By WADIYA JAMAL
— With Great Pride — April 11, 2015 — On Thursday April 9, 2015 I visited my husband Mumia Abu-Jamal at SCI Mahanoy, with Rachel Wolkenstein my lawyer and sister. I had seen Mumia in the ICU at the hospital, where he was sitting upright, hand cuffed to a chair. I saw the photos taken of Mumia during the visit on Monday, April 6 with my sister Pam Africa, Abdul Jon and Johanna Fernandez. I cried when I saw those photos. But I still wasn’t prepared for how Mumia looked seeing him in the prison visiting room, he was worse. I felt my husband is about to die. …
Later on, after the three-hour visit with Mumia, we were guests on NMEMINDZ Radio with Prof. Griff and co-host ZaZa Ali. To you all who love and support Mumia, here are some edited excerpts and an update on Mumia’s medical condition.
Co-host ZaZa Ali welcomed me to the program, saying, “We stand on Mumia’s shoulders for all he has lived through and persevered through….” She asked me to explain how the medical crisis with Mumia started and how he is doing.
Wadiya: I want to say something about what you just said… that you all stand on his shoulders. That meant that he is carrying you and all of US. It’s time for US to carry HIM. You understand? Because my husband, he is dying. Don’t feel no way if I get emotional, I’m feeling the way I’m supposed to feel. I’m not coming at you all. But I want to tell you that I just left that man in a wheelchair, trembling.
Mumia had to bring himself down to the visiting room from the prison infirmary in an old wheelchair, not motorized, had to use his arms that were weak and in pain; his breathing was labored.
I was in shock at how he looked. We embraced and kissed. When I saw him reading legal papers his hands were shaking hard. I put my hands on his hands and tried to steady him so he could read the information. He was shivering so hard, my hands were shaking as well. I put my arms around him and my head to his chest to hear his heart and to bring some warmth to his body because he said he was freezing. And then the guard comes and tells us “no hugging.” I was just trying to keep him warm. (Other couples were sitting close and snuggling.)
My husband is innocent. He killed no one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his only crime is he survived a severe gun shot to the chest and a serious ass-whipping by “Philly’s finest” and then they attempted to kill him in his hospital bed by stepping on his urine bag by flushing the poison back on him. And now they are trying to do it again.
The way my husband looks today, it looks like they are going to succeed, unless we get some real doctors up there to take care of him, I mean for real… Mumia’s life is at risk. It is execution by medical neglect and mistreatment… The only way I see that Mumia is going to survive this is if he is free, because I can’t trust any of them.
ZaZa Ali: Do you think his health condition was provoked or was the diabetes something he was struggling with …
Wadiya: Absolutely not. Mumia didn’t have a history of diabetes. Did you see the picture of Mumia, before his illness, how strong he is, how big he is? You see the difference in him now?!! I’ve never seen him so weak like this in my life. You have to understand that I am angry. I’m hurting. I was rubbing his arms and shoulders, he said baby, keep on rubbing them. I could feel his shoulder blades—that’s how thin he is. I was rubbing his thighs and I could feel the scabs underneath the jump suit. Whatever this stuff is, it is killing Mumia….and it’s on purpose…
I’ve never seen eczema look like that before – this beautiful brown skin, and I know his whole body from his head to his toes, for his body to be like we saw it today and how thin and weak he is…. [See the pictures we took of him showing the bumps and scabs on his arms.] Mumia’s skin was itching and he started scratching and I said to him let me do it and I started patting and that eased it. I was doing it for him and talking to him at the same time. But he’s in pain and I’ve had enough children that I can feel where infection is in your body. I can touch a certain wound or bruise and I can feel heat – that means infection is there.
Prof. Griff: Is it a farfetched request to push for a medical specialist to check on him?
Rachel: No. The prison is going to fight this, as they do everything, especially when it comes to Mumia. But I don’t believe this a farfetched request and we will get this. It is so necessitated by circumstances here, there has been an international hew and cry and the world is watching. We will get a specialist to look at Mumia and make treatment recommendations But given the way the prison system works, what they consider to be a decent diet and the standard of medical treatment, goes way beyond Mumia to the 2.3 million people who are imprisoned in this country, we need to make this a fight to get Mumia out.
Wadiya: They are killing my husband.
Rachel: Mumia opened up with Wadiya. He described and shared with her what he had not been able to say previously. It was extremely painful and difficult for this strong man, this private man to do. Mumia said that he thinks of himself as strong and while going through all these physical problems he couldn’t acknowledge, and be fully conscious of what was going on with his body.
Mumia said another prisoner, Major Tillery, kept after Mumia, telling him he was really sick, being damaged physically and emotionally; that Mumia needed real medical help. Major told Mumia that he was “fucked up” and “out of it.” Major Tillery filed grievances about the prison conditions leading to skin rashes. Major Tillery had gone directly to SCI Mahanoy Superintendent John Kerestes and point blank said he needed to get Mumia to the hospital. Major Tillery told the Superintendent, “Mumia is dying.” Kerestes told Major Tillery to “take care of himself.”Major answered back, “taking care of Mumia is taking care of myself.” We just learned that yesterday morning Major Tillery was transferred out of Mahanoy to SCI Frackville, where he had previously been kept in the hole. This is retaliation for fighting for Mumia.
Wadiya: So they sent him to another prison without even letting him pack up his property. They are trying to shut him up and sent him to another prison for saying Mumia needs help, he’s dying.
Prof Griff: What is the best way for us here and those who follow our show to do now and give our support?
Wadiya: Demand his freedom.
Rachel: Yes, demand his freedom and also demand the medical treatment needed. That means not only the essential but short term prospective of getting him this medical care, because he is threatened every day. This, as Mumia says is a fight not only for him, but also for all other prisoners. Mumia writes from imprisoned nation, being a lifer is slow death row.
Wadiya: Now that slow death row is speeding up, as we speak.
Rachel: Mumia’s ability to live out his life is tied to the struggle to get him out. That’s something to take seriously. The state wants to silence Mumia. The fight for his freedom should be understood as the best way to save his life.
Wadiya: There is such a conspiracy against Mumia. People should do more investigating. People should know the evidence that Mumia is innocent.
Rachel: Mumia’s mental condition is good, alert and interested in what is going on. We just heard he is taping a new commentary tonight with Prison Radio, on the police shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina. That is what Mumia is like …. And why they want to silence Mumia and continue in their attempts execute him.
Prof Griff: How do we intercede — how is this overridden?
Wadiya: We need to fight the same people who put him in prison… In a nutshell – they want to see black men imprisoned for the rest of their lives or in their graves. They want Mumia dead – sooner than later.
Rachel: Legal action is being started on Mumia’s behalf. Attorney Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center will be filing an action in the PA state courts demanding specialist medical treatment and Mumia’s own doctors and has already filed a demand with the PA Department of Corrections. We need to continue the public demands and protests.
From Prof. Griff to Wadiya: You have to stay strong sister.
Wadiya: I’m so weak from staying strong. Not only are we dealing with Mumia’s medical situation, but also we just lost our baby girl. Our baby girl is dead. In the past year, I’ve lost my mother, lost our baby girl. Now I’m supposed to see my husband die??? I have a big problem with that…
Rachel: I think it will also help to write to Wadiya, as well as Mumia especially in this very difficult period. Read Wadiya’s Open Letter of April 5 issued after speaking at the hospital press conference and getting medical reports from the hospital doctors and prison medical staff.
Most people don’t know that Wadiya was the spokesperson for Mumia at the very beginning of the international campaign for Mumia in the later 1980s and early 90s. She helped set the international stage for understanding Mumia’s case, his innocence and the need for us to fight for Mumia’s freedom. Being able to work through her pain and speak for Mumia is hugely important. She is Mumia’s wife and the first advocate for him.
Wadiya Jamal, P.O. Box 19404, Kingsessing Station, Philadelphia, PA, 19143-9998. Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI Mahanoy, 301 Morea Rd., Frackville, PA 17932
Wadiya: Please, please, please, I beg of everybody to help my husband get free, because he is dying in there.
My eyes don’t lie, my touch don’t lie. I know what I see, I know what I feel. Things that he told us that are personal, I wouldn’t even tell you all the personal things that he said that’s going on with his body. He just needs to be home. He should never have been in prison to start off. Not a day. Thank you all for opening this up for us.
We love you. Ona Move.
Prof. Griff: We appreciate your coming on and we want you back whenever you can.
Wadiya: Love you back.
Wadiya Jamal, with Big Pride
Send your message back to me via Facebook at:
Write to me at: Wadiya Jamal, PO Box 19404, Kingsessing Station, Philadelphia, Pa. 19143-9998
Photo: Supporters rally near Mahanoy prison on April 3. From http://www.freemumia.com.