[Pnews] Ramona Africa Talks Mumia, US Prisons, Donald Trump
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Mar 24 11:59:46 EDT 2017
Ramona Africa Talks Mumia, US Prisons, Donald Trump
22 March 2017 - By: Lamont Lilly
Black activist Ramona Africa discusses political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jama
and the repressive U.S. prison system in part two of an exclusive interview.
Ramona Africa sat down to share her experiences as a member of the MOVE
Organization and an organizer with the International Concerned Family
and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. The former U.S. political prisoner and
longtime freedom fighter is the only living survivor of the 1985 MOVE
bombing, when the FBI and Philadelphia police dropped two C-4 bombs on
her organization’s Philadelphia home, killing 11 people.
*Lamont Lilly: Ramona, current U.S. political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal
is an international symbol of people’s resistance. Not only was he a
founding member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party
Mumia was also an early supporter of the MOVE Organization. What does
Mumia mean to MOVE?*
*Ramona Africa*: Mumia began his journalistic career writing for the
Black Panther Party newspaper at 14, 15 years old. When it came to
issues of the people, Mumia always covered them. When he heard about the
MOVE Organization and began covering our demonstrations and court cases,
Mumia would actually come to the prison and interview MOVE members,
right in prison. He was the only journalist that consistently and
accurately reported on MOVE, the truth, I mean. And because he was
telling the truth about MOVE and exposing what the system was doing, not
only to MOVE, but to poor people, people of color, and even poor whites,
he earned the scorn of the Philadelphia police department and Frank
He earned the scorn of city officials. He lost jobs.
Mumia used to work for NPR. He worked for a local radio station here in
Philadelphia called WBAF. He worked for the Philadelphia Tribune, the
first Black publication in this country, I believe. But he ended up
becoming a freelance journalist because the people he was working for
were trying to make him compromise and tell the system’s story and not
the truth. Mumia would not compromise. He refused. He ended up becoming
a freelance journalist and driving a cab part-time to supplement his
income and take care of his family. That’s how he just happened to be
out at 13th and Locust St. on Dec. 9, 1981.
*Lamont Lilly: What happened on that day? That particular evening is
what led to Mumia’s incarceration. Can you give us some details on that?*
*Ramona Africa*: Mumia was working at night, and on this particular
night he was letting a fair off at 13th and Locust. He happened to see
police lights circling. Being a journalist, he wanted to see what was
going on. He went over to where the police vehicle was and saw this
white cop beating this Black man. He went over a little closer to see
about the brother, and if he could, to stop the cop from beating this man.
Mumia then realized that the man who was being beaten by the cop was his
very own brother, Billy. So, Mumia tried to intervene and ended up being
shot by the cop. Shortly after that, someone shot the cop. Now, of
course, they said that Mumia did it, but the conflicts here are
They said Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot with a .44 caliber. That’s
what they said. Mumia was licensed to carry a gun because he had been
robbed twice while driving his cab, but Mumia’s gun was a .38 caliber.
Witnesses said that the person who shot the cop ran down the street and
down this alleyway. Mumia was shot, sitting there on the curb. Shot! He
didn’t run anywhere. But when they realized who they had, as in Mumia
Abu-Jamal, who was right there in their grasp — they didn’t look for
anything else and didn’t want to hear anything else. This was their
opportunity to get Mumia Abu-Jamal, which the Philadelphia police
department wanted to do for a long time.
People should know that a man named Arnold Beverly came forward and
confessed to shooting Daniel Faulkner. He gave a whole resume about
other cops who had been killed and everything. The courts said he wasn’t
credible, but how could they know that? They never let him come into
court and testify. They said he “wasn’t credible,” and never even
entertained his confession.
*Lamont Lilly: Right now Mumia is sick with Hepatitis C. There has been
a national movement to get Mumia the medicine that would cure it, but
the state of Pennsylvania is not allowing that. What the hell is going on?*
*Ramona Africa*: Well, there are two attorneys fighting hard on this,
Robert Boyle and Bret Grote, who have been fighting to not only get
but there is also a cure for Hepatitis C. And that’s what they are
pushing for. It’s a drug called Harvoni. The thing is, it’s a two prong
fight. Harvoni in India and Africa is like US$4.00 a pill, US$7.00 a
pill. In the United States, it’s like US$1,000 for one pill. The cure is
a 90-day treatment. You have to take it every day for 90 days. It is a
proven cure, not just a “treatment.” This is the cure for Hepatitis C,
One prong of this fight is the pharmaceutical companies. How can you
dare charge people US$1,000 a pill (US$90,000 basically for the cure)?
Yet, in other countries, much poorer countries — they’re charging people
US$4 and US$7 for this pill. And I’m not saying that they should raise
the price of their pills. I’m saying that these pharmaceutical companies
here in the U.S. should not be charging US$1,000 for this over here.
*Lamont Lilly: You mentioned a “two prong” fight. What is the second prong?*
*Ramona Africa*: The other prong is the institution. Mumia is so
well-known. The situation with him gets a lot of attention. What the
institution is saying is that if they give it to Mumia, then they will
have to give to the other 6,000 to 7,000 inmates in the state of
Pennsylvania who also have Hepatitis C. And yes, yes you should!! You
took custody of these people! You took responsibility for them! So yes,
if they’re sick, of course, you’re supposed to treat them! I mean, come on.
*Lamont Lilly: I heard that the prison where Mumia Abu-Jamal is being
detained doesn’t have clean drinking water. Is that true? You also have
family members in that prison. What have you heard about this?*
*Ramona Africa*: Lamont, let me tell you. I know people have heard about
but contaminated water is not just in Flint. The prison that our brother
Eddie Africa and Mumia are in is called Mahanoy Correctional Institute.
The water there is so so bad! It is so bad that they started giving the
inmates, (and this is ridiculous), three little Dixie cups of water with
each meal. That’s nine little Dixie cups of water per day because the
regular water is not drinkable
This is what they’re giving them, nine little Dixie cups of water per
day? It’s unreal! Most people have no idea this is going on.
Where my brother Mike Africa is being incarcerated, at Graterford Prison
here in Pennsylvania the water is really bad there, too. He convinced
the “Lifer’s Association” to sell bottled water. It’s one of their
fundraisers. But he pays like close to US$20 for a case of water. That’s
ridiculous. He’s spending 60 bucks a month for water.
They were telling the guards, straight up, don’t drink the water; bring
your own. My brother Mike works in the kitchen there, and he was telling
me that in the guard’s dining room they have filters on the water
spigots, but not for the inmates, of course. That is the state of what’s
happening in this country, not just with Mumia, but in prisons all over
I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to really, and I mean
REALLY, get the message that this system and those running it are not
operating in our interests, in the interests of the people. Their only
interest is money and keeping this system going. I don’t know when
people are really going to get that, but we can’t look to this system
*Lamont Lilly: Speaking of ‘the system’ and those who are running it,
what are your thoughts on the election of Donald Trump? *
*Ramona Africa*: I’m not a Hillary Clinton fan at all, but the bottom
line is, they told people to their faces “your vote doesn’t count.” You
don’t elect the president. They say that Hillary had over 2 million more
than Donald Trump. So, why he is now the president? Because this
mystical electoral college selects the president, that’s why. It has
nothing to do with who “the people” elected. They tell you that to your
face, and you’re still going to believe in this system? You’re still
going to hallucinate that you can get something out if this?
I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to realize that we don’t
need this system. We can’t use or get anything from this system. It’s
the system that needs us — that relies on the people, not the other way
around. We have to let this system go and make up our minds to do for
ourselves because we sure aren’t getting anything from this system. Nothing!
Thank you, Lamont. Long live the revolution! Free Mumia! Ona move!
/Lamont Lilly was a U.S. delegate at the International Forum for Justice
in Palestine in Beirut, Lebanon. He is also an activist and organizer in
the Black Lives Matter movement./
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