pennsylvania governor

Philly rally slams denial of prisoner hepC care, Big Pharma profit

By Betsey Piette

For the second time in five weeks, protesters gathered outside the Philadelphia office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Jan.13. They again demanded that the state’s Department of Corrections provide political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and thousands of others under their jurisdiction with life-saving medications that can cure their chronic hepatitis C.

Federal District Judge Robert Mariani ordered on Jan. 3 the DOC to treat Abu-Jamal with the hep C cure within 21 days. In his precedent-setting ruling, Mariani called the DOC’s persistent refusal to treat prisoners with hep C “barbaric and unconstitutional.”  The ruling for Abu-Jamal would have extended to the 6,000 other Pennsylvania prisoners with the disease.

The DOC filed a notice of intent on Jan. 12 to appeal Mariani’s decision, asked for the court to “reconsider” its ruling and filed a motion for stay of the order.  The emergency demonstration on Jan. 13 was the movement’s response.

The DOC’s appeal could extend Abu-Jamal’s suffering and dangerous deterioration of health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says every person with chronic hepatitis C should be given the cure immediately.

Outside Wolf’s office Pam Africa of the MOVE organization and International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, said, “The DOC’s appeal is outrageous. It exposes the state’s wanton disregard for the health and life of the men and women under its care. It violates human decency.”

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When I found out the Supreme Court’s decision, I immediately grabbed my rainbow and went to Center City. Unfortunately I had to leave before the rally, but I had the fortune of being interviewed by Philadelphia Gay News, as well as meeting the former governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell. I will be releasing a full statement about this historic day later on, as well as speaking out about some other subjects. Until then, let love reign! Congratulations to the United States.