Law signed to curb Abu-Jamal’s ‘obscene celebrity’
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ignoring the chants of protesters on the block where a police officer was killed and the cause célèbre of Mumia Abu-Jamal was born, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law Tuesday a measure he said would curb the “obscene celebrity” cultivated by convicts at the expense of victims.
The law allows prosecutors or crime victims to seek an injunction when an offender’s conduct “perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime,” including causing a temporary or permanent state of “mental anguish.”
The measure won unanimous approval in the state legislature last week after Abu-Jamal, serving a life sentence for the 1981 shooting death of Officer Daniel Faulkner, delivered a pre-recorded commencement address earlier this month to 21 graduates of tiny Goddard College in Vermont.
“This unrepentant cop killer has tested the limits of decency,” Corbett said from a portable stage, flanked by uniformed officers and photographs of Faulkner. “Gullible activists and celebrities have continued to feed this killer’s ego.”
Abu-Jamal, 60, drew international support in the decades since his conviction with claims — repeated in weekly radio commentaries and books including “Live From Death Row” and “All Things Censored” — that he is the victim of a racist justice system.
Abu-Jamal is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors dropped a bid to reinstate the former radio reporter and Black Panther’s death sentence three years ago.
Abu-Jamal attended Goddard briefly in the 1970s and studied remotely through the institution from death row. He didn’t mention Faulkner or the shooting in his taped speech.
Before signing the bill, Corbett and Faulkner’s widow, Maureen, visited a plaque on the sidewalk where he was killed. Corbett, a Republican former attorney general facing a tough re-election fight, noted the serenity of the street near the heart of the city — far different, Maureen Faulkner told him, from the night her husband died.