GOP senator slams Google for tribute to controversial civil rights figure

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is criticizing Google for featuring a tribute to a controversial civil rights activist on its home page Thursday. 

Toomey sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page asking the company to apologize for featuring a sketch of Yuri Kochiyama as its Google “doodle,” a version of the company logo that changes daily to celebrate big moments or people in history. 

{mosads}Toomey took particular umbrage with Kochiyama’s advocacy for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1982. Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to death before the sentence was vacated years later. 

“While Google has the legal right to pay tribute to whomever it pleases, I believe the company should exercise more discretion and better judgement in the future and apologize to those that the tribute to Ms. Kochiyama offended,” Toomey wrote in the letter

Toomey said that activists like Kochiyama, who believed Abu-Jamal was wrongly imprisoned, turned the issue into a “cause célèbre.”

“The sacrifices our law enforcement officers make deserve to be honored and respected. It is insulting to our law enforcement officers and their families when individuals are honored who exploit a false narrative to further an extreme agenda,” he said. 

The senator also pointed to “sympathy” Kochiyama expressed for Osama bin Laden and a member of the Japanese Red Army group who was convinced of possessing powerful bombs meant to target a Navy recruiting station back in 1989. 

Kochiyama, a civil rights advocate who died in 2014, was best known for her friendship with Malcolm X. Many obituaries written about her reference a iconic photograph of her holding him shortly after his assassination in 1965. She also fought for reparations for Japanese-Americans after she was held in an internment camp for two years during World War II. 

Google would not comment on the record about Toomey’s letter, but it unveiled the sketch Thursday with “great pleasure.”

“Kochiyama left a legacy of advocacy: for peace, U.S. political prisoners, nuclear disarmament, and reparations for Japanese Americans interned during the war. She was known for her tireless intensity and compassion, and remained committed to speaking out, consciousness-raising, and taking action until her death in 2014,” Google wrote. 

— Updated at 11:40 a.m.

Tags Google Mumia Abu-Jamal Pat Toomey Yori Kochiyama
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