[Pnews] Police Union Seeks To Censor College Commencement Speech by Mumia Abu-Jama

Prisoner News 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

Linn Washington

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 
in Ohio.

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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