Jailed journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was hospitalized Thursday for heart surgery after suffering chest pain, Democracy Now reports.
Just last month, Abu-Jamal supporters gathered outside the Philadelphia prosecutor’s office calling on the Pennsylvania governor. Tom Wolf released the 66-year-old and all incarcerated people over 50 amid the ongoing COVID health crisis.
“We are holding a population in prisons that the prisons cannot protect,” said Johanna Fernández, an Abu-Jamal attorney and history professor at Baruch College in New York.
During the March press conference, Fernandez noted that Abu-Jamal felt “pressure” on his chest and suffered “shortness of breath” after testing positive for COVID-19 and diagnosing heart failure. She shared how he initially tested negative for the virus but tested positive at the time of the press conference, which resulted in his hospitalization last month.
“The only treatment that could save Mumia at this moment of crisis is his freedom,” said Fernandez.
Abu-Jamal was imprisoned and serving a life sentence in 1981 for the murder of a police officer. The award-winning radio journalist was originally sentenced to death in 1982 but garnered a loyal support group over the decades through his coverage of the flawed US criminal justice system in the United States. In 2011, several appeals helped convert his death sentence into life imprisonment without parole.
Last month, Abu-Jamal lost £ 30 after contracting the deadly virus in the Mahanoy State Correctional Facility, where he served his life sentence. During his hospital stay last month, Fernandez wrote a report that revealed that Abu-Jamal was “bedridden for four days” and “had wounds all over his body from the shackles digging into his already raw skin.”
“Most governors’ decision to keep prisoners in these conditions and their refusal to detain themselves even during a pandemic is a crime against humanity,” Fernandez said.
She remains a fierce advocate for bringing home Abu-Jamal and “all political prisoners from the 1960s”.