Philadelphia police held a silent vigil Sunday in protest of convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal's commencement speech at a small Vermont college.
Abu-Jamal, a onetime death row inmate, is serving a life sentence for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
He spoke by video to 20 students receiving bachelor degrees from Goddard College, from which he earned a degree in prison.
At the time Abu-Jamal spoke, police officers, members of the Fraternal Order of Police, and two cadet classes assembled at Faulkner's memorial plaque at 13th and Locust Streets, where Abu-Jamal murdered Faulkner, Philly.com reports.
They stood at attention for 25 minutes - the approximate duration of Abu-Jamal's speech. About 400 people attended the vigil, including a group of family members of Officer John Pawlowski, who was killed in 2009.
Fox 29 TV reports Goddard college released the following statement:
"Many diverse commencement speakers have been chosen to represent perspectives not normally in our discourse. Even if it is unpopular, we need to listen to and engage in difficult discussions. This is what free speech is all about. Our students understand there is great merit in what Mumia Abu-Jamal has to say. It is important that we at Goddard College support this complicated inquiry and the freedom of speech."
Officer Faulkner's widow Maureen Faulkner also released a statement, condemning the college for choosing what she called "an arrogant remorseless killer as their commencement speaker."