By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A small Vermont college is poking a lot of people in the eye by having convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal as its commencement speaker next Sunday.

The president of Goddard College, where Abu-Jamal got a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007 despite being imprisoned hundreds of miles away, says he was selected as speaker by this class of grads, expressing their freedom to think radically.

But John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, thinks otherwise.

“We have somebody who’s a convicted murderer, who’s in prison, and they’re allowed to be able to have special privileges. It just seems the only one being penalized here is Maureen Faulkner and she’s fed up with it,” McNesby said.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Sue McNaughton says Abu-Jamal is merely making use of his phone privileges.

“He’s done this before in the past. He’s made other commencement addresses. They’re not live, from what I understand. They’re recorded and then played.”

McNaughton says the department does not endorse Abu-Jamal’s speech, but he has the right to talk.

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