Community Forum: Police protest selection of Abu-Jamal
This week’s writer is Chief George Merkel of the Vergennes Police Department, who is writing in his role as president of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police.
The Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police is shocked and appalled by the recent decision of Goddard College to invite convicted murderer and cop killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, as the commencement speaker for graduation on Oct. 5. It is beyond belief that an educational institution would even consider such an act of disrespect to the family of slain Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and the law enforcement community of Vermont. It obviously means nothing to the school administration and graduates that Mumia Abu-Jamal murdered Officer Faulkner in cold blood by shooting him five times. While we support the protection of individual rights in Vermont, we find the choice of this convicted murderer as a commencement speaker offensive, and shows a lack of judgment on behalf of the college and its graduates, as well as a total disrespect for the family of the slain officer who was sworn also to protect individual rights.
A report of the incident is as follows:
On Dec. 9, 1981, at approximately 3:55 a.m., Officer Danny Faulkner, a five-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, made a traffic stop at Locust Street near Twelfth Street in the city of Philadelphia.
The car stopped by Officer Faulkner was being driven by William Cook. After making the stop, Officer Faulkner called for assistance on his police radio and requested a police wagon to transport a prisoner. Unbeknownst to him, William Cook’s brother, Wesley (aka Mumia Abu-Jamal) was across the street.
As Officer Faulkner attempted to handcuff William Cook, Mumia Abu-Jamal ran from across the street and shot the officer in the back. Officer Faulkner turned and was able to fire one shot that struck Abu-Jamal in the chest; the wounded officer then fell to the pavement.
Mumia Abu-Jamal stood over the downed officer and shot at him four more times at close range, striking him once directly in the face. Mumia Abu-Jamal was found still at the scene of the shooting by officers who arrived there within seconds. The murderer was slumped against the curb in front of his brother’s car.
In his possession was a .38 caliber revolver that records showed Mumia had purchased months earlier. The chamber of the gun had five spent cartridges. A cab driver, as well as other pedestrians, had witnessed the brutal slaying and identified Mumia Abu-Jamal as the killer both at the scene and during his trial.
On July 2, 1982, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Officer Danny Faulkner. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard the defendant’s appeals and denied it, upholding the conviction in March 1989.
The Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police represents the interest of more than 50 police agencies spread across the state of Vermont. We ask the public’s support in writing or emailing Goddard College in opposition to this callous decision.
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