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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another Reason To Get Rid of Teacher’s Unions

“There's no particular relationship between spending and educational results. Most education spending is actually on salaries, and that's allocated according to political muscle.” — Peter Brimelow

If you thought last month’s debacle in Wisconsin was an indictment of the teachers unions the latest activities of the California Federation of Teachers will absolutely floor you.

Between negotiating for more benefits and teaching their students, the California Federation of Teachers has adopted a resolution of support for convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

At the CFT’s 2011 Convention in late March, the delegates passed 30 resolutions, from solidifying support for anti-bullying legislation to supporting transitional kindergarten. Among the resolutions largely pertaining to education and collective bargaining rights was Resolution 19 – to “Reaffirm support for death row journalist.”

“Therefore, be it resolved, that the California Federation of Teachers reaffirm its support and demand that the courts consider the evidence of innocence of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” the Committee Report reads.

Mumia Abu-Jamal was a former member of the Black Panthers who was foundMumia03 guilty of murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel J. Faulkner during a routine traffic stop in 1981. Abu-Jamal was subsequently sentenced to death.

Mumia Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook on April 24, 1954) is an American who was found guilty of and sentenced to death for the December 9, 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. He has been described as "perhaps the best known Death-Row prisoner in the world", and his sentence is one of the most debated today. Before his arrest, he was an activist, radio journalist, and part-time cab driver. He was a member of the Black Panther Party until October 1970.

Since his conviction, his case has become an international cause célèbre, and he has become a controversial cultural icon. Supporters and opponents disagree on the appropriateness of the death penalty, whether he is guilty, or whether he received a fair trial. During his imprisonment he has published several books and other commentaries, notably Live from Death Row (1995).

On December 9, 1981, in Philadelphia, close to the intersection at 13th and Locust Streets, Philadelphia Police Department officer Daniel Faulkner was Daniel_faulknershot and killed during a traffic stop. The stopped vehicle belonged to William Cook, Abu-Jamal's younger brother. Abu-Jamal's own vehicle, a taxi, was parked across the street. During the incident, Abu-Jamal was wounded by a shot from Faulkner, collapsed on the sidewalk, and was apprehended by the police. He was taken directly from the scene of the shooting to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where he received treatment for his wounds. He was later charged with the first-degree murder of Daniel Faulkner.

The case went to trial in June 1982 in Philadelphia. Judge Albert F. Sabo initially agreed to Abu-Jamal's request to represent himself, with criminal defense attorney Anthony Jackson acting as his legal advisor. During the first day of the trial this decision was reversed and Jackson was ordered to resume acting as Abu-Jamal's sole advocate after the judge declared that Abu-Jamal was intentionally disruptive.

The prosecution presented four witnesses to the court. Robert Chobert, a cab driver who claimed he was parked behind Faulkner, identified Abu-Jamal as the shooter. Cynthia White, a prostitute, testified that a man emerged from a nearby parking lot and shot Faulkner. Michael Scanlon, a motorist, testified that from two car lengths away, he saw a man, matching Abu-Jamal's description, run across the street from a parking lot and shoot Faulkner. Albert Magilton, a pedestrian who did not see the actual murder, testified to witnessing Faulkner pull over Cook's car. At the point of seeing Abu-Jamal start to cross the street toward them from the parking lot, Magilton turned away and lost sight of what happened next.

The prosecution also presented two witnesses who were present at the hospital after the altercation. Hospital security guard Priscilla Durham and Police Officer Garry Bell testified that Abu-Jamal confessed in the hospital by saying, "I shot the motherfucker, and I hope the motherfucker dies."

A .38 caliber Charter Arms revolver, belonging to Abu-Jamal, with five spent cartridges was retrieved beside him at the scene. He was wearing a shoulder holster, and the shell casings and rifling characteristics of the weapon were consistent with bullet fragments taken from Faulkner's body. Tests to confirm that Abu-Jamal had handled and fired the weapon were not performed, as contact with arresting police and other surfaces at the scene could have compromised the forensic value of such tests.

The defense maintained that Abu-Jamal was innocent of the charges and that the testimony of the prosecution's witnesses was unreliable. The defense was not permitted to inform the jury of Chobert's previous criminal record (Chobert was on five years' probation for felony arson, and was driving his cab illegally as his license was suspended following a DUI conviction), which led later commentators to question whether "such a driver would have deliberately parked his cab behind a police vehicle".

The defense presented nine character witnesses, including poet Sonia Sanchez, who testified that Abu-Jamal was "viewed by the black community as a creative, articulate, peaceful, genial man". Another defense witness, Dessie Hightower, testified that he saw a man running along the street shortly after the shooting although he did not see the actual shooting itself. His testimony contributed to the development of a "running man theory", based on the possibility that a "running man" may have been the actual shooter. Veronica Jones also testified for the defense, but she did not see anyone running. Other potential defense witnesses refused to appear in court. Abu-Jamal did not testify in his own defense. Nor did his brother, who said at the crime scene, "I ain't got nothing to do with this."

Since 1995, Abu-Jamal, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections #AM8335, has been incarcerated at Pennsylvania's SCI Greene, where most of the state's capital case inmates are held. In 2008, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the murder conviction, but ordered a new capital sentencing hearing over concerns that the jury was improperly instructed. Subsequently, the United States Supreme Court allowed his July 1982 conviction to stand, and ordered the appeals court to reconsider its decision to rescind the death sentence.

His supporters, such as the California Federation of Teachers, argue that his trial was unfair and that he is a civil rights hero. They state; “Mumia Abu-Jamal has for decades, as a journalist fought courageously against racism and police brutality and for the human rights of all people and has taken strong stands in support of working people involved in labor struggles and in support of well-funded, quality, public education,” the resolution reads.

Daniel Flynn, author of “Cop killer: How Mumia Abu-Jamal conned millions into believing he was framed” told The Daily Caller that Abu-Jamal was the poster-child for ending the death penalty 20 – 30 years ago.

“Somebody should tell the California Teachers Federation that this is over, he is in jail, he is going to stay there,” Flynn said. “You have numerous eyewitnesses saying Mumia did it. You had ballistic evidence – Mumia’s gun at the scene was consistent with the bullet used to kill Faulkner. Mumia admitted after the fact that he did it.”

Fred Glass, CFT spokesman, stated; “that the even though the case is 30 years old, since Abu-Jamal is still going through appeals, the issue remains relevant.”

“The delegates decided it was time to reiterate that they supported him due to the irregularities that they felt had taken place during his case,” said Glass. “They see this as a civil liberties issue; it is quite common for the CFT to take positions on broad social matters like this.”

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) spokesman Tom Lansworth, said that this is an issue the national union has never before considered, however, it likely will appear before the AFT at their next convention.

“It appears that one of the intents of the California resolution is to present this issue to the next AFT convention, which will be next year. Our national convention is held every two years. So the California action is part of the normal process of proposing resolutions for debate by the national convention. This does not appear to be an issue that we have acted on before,” he stated, adding he had no idea whether the AFT would adopt the resolution.

Either way, Flynn sees the action as the CFT showing their liberal stripes. “The California Federation of Teachers is reacting to that long tradition on the left that takes murders and makes heroes out of them,” said Flynn.

This case has been going on for over 30 years and Mumia Abu-Jamal should have had the needle stuck into his arm 15 years ago. This is just another cause célèbre for the left. Abu-Jamal was convicted with a jury trial and then that conviction was upheld by numerous appellate court decisions.

Of course no one really gives a damn about Officer Faulkner except his family. He was brutally executed by a black man and the left just can’t get their head around that.

The left-wingers and Hollywood types have claimed Mumia Abu-Jamal to be an innocent, framed black man who did nothing wrong and now a teachers union is picking up the torch. Would someone please tell me what in the hell is a teachers union in California, a state that is a financial train wreck with public schools that are failing, doing taking on the case of a convicted cop killer in Philadelphia. This is just another example of why we don’t need teachers unions.

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