A CNN host criticized Colin Kaepernick Saturday for demanding the release of a Philadelphia policeman’s murderer.
The segment: On his eponymous show, Michael Smerconish addressed Kaepernick, saying he was unjustly “blackballed” by the NFL for protesting during the national anthem but was “out of your depth” in the case of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal.
- In the video message, which Smerconish played in part, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback said Abu-Jamal had been “framed” for the death of Officer Danny Faulkner.
- “We’re in the midst of a movement that says Black Lives Matter, and if that’s truly the case, then it means that Mumia’s life and legacy must matter. And the causes that he sacrificed his life and freedom for must matter as well,” said Kaepernick, who has become a standard-bearer for the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement.
After showing part of Kaepernick’s call for Abu-Jamal’s freedom, Smerconish noted he wrote a book on the case with Faulkner’s widow, Maureen Faulkner, and presented a devastating catalog of the case’s facts.
- Officer Daniel Faulkner stopped Abu-Jamal’s brother for driving the wrong way on a one-way street in Philadelphia’s red-light district.
- When Abu-Jamal came across the pair while driving a cab, he allegedly ran over and shot Faulkner in the back and between the eyes—an accusation supported by ballistic evidence and eyewitness testimony.
- Before his death, Faulkner discharged his weapon into Abu-Jamal’s stomach, and, while in the hospital, Abu-Jamal said, “I shot the ‘mf-er,’ and I hope the ‘mf-er’ dies.”
“So the case had eyewitnesses, a ballistics match and a confession,” Smerconish summarized.
- Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death, but on a technicality the punishment was reduced to life in prison in 2011.
“I always like to underscore one fact. Abu-Jamal’s brother, William Cook–he saw it all. His words to police upon their arrival were, ‘I ain’t got nothing to do with it,’ and he has never testified on his brother’s behalf,” Smerconish observed.
- He added that Abu-Jamal has never received much support from the Philadelphia community, saying, “People at home know what happened and never bought into the Hollywood lore.”
Smerconish noted, “For reasons that have never made any sense, Abu-Jamal has over the years become the darling of Hollywood activists, rock bands, documentarians and college students.”
- The CNN host went on to describe Abu-Jamal as “a charismatic character who has snowed a lot of people over 40 years with rhetoric that is simply nonsense,” pointing to his NPR radio show and multiple book deals.
- “And now he seeks to do so with a new generation led, apparently, by Colin Kaepernick,” Smerconish continued.
Smerconish ended the segment by observing that Kaepernick had declined to appear on the show.
- “You should know that Maureen Faulkner, police officer Danny Faulkner’s widow, would love to talk to you about the case. Will you take that meeting?” he concluded.
Partners in crime: In October, Abu-Jamal, who has become a radical icon for his writings, wrote about prison abolition for Kaepernick’s publishing venture as part of a series that also featured an essay by militant black radical Angela Davis.
- He said prison abolition a “natural response to a situation that has become untenable,”