Police Union Seeks To Censor College Commencement Speech by Mumia Abu-Jamal
Police carp about college students’ selection of a prison inmate for their commencement speaker. It must have something to do with Mumia Abu-Jamal…the man that cops across America love to hate.
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, issued a statement on October 1 that blasted Goddard College for its failure to block the commencement speech scheduled for Sunday (10/5) by Abu-Jamal, an alum of the small liberal arts institution in Vermont.
Canterbury castigated the fact that the group of 23 Goddard students who chose Abu-Jamal to address their boutique commencement ceremony “will be addressed by a remorseless killer who murdered Philadelphia Police Officer Danny Faulkner.”
Abu-Jamal’s controversial 1982 conviction for killing Officer Faulkner has been upheld by state and federal courts. However, that conviction is widely condemned by entities as diverse as Amnesty International, the European Parliament and the NAACP as fraught with misconduct by Philadelphia police and prosecutors that crippled Abu-Jamal’s fair trial rights.
Abu-Jamal briefly attended Goddard in the early 1970s. He obtained a B.A. degree from that institution 1996 through correspondence courses taken while on death row awaiting execution for Faulkner’s murder.
Abu-Jamal’s death sentence was eliminated by a federal appeals court ruling that faulted the judge at Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial for giving the jury improper instructions during their death penalty deliberations.
Earlier this year Canterbury helped derail President Obama’s nominee to head the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division with a false charge that Debo Adegbile was responsible for the undoing of Abu-Jamal’s “just sentence” of death. However, Adegbile had no legal or advisory role in that appellate court argument regarding improper jury instructions. Canterbury had blasted Goddard for allowing a commencement speaker who did not “exemplify…integrity and ethics.”
While the FOP’s Canterbury decried Goddard for providing a platform for Abu-Jamal “preaching his self-deluded revolutionary ideals” a college spokesman said it is Abu-Jamal’s internationally recognized status as a perceptive critic of inequities in American society that interested those students in him as their commencement speaker.
“What students are attracted to in Mumia is his journalism, his ability to continue to speak for a very underrepresented population, the prison population, and his ability to do so in a way that’s powerful to people of this generation,” Goddard’s Associate Director of Advancement and Alumni Affairs said.