back to News Briefs | Cynthia McKinney | co-globalize | rat haus | Index | Search | tree

Return to the Homepage!
House Legislation

House Legislation

Racism in America is Human Rights Abuse

September 22, 2000

Washington - Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), member of the International Relations Committee and Ranking Member of the International Operations and Human Rights Subcommittee, hosted an issue forum on Capitol Hill recently to address an important, but often forgotten human rights issue: human rights in the United States.

Held in conjunction with the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus, the "Braintrust" brought attention to current human rights violations and political prisoners of all races currently being held in the US.

The forum focused on COINTELPRO, the FBI's secret program to eliminate "radical" political opposition inside the US by using fraud and force to sabotage constitutionally-protected political activity. Prominent in the discussion was the fact that the United States harbors political prisoners who should be released.

Panelists included Geronimo ji Jaga (formerly Geronimo Pratt), a recently vindicated and freed political prisoner and former leader of the Southern California chapter of the Black Panther Party as well as former Secretary of Communications†of the Black Panther Party Kathleen Cleaver.

Due in large part to the FBI's COINTELPRO, ji Jaga was jailed in 1972 when he was framed for a murder that took place in Los Angeles, despite the fact that he was in Oakland, California at the time of the crime.

Cleaver was a member of the Black Panther's central committee from 1967 to 1971. In 1969 she joined her then-husband Eldridge Cleaver in Algeria where they founded the international section of the Black Panther Party, making them targets of the FBI's secret "COINTELPRO" program.

"We all must remember that COINTELPRO did not end with the 1960's, 70's or the Cold War," said McKinney. "It is still quite alive and because of the digital age of computers and the internet, it is even more insidious and dangerous," McKinney said.

"Echelon and Carnivore, huge digital information collecting machines operated by the National Security Agency and the FBI don't add to my sense of security. In fact, Big Brother is definitely big, but he ain't a brother," commented McKinney.

"The effects of this abuse of power by the federal government are so damaging, that many are still afraid to speak out against it in public," McKinney concluded.

McKinney called on the young globalization activists to join with yesterday's victims of COINTELPRO in order to prepare for a future of increased scrutiny and surveillance on activists.

On a related issue, McKinney expressed her dissatisfaction that the State Department release on racism in the United States pales in comparison to the real problems faced by America's minorities today.

"Racism in the United States is a human rights issue. I'm sorry that the State Department would rather throw words to the issue rather than substantively deal with issues that it has within its own jurisdiction. African American employees at the Department of State have outstanding litigation that should be quickly settled rather than fought out in court."

However, symptomatic of the larger problems faced by America's minorities today, black federal employees have filed lawsuits against the following Departments or Agencies: Agriculture, Energy, State, Treasury, EPA," McKinney stated.

In an earlier statement, McKinney said, "The assault of Mr. Jones by Philadelphia police along with the brutal killing of Mr. Diallo and the barbaric treatment of Mr. Louima by New York City police demonstrates the need for an independent commission and investigation into what has always been a national problem," said McKinney.

The Department of Justice has admitted that racism pervades the justice system in this country, disproportionately affecting African Americans. Sadly, there are more African Americans in jail than there are enrolled in colleges and universties. The fact that the State Department seems to have understated the severity of the real concerns of America's minority communities further points to its inability to assess our country's progress.

McKinney looks forward to the fall 2001 United Nations Conference on Racism scheduled to take place in South Africa.

News Briefs Home

Constituent Services | House Legislation | News Briefs
Guestbook | Congress Online | Tours & Flag Info | GA's 4th District

back to News Briefs | Cynthia McKinney | co-globalize | rat haus | Index | Search | tree