The California Federation of Teacher resolution expressing support for Mumia Abu-Jamal received the national seal of disapproval from AFT President Randi Weingarten yesterday, after she received a complaint from Chuck Canterbury, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police.
In an April 14 letter (cc’ed to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and CFT President Marty Hittelman), Canterbury expressed his “outrage and disgust” at the resolution. “I cannot understand why the CFT, which like us represents rank-and-file employees, would support a murderer,” he wrote.
Canterbury then covered the evidence in the case, and the details of Mumia’s various appeals over the years. He then concluded:
This resolution, if it remains unchallenged by the AFT, would cast grave doubts on your leadership as well as pose serious questions as to the ability of the FOP to work with your organization at any level. On behalf of the more than 330,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, the families of slain law enforcement officers and the honored memories of the officers killed in the line of duty, I urge you to repudiate the resolution supporting this cop-killer.
Weingarten replied in a letter dated April 18:
We have taken the last few days to search the record, and except for this isolated action in California, we cannot find another incidence in which the AFT or any of our other affiliates have adopted a similar resolution. If such a resolution ever were to be raised at our national convention, I’m confident it would be soundly rejected.
She concluded by characterizing the CFT measure as an “isolated, and in my judgment, unfortunate resolution.”
I’ve checked the EIA archives and can find no past reference to Mumia in AFT stories, and scant mention in NEA. In 2000, Massachusetts Teachers Association delegates instructed their president to write a letter to then-Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge in support of a new trial. The same year, a Mumia-related new business item was presented to the NEA Representative Assembly but the delegates voted not to consider it.