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Published January 13. 2014 05:00PM

The president's recent decision to nominate Debo Adegbile to head the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice has not won him any points with police.

In December 2011, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund was successful in overturning Abu-Jamal's death sentence, thanks to the leadership of defender Adegbile, who VOLUNTEERED his services to represent Mumia Abu-Jamal.

It's puzzling why this administration would want to be associated with the Mumia Abu-Jamal story, certainly one of the most racially-charged episodes of the last three decades. Abu-Jamal, a journalist and member of the Black Panthers, was sentenced to death for first-degree murder for the killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner on June 17, 1982.

The case was a racial firestorm from the start and there's good reason police, Faulkner's family and many critics are so vehemently opposed to Adegbile's promotion, given the details of the killing. Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner once in the back and then stood over him and shot him four more times at close range. During the trial, a hospital security guard and police officer testified that Abu-Jamal confessed in the hospital by saying, "I shot the mother------, and I hope the mother------ dies."

After the decision to nominate Adegbile, Chuck Canterbury, head of the 330,000-member Fraternal Order of Police, quickly fire off a letter to the president, calling the nomination "a thumb in the eye of our nation's law enforcement officers."

"There is no disputing that Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was murdered by this thug (Abu-Jamal). His just sentence death was undone by your nominee and others like him who turned the justice system on its head with unfounded and unproven allegations of racism," the letter stated.

Also, Canterbury said the nomination "demonstrates a total lack of regard or empathy for those who strive to keep you and everyone else in our nation safe in your homes and neighborhoods - sometimes giving their lives in the effort."

Adegbile denied the NAACP Legal Defense Fund involvement in the Abu-Jamal case had anything to do with race, but instead argued his organization got involved on a strictly legal basis. He has the support of some government officials, including Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy and Charles Schumer, who voiced their praise for him in the recent hearings.

Still, we question Adegbile's judgment in volunteering to defend one of the most violent, remorseless police murderers in our lifetime.

By Jim Zbick

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