PHILADELPHIA- A national police organization and a Pennsylvania lawmaker are protesting President Barack Obama’s nomination of a civil rights attorney for a U.S. Department of Justice position, citing his legal work on the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. In a letter to Obama, the National Fraternal Order of Police expressed “extreme disappointment, displeasure and vehement opposition” to the nomination of Debo Adegbile to be assistant attorney general for the department’s civil rights division.
Adegbile was with the Legal Defense and Educational Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People when it volunteered to represent Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, the police union said. he union’s national president, Chuck Canterbury says Adegbile and others “turned the justice system on its head with unfounded and unproven allegations of racism.” Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., said in a statement that he “could not be more incensed and confounded” by the nomination, which he called “a direct affront to the thousands of law enforcement officials who serve in harm’s way to protect our families and the communities who rely on their service and sacrifice.” The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund called the criticism “deeply troubling,” saying in a statement that the organization’s representation of Abu-Jamal stemmed from a desire to ensure that the rights of all criminal defendants are protected. Adegbile, a native New Yorker, works as senior counsel for Patrick Leahy, a Democratic Senator from Vermont.