Jailed cop killer is picked as graduation speaker

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
29 PHOTOS
Mumia Abu Jamal - Goddard commencement
See Gallery
Jailed cop killer is picked as graduation speaker
FILE--Convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal is seen in this undated file photo. Prosecutors appealed Friday, Dec. 21, 2001, a federal judge's ruling overturning the death sentence of Abu-Jamal. The move freezes the Tuesday, Dec. 18 order from District Judge William Yohn, who said Abu-Jamal deserves a new sentencing hearing because of errors in the jury instructions given during his 1982 trial. (AP Photo/Jennifer E. Beach, File)
248921 02: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Pennsylvania death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, seen here in a December 13, 1995 photo from prison, was convicted in 1982 of murdering a Philadelphia policeman. Police in Washington D.C. arrested dozens of Abu-Jamal supporters February 28, 2000, who were demanding a new trial for Abu Jamal, and the abolition of the death penalty in the United States. (Photo by Lisa Terry
Students walk across the campus of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt., Tuesday, April 16, 2002. Trustees of Goddard College are exploring an alliance with another school to help their small liberal arts institution stay afloat. The trustees will make an effort to hold on to Goddard's name and to keep its Plainfield campus open, said Kathleen Kesson, an education professor who is the faculty representative to Goddard's board of trustees. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Supporters of convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal rally outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear a new sentencing hearing for Abu-Jamal on Tuesday. The U.S. Supreme Court this year ordered the court to reconsider its decision granting Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Philadelphia police officers participate in a memorial service at the spot where Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner was gunned down 20 years ago, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2001, in Philadelphia. Former radio journalist and Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of first-degree murder in the Dec. 9, 1981 killing, was sentenced to death in 1982, but his numerous appeals have stalled his execution. A local judge ruled last month against his latest request for a new trial. (AP Photo/Sabina Louise Pierce)
Ramona Africa makes remarks during a news conference in Philadelphia, Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear a new sentencing hearing for death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A pedestrian walks past a protest by the International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal near the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010, in Philadelphia. The Supreme Court on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, threw out a ruling that had set aside the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in a racially tinged case that has made the former Black Panther an international cause celebre. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Protestors w. signs supporting reporter Mumia Abu-Jamal who is sentenced to die for 1981 murder of policeman Daniel Faulkner. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Image Works/Image Works/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Jamal Mumia Abu-Jamal presents a book from his father, Pennsylvania death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, to the library of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt., after accepting his father's bachelor of arts degree in ceremonies at the college Sunday, Jan. 21, 1996. Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, and completed his degree through the college's off-campus program. (AP Photo/Craig Line)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Conservative radio host Michael Smerconish and Maureen Faulkner, whose husband Mumia Abu-Jamal is convicted of having murdered in 1982, talks about the new book, 'Murdered By Mumia' on NBC News' Today on December 6, 2007 -- Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBCU Photo Bank
PHILADELPHIA - MAY 17: A counter protester holds a handbill in rememberance of slain police officer Daniel Faulkner at a rally for Faulker's convicted murderer, death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the Federal Court building May 17, 2007 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The rally was held as a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit heard legal arguments on whether Abu-Jamal's death sentence should be upheld, or whether he should get a new trial or a new sentencing hearing. Abu-Jamal was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death for the slaying of Faulkner 25 years ago. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)
Death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal is pictured on July 14, 1995 as he leaves court in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Nanine Hartzenbusch, pool)
A protestor stands next to an image of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the US Department of Justice on April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC, calling for the release from prison of the ex-Black Panther militant, who was convicted for the killing of a white police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. In December 2011 prosecutors gave up their effort to execute Abu-Jamal, who supporters believe is innocent and was framed for the murder in the racially charged case. Supporters decided to hold their demonstration on April 24, 2012, Abu-Jamal's 58th birthday. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this July 12, 1995 file photos, convicted police killer and death-row activist Mumia Abu-Jamal leaves Philadelphia's City Hall after a hearing. A federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing for Abu-Jamal Tuesday, April 26, 2011, finding for a second time that the death-penalty instructions given to the jury at his 1982 trial were potentially misleading. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner, File)
Demonstrators carry a banner demanding the freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal in front of the U.S. embassy in Berlin, Saturday, July 22, 1995. Black American journalist Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death 13 years ago for killing of a policeman, his execution is sceduled for the beginning of August. (AP Photo/Jan Bauer)
N 248921 03: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Pennsylvania death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, seen here in a December 13, 1995 photo from prison, was convicted in 1982 of murdering a Philadelphia policeman. Police in Washington D.C. arrested dozens of Abu-Jamal supporters February 28, 2000, who were demanding a new trial for Abu Jamal, and the abolition of the death penalty in the United States. (Photo by Lisa Terry / Liaison Agency)
Students have a class outdoors on the campus of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt., Tuesday, April 16, 2002. Trustees of Goddard College are exploring an alliance with another school to help their small liberal arts institution stay afloat. The trustees will make an effort to hold on to Goddard's name and to keep its Plainfield campus open, said Kathleen Kesson, an education professor who is the faculty representative to Goddard's board of trustees. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Protestors stand before an image of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the US Department of Justice on April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC, calling for the release from prison of the ex-Black Panther militant, who was convicted for the killing of a white police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. In December 2011 prosecutors gave up their effort to execute Abu-Jamal, who supporters believe is innocent and was framed for the murder in the racially charged case. Supporters decided to hold their demonstration on April 24, 2012, Abu-Jamal's 58th birthday. AFP PHOTO /Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors hold posters for Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the US Department of Justice on April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC, calling for the release from prison of the ex-Black Panther militant, who was convicted for the killing of a white police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. In December 2011 prosecutors gave up their effort to execute Abu-Jamal, who supporters believe is innocent and was framed for the murder in the racially charged case. Supporters decided to hold their demonstration on April 24, 2012, Abu-Jamal's 58th birthday. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors stand before an image of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the US Department of Justice on April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC, calling for the release from prison of the ex-Black Panther militant, who was convicted for the killing of a white police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. In December 2011 prosecutors gave up their effort to execute Abu-Jamal, who supporters believe is innocent and was framed for the murder in the racially charged case. Supporters decided to hold their demonstration on April 24, 2012, Abu-Jamal's 58th birthday. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Several people hold a protest calling for a new trial for US human rights campaigner Mumia Abu-Jamal on April 02, 2008 in Paris. A US federal appeals court overturned last March, 27 the death sentence passed against Abu-Jamal, while upholding his conviction for the murder of a police officer. AFP PHOTO PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 9: Supporters of death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal rally outside City Hall December 9, 2006 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The rally marked the 25th anniversary of the night Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was fatally shot. Abu-Jamal was later convicted of first degree murder for Faulkner's slaying. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)
398354 06: Frank Calderon of Bronx, N.Y., chants 'FREE MUMIA!' at a demonstration in support of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal December 8, 2001 in Philadelphia. Abu-Jamal was convicted in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia Police officer Daniel Faulkner. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, UNITED STATES: A construction worker on scaffolding on Philadelphia City Hall, stands next to a banner calling for the execution of convicted police killer Mumia Abu Jamal across the street from a rally outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, PA on 17 August 2001. Jamal's lawyers were in court for a status hearing asking to suspend his federal appeal while they try to mount a new legal challenge in the Pennsylvania courts. AFP PHOTO/TOM MIHALEK (Photo credit should read TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, UNITED STATES: A man holding a Palestinian flag and a sign stands with other supporters of convicted police killer Mumia Abu Jamal at a rally outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, PA on 17 August 2001. Jamal's lawyers were in court for a status hearing asking to suspend his federal appeal while they try to mount a new legal challenge in the Pennsylvania courts. AFP PHOTO/TOM MIHALEK (Photo credit should read TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, UNITED STATES: Philadelphia Police officers use their bicycles to form a line in front of several hundred supporters of convicted police killer Mumia Abu Jamal at a rally outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, PA on 17 August 2001. Jamal's lawyers were in court for a status hearing asking to suspend his federal appeal while they try to mount a new legal challenge in the Pennsylvania courts. AFP PHOTO/TOM MIHALEK (Photo credit should read TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Demostrators supporting death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal march 13 August 2000 through the streets of downtown Los Angeles near the Staples Center, site of the Democratic National Convention. The four-day convention begins 14 August. AFP PHOTO/Scott NELSON (Photo credit should read Scott Nelson/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Demostrators supporting death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal march through the streets of downtown Los Angeles, California, 13 August 2000 near the Staples Center, site of the Democratic National Convention. The convention begins 14 August and runs for four days. The sign reads, 'Work and School, Yes! Prisons, No! AFP PHOTO/Scott NELSON (Photo credit should read Scott Nelson/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

FRACKVILLE, Pa. (AP) - A man serving life in prison for killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981 has been selected as a commencement speaker at his Vermont alma mater.

Goddard College, a liberal arts college in Plainfield with 600 students, says on its website that Mumia Abu-Jamal's recorded remarks will be played Sunday at a commencement, along with a video about him.

Bob Kenny, the school's interim president, is quoted on the website as saying the graduates' selection of Abu-Jamal reflects "their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that."

Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to death for killing Officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981, but he was resentenced to life in 2012. He graduated from Goddard in 1996.

His claims that he's been victimized by a racist justice system have attracted international support, and a radio show, documentaries and books have helped publicize his case. Abu-Jamal is a former Black Panther; the officer was white.

The Vermont Troopers' Association said Tuesday that including Abu-Jamal in the commencement shows "an absolute disregard" for Faulkner's family.

"While our nation is searching for solutions to gun violence in our schools and communities, we are outraged that Goddard College is hosting a man who shot and killed a police officer," the group in a written statement.

Pennsylvania Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said he's "disdainful" of Goddard's decision to choose Abu-Jamal, who is housed at the Mahanoy state prison in Frackville.

"Police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect society and now we have a college allowing an individual convicted of murdering a police officer to share his opinions with impressionable students. This fact is very troubling," he said.

"Inmates do have a constitutional right to access telephones," Wetzel said. "While we do not support or endorse this specific type of activity, we cannot prohibit it from happening."

Goddard holds 20 commencement ceremonies every year, so students in each degree program can individualize their graduations and choose their speaker. Students who are receiving bachelor of arts or fine arts degrees Sunday chose Abu-Jamal, who received a bachelor's degree from Goddard in 1996.

Twenty of the 23 students who are receiving arts degrees are expected to attend the ceremony.

Goddard students design their own curriculums with faculty advisers and do not take tests or receive grades, said college spokesman Dustin Byerly.

Read Full Story

People are Reading