Friday, August 21, 2009

Cynthia McKinney

Our sister Cynthia McKinney put a face on Gaza, Palestine I don't think many in the audience had seen before--I'm speaking of African Americans who are not usually the target population of such media focus. The link between Palestine and the African Diaspora is clear, yet until the Honorable Ms. McKinney bought a video camera and took it with her to Gaza where they were apprehended by the Israeli's first and thrown in prison, the plight of these folks was over there...a disconnect she remedied so well. Her tour, which started the day, another one of our sisters, Nadra Foster, was beaten by Berkeley Police when KPFA staff called the police to escort her from the station. The charge was trespassing, when Nadra had been working at KPFA for over ten years. She was restrained after suffering multiple injuries. Today, her hand is paralyzed.

We must not forget this legacy of police violence as another KPFA programmer, JR Valrey appeared in court stemming from a felony charge he was accused of in the January 7, 2009 Oscar Grant Protest March in downtown Oakland. Cynthia McKinney went to court yesterday and shared her impressions on Flash points that afternoon.

The footage of bombed and bulldozed house, schools where McKinney pulled out a child's writing tablet, a can of peanuts, and other everyday objects--stark examples of the craziness propelling this concerted effort to exterminate a people.

In Cairo, she interviews a member of the team which takes aide into Palestine. The person interviewed says how the Israeli government makes the volunteers wait at checkpoints and then refuses to allow chocolate into the Westbank--the policies are he says, "evil." I agree, and would add, mean spirited.

As the camera rolled along the road past demolished apartments and other buildings, a building leaning precariously next to a functional one was were people walking along or driving taking care of their everyday business.

McKinney said that the Israeli interruptions did not stop the resistance nor the Palestinian commitment to moving forward with their lives. She described the society and its government as well-organized and efficient.

The war topography reminded me in the landscape in Kingston, parts of East and West Oakland, North Richmond, and the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. We are so close to the battlefronts...borders connected by philosophical thought process a part. Funny the imperialist divided Africa and the rest of the world, and their exploitation is knitting it back together.

When speaking about her kidnapping and imprisonment, she said, "Prior to this trip, she'd never been imprisoned before." There with Kathy, who was also on stage at the Grand Lake Theatre last night, both McKinney and Kathy said they met so many people from Africa: Sudan, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and many other places. For information about Israel's immigration policy listen to my interview with the director of the film "Refugees," which was a part of the SFJFF. The Israeli government has a punitive policy which incarcerated entire families for 5-6 years then send them back to the country of origin to often dire consequence.

The Egyptian government supports Israel's policies and kills many immigrants --point blank, as they cross or attempt to cross the border.

McKinney who was capsized when attempting to reach Gaza by boat, I believe a year ago. The Israeli's stirred the water and almost tipped the boat over. She said as she believed her life could end in that moment a strange calm came over her and from that moment forward, she has not feared for her life. She joked with Kathy that every time she joins their effort to take humanitarian aide to Palestine, something untoward happens.

Now that they are released, the two women are banned from Israel for ten years. The reason they were held so long was the government wanted them to confess to entering Israel illegally, but McKinney and Kathy held firm to their claim that the reason they were in Israel was becasue they were kidnapped.

It was a wonderful evening. Cynthia is a great speaker and a wonderful model of fearlessness and commitment to justice and peace. I hope she gets the position as head of Pacifica News Services.

There were presentations by independent candidates for the KPFA local board, along with poetry, updates on the Oscar Grant Movement and trial.


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