PHILADELPHIA (AP) – 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 headed 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. Adegbile and others “turned the justice system on its head with unfounded and unproven allegations of racism,” said the union’s national president, Chuck Canterbury.
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.”
At a confirmation hearing Wednesday, Adegbile said he had argued simply that the correct legal process be followed in the case, MSNBC reported.
“These are the hardest cases, but our commitment in the Constitution is to follow these rules even in the hardest cases,” Adegbile said.
Adegbile, who works as senior counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., grew up in New York and as a child appeared on Sesame Street for nine years, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.