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May 20, 2016

Toomey: Google honors activist who 'supported convicted cop killer'

Senator slams tech company's tribute to Yuri Kochiyama because of advocacy for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Politics Google
Mumia Abu-Jamal Pat Toomey Jennifer E. Beach/Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Pat Toomey (right) criticized Google for honoring Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama because of her support of Mumia Abu-Jamal (left), who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey wrote a letter to Google Thursday asking the company to apologize for honoring Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama because of her support of Mumia Abu-Jamal — an African-American activist and journalist who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer.

Kochiyama, who died in 2014, was featured on what would have been her 95th birthday — May 19, 2016 — as a part of Google Doodles, in which Google changes the artwork on its homepage to commemorate prominent people, places and dates.

Toomey took issue with Google's tribute to Kochiyama because she advocated for Abu-Jamal after he was found guilty of killing officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.

"Why anyone would choose to defend a cold-blooded murderer like Mumia Abu-Jamal is incomprehensible to most," the Pennsylvania Republican said in the letter.

"Yet, in the years that followed his cowardly actions, far-left radical activists, including Yuri Kochiyama, have turned Abu-Jamal into a cause célèbre."


Pictured is Google's tribute to Asian-American activist Yuri Kochiyama.

In the 1940s, Kochiyama, along with other Japanese-Americans, spent time in an internment camp after the United States was bombed at Pearl Harbor.

Kochiyama went on to become a prominent Asian-American nationalist during the 1960s through the 1980s and was friends with many controversial figures during her career, the Washington Post notes.

At one point, she expressed support for Osama bin Laden.

"Equally disturbing was Ms. Kochiyama's sympathy for terrorists," Toomey's letter said.

Abu-Jamal, now 61, was sentenced to death in 1982. 

After years of appeals and cries from supporters that he is innocent, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams halted efforts to execute him, instead leaving him to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Arguments made in favor of Abu-Jamal's exoneration cite allegedly faulty evidence against him and racial bias during his trial.

"Yuri Kochiyama supported a convicted cop killer, admired a terrorist mastermind, and does not deserve this tribute," Toomey said.

Toomey is currently running for re-election against Democratic candidate Katie McGinty.

Early on in the campaign, he has made law enforcement a top issue, touting his support from local agencies across the state and criticizing McGinty for not denouncing Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's Sanctuary City policy.