between 1996-2012 should have recused himself from the case, because he had a conflict of interest.
The issues that Mumia’s attorneys re-filed on appeal include ineffectiveness of counsel; prosecutorial misconduct; coercion of witnesses by the prosecution; and failure to retain ballistic specialists at the original trial.
Knowing that this was a big legal victory and the truth in this case would soon come out, the Fraternal order of Police did everything to stop this legal process from moving forward. Namely, it accused the current DA of Philadelphia, Larry Krasner, of bias in favor of Mumia.
After two years of delays and obstruction, the process of reopening Mumia’s appeals is now underway again. DA Larry Krasner has filed his brief, in response to the one our attorneys submitted.
Despite alleging to be progressive, Larry Krasner challenged many of the issues of violations our attorneys raised, dismissing them on procedural grounds — for example, that they weren’t originally filed on time decades ago, etc—not on their merits.
The DA’s brief ratified the decisions of Judge Albert Sabo, the original judge in the case. Sabo was infamously racist and known as the hanging judge, by his peers. Additionally, a court stenographer overheard him say to another judge, “I’m going to help them fry the nigger.” Referring to how he was going to instruct the jury in Mumia’s case.
The PA Superior Court has the briefs and will review the case once out attorneys register their response to the DA’s brief, in mid March.
JR Valrey: Recently a large number of files previously hidden from Mumia’s defense team and the courts were discovered relating to Mumia’s case, where is the court at, in dealing with this phenomenon?
Johanna Fernandez: These boxes were found as a consequence of the aforementioned hearings on judicial bias, which reopened Mumia’s appeals.
The boxes are literally in the PA Superior Court, with the rest of the materials pertaining to the judicial bias hearings.
Because of the importance of the new evidence in those boxes our attorneys are requesting that the PA Superior Court remand, or send the case back, to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for investigation. New evidence can only be reviewed in lower courts.
The two pieces of new evidence that can free Mumia are a letter penned by the original prosecutor’s star witness, which asks the DA for money owed him ( the key witness), suggesting that the witness was bribed.
The other piece of new evidence points to racial discrimination in jury selection.
JR Valrey: When Krasner was elected DA, a few years ago, there was a certain amount of elation, and he was touted as a progressive DA, and some believed his election would insure Mumia’s freedom, has that feeling dissipated? Please explain.
Johanna Fernandez: In July 2020, Larry Krasner said in an interview with Amy Goodman that Mumia’s case is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the criminal justice system, as it pertains to police corruption and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions. This was, in part, the answer he gave to a question Amy Goodman that called into question the integrity of the police, who collected evidence in Mumia’s case. One-third of them were convicted and jailed for corruption, and tampering with evidence, in other cases within weeks of the end of Mumia’s trial.
Instead of taking seriously his own public assessment of the problems in Mumia’s case, Larry Krasner’s latest brief denies that there is anything wrong with the conduct of Mumia’s case.
Krasner wants to pick and choose who he deals out justice to.
JR Valrey: How is Mumia’s health?
Johanna Fernandez: Mumia was diagnosed with COVID last week, and with Congestive Heart Failure. He was hospitalized for four days and 10lbs of fluid was removed from his body. In addition, he has a severe skin crisis, and flared up of bloody open sores, on every part of his body. This condition first developed as a consequence of the prison’s delay by two years of treatment for Hep C, he needed five years ago. Mumia is very ill. As his doctor said recently at a press conference, the only acceptable treatment is freedom. The movement demands the immediate release of Mumia and all prisoners over 50, and with pre-existing illnesses. We stand for the release of all political prisoners.
JR Valrey: Why is Mumia’s voice important?
Johanna Fernandez: He is the voice of the Black Radical Tradition, which is committed to illuminating the root causes of social problems. Voices like his have historically exposed the country’s contradictions, and forced change. Because when we let the state imprison our leaders, we grant it permission to come after us when we start fighting injustice.
JR Valrey: How can people assist the campaign to free him?
Johanna Fernandez: Show a film. Have a discussion. Take action locally.
JR Valrey: How could people get more info?
Johanna Fernandez: Bringmumiahome.com