Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

Imagine that a group of men ran into a business, robbed it to the tune of $100,000.00, pulled guns on them, sexually assaulted a woman, and even stole food from them, before departing and vanishing.

What would you call them?

What would the news media call them?

Some years ago, in Philadelphia, young people would rush into stores downtown, enter in large numbers, and rip off clothes and sneakers, fleeing amid mass confusion. The media called them “flash mobs”, and public commentary denounced them as “animals”, “savages” and “criminals”.

Politicians bum-rushed the mike to condemn them and promised swift and terrible retribution for such “unacceptable” acts. When some of the kids got arrested some time later, judges spat sentences of contempt and time at them.

Remember the first group?

They were city cops. Narcs.

They hit local bodegas, and cut wires to security cameras before robbing Latina businessmen and women.

What were they called by politicians, prosecutors or the press?


These events happened several years ago. After years of ‘investigations’, guess what happened?

Nothing. No charges.

Sure, several cops got fired. But now, with no charges, some, perhaps all, will get their jobs back – with back pay.

No harm done. ‘There’s nothin’ to see here.

‘Keep it movin’.

There – in New York, some names ring like bells: Rahmarley Graham, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell,…injustice after injustice after injustice.

And politicians – especially Black politicians -are as silent as church mice.

This is not random. Nor is it mere happenstance.

This is institutional. This is systemic.

And this goes deeper than we know.

Over a generation ago, when police attacked the home of MOVE members in Philadelphia, and bombed and killed them, they set a precedent. It was a precedent of impunity and a stark example of state terrorism.

That impunity has spread, like cancer, and it affects every Black and Brown community in the country.

And when people were silent about the carnage visited on MOVE, it subtly okayed what they could do to others. And it gave birth to a wave of violent repression that has no precedent in American history.

Hence, the phenomenon of mass incarceration – a fever to punish – to imprison – to demonize target populations – for fun and profit.

Our anemic politics – of Black faces in high places – has no solution to this generational, epic crisis, for they have fed too long at the trough of mass incarceration.

They are the problem -not the solution.

They are aiders and abettors of those who repress us. How can they solve a crisis they have helped create? For are they not in the hip pockets of so-called police unions -paid- or intimidated – to silence?

It must come from us – the People – to say no to this hellish state of affairs – for we know it best!

United – we must build a movement – to demolish it: once and for all.

Thank you!