[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

http://www.amsterdamnews.com/news/national/mumia-we-ve-made-one-step-we-have-one-more/article_662ce2f6-4dc7-11e1-9359-001871e3ce6c.html 


"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 
MOVE organization.

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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