By Michael Z. Muhammad -Contributing Writer-
PHILADELPHIA–The Nation of Islam Prison Reform Ministry hosted a community rally at Muhammad Mosque No. 12. The purpose was to inform and update the community on the health condition of Mumia Abu-Jamal who supporters argue has been in prison for over 30 years wrongfully convicted for killing a Philadelphia police officer.
Mr. Abu-Jamal nearly died several years ago, having suffered from Hepatitis C. It was only after a lengthy court battle that he was able to not only get treatment for himself but other inmates as well.
Pam Africa, from the Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, noted that the fight to end mass incarceration is in our hands. “Our problem is we let the media tell us what’s happening in our community,” Ms. Africa said adding that MOVE founder John Africa told Mumia when he was incarcerated, “I got you in my hands.” When we go to jail, we look at it as an activity, and our job is to teach, he told Mumia.
Ms. Africa informed the audience that Mr. Abu-Jamal is very ill. “He has severe itching from the side effects of his medication. He also has been diagnosed with glaucoma and cataracts and suffers from poor vision. We need money,” she said. “Ain’t no power like the power of the people when the power of the people don’t stop!” she pointed out in a familiar chant. “We need to demand justice and never give up,” she concluded.
In his opening remarks, Student Regional Prison Reform Minister Gregory Muhammad talked about the little-known connection between the Nation of Islam and the MOVE organization of which Mr. Abu-Jamal is a member. “In the early days of the rebuilding of the Nation (of Islam) at Holmsburg Prison, the early followers had no place to meet,” he explained.
“MOVE member Eddie Africa offered to share their meeting space with the Nation. In another instance, when brothers from the Nation obtained cassette tapes of Minister (Louis) Farrakhan, they had nothing to play them on. Once again, Brother Delbert Africa stepped forward and offered the brothers the use of their boom box which contained a cassette player. It’s all connected to Mumia,” said Gregory Muhammad. “The spirit of the movement and revolution was present.”
Philadelphia journalist Lin Washington also presented at the program. Mr. Washington has chronicled Mr. Abu-Jamal’s story from the beginning. During his presentation, he said the case against Mr. Abu-Jamal boils down to two words, “prosecutorial misconduct.” He explained the police coerced the “so-called eye witness” against Mr. Abu-Jamal. His alleged confession was a shame, and the ballistics test a lie, he continued. Out of the 35 cops involved in his case, 17 have been discharged from the force for corruption, said Mr. Washington. “Mumia Abu-Jamal is in prison for one reason, he is a political prisoner,” he added.
Student Minster Gregory Muhammad told The Final Call the meeting was the brainchild of Student Minister Rodney Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 12. “The reason for the meeting was to sound the alarm for the immediate medical treatment for Mr. Abu-Jamal. We wanted the community to be educated about the issues concerning his health.”