Officials, victim advocates 'appalled' by inmate commencement speaker

Mumia Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence for the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981


By C1 Staff

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Upon learning that convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal had been selected as a commencement speaker for Goddard College in Vermont, Corrections Secretary John Wetzel had only one reaction: Disgust.

“I cannot express my disdain enough about Goddard College’s decision to allow this individual to be a commencement speaker,” Wetzel said in a statement, according to Public Opinion Online. “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.”

Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence for the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981. He was originally sentenced to death in 1983, but was resentenced to life on Aug. 14, 2012.

His remarks will be delivered via an audio recording made over the state telephone system.

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

The Office of the Victim Advocate also commented on the selection.

“The Office of the Victim Advocate is appalled and disgusted that Goddard College would give any credence to the voice of a cop killer,” said Jennifer Storm. “Rather than spending his time productively behind bars serving his justified sentence, he continuously finds ways to re-victimize the Faulkner family by spewing his victim-blaming rhetoric.

“A commencement speaker is to uplift, motivate and inspire our young minds to go out and do great things. Abu-Jamal is a premeditated murderer of a police officer. We are asking that Goddard College properly educate their students by bringing in a commencement speaker worth of their time; such a survivor of crime to impart things like resiliency, courage and strength.”

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