John Fetterman’s Board of Pardons Secretary Calls Convicted Police Officer Murderer Her ‘Buddy’

John Fetterman, lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and Democratic senate candidate, speak
Justin Merriman/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Philadelphia Police

Celeste Trusty, who Democrat John Fetterman appointed as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons earlier this year, considers one inmate convicted of murdering a police officer her “buddy.”

The Washington Free Beacon’s Chuck Ross first reported on Trusty’s closeness to Mumia Abu-Jamal, formerly known as Wesley Cook. Abu-Jamal, who Britannica notes was a cofounder of Philadelphia’s chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, was convicted of the December 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death.

Police Officer Daniel Faulkner

Police Officer Daniel Faulkner

In 2001, a judge overturned the sentence “citing inconsistencies in the original sentencing process,” as Britannica noted. In 2011, the state abandoned efforts to reinstate the death penalty sentence, and he is currently serving a life-long prison term.

Mumia Abu-Jamal (Philadelphia Police)

Mumia Abu-Jamal (Philadelphia Police)

“Abu-Jamal’s case has become a cause celebre for left-wing activists who want him released from prison for what they claim is a wrongful conviction,” Ross wrote.

The Associated Press

Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in the 1981 murder of white Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner, gather outside the Criminal Justice Center in Center City Philadelphia on Monday, April 30, 2018. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Trusty, who describes herself as an “advocate” and “agitator” on her Twitter page, said in 2018 that she “love[s]” Abu-Jamal adding that he is her “buddy” and was “like an uncle to a bunch of my friends who were on the row with him.” She says they communicate regularly, according to Ross.

Twitter/Celeste Trusty

Twitter/Celeste Trusty

She does not carry a vote on the five-person Board of Pardons as its secretary. While the board radicalized under Fetterman’s chairmanship and recommendations for commutations skyrocketed under his leadership, online records show the board never motioned for a public hearing for Abu-Jamal.

A few years back, Trusty advocated against Pennsylvania’s mandatory life sentences for first and second-degree murderers, calling it a “problem,” Fox News reported last month. She made the comments in 2020 while participating in a virtual panel on criminal justice reform:

One of the most glaring problems in Pennsylvania’s legal system is that we have mandatory life without parole as a sentence for first- and second- degree murder. And we also have many people serving these excessively long virtual life sentences, but we deny people serving these sentences any substantial avenues for relief.

She was also present for a 2020 zoom conference, brought to light by Fox News, where Fetterman spoke of emptying the state’s prison systems by one-third.

Apparently referring to former corrections secretary John Wetzel, Fetterman said:

I was on a panel with Secretary [John] Wetzel earlier before the pandemic hit, and he said something remarkable that I agree with. He said, ‘We could reduce our prison population by a third and not make anyone less safe in Pennsylvania,’ and that’s a profound statement.

Fetterman’s camp has denied that he supports emptying Pennsylvania prisons.


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