Ex-Cop on Mumia Essay: 'Shooting a Police Officer... Not the Way to Start a Dialogue'

Sean Long | January 31, 2014 | 3:09pm EST
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It should be pretty obvious that vicious murderers cannot shoot police officers and then expect a civil dialogue.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, made famous for his 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer, recently wrote an essay advocating the abolition of prisons in favor of attacker-victim dialogue. Simultaneously, his case began to make national headlines when President Barack Obama nominated his 1982 defense attorney, Debo Adegbile, to lead the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

Richard Costello, former president of the Fraternal Order of Police and a harsh critic of Abu-Jamal and Adegbile, blasted the essay in an interview with the Business and Media Institute, saying "Shooting a police officer in the back is not the way to start a dialogue."

Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, was convicted in 1982 of shooting Officer Daniel Faulkner in the back, based on eyewitness evidence and his possession of the murder weapon at the scene of the crime. The case became a hot-button political issue, with radical liberals pushing for Abu-Jamal's release from death row. His sentence was changed from death to life imprisonment in 2012 with Adegbile's help, argues the FOP.

Costello was the president of the FOP between 1988 and 2002, and consistently fought against leniency in the Abu-Jamal appeals. He worked extensively with Officer Faulkner's widow, Maureen Fualkner, to keep Abu-Jamal in prison and was involved in the FOP during Abu-Jamal's 1982 trial. Costello will attend a press conference with Sen. Toomey, R-Penn., criticizing Adegbile's nomination to the DOJ on Monday, February 3.

According to Costello, Abu-Jamal "never denied [his guilt]. He simply says he never did anything wrong." Costello also criticized Adegbile's nomination, saying it represents "absolute contempt for the civil rights of Danny Faulkner and Maureen Faulker and every police officer in the country."

Abu-Jamal's new Jan. 21 essay was published in Frances Goldin's "Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA." He advocated the complete abolition of prisons, in favor of a system which "brings the offender and the victim together to talk to each other." If Abu-Jamal wanted a dialogue with the Philadelphia Police Department, it seems unlikely that he will find willing partners. Costello said that "the time for speaking is passed."

Costello continued to decry the harassment he and Maureen Faulker faced from Abu-Jamal and "his collection of renegades." Far from trying to engage in dialogue with Officer Faulkner's family and supporters, Costello said Abu-Jamal's followers viciously harassed the Faulkner family. He said Maureen Faulkner has "been threatened, been sued by this animal's supporters. She's been harassed."

He related a courthouse scene when Abu-Jamal's supporters threatened Maureen Faulkner with hand gestures shaped like guns, saying "bang, bang, you're next." In a 2008 interview with Police Magazine, Ms. Faulkner related a story from the 1982 trial where she was accosted by Abu-Jamal supporters in the restroom who spat on her and said "I'm glad your pig husband's dead."

Costello did not limit his criticism to Abu-Jamal and his radical supporters, blasting the media's bias and coverage of the trial. He described the "deceptive and dishonest" tactics "practiced mainly by the left." When asked for an example, he discussed an incident during the 1995-97 Post Conviction Relief Act Hearings where he was "defrauded" when HBO allegedly posed as representatives of the BBC to get information about the trial.

Costello ended the interview declaring that the "greatest threat to the First Amendment is the press itself," saying that the Abu-Jamal hearings gave him a "graduate seminar in the liberal bias in the media."

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