Adegbile Nomination to Head the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is More Proof That Obama Doesn’t Hold Law Enforcement in Very High Esteem
By Ken K. Gourdin
From feting the rapper Common, whose lyrics glorify cop killing, in the White House; to saying that Cambridge, Mass. Police “acted stupidly” in arresting black Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates after Gates became unruly when police asked him to identify himself when Gates was trying to get back into his house after having locked himself out; to questioning the verdict in the George Zimmerman case, there seems to be ample evidence that President Barack Obama does not hold law enforcement in very high esteem.
As though to remove all doubt, the President nominated Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Adegbile provided appellate advocacy services to Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 of shooting Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. While—although I have a strong pro-police, pro-prosecution bent—I wholeheartedly support an accused receiving the most vigorous defense to which he is entitled in a court of law, Adegbile’s advocacy for Mumia’s cause has extended well beyond that threshold, as Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and Connecticut Senator Pat Toomey pointed out in a recent Op-Ed:
. . . [O]verwhelming evidence led to Abu-Jamal’s conviction and subsequent death sentence in 1982. Three decades of appeals followed, in which Abu-Jamal’s appellate lawyers echoed their client’s antics in legal maneuvers that made a mockery of the justice system. These appeals primarily functioned as a stage for Abu-Jamal’s hateful ideologies, painting him as the unjustly accused victim of a racist conspiracy.
Given this context—and the fact that Abu-Jamal was already well represented and had funds at his disposal—it is difficult to understand why, as acting president and director of litigation at the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, Mr. Adegbile chose in 2009 to enter the circus created by Abu-Jamal and inject his organization into the case. Under Mr. Adegbile’s leadership and through rallies, protests and a media campaign, the Legal Defense Fund actively fanned the racial firestorm. In a news release issued when it took over as Abu-Jamal’s counsel, the Legal Defense Fund proclaimed that Abu-Jamal was “a symbol of the racial injustices of the death penalty.”1
It should be noted that opposition to Mr. Adegbile is bipartisan: Mr. Williams is a Democrat, and Mr. Toomey is a Republican.
Want more evidence that the opposition to the Adegbile nomination is bipartisan? The New York Times published an Op-Ed authored by Jonathan Weisman and Michael D. Shear in which the authors took note of Senator Chris Coons’ (D – Del.) comments opposing Adegbile’s nomination:
“I embrace the proposition that an attorney is not responsible for the actions of their client,” said Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, who voted no and who comes from a state where many Philadelphia police officers live. “The decades-long public campaign by others, however, to elevate a heinous, coldblooded killer to the status of a political prisoner and folk hero has caused tremendous pain to the widow of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and shown great disrespect for law enforcement officers and families throughout our region.”2
Mr. President, when members of both parties express such dislike for your nominee, you should take note. (And this isn’t a case of Congressional recalcitrance that you can [or should, even if you could] solve “with [your] phone and [your] pen.”) Whatever deficiencies may exist in law enforcement, Mumia is far from the ideal “poster child” to highlight those deficiencies.
|1.||Pat Toomey and R. Seth Williams (February 24, 2014) “Toomey and Williams: The Justice nominee and the cop killer; Debo Adegbile’s disturbing support for Mumia Abu-Jamal should disqualify him [as nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division],” The Wall Street Journal, accessed on line at the following address on March 6, 2014: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304610404579401483616494254?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304610404579401483616494254.html.|
|2.||Jonathan Weisman and Michael D. Shear (March 5, 2014) “Democrats in Senate Reject Pick by Obama,” The New York Times, accessed on line at the following address on March 6, 2014: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/us/politics/senate-rejects-obama-nominee-linked-to-abu-jamal-case.html?_r=0.|