Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

A woman working to feed the homeless gets involved in a confrontation with transit cops down on a major metropolitan subway. She’s accosted, manhandled, thrown to the ground, and held under restraint. Another woman has her window shattered by highway patrol, when she doesn’t move her car fast enough or open her window on command. She is seized, handcuffed, and arrested.

What makes these cases remarkable is the identity of the women described here. The first, in addition to being a political leader in her own right, is the wife of a United States Congressman. The second, a prominent professional, is the wife of a Pennsylvania State Representative. Both women are African American. Although charges were later dropped against these women, the very fact that they were treated so crudely, despite their prominence and influence, makes one wonder about how cruelly people without such influence are treated by agents of the state.

The two events just described actually occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1993. The first, involving Philadelphia city council woman, Mrs. Jannie Blackwell, the wife of freshmen United States Democratic Representative Lucien Blackwell. The second involved a leading Philadelphia Black lawyer, Mrs. Renee Hughes, past president of the prestigious Barristers Association, local affiliate of the National Bar Association, and wife of State Representative Vincent Hughes, of the 170th district.

That both cases were administratively resolved is of less importance than the fact that the incidents occurred at all. Such incidents are but daily occurrences in the lives of Black men and women in America, regardless of class, rank, status or station in life. That cops can treat people so shadily, indeed, the very people who literally pay their salaries and set their operating budgets, gives a grim glimmer of life at the social-economic political bottom, where people have no influence, no clout, no voice.

These cases reveal the cold contempt held by white cops for Black men and women, even if those women are in positions of state power, which are presumed to be in control. In truth, any control is illusory, and is totally effervescent as power itself. Police are out of control. Black politicians are out of power. When these events occur, we can only conclude that if such events can happen to them, what of us?

If people can watch the massacre of MOVE people on May 13, 1985, as police firebomb MOVE headquarters; the ATF FBI ramming and destruction of the Koreshians of Waco, Texas in April, 1993; and still claim the police are under control, then nothing said here will convince them. The police are agents of white ruling class capitalist will, period. Neither Black managers nor Black politicians can change that reality. The people themselves must organize for their own defense, or it won’t get done.

From death row, this is Mumia Abu Jamal. For more information about my case, racism, and the death penalty, and what you can do, contact equal justice USA at 301-699-0042.