|Interview with the Revolutionary Worker|
|The RW (Revolutionary Worker) interviewed Mumia Abu-Jamal in the state prison in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. This interview was conducted by RW writer C. Clark Kissinger. It appeared in RWs #784 & #785 in December of 1994.
RW: Mumia, you once used the phrase before that the police in Philadelphia saw you as "a target to be neutralized". What do you think is behind this campaign by the state of Pennsylvania to kill you? Why do they want to make an example out of your execution?
MUMIA: Because to them and to other people I've become more than a living being. I've become a symbol...a symbol of resistance to the system.
RW: You've pointed out a number of times that your only crime is that you survived. You were shot and almost killed by the police. I understand you had a police bullet enter your chest from above and go down at an angle into your lower abdomen or kidneys and ended up near your spinal cord. You had to either have been doubled over or on the ground when you were shot like that. How did the police treat you immediately after your arrest and at the hospital?
MUMIA: I would not say "treat" me, I would say that they beat me. They beat me on the street. They beat me in the paddy wagon.
RW: This is when you had a bleeding chest wound from a gunshot, and they beat you?
MUMIA: Bleeding from a wound that perforated a lung and my liver, that was life-threatening. According to a witness that testified at the trial, I arrived at the hospital, which was maybe two or three blocks away from the scene, about 40 to 45 minutes afterward. So not only was I beaten at the scene and beaten in the paddy wagon, they were driving me around the city of Philadelphia waiting for me to die.
RW: And what happened when you awoke at the hospital?
MUMIA: This is post-operative. And what I felt was a pronounced real strong pressure, kind of swelling me up. I felt swollen, full. This was my first sensation of consciousness coming out of the operation. Despite the real sense of tiredness and fatigue, I forced myself to open my eyes and I saw a policeman just standing over me, looking down at my face. About 35ish, brown-blond hair, a mustache. I didn't understand what was happening at first. I saw him looking down at me, smiling a cold, grim, deadly smile. Then, after what seemed like minutes but might have just been 15 or 20 seconds, he moved out of my range of vision and I felt a sense of relief as if a balloon had deflated in my abdomen. And even though I was handcuffed to this hospital bed, I was able to swerve my neck around and look and see that he was stepping on my urine bag (obviously I needed one after the operation since I couldn't get up to use the washroom on my own). The policeman's actions consisted in forcing that urine back up a plastic tubing and into my bladder. He was trying to burst my bladder while I was laying in a hospital just a half hour or so after I had gotten out of surgery. Here I was, tied down, handcuffed in a hospital bed, in a hospital. Not in a prison hospital, but in a civilian community hospital with a Philadelphia policeman with an Uzi submachinegun trying to kill me. He continued and I couldn't do anything. I couldn't say anything because I had an esophagus tube stuck down my throat. I had tubes up my nose and other body orifices. All I could do was look at him. And he smiled, and he did it and he did it and he did it. I just laid back and watched.
RW: You've been on death row now for 12 years. The officials have tried to break you, both in body and spirit. Yet, what continues to come out of your writings is your deep connection with the people and your commitment to revolution. Our readers would like to know both how you have fought back on the inside for your rights and what keeps you standing strong?
MUMIA: I have an extraordinarily strong belief in structure. I'm a follower of the teachings of John Africa, as are MOVE members and MOVE supporters. (MOVE is a group of men & women who surfaced in Philadelphia during the early 1970's. MOVE's work is to stop industry from poisoining the air, the water, the soil and to put an end to the enslavement of life, people, animals, any form of life.) John Africa teaches that "it is insane not to resist something that gives you nothing but pain to you, your family, your mothers, your fathers, your babies." And when you think about something like that, there is so much wisdom locked into that little phrase. Contrary to popular belief, conventional wisdom would have one believe that it is insane to resist this, the mightiest of all empires, the victor in the Cold War, the empire that devastated Iraq and all that. But what history really shows is that today's empire is tomorrow's ashes. That nothing lasts forever, and that to not resist is to give into your own oppression. The greatest form of sanity that anyone can exercise is to resist that force that is trying to repress, oppress and fight the human spirit.
RW: What have they tried to do to you here?
MUMIA: Isolate me. Destroy and silence me. Cripple me. I don't want to make it sound like what they are doing to me is unlike what they have done to millions of others. They've done the same thing. No doubt your pictures here and your words will describe this. This is the kind of visiting room for all visitors. If you were my lawyer it would be this visiting room. If you were my wife, my children, this would be the visiting room.
RW: No physical contact?
MUMIA: At all, at all, at all. And the function is that human contact is necessary for human health to survive. It was very clear that their intent was for us not to survive.