Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Response to the Judge’s Decision

Judge Lucretia Clemons denied Mumia Abu-Jamal’s request for a new trial on Friday March 31st

Mumia’s response to the Judge’s decision
Mumia’s response to the Judge’s decision. | Photo: Noelle Hanrahan

By Noelle Hanrahan, Esq. P.I., Prison Radio Legal Director

April 3, 2023:

I saw Mumia yesterday and he was deeply affected by the blow, the gravity, the gut wrenching disappointment: that freedom will be delayed, again.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Lucretia Clemons denied Mumia Abu-Jamal’s request for a new trial on Friday March 31st, at 4:08 pm. This is simply devastating news. After 41 years in prison, Mumia Abu-Jamal has exhausted nearly all of his avenues for relief.

I brought him Judge Clemons’ 38 page “opinion.” He read the words carefully, first retrieving his reading glasses from his shirt pocket. Hunched over, he read through each and every line. Words that were written to bury him. Words meant to extinguish hope. Pages that would bind him. An opinion that will keep in place the full body cavity strip search before and after every visit. An order that would deny him the food and exercise that could heal his broken heart and his cardiac condition. Pages that separate him from his great-grandchildren, his brothers, his sons, his daughter. Words that prevent him from receiving the healing embrace of his people as he weeps and aches for Wadiya, his wife of 42 years who passed away in December. Its promise of finality is really a transparent attempt to cover up what everyone knows to be true: police, prosecutors, and yes, now judges, have stolen decades from the lives of Black Philadelphians. It is a promise that would have the injustice system stay the same, unchallenged, with Mumia remaining locked in a cage until his last breath.

Julia Wright wrote:


The judge
may have stamped
her foot,
waved her gavel
like a white supremacist wand
and said no
but this morning
i canna find no Blues
for Mumia
the judge
may have enjoyed
champagne and selfies
with those who pull
her electoral strings
but this morning

I canna find no Blues
for Mumia
I canna find no Blues
cause the whole wide world
is crying
not tears
not a river
but deafening Freedom
for Mumia —
and the judge
is powerless
to stop it

(c) Julia Wright. April 2nd 2023. All Rights Reserved to Mumia Abu-Jamal’s and Wadiya’s children.

And yet, on Sunday April 2nd, I met with a man full of life. Mumia is deeply engaged in his doctoral dissertation, using Fanon to measure this new world. Sketching out the future. The day the wretched of the earth shall be vindicated. Willing into being the real narrative, a counter narrative, that both calls forth, and imagines freedom. I met with a man who was engaged in the world and yes, full of hope, for all of us, and for himself. Mumia’s hearty belly laugh is impossible not to join in. He is very, very funny. I have to ask him to “come on, please just stop, don’t make me laugh at these god awful absurdities.”

Mumia’s love is courageous, it is honest, eyes wide open and fearless, and transformative for all of us. We understand that we are here because Mumia Abu-Jamal survived being shot in the chest as he ran across a street to help his brother.

On December 9, 1981, at 3am in the morning at 13th and Locust in downtown Philadelphia, Mumia Abu-Jamal had just stopped his cab and was letting off a patron. He leapt out of his cab, ran across the street after seeing his brother’s VW pulled over and Bill being beaten with a nightstick by Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner. There is no debate about what happened next. Daniel Faulkner shot Mumia in the chest. Mumia went down with a bullet through his lung. Someone else then fatally shoots Faulkner and runs away.

At that moment our world and Mumia’s world were torn apart. Each time I go to the prison, I pull the books I am working with off my shelf, today was Police Misconduct by Paul Messing, and A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I bring them in, put them on the table, share them, corners turned down, paragraphs underlined, and go to the vending machines. I return with a bowl of delicious cherry tomatoes, olives, and onions that adorn a fresh beautiful Greek Salad; a full green sliced apple with Nutella; and a bowl of gorgeous cantaloupe, melon, and pineapple. If they can put organic salad in the vending machine, they can give him salad and fresh fruit, a cardiac healthy diet, in his regular meals. Last month they said he must wait seven months for a blood panel, he pushed back, and he is receiving the tests he needs. All PA prisoners need a heart healthy diet. Fresh food and vegetables. The witness, the solidarity, the food, and the books are necessary to remain centered and alive and in resistance.

When we survive, we win. When we love, we win.

Cuando luchamos ganamos,
When We Fight, We Win

Noelle Hanrahan, Esq. P.I.
Prison Radio/The Redwood Justice Fund Legal Director

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