Anti-Mumia “abolitionist” Renny Cushing tries to clean up image in Mexico

[ Renny Cushing ]

x carolina

For Renny Cushing: May the light and shadow of Mumia Abu-Jamal follow you all the days of your life. May you vomit every time you look in the mirror. And may your portrait be hung in the gallery of the Fraternal Order of Police forever.

For 29 ½ years, the North American State ––its police, district attorneys, courts, news media–– have sought to silence the revolutionary African-American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal once and for all. Now they have some accomplices who call themselves “abolitionists” to help them do their job. One of them is visiting in Mexico in an apparent attempt to polish his tarnished image by tagging onto the movement for Peace and Justice with Dignity sparked by the esteemed poet Javier Sicilia and embraced by the EZLN and thousands of Mexican people. His name is Renny Cushing. Several questions arise, and the first is this: How can a person who has lost all dignity offer anything to this movement?

Who is Renny Cushing? Ex anti-nuke activist and death penalty opponent, he is a Democratic Party politician, has been a State Representative in New Hampshire several times, and is Director of Murder Victims Families for Human Rights.

What is he doing in Mexico? Al Giordano’s old friend and mentor was invited to be a teacher in the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism in May, 2011. Al Giordano is the founder and editor of Narco News.

What does a politician allied with one of the most brutal police organizations in the U.S. have to do with authentic journalism? I don’t have the slightest idea.

What is he planning to do now? To the misfortune of the highly respected poet Javier Sicilia, the EZLN and tens of thousands of Mexicans engaged in the process of building a movement for Peace and Justice with Dignity, Renny Cushing is one of the United States organizers who will take part in the new Caravan that leaves from Cuernavaca for Cd. Juárez this coming June 4. This was reported in an article written by Lucero Mendizábal and published in Narco News on May 22, 2011.

What the Narco News article doesn’t mention

It’s highly possible that the reporter doesn’t know that Cushing was one of the supposed abolitionists who tried to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal on March 4, 2010, when they walked out of the Fourth World Congress against the Death Penalty in Geneva, Switzerland on March 4, 2010, in an outrageous protest against a phone call to the Congress by the death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

It’s also doubtful that Javier Sicilia has heard of this shameful episode.

The obvious question is this: Did Al Giordano know about it when he invited Cushing to Mexico?

The motives of the movement bosses? In a confidential memorandum dated December 21, 2009, they explained why they’ve fallen so low: They don’t want to offend the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)! Why? Because they want police support in order to end the death penalty in the United States.

How did people find out? In his article, “The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal under the Bus”, published on his site “This Can’t Be Happening”, writer Dave Lindorff exposed the sordid proposal. He says that the leaders had signed a confidential memo addressed to the French organizers of the World Congress titled “Involvement of Mumia Abu-Jamal endangers the US coalition for abolition of the death penalty.”

The memo signed by Cushing and others says: “In 1999, the world’s largest association of professional law enforcement officers, the Fraternal Order of Police, announced a boycott of organizations and individuals who support Abu-Jamal. Bills have been introduced in both houses of the US federal legislature condemning the naming of streets for Abu-Jamal. The result is that Abu-Jamal, rather than abolition of the death penalty, becomes the issue and the focus of attention. That is dangerously counter-productive to the abolition movement in the US.”

That is to say, the FOP campaign against Mumia Abu-Jamal has been vicious and relentless, but abolitionists shouldn’t combat this campaign; instead they should abandon the most emblematic prisoner in the struggle against the death penalty.

The memo continues: “The voices of the Innocent, the voices of Victims and the voices of Law Enforcement are the most persuasive factors in changing public opinion and the views of decision-makers (politicians) and opinion leaders (media). Continuing to shine a spotlight on Abu-Jamal… threatens to alienate these three most important partnership groups.”

Right. In a police state like the United States, all that activists can do is ally themselves with the police. Oh yes, and with the Innocent and the Victims. It seems that even though Mumia has always maintained his innocence in the death of policeman Daniel Faulkner on December 9, 1981, and even though he has been unjustly caged in conditions of torture for 29 ½ years, he doesn´t qualify as one of the “most important partners” of this movement.

And so Renny Cushing and the others have no qualms whatsoever about isolating and expelling a righteous political prisoner who has attracted thousands of people to the abolitionist movement ever since the publication of his first book Live from Death Row (1995), in which he puts a human face on all the horrifying statistics of the official destruction of life behind the walls.

They also think it’s perfectly all right to do whatever they can to please the very police organization that has been trying to kill Mumia for over 29 years and that is responsible for thousands of deaths, imprisonments, beatings and acts of terror in the streets of Philadelphia and the entire nation.

It’s important to note that the counterparts of the FOP in Mexico are responsible for a large part of the violence against the civilian population of the country.

What does Renny Cushing have to offer the movement now being built in Mexico?

Upon suffering the death of his son, Javier Sicilia voiced the sentiments of thousands of Mexican people who have taken to the streets to shout “We’re sick of this shit!” The poet has not only had the courage to denounce politicians, political parties, drug traffickers and the government, but has also demanded the resignation of Mexico’s top cop, Genaro García Luna. And what would Renny Cushing do in his place? Kiss García Luna’s ass to gain his approval? That would be consistent with his practice. Is collusion with the main perpetrators of social violence the way to win peace? Is it the way to win justice? Is it the way to show dignity? This is what we could expect from Renny Cushing.

Mumia Libertad

And what does Mumia Abu-Jamal have to offer to our movements?

Here is the text and audio of an interview with Mumia by Marlene Martin of the Campaign against the Death Penalty:

MAJ: I thank the Campaign to End the Death Penalty for your wondrous support. When the letter was read to me, I felt an odd mix of rage and disbelief. It speaks volumes of the movement and why it is so moribund. Once again, a white elite “polices” (pun intended) the movement, making sure it’s not too “radical” and is acceptable to the system. That ain’t a movement; it’s a regression!

MM: When you heard that a group of abolitionists walked out of a meeting to protest your speaking, what was your reaction?

MAJ: Well, I didn’t know these people, so it didn’t make any sense to me….

MM: Should abolitionists partner with law enforcement?

MAJ: …The role of abolitionists is not to be taken lightly. They were revolutionaries fighting against one of the wealthiest and most powerful institutions in American society: Slavery.

You know the one group that abolitionists never bothered to recruit? Slave-owners. They knew that this was a waste of time. The current movement that uses that name clearly hasn’t used that lesson from history.

We forget how Lincoln hated abolitionists with a passion, and demeaned them in his speeches. Cops as abolitionists is just as nutty as the idea of slave-owners turning against the source of their wealth and status.

MM: One of the sentences in the memo reads, “The support of law enforcement officials is essential to achieving abolition in the United States.”

MAJ: Abolitionists should deeply study the history of their forbears—and learn these lessons of history. That history is struggle—sometimes unpopular, always controversial, but socially transformative. They can’t make deals with the devil and expect anything other than hell.

MM: In order to win abolition, do we need to be more practical and less radical? That is the implication of the memo.

MAJ: The abolitionist movement is, unfortunately, echoing history here, for after the Union triumphed in the Civil War, they put away their placards, silenced their songs and declared victory. When they walked away, they allowed Reconstruction to be a half-hearted failure.

Their departure from the field allowed politicians to betray millions of newly freed Africans to the tender mercies of the former Confederates—who launched a campaign of terror that lasted for a century.

Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” There was no struggle—and guess what? There was no progress!

MM: What should abolitionists do?

MAJ: Let us become that which we revere and remember. Let us BE abolitionists, strengthened by the positive contributions of our ancestors, Black and white. Let us STRUGGLE—to make progress. Let us build the movement by making it Blacker, more Latino, and more working class. Let us understand that social movements change history.

MM: Have you received any apologies from anyone of the folks that walked out?

MAJ: No apologies (unless like the memo, they kept it a secret).


  1. Email from Al Giordano (translated from Spanish to English)

    To “Karloparlantes” and others to whom it may concern,
    Renny Cushing is a freedom fighter who opposes the death penalty in all cases, and, of course, is against the death penalty for the compañero Mumia Abu-Jamal as well.
    It seems to us that what the compañera of “Karloparlantes” is doing–– whether she’s aware of it or not we don’t know–– is a counterinsurgency job. This is a clear attempt to divide and damage the noble and righteous struggle inspired by Javier Sicilia.
    Moreover, she offers no proof in Spanish to support her insane accusations. (The English language link doesn’t support anything she says. Read it carefully.)
    I’ll put my hands in the fire for Renny Cushing and Mumia Abu-Jamal and everyone that’s struggling for a world without the death penalty and for an end to war.
    So, “Karloparlantes,” anonymous, without the courage to show your face or give your first and last name in a cowardly and counterinsurgent style (by omission or commission, it’s all the same), show us your “evidence” of the bullshit you’re spreading around, or we’ll consider you just one more provocateur, something that’s very common in any struggle.
    With first and last name, and available to talk about this with one and all,
    Al Giordano
    Narco News

  2. Reply to Al Giordano — Don’t shoot the messenger

    To Al Giordano and others who may be interested:

    I’m Carolina, the one who denounced the role of Renny Cushing in a serious attack on Mumia Abu-Jamal. You and I have never met, so I’ll tell you what I do. I participate in the social movements for freedom and justice here in Mexico and write articles that are published by several of the free and independent media. Like a lot of other people, I use pen names and don’t see any cowardice in that. I also work with Amig@s de Mumia de México, doing translations, sharing information and participating in actions to gain his freedom and that of other political prisoners in Mexico, the United States and the world.

    I am NOT engaged in counterinsurgency and I’m not a provocateur. I support the movement launched by Javier Sicilia and embraced by the EZLN and thousands of Mexican people. I think it’s one of the most important things that’s happened in Mexico in a long time. I believe I made that clear in my article denouncing Renny Cushing. And my practice shows it. I’ve marched twice here in Mexico City and written an article about the last big march. I expect to participate in other events in the future and hope that more and more people will speak out for peace with justice and dignity. I agree that unity is important in this effort, but I wouldn’t like to see the prohibition of criticism and denunciations.

    From what you say, it seems that you didn’t know about the attempt of Renny Cushing and other leaders of anti-death penalty groups to silence Mumia at the Fourth World Congress against the Death Penalty in Geneva, and that you didn’t know about their priority of forming a partnership with a terrorist organization, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), that’s led the charge to kill Mumia for the last 29 ½ years. I’m glad, because I’ve always appreciated Narco News’ work and I’d hate to think you had intentionally brought somebody here to your school, or to the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity who’s participated in such a vile attack against Mumia.

    Just one question. If you’ve had a relationship of trust with Renny Cushing for so many years, why hasn’t he told you what he’s done? It’s been a burning issue in the Mumia movement and in anti-death penalty groups for the last year.

    And one more question. Why do you say that say that I’m making “insane accusations” and that I’m “talking shit”? Are you by any chance trying to discredit me by using these terms? I’m saying what happened in Geneva and what’s in the confidential memo.

    Just in case I didn’t make it clear in my article, the evidence is found in two main documents:

    1) Dave Lindorff’s article “The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal under the Bus”, published on the site This Can´t Be Happening on June 29, 2010. His article was also published on Counterpunch and several other sites. I’m surprised you haven’t seen it until now.

    2) The confidential memo addressed to the French organizers of the World Congres entitled “Involvement of Mumia Abu-Jamal endangers the US Coalition for abolition of the death penalty” dated December 21, 2009, and signed by Elizabeth Zitrin, Renny Cushing, Kate Lowenstein, Speedy Rice, Kristin Houle and Juan Matos (although Juan Matos later withdrew his signature). The memo is published on the same site at this link:

    Maybe you’ll recognize Lindorff, author of the book Killing Time and of a long list of articles about Mumia’s case as a trustworthy source. He’s very careful with his material and is not going to publish false information.

    If you read both documents carefully, you’ll see that they bear out exactly what I’ve said.

    But it’s true what you say about the lack of information in Spanish on the issue. Aside from an article entitled “Tratos con los verdugos de Mumia Abu-Jamal,” published on July 4, 2010 in noticiasdelabelion, cmldf, regeneracion radio, radiozapote, cronopios, indymedia méxico, zapateando, kaosenlared and lahaine and read out loud on several programs on Ke Huelga Radio, there hasn’t been a lot of Spanish language information. Now that you mention it, I think it would be a good idea to translate the entire memo and publish it widely. That’s what I’ll do. Or if you’d rather do it now that you’re aware of the seriousness of the situation, that’s fine, too.

    The very same accusations against the so-called abolitionists are repeated in the introduction to the exchange between Mumia and Marlene Martin of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, published on Prison Radio.. In my article I included the questions and answers, but not the introduction written by Marlene. Yes, unfortunately it’s in English. I guess I’ll have to translate and distribute that, too, unless you want to do it, that is. Anyway, here’s the link I already cited once.

    I assume you consider Prison Radio a reliable source and not one that publishes insane accusations and bullshit.

    And speaking of the exchange between Marlene and Mumia, what in the hell do you think they’re talking about when Mumia says that when they read the memo to him, he felt “an odd mix of rage and disbelief”? Or when Marlene asks him: “When you found out a group of abolitionists walked out of a meeting to protest your speaking, what was your reaction?” Or when she asks him if he’s received any apologies and he says: “No apologies (unless like the memo, they kept it a secret)”?

    Do you consider Mumia’s and Marlene’s words as “insane accusations” and “bullshit”?

    I have an idea. Instead of trying to intimidate me, make false accusations against me, and write me off as a crazy woman, why don’t you talk to other people who can corroborate what I’m denouncing? You support Mumia. You’ve said so. Write to him and see what he says. Talk to any of the people who are well-known activists in the Mumia movement ––to Pam África, the head of Mumia’s international committee in Philadelphia, or to Ramona Africa, Noelle Hanrahan, Fatirah, Sis Marpessa, Sundiata Sadiq, Mireille Fanon, Hans Bennett, Mike Schiffman, Julia Wright, JR Valrey, Fred Hampton, Jr., Suzanne Ross, Linn Washington, Johanna Fernández, or Lindorff himself. Or you could talk to the Director of the National Lawyers Guild Heidi Boghosian, or to the heads of Mumia’s new legal team Judith Ritter or Cristina Swarns. They’ll all confirm exactly what I’m saying. If you need an e-mail address, I’ll be happy to send it to you.

    Oh yes, another idea. Why don’t you ask your friend Renny Cushing what happened in Geneva? It would be interesting to hear what he says.

    I believe you when you say you support Mumia. And so when you realize that what I’m saying is true, because it’s irrefutable, I imagine you’ll feel what a lot of us felt when we found out about this low blow against Mumia from inside the very movement that he helped build: alarm, indignation, horror and righteous rage.

    I’ll be happy to talk to you and to any honest people (this does not include Renny Cushing). I don’t check ID or other such bullshit. If you say, “I’m Big Al,” that’ll be enough. It wouldn’t be necessary to bring me a notarized statement saying you didn’t know about Renny’s betrayal before you invited him to Mexico. If you tell me you didn’t know, I’ll believe it. I want to believe it.



    Reporter for free and independent media and member of Amig@s de Mumia de México

  3. This Carolina (no last name given) person is a head case. She “translates” my email from Spanish to English and posts it here as if I posted it here. That is stalker sick. Needless to say, her smear campaign against a good man like Renny Cushing, turning an honest tactical disagreement between various anti-death penalty organizations into accusations of police activity on their part, is counter-insurgency whether she knows it or not (and she appears to not understand that it is too often done by people who *think* they are on the side of the angels, but whose dogma and sectarianism – not to mention behaving more like a Mumia “fan” or groupie than a Mumia solidarity supporter – gets in the way off effective political praxis).

    Worst of all, Ms. Anonymous is trying to destabilize and divide the anti-drug war movement inspired by Javier Sicilia in Mexico, all to fight an internecine battle between gringos… a movement that has opened its arms to people of all political persuasions and made it clear that even if her malicious libels against Renny Cushing and others were true (which they are certainly not), he would still be welcomed to participate! Gringos imposing their silly factional fights on a Mexican movement? That’s imperialism, folks!

    Al Giordano

  4. I for one am glad to see that Cushing’s past actions are being exposed. Since the story of the memo he signed onto was made public by journalist Dave Lindorff, there have not been any responses from the signees. By calling to “throw Mumia under the bus,” Cushing and others are seeking to impress the Philadelphia FOP. This IS outrageous, given that the Philly FOP is renowned for its overt racism (not just towards Mumia) and public support for the most obscene police brutality, murder, and frame-ups imaginable. The FOP could not be a more sinister “ally” for death penalty abolitionists.

    To claim that by confronting Cushing and educating Mexican activists about Cushing’s past actions. the author Carolina is somehow an agent provocateur, is equally outrageous. Anyone making this claim clearly wants to take attention away from the nasty anti-Mumia, pro-FOP memo that Cushing signed onto

    For many years now, at the Journalists for Mumia website that I maintain, we have been featuring Carolina’s articles about the many impressive Mumia solidarity events and campaigns organized by Amig@s de Mumia in Mexico City. As a result, Carolina’s reporting is well known by Mumia supporters around the world, respected for being high-quality journalism.

    Keep up the good work, Carolina!

  5. Strange charge against Mumia activist

    x La Haine

    The impeccable article published by La Haine collaborator Carolina Saldaña ( complete with all relevant details and sources, sparked a furious response from Al Giordano, the director of the Narco News Bulletin. Giordano, accuses Carolina of “counterinsurgency” (?) and “talking shit”. But he doesn’t get to the heart of the matter ––the efforts of Renny Cushing and other leaders of anti-death penalty groups to silence Mumia at the Fourth World Congress against the Death Penalty in Geneva.

    Al Giordano’s accusation is published followed by Carolina Saldaña’s reply.

    Letter of support for independent journalist Carolina Saldaña. Renny Cushing is not welcome in Mexico!

    By Noticias de la Rebelión

    The Noticias de la Rebelión Collective expresses its repudiation of the defamations made by Al Giordano and our total backing for the journalistic work and support of various social movements that compañera Carolina Saldaña has undertaken. Similarly, we want to state our repudiation of Renny Cushing’s participation in the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity’s Caravan to Ciudad Juárez and our demand for the immediate and unconditional freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    Continue reading the letter of support:

  6. Letters of Support for Carolina

    Centro de Medios Libres of Mexico City: Solidarity with Kaloparlantes: Narrating the heartbeats of the struggles

    Multimedios Cronopios: The name doesn’t make the man (or woman); actions do

    El Enemigo Común stands with Carolina and Mumia

    Kaos.México rejects charges against our compañera Carolina Saldaña

  7. As a member of International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal, I stand firmly with Carolina and am grateful she’s drawing attention to this issue! Our movements need accountability and clarity. It’s no secret that the Left faces persistent international black-out and we can’t always know the legacy of all our organizations nor individuals. Journalists like Carolina keep an ear to the ground to ensure that we understand the full implications of including a man like Renny Cushing in such an important campaign. Often we have to wait for historians to have the benefit of hindsight to fully comprehend decisions made throughout the trajectory of our various struggles towards justice and liberty. Thanks to the persistent dedication of Revolutionaries like Carolina, we have a clear picture of Cushing, a man who made a deal with the devil, diminishing the light and strength of the movement for Peace and Justice with Dignity.

    Demand accountability of Cushing. If he is an asset to the current campaign, make him correct himself and realign with Mumia and confront his colleagues in the abolitionist movement. The Left isn’t like the system– we believe in rehabilitation and redemption. Let him either change, mature, and take a truly Revolutionary stance, or find someone else who will!



    ICFFMAJ supports Carolina and denounces those who try to claim she’s a provocateur! Falsely labelling her is a blatant attempt to distract from the issue of Cushing’s inexcusable past. Carolina has provided ample evidence proving what the Free Mumia movement has been addressing for months: that Cushing and his colleagues sold Mumia out to try to appeal to the “mainstream.” None of Carolina’s detractors could argue this point so instead they try to attack her personally. That’s bullying.

    We have enough battles to fight in seeking Mumia’s freedom! We demand accountability in the movement by exposing people like Cushing. But the real work here is to move forward for justice. Giordano owes Carolina an apology. A truly progressive action would be to acknowledge her work and address these issues with Cushing himself. If Cushing is unwilling or incapable of doing the right thing, than he has no place in the movement for Peace and Justice with Dignity.

    Let’s continue to expect the best from one another and treat each other with respect and dignity! Thank you Carolina for working on behalf of Mumia and all people! Hers is an example of true international solidarity!

    Ona MOVE!

  9. The actions and tactics of Renny Cushing in distancing himself from the most highly publicized and glaringly biased interpretation of laws on the death penalty, marks an important milestone in the eventual abolition of the death penalty.
    If the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has really put out feelers to end its opposition to the death penalty, it may mean some of their members know the public support for the death penalty is in decline and eventually will fall.
    What Renny Cushing and his colleagues should be doing is trying to split off those elements of the FOP who want to defy the FOP ban on organizations or individuals who support Mumia’s case. It does not take a great deal of study to find the glaring prosecutorial and judicial abuses in Mumia’s case.

    The police mysteriously failed to test Mumia’s hands for powder burns or to see if he fired a gun.Why?
    The prosecution mysteriously ‘discovers’ an unsigned confession over 60 days after the event. Why?
    The comtemporaneous “policeman’s notebook” of the officer guarding Mumia in the hospital wrote;
    “the negro made no statement” was never heard by the jury and the Judge sarcastically refused the defense request to find present that witness who was not at that time in the courtroom.
    If those members of FOP are sincerely considering support for elimination of the death penalty, they should also be willing to break from FOP and support this case.

  10. Written by the Berlin Free Mumia Coalition:

    Dear all,

    we are sorry to bother you with a “personal” interest but we in the FREE MUMIA Movement are still outraged about the unbelievable stunt taken by so called anti-death penalty activists and organizations such as Renny Cushing and others in 2009/2010.

    Their attempt to exclude an invitation for Abu-Jamal to speak at the IV. World Congress Against the Death Penalty last year in Geneva luckily has found little resonance in the world wide abolition movement. Cushing and others wrote to the organizers of the event in Dec. 2009 to cancel Abu-Jamal’s address to the conference in order “not to alienate” the US based Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), who is pushing for Mumia Abu-Jamal’s, Troy Davis’ and many others’ execution. Their attempt failed and Mumia Abu-Jamal was speaking at the closing event via phone from death row which found wide acceptance and excited response in the audience.

    However, afterwards not many members of the world wide abolition movement dared to touch this issue. Only a few authors wrote about it.
    One was Dave Lindorff: “The Politics of Death: Throwing Mumia Abu-Jamal under the Bus”

    Did people hope no one would mention this nasty episode anymore or did they simply forget about it? Whatever the reasons are, they are not known to many activists around the world who are committed to abolish the death penalty.

    Recently, as Renny Cushing came to Mexico in order to take part in a march for “Peace and Justice with Dignity” he wasn’t welcome for everyone involved. Please read the article and the related links to the secret memo signed by Cushing and others:

    Anti-Mumia “abolitionist” Renny Cushing tries to clean up image in Mexico

    What do you think should be a meaningful response by people who signed this secret memo to exclude a death row inmate? Why haven’t they apologized to the inmate and tried to bridge divisions and move forward together? Why are they silent for all this time?

    Of course we need unity in order to achieve abolition, not just in the US. For this internal discussion is as necessary as to know who is an ally and who is not.

    “You know the one group that abolitionists never bothered to recruit?
    Slave-owners. They knew that this was a waste of time.” (Mumia Abu-Jamal, 2010)

    “Abolitionists should deeply study the history of their forbears—and learn these lessons of history. That history is struggle—sometimes unpopular, always controversial, but socially transformative. They can’t make deals with the devil and expect anything other than hell.” (Mumia Abu-Jamal, 2010)

    In solidarity

    Berlin Free Mumia Coalition


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