In a move that has already sparked a backlash among law enforcement groups, President Barack Obama on Thursday appointed Debo Adegbile, a former attorney for convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, to a six-year post on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The eight-member commission consists of four members appointed by the president and four appointed by Congress. Unfortunately, the six-year appointments are not subject to Senate confirmation.
Mr. Adegbile worked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund when he represented Abu-Jamal in the appeal of his conviction and death sentence for the notorious 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal’s sentence was reduced to life in prison.
The case prompted the Senate to reject Mr. Adegbile’s nomination in 2014 when Mr. Obama appointed him to lead the Justice Department’s office on civil rights. Some Democrats joined Republicans in voting down the selection at that time.
According to PJ Media’s J. Christian Adams, “while [Adegbile was] overseeing the NAACP LDF, the organization offered legal representation to Mumia Abu-Jamal, the murderer of Philadelphia police officer Danny Faulkner.” At the time, Adams called Obama’s “ultra radical pick” to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division an “in-your-face nomination.” You can watch a video of LDF lawyers addressing a pro-Mumia crowd here.
The FBI Agents Association, National Fraternal Order of Police, Major County Sheriff’s Association, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriff’s Association, and the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association all came out in fierce opposition to the nomination of Adegbile in 2014.
Adegbile was rejected on a 52-47 vote in the Senate, which Obama called a “travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”
Now on his way out the door, as a final insult to the law enforcement community, Obama has appointed Adegbile to another civil rights post where he will likely be working against them for six long years.
Law enforcement groups and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) decried the appointment Friday with one police union official calling it a “kick in the teeth to the cops.”
John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police’s chapter in Philadelphia, lashed out at the Obama administration over the appointment, calling it “Obama’s goodbye present to police across the nation.”
“That’s just the old kick in the teeth to the cops,” McNesby said during an appearance on the Dom Giordano Show on Friday morning. “I guess it’s Obama’s goodbye present to police across the nation.”
McNesby said that he saw the appointment as “payback to the FOP” and vowed that he would push the incoming Trump administration to fight it.
“This was definitely payback to the FOP through the appointment,” McNesby said. “This guy was Mumia’s sugar daddy through the appeal process—he did everything and financed the whole thing.”
“I don’t know whether he can be un-appointed but that will be one of our first orders of business when we go down and meet with the new administration in January,” he said. “I don’t know whether that can be done, but we are sure as hell going to try.”
McNesby guaranteed that his members will be outraged when they hear about the appointment and raised the possibility that the incoming Trump administration could shut down funding to the Commission on Civil Rights over the appointment.
The International Union of Police Associations, a member organization of the AFL-CIO, also condemned the appointment on Friday.
“President Obama has, once again, gone out of his way to demonstrate his utter distain for our nation’s law enforcement officers,” said Sam Cabral, the union’s president, in a Friday statement.
Cabral said that Adegbile “spread lies, spouted racism, and maligned the Philadelphia police in his failed efforts to overcome justice and portray this vicious murderer as, somehow, the victim.”
The unions will have an ally in Sen. Toomey, who said in a Friday statement that the appointment “is a slap in the face to every law enforcement officer in America.”
“In 2014, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate agreed that Debo Adegbile was not fit to represent the people of the United States in enforcing Americans’ civil rights,” Toomey said.
“Mr. Adegbile did not simply defend a client,” Toomey said. “He supervised an effort to lionize unrepentant cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, who cold-bloodedly murdered Philadelphia police officer Danny Faulkner 35 years ago.”
The left-wing Center for American Progress, however, praised Mr. Adegbile’s “work on employment, housing discrimination, criminal justice and voting rights.”