The widow of a Philadelphia police officer killed by ex-Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal says it is "infuriating" that Senate hopeful John Fetterman picked a self-described "buddy" of the cop killer to serve on Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons.
Maureen Faulkner blasted Fetterman in an interview over his selection of Celeste Trusty to serve as secretary of the Board of Pardons, which Fetterman chairs as lieutenant governor. Trusty, a former political director on Fetterman’s campaign, is a self-described "friend" of Abu-Jamal, the Washington Free Beacon reported. "I love Mumia," she wrote in 2018 of Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in the 1981 slaying of Daniel Faulkner during a traffic stop in Philadelphia.
"I don't know what John Fetterman's doing, but I think the Philadelphia people, the Pennsylvania people better really take a look at what they are going to do if they put John Fetterman in," said Faulkner. "The city is already destroyed. It's going to be in shambles by the time Fetterman's done with it."
Faulkner’s remarks come amid a wave of criticism for Fetterman on crime-related issues. A group of sheriffs came out against Fetterman over his calls to release up to one-third of Pennsylvania’s inmates from jail and his support for ending mandatory life sentences for some murderers. Fetterman has also come under fire for his work on the Board of Pardons, which he has pledged to "transform" in order to advance progressive criminal justice reform policies. Republicans aired ads this month highlighting Fetterman’s vote to free a prisoner, Wayne Covington, convicted of first-degree murder for killing a teenager for money to buy heroin. Fetterman cast the lone vote on the five-member board to free Covington, ignoring pleas from the family of Covington’s victim that he remain in jail.
Fetterman’s alliance with Trusty could prove divisive in Pennsylvania, where Abu-Jamal serves as a litmus test of sorts in state politics.
In 2014, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) led efforts to block President Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Justice civil rights division over his legal work for Abu-Jamal. The nominee, Debo Adegbile, claimed in a 2009 appeals court filing that Abu-Jamal’s conviction should be overturned because of racial discrimination in his jury. Celebrities and left-wing activists have for years rallied to Abu-Jamal’s cause, claiming he was wrongfully convicted. But Faulkner, who has attended all of Abu-Jamal’s court hearings over the past four decades, says she is convinced that Abu-Jamal "executed" her husband.
Fetterman’s campaign says the candidate "totally disavows" Trusty’s remarks about Abu-Jamal.
"John strongly disagrees with Secretary Trusty on this issue and a host of other issues, in no way does she speak for John in any way, shape or form," said Fetterman communications director Joe Calvello. "He totally disavows this [sic] vile remarks."
Calvello said Fetterman "does not believe that Mumia Abu-Jamal deserves a second chance nor should any cop killer get a second chance."
"He will never stand up for a cop killer in any way, shape, or form. John worked hand in hand with the police as mayor of Braddock, and he knows how hard and dangerous their job is."
While Fetterman portrays himself as a supporter of police, he has campaigned with anti-police activists. On the anniversary of 9/11, he held a pro-abortion rally with an activist who supports the movement to defund police departments.
It is unclear whether Fetterman will leave Trusty on the Board of Pardons. The campaign did not respond to a request for comment.