12 February 2016

A Visit with Mumia

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

The following are edited remarks by the PDC’s Paul Cooperstein at the New York City Holiday Appeal.

Two weeks ago, PDC staff counsel Valerie West and myself visited Mumia in scenic Frackville, Pennsylvania. Last March Mumia was rushed to a hospital, on the verge of death, in a near-diabetic coma. For months he had had debilitating rashes all over his body; he had lost some 50 pounds. Mumia has active hepatitis C, and the prison has restricted efforts to get treatment. He has sued in federal court to compel them to provide such treatment, and before our visit, there was a three-day hearing in that lawsuit, with Mumia participating by teleconference.

We were pleased to see that Mumia is doing pretty well. He looked great; he has gained much of his weight back, he’s been working out at the gym. Mumia is writing his weekly commentaries. As he told us, if he’s able to do this, he feels he’s doing his job. He has a very healthy appetite and relished the chocolate bar he was eating, as he isn’t diabetic. Mumia doesn’t have diabetes. That near-diabetic coma was a response to steroids he had been given for his rashes. Mumia seemed a bit sleepy toward the end of the visit—but I often have that effect on people. Throughout the visit, other prisoners and some of their visitors came by and gave their greetings to Mumia. He was lively, talkative and funny; he actually has great comedic talents and does a very funny impersonation of Donald Trump and others.

The Corrections Department is very embarrassed over this lawsuit. Mumia was elated about the hearing. The judge slapped down the state’s attorneys. The department’s own doctor was turned into Mumia’s witness, and they got caught submitting an affidavit over a doctor’s signature that was not the one he signed. The prison conjured up a secret protocol for treating inmates with hepatitis C, which they didn’t want to have announced in open court, that calls for treatment to be only given after the liver is severely damaged, when cirrhosis has set in—that is, when it’s too late.

Mumia expects a decision in mid February. He’s cautiously optimistic, but he knows from his own long history that what is said in court often has no relationship to how the judge will rule. There’s no doubt that if the judge rules against them, the state will appeal, which will drag this out for another year or so. This will be a long fight, one on which Mumia’s life depends. We encourage people to contribute to his legal expenses. Contributions can be sent to the Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal, care of the National Lawyers Guild Foundation, 132 Nassau St., Room 922, New York, NY 10038, earmarked “Mumia legal expenses.”

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1083, 12 February 2016)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.