[Ppnews] Mumia: [We've] made one step. We have one more to go'
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 2 14:43:39 EST 2012
Mumia: '[We've] made one step. We have one more to go'
By NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | Posted: Thursday, February
2, 2012 12:00 am
"Getting Mumia moved into general population is a victory, but the
real victory-and what we are working toward-is to bring him home. We
are steadily working on that," said Pam Africa from Philadelphia's
While supporters mull over the victory of getting Mumia Abu-Jamal off
death row and into the general population of the medium-security
facility SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pa., it is as Abu-Jamal himself
said: "One step. We have one more to go."
For almost two months, the worldwide army of supporters of the iconic
"political prisoner" waited for news about the Mahanoy prison
authority's ultimatum that Abu-Jamal must cut his decades-old locks
in order to enter general population.
The movement, being what it is, refuses to be predictable but is
always strategic. And so, after having endured nine years in solitary
confinement in protest and refusing to cut his hair, Abu-Jamal
decided to trim his hair to the shoulder-length requirement and
indeed come out of solitary.
"We pick our battles," said Africa, speaking to the AmNews at the
16th annual Political Prisoner Dinner held at 1199SEIU's Martin
Luther King Jr. Labor Center in Midtown on Saturday. "They had him
for nine years in the Restrictive Housing Unit-we got him out of
solitary confinement in just seven weeks this time around."
The development came in the wake of prosecutor Seth Williams'
decision seven weeks ago that he would no longer pursue the death
penalty against Abu-Jamal 10 years after federal Judge William H.
Yohn originally overturned his death sentence.
Speaking to Noelle Hanrahan of
<http://PrisonRadio.org>PrisonRadio.org on Sunday, Abu-Jamal
declared, "You know, it's back to the drawing board, as the old
saying goes. We have to work and take the next step, which is, of
course, not this. So that's the job that has to be done.
"I trust we will do it," he said. "I believe we will do it. Give my
love to everybody and tell them I'm thankful for all of our people.
They've made one step. We have one more to go. On the move."
Supporters were thrilled that he was able to hug his wife for the
very first time in 30 years earlier this week.
"The ideal is to get him home and out of the prison, where he never
should have been to begin with," said Herman Ferguson, 91, a former
political prisoner and prisoner in exile in Guyana. "Mumia is in
prison for a crime they know he did not commit. The real victory
would be to get him out of there altogether."
A former Black Panther and journalist, Abu-Jamal has always
maintained his innocence and has said that it was his political
convictions and writing that really had him convicted and sentenced
to death for the 1981 murder of officer.
Meanwhile, for years, witnesses have recanted their initial "coerced"
statements against Abu-Jamal, and an alleged mafia hitman, Arnold
Beverly, has even admitted to shooting the officer.
At the dinner on Saturday were families like those of Russell Shoats
and Sekou Odinga, who went in to prison as young men and remain
behind the wall as grandparents.
Supporters and family members call them political prisoners because
they believe that the only reason they are in prison is because of
their political beliefs or membership in organizations like the Black
Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, MOVE or even Malcolm X's
Organization of Afro-American Unity.
"We have to remain forever vigilant for Mumia," said Iyaluua
Ferguson, wife of Herman Ferguson. "In many ways, they have greater
access to him now, and we have to make sure that they understand that
nothing can happen to him."
"John Africa taught us that you never allow the government to misuse
your religion against you," said Pam Africa.
"The desire of this government is to keep Mumia in restrictive
housing under its tortuous conditions-where he is subjected to body
searches and has to sleep under blinking lights so you have no idea
what time it is, where they tried to block his communication, where
he couldn't do the radio. For nine years, he was in a worse hell than
death row-in restrictive housing. They just knew the position would
be the same."
Surrounded by the families and supporters of political prisoners,
Africa continued proudly, "Mumia has proven his point. He is strong
in his religion. He is strong in his beliefs. He is still fighting
for all life, and we will not allow the government to use his
religion against him. Long live strategic revolution!"
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