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Statement of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney on the 34th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

April 10, 2002

One Voice
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
April 4, 2002

Today is a very special day.

A day that for 34 years has lived in infamy.

For it is today that we remember the life and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We reflect on the movement he led.

And we lament that his life was cut short in such a despicable way.

We now know the fullness of the US government's Counter Intelligence Program, known as COINTELPRO, organized against Black America.

The FBI's own documents tell us that the purpose of its COINTELPRO program is "to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist" groups, organizations, and leaders.

We now know about Operation Lantern Spike in which US Military Intelligence tracked every step that Dr. King took.

And of course, to spike a lantern is to snuff out its light.

Dr. King was the light.

We now have FBI testimony that FBI agents knew who Dr. King spoke with, where he went, what he said, and even what he thought during every hour of every day of the last few months of his life.

But of course, at the moment when the lantern was spiked, the FBI and the US government would have us believe that they were not watching him and have no information to give as to his murder.

Today, we must remember.

We must remember so that we will never forget.

So that we never forget the lengths and depths to which even the most widely proclaimed democracy on the planet will go to get its man or woman.

And if you have any doubts about what I say, just ask the families of Patrice Lumumba and Salvador Allende. Lumumba was murdered by the CIA and Belgium in The Congo. Allende was murdered in Chile in an action sanctioned by Henry Kissinger, himself.

Just ask our American freedom fighters who were tortured, killed, unfairly put in jail because of their political beliefs and their willingness to act on those beliefs.

Just ask the American citizens who were murdered as a result of FBI-initiated terror--like Fred Hampton who was drugged by an FBI informant and then shot three times in his bed by Chicago police who were cooperating with the FBI.

Just ask Geronimo Pratt who served 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Just ask the FBI agents who celebrated the factional splits created by them that led to the murder of Malcolm X.

Just ask Leonard Peltier who is still in prison today because he dared to fight back in the FBI's war against Native Americans.

And despite being in prison for more than 26 years and in ill health, Leonard Peltier is still fighting back. Corretta Scott King and even the judge in the case, Judge Heaney, now support Peltier's release because of FBI misconduct.

So today, on the anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Leonard Peltier has filed a lawsuit against the FBI alleging that the FBI "engaged in a systematic, and officially sanctioned campaign of misinformation and disinformation" designed to prevent Peltier from receiving fair clemency and parole reviews.

Just ask Judy Bari and Darryl Cherney, the environmental activists, (Judi is now dead) who the authorities say hurt themselves trying to place a bomb in their own car.

It has now become clear, however, that the government falsified evidence, lied to the media and the courts, and conspired to frame and demonize Judi and Darryl for political reasons.

Just ask Wen Ho Lee, Chinese American targeted and falsely accused of spying on the United States for China. In Wen Ho Lee's case, the judge condemned US government behavior.

And just ask the families of the thousands of Muslims and Arab Americans who have been detained on secret evidence, no evidence, no charges.

Ask the family of Pakistani-American Mohammad Butt who recently died while in US custody.

So, today, we come here more knowledgeable than at any point in the past, of the power of the forces arrayed against us.

And yet, still we come: Black and White; Christians, Muslims, and Jews; immigrants and native-born Americans; rich and poor. To chart a new course for our communities and for America.

In the fight against bigotry, we stand together and we must.

In the fight against injustice, we stand together and we must.

In the fight against intimidation, we stand together and we must.

Afterall, a regime that would steal an election right before our very eyes will do anything to all of us.

In cities across America, rogue police officers are getting away with . . .

You can see it for yourself.

Abner Louima is not just a name in the newspaper or on the television.

Abner Louima is a man.

A black man.

And he represents all of us who might find ourselves in the hands of rogue police.

Yesterday, it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today it's Abner Louima. Tomorrow who will it be?

There doesn't have to be a tomorrow.

But until we hold them accountable for all the crimes they commit against people of color and activist whites, there will be a tomorrow.

And it could be one of us.

That's why tonight is so important. Because tonight we stand with one voice against injustice.

Tonight we are not black or white. We are not rich or poor. We are not Jew, Muslim, or Christian.

We are Americans united for what is right. Because we know that in this environment, no one is safe.

If you're rich, you might think your money will save you.

But like Winston Churchill said, you can all try one by one to ride the tiger, but one by one, you'll all be caught--caught up in its jaws and end up inside.

Only our unity will save us.

And for those who might be afraid to have their voices heard tonight, just imagine the courage of the black woman who uttered these words in 1831:

Live for your rights and privileges. You know the reason you cannot attain them. Weary them with your importunities. You can but die if you make the attempt. And we shall certainly die if you do not.

Let us acknowledge that the movement lives within us and that we will not tire until justice in America means more than "just us."

And that united we will stand until America is free.

Thank you.


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