[Pnews] The movement against police violence in the United States resonates with the release of Mumia

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 1 15:26:20 EDT 2020


  The movement against police violence in the United States resonates
  with the release of Mumia

Bhavi Mandalia with Johanna Fernandez - September 1, 2020

What state of health is Mumia in with the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the 
United States hard?

*Johanna fernandez* American prisons are overcrowded and there is no 
possibility of social distancing within them. The Covid-19 therefore 
represents a deadly threat for all prisoners, in particular prisoners 
over 50 years of age with poor health conditions, as is the case for 
Mumia Abu-Jamal. The prison’s inability to treat his hepatitis C in a 
timely manner, three years ago, permanently weakened his state of 
health. Medical examinations determined he had liver damage. Although 
this damage is latent at the moment, he is among the prisoners who run 
serious risks if they contract the Covid. Despite these circumstances, 
Mumia is doing well. As always, he spends his days reading and writing. 
A year ago, he applied and was accepted for a doctoral program at a 
major university. He therefore devoted himself to his studies.

*How are American prisons dealing with this epidemic?*

*Johanna fernandez* To limit the consequences of Covid, the Pennsylvania 
prison department decided, in March, to completely lock down prisons and 
its prisoners, and suspended all visits. This means that inmates are 
locked in their cells all day. They can only get out for 45 minutes to 
get to the common areas of their detention center – no more than twelve 
at a time – to make phone calls, download emails to their tablets and 
clean their cells.

Locking up prisoners for more than 23 hours a day is inhumane and worse 
than the conditions of isolation imposed on death row inmates in the 
United States. These restrictions are slowly starting to decrease. 
Unlike other countries, like Iran and Turkey, which have freed more than 
50% of their prisoners to avoid massive infections and mass deaths 
during the pandemic, the governors of the United States have not 
accepted to release many detainees.

The worst coronavirus crisis in American prisons is the one in San 
Quentin prison in northern California. This famous prison is now the 
center of the country’s largest coronavirus outbreak, where more than 
2,200 inmates have tested positive. In August, at least 24 prisoners 
died there. San Quentin is not an isolated incident. Between March and 
June, the rate of coronavirus infection in prisons increased at a rate 
of 8% per day, compared to 3% in the general population. Across the 
country, activists and lawyers have protested, and have taken legal 
action to pressure judges to order prison population reduction by 
releasing older or sick prisoners. Our efforts and our requests have, 
alas, remained without result.

*Where is the current legal process to challenge the right of appeal 
that was granted to him last year for the review of his sentence?*

*Johanna fernandez* //Mumia’s case was blocked by Maureen Faulkner, the 
widow of the murdered police officer. As you know, Maureen Faulkner is a 
major prop used by the Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP), the largest 
police union in the world. The goal being that Mumia – unjustly accused 
and convicted – remains permanently behind bars. At a press conference 
last year, she said Mumia could be released soon, referring to the 
unprecedented court ruling that had just granted her the right to appeal 
a series of rights violations. constitutional, which it had previously 
been denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for almost two decades. 
The decision to accept these appeals was based on the fact that Supreme 
Court Justice Ronald Castille had refused to take these proven 
violations into consideration because of his personal involvement (he 
was then a Philadelphia prosecutor) in the proceedings against Mumia. 
Ronald Castille had also shown a constant animosity towards the one he 
described as /“Cop killers”./ It is on this basis that justice granted 
Mumia a right of appeal, ruling that Ronald Castille had a conflict of 
interest in Mumia’s case and should therefore have withdrawn from the 
legal process. On the strength of this new right, Mumia’s lawyers filed 
their brief.

*What was Maureen Faulkner’s response?*

*Johanna fernandez* She filed a rare petition known as the “King’s 
Bench” petition, which is unique in that it can only be heard by the 
highest court in Pennsylvania. This jurisdiction has the capacity to 
intervene and defend the interests of citizens in cases where the common 
good is in danger. In her petition, Maureen Faulkner alleges that the 
current Philadelphia district attorney, Larry Krasner, was biased in 
favor of Mumia (by not opposing the right of appeal – Editor’s note) and 
that, in fairness, he should therefore not be allowed to continue the 
case. In other words, when Mumia’s allegations of constitutional 
violations were established by a court, Maureen Faulkner secured a stay 
of all proceedings by accusing Larry Krasner of the same violation as 
Ronald Castille. Unsurprisingly, the conservative Supreme Court decided 
to hear his claim and tasked a retired judge to investigate his 
allegations. This judge has completed his investigation, but the course 
of this petition – which excludes our lawyers and only includes the 
prosecutor and Maureen Faulkner – has been sealed. This means the 
findings are not made public, as Mumia’s lawyers believe the prosecutor 
is likely to initiate them for reasons of legal strategy. We are waiting 
for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to make its decision known: either 
validate Maureen Faulkner’s petition or reject it.

*How do you assess the July 4 mobilization in Philadelphia for the 
release of Mumia and against police violence?*

*Johanna fernandez* //Despite Mumia’s inextricable court case, the last 
mobilization in the streets of Philadelphia on July 4 was bigger than 
we’ve seen in a long time. Protests against police violence across the 
country have the potential to re-energize the movement to free Mumia 
Abu-Jamal with the energy of a young generation of people aware of the 
issues. For nearly forty years, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has 
used and abused the fear surrounding the Mumia affair to advance its 
neofascist political agenda, in particular by deploying extreme racist 
propaganda and by labeling Mumia as a monster. dangerous and 
cold-blooded cop killer. During these decades, the FOP campaigned to 
militarize the police and strengthen their powers. Case after case, 
brutal acts of police violence have increased, with the law and justice 
covering the increasing number of murders of African-American citizens.

In this context, our most important mission is to link the struggle to 
free Mumia and other political prisoners with the struggle to dismantle 
and abolish a police force, including the history of racist violence and 
terror against blacks. Americans is directly linked to the origin of the 
police in the United States, as runaway slave hunters and protectors of 
the institution of slavery.

French collective Free Mumia

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863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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