Imprisoned former Black Panther and political activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was recently rushed to the hospital in diabetic shock, is still in need of urgent medical care and treatment, his friends and supporters said in an email to The Root.
He has been sick with dangerously high blood-sugar levels for months and hasn’t received proper care inside his Pennsylvania prison, according to the email, causing him to be rushed to a hospital near the prison nearly five days ago. It’s unclear just how long Abu-Jamal had been hospitalized.
Until Friday, friends and supporters were denied access to see him, the email says. His brother Keith Cook and several others—including Mike Africa, Johanna Fernandez, Abdul Jon and Rachel Wolkenstein—were eventually allowed to see him, the email states.
The bottom line is that he urgently needs independent, specialized medical care, they say in the email, which reads in part:
All: A lot is happening. Here is a quick synopsis of yesterday's meeting.
We visited Mumia yesterday (Friday, April 3) at the prison. After being denied access early that morning, we were called back and told that a group of 5 could visit. Those in attendance during the visit were: Mike Africa, Keith Cook, Johanna Fernandez, Abdul Jon and Rachel Wolkenstein.
The pressure mounted by the movement was tremendous; I, personally, overheard an operator at the prison say in the background that the phones were ringing off the hook.
Mumia was brought out in a wheel chair to the visiting room, but given his condition, the visit should have taken place in the infirmary. His spirit is strong, but his body is in need of urgent medical attention. He needs to see a diabetes specialist (Endocrinologist) and a dermatologist, chosen by his family and closest supporters.
The diabetes specialist has not yet seen him and his blood sugar is still fluctuating dangerously. Yesterday, Mumia's blood sugar was at 336. And in spite of this dangerously high count, he was given spaghetti for lunch. He has lost at least 80 lbs, he was very weak and had difficulty breathing at the end of our one hour visit. His skin is hard and black everywhere on his body, except his face. He had slurred speech during parts of our visit, was trembling by the end of it, and he was weak and vulnerable, even though he tried to appear strong for us.
This was very difficult for us to see because Mumia has always had a strong constitution, both physically and mentally. When we asked how he was feeling physically, he said that he was very ill on Wednesday and Thursday and couldn't stay awake or get up on those days.
Yet he was transferred back to the prison prematurely at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. One of the last things he told us was that he believes in the power of the people. He was happy to hear about the outpouring of support. But in the end, Mumia is a selfless man. This is why he has become known the Voice of the Voiceless.
Unfortunately, his greatest asset is that he is a fighter for those who suffer under the thumb of those in power. It is his greatest liability when it comes to his own personal wellbeing. He is NOT his best advocate. It is up to us to play that role on his behalf. He is also too close to the situation and too ill to fully comprehend the magnitude of the torture-by-medical-neglect inflicted on him by the state.
He needs independent, specialized medical attention, urgently. And this is our major demand.
Abu-Jamal was convicted and sentenced to death July 3, 1982, for the 1981 murder of white Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, according to the Associated Press. His death sentence was dropped years later, but he remains incarcerated for the crime. Prison officials told the news site that they are not allowed to comment on inmates’ health.
Also on The Root: “Mumia Abu-Jamal Rushed to Hospital: Report”