[Pnews] Police Union Seeks To Censor College Commencement Speech by Mumia Abu-Jama
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 3 14:24:53 EDT 2014
*Police Union Seeks To Censor College Commencement Speech by Mumia Abu-Jama*
Fri, 10/03/2014 - 10:58
Free Speech Arrested
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
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.
Abu-Jamal, an award-winning journalist at the time of his December 1981
arrest for the Faulkner's death, has continued to practice journalism
during his decades of incarceration producing thousands of commentaries
and over a half-dozen books that included a few best sellers.
The FOP in the mid-1990s pressured Pennsylvania prison officials to bar
Abu-Jamal from writing, a censorship effort blocked by a federal appeals
court ruling in 1998. The FOP protested Abu-Jamal's 1999 recorded
commencement speech at Evergreen State College in Washington State and
his recorded commencement address the following year at Antioch College
Goddard's interim president Bob Kenny said the student selection of
Abu-Jamal "shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses
their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world
that often sets up barriers to do just that."
The FOP and other Abu-Jamal opponents cite his alleged failure to deny
his role in the killing of Faulkner as proof of his remorselessness.
Yet, Abu-Jamal has consistently proclaimed his innocence including in a
statement released weeks after his arrest, twice during his trial and in
a post-trial affidavit.
That pre-trial statement Abu-Jamal issued in early January 1982 included
a claim by him that Philadelphia police savagely beat him during his
arrest. An investigation by Philadelphia authorities into that 1982
brutality compliant produced a suspicious belated claim from two
Philadelphia policemen that Abu-Jamal confessed to the murder of Faulkner.
Prosecutors used that suspect confession to help convict Abu-Jamal.
Curiously, over a dozen policeman were in the hospital emergency when
Abu-Jamal allegedly confessed on December 9,1981, according to police
reports. But only two officers have ever come forward to formally
declare they heard Abu-Jamal confess. That pair included one officer who
had filed an official report stating Abu-Jamal made "no comments." That
officer later told investigators that he initially disregarded the
confession because he didn't realize it had "any importance."
The FOP's Canterbury, consistent with persistent FOP condemnations of
Abu-Jamal, condemns the murder of Officer Faulkner but never makes
mention of the two other Philadelphia policemen murdered in 1981. One
officer was slain by a sniper in a still unsolved attack. The other
officer was off-duty when killed during a planned robbery-murder where
that killer received a life-sentence -- the same sentence now served by
Abu-Jamal. Those two policemen where black while Faulkner was white.
Canterbury when he blasted Goddard in his Oct. 1 press release, said
Abu-Jamal still holds "racist and violent ideals that motivated him to
kill Danny Faulkner just because he was a cop."
That Canterbury statement echoes prosecution assertions at Abu-Jamal's
1982 trial that Abu-Jamal's year-plus stint as a Black Panther Party --
that ended over a dozen years before his trial -- drove him to kill a
cop. Rampant police brutality triggered the 1966 formation of BPP,
initially known as The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.
In April 2014 the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a report
condemning failures by the United States to comply with the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that cited abusive
practices by police across America.
One element cited by the UN Committee was "Excessive use of force by law
enforcement officials" -- that included fatal shootings and other
instances of brutality that have a "disparate impact on African
Americans." That UN report also condemned racial profiling by police.
Police unions in the U.S., and notably the FOP, have a track record of
reflexively defending officers involved in brutality and other abuses,
including the all-too=common killing of unarmed citizens.
*Source URL:* http://thiscantbehappening.net/node/2487
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