EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Joe Donnelly Defends His Vote Against President Obama’s Nominee To Head Justice Dept. Civil Rights Div. Black Community Deeply Upset Over His Vote

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Sen. Joe Donnelly

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Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Debo P. Adegbile

Indiana Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly is under fire by African-Americans nationally and locally for his vote against President Barack Obama‘s nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. In an exclusive live Afternoons with Amos interview, Sen. Donnelly attempted to explain his vote.  Sen. Donnelly was one of seven Democratic Senators who joined with Republicans to scuttle the nomination of Debo P. Adegbile, an esteemed African-American attorney.  Adegbile wasn’t unfamiliar to Senators as he had served as a Senior Counsel to Sen. Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But when Adegbile was litigation director of the NAACP Legal Defencse and Education Fund, he filed a Friend of the Court brief in support of efforts to reduce the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Abu-Jamal had been tried and convicted of murdering a Philadelphia Police Officer in 1981.  Abu-Jamal’s case bounced around the courts for nearly 30 years. His death sentence was overturned in 2001, but court battles continued for another ten years until the fight to reinstate the death penalty ended in 2011. In Sen. Donnelly’s interview with  Amos, Donnelly stressed that while he respected Adegbile’s qualifications for the job, Donnelly was convinced that the controversy would “undermine” Adegbile’s “ability to work with law enforcement officials”, given the fierce opposition by police organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, to Adegbile’s involvement in the Abu-Jamal case.  On TV One’s News One Now with Roland Martin, Sen. Donnelly’s vote and the vote of six other Democratic Senators was strongly criticized by Martin and other leading African-American political and social activists.  Click the Arrow Below to Hear Amos’ Interview with a very nervous Sen. Joe Donnelly. Runs 8 Minutes ©2014 WTLC/Radio One.  Click the video link to hear the News One Now segment (audio only) on Donnelly and other Democrats voting against Adegbile’s nomination. Runs 6 Minutes ©2014 TV One.

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