WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) on Thursday sent an outraged letter to the Vermont college that will have Mumia Abu-Jamal as a commencement speaker, urging the school to revoke its invitation to the convicted cop-killer.
"Is there any crime so heinous that Goddard would not reward the perpetrator with a spot as commencement speaker?" Toomey asks in his letter to Robert Kenny, the interim president of tiny Goddard College. On Sunday the school is due to have Abu-Jamal address 20 fall graduates in a pre-recorded speech.
"I cannot fathom how anyone could think it appropriate to honor a cold-blooded murderer," Toomey wrote, calling the invitation a "slap in the face" to the family of Daniel Faulkner, the Philadelphia police officer Abu-Jamal killed in 1981. Toomey's office shared a copy of the letter with the Inquirer.
Students from the school chose Abu-Jamal as their speaker. He received a bachelor's degree from Goddard in 1996 after completing coursework in prison, where he is serving a life sentence. Goddard students generally do their work from home, visit campus just a few weeks per year and are, on average, 35 years old, spokeswoman told my colleague Jason Laughlin earlier this week.
"They chose Mumia because to them, Mumia represents a struggle for freedom of the mind, body, and spirit," said the spokeswoman, Samantha Kolber. "Those were values important to this graduating class."
Toomey first blasted the decision to have Abu-Jamal speak on Wednesday when he appeared on the Dom Giordano radio show. His comments on the show are here.