Signs at the rally on Friday.|Sam Newhouse1/2 Signs at the rally on Friday.|Sam Newhouse
A small audience listens to speakers at the rally on Friday.|Sam Newhouse2/2 A small audience listens to speakers at the rally on Friday.|Sam Newhouse
Supporters of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal say he is still receiving no antiviral medication for his Hepatitis C in prison and argue that the failure to treat him constitutes a “a conspiracy to commit murder.”
While fighting to get him the antiviral meds, supporters of the man they call a political prisoner also are filing a lawsuit arguing that former state Supreme Court Judge Ronald Castllle should have recused himself from hearing Abu-Jamal's appeal because he had prosecuted the case as Philadelphia's district attorney.
The lawsuit cites a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that said Castille was wrong to participate in the appeal of a death row inmate whose prosecution he oversaw three decades earlier.
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“If we win, it would invalidate everything since 1988 to when Ronald Castille was the judge,” said Abu-Jamal supporter Dr. Suzanne Ross.
Meanwhile, Abu-Jamal, 62, who was convicted of the 1981 murder of 25-year-old Philly cop Daniel Faulkner at 13thand Locust streets, has recently experienced a resurgence in symptoms from Hepatitis C while serving a life sentence at a state prison in Mahanoy, supporters said.
He is experiencing severe itching all over his body, has had diarrhea for nearly two months, and is experiencing general disorientation, supporters said.
“His memory is foggy, it sort of comes and goes," said said MOVE member Pam Africa. "He’s losing weight.”
Aprevious lawsuit demanding Abu-Jamaland 6,000 other inmates withHepatitisC in state prisons get anti-viral medication was tossed out on a technicality, even though the judge said in open court that the prison system's medical protocol for treating the affliction fails to meet constitutional standards.
Despite the judge’s comment, the medical situation hasn’t changed.
“They still haven’t done it!” Africa said. “This is a conspiracy to commit murder. Prison officials have lied to make sure Abu-Jamal doesn’t get the medicine. … The governor knows, the prison officials know.”
The state Department of Corrections has declined to comment on Abu-Jamal's medical treatment or the litigation.
Abu-Jamal’s Hepatitis C infection came to light after he had to be hospitalized in 2015 when his health worsened precipitously.
The DOC’s protocol for inmates withHepatitisC is to adminiister anti-viral medications only if they have such serious conditions as “open bleeding, cirrhosis of the liver and cancer of the liver,” according to Ross.
“He’s not at death’s door, but he’s now developing all the same symptoms as when he had to be hospitalized. That’s why we’re so concerned,” Ross said.
Abu-Jamal only gets anti-itch medication for his Hepatitis C in prison, she said.
“Hepatitis C is going to be a slow painful death,” she said.
Supporters are also planning a protest for Dec. 9, the 35thanniversary of Faulkner’s death and Abu-Jamal’s arrest.
Faulkner was performing a traffic stop on Abu-Jamal’s brother William Cook at the time of his death by multiple gunshots. Police found Faulkner dead and Abu-Jamal nearby with a gunshot wound from Faulkner’s gun and his own gun nearby.