[ Renny Cushing ]
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.
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).
This post is also available in: Spanish