Published April 13, 2011
A California teachers union is under fire after passing a new resolution supporting a convicted cop killer.
The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) last month passed a resolution reaffirming their support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was sentenced to death in the 1982 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner during a routine traffic stop.
In the resolution, the CFT alleges Abu-Jamal’s trial was unfair and calls the former radio journalist a civil rights hero.
But a critic says evidence in the case shows Abu-Jamal was clearly guilty and that the teachers union should be focusing on California’s education issues, not the 30-year-old conviction of a cop killer in Philadelphia.
Since his conviction, Abu-Jamal has become a cause célèbre all over the world and has appealed his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial in Philadelphia was characterized by illegal suppression of evidence, police coercion, illegal exclusion of black jurors and unfair and unconstitutional rulings by the judge," the CTF resolution reads.
The resolution also describes the former Black Panther as a civil rights hero saying, "Mumia Abu-Jamal has for decades as a journalist fought courageously against racism and police brutality and for the human rights of all people…the continued unjust incarceration of Mumia Abu-Jamal represents a threat to the civil rights of all people."
But Daniel Flynn, Author of "Cop killer: How Mumia Abu-Jamal conned millions into believing he was framed," said the facts of Abu-Jamal’s case were "overwhelming."
"You had numerous eye witnesses seeing him actually kill the cop. He was found at the scene with his gun, registered in his own name, with five expended shells. The cop actually shot him, so he had a bullet from the cop, and, in addition to all this, you have numerous eye witnesses reporting that he confessed to killing the cop, including one of his sympathizers," Flynn told Fox News. "…Except on the fringes there isn’t much of a debate on this guy’s guilt."
Flynn said he not only doesn’t understand why the CFT is choosing to support someone who was so clearly guilty of murdering a police officer, but also doesn’t understand why the California Teachers Federation found this to be a relevant cause.
"I don’t know what the California [Federation of Teachers] knows that a dozen jurors and more than a dozen appellate judges don’t know. They’ve looked at the facts of the case, they realize this guy’s guilty, but apparently the California Federation of Teachers knows something that we all don’t know."
"Teacher, teach thyself. That’s what I’m getting from all this. Not only did they come out with this resolution regarding Mumia Abu-Jamal, but they had a resolution supporting the people of Tunisia and one rejecting an anti-choice piece of legislation on Capitol Hill, another resolution about the need to work with ACORN," he added.
CFT spokesman Fred Glass said in a statement that the group’s convention is the "highest decision-making body of union delegates" and as such "they often pass resolutions of social and political matters."
"This year they felt that it was an ongoing civil liberties issue that he is still awaiting a ruling and could be put to death at any time, and that our reaffirmation of our traditional support for him would be timely," he said.
The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now reconsidering a 2008 decision to award Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing due to flawed jury instructions after the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the decision and ruled that a neo-Nazi did not deserve a new sentencing hearing on those grounds.
The CFT says it plans to advocate for a resolution on a national level at the 2012 American Federation of Teachers convention, "reaffirming the AFT’s support for justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal should he not have been cleared of charges and released by that time."