Statement of Congresswoman
Cynthia McKinney on the 34th Anniversary of
the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King,
April 10, 2002
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,
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
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
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
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