Eugene Weekly : News : 3.20.08

McKinney for President
Green Party presidential hopeful calls for accountability

The 26th annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) brought a presidential hopeful to Eugene.

Cynthia McKinney, a nominee for candidacy on the Green Party presidential ticket, gave a March 7 keynote address at the conference. Her talk was kicked off by rousing songs from local members of the peace group the Raging Grannies as well as a talk by David Cobb, the 2004 Green Party presidential candidate.


Cobb’s speech included a directive to those in the legal profession to legislate for change. He asked activists to act, scholars to teach and candidates to run on principles which embody the spirit of the American revolutionarieswho “challenged entrenched illegitimate powers.”

McKinney’s speech criticized current powers as well and focused on her presidential bid. She gave an overview of her voting record while a member of Congress, noted the bills she introduced and talked about the key areas in which she has taken a stand.

McKinney served in the House for 12 years representing the state of Georgia. In noting her congressional record, McKinney cited her call for the impeachment of President Bush, Vice-President Cheney and former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice for their failure to uphold the Constitution — which evoked thunderous applause from the largely white and middle-aged audience.

In her speech McKinney declared that every legislator who voted to fund the war in Iraq “is complicit in war crimes of torture and crimes against humanity,” and this “includes some of my friends in Congress.”

She mentioned her participation in International War Crimes Tribunals in Europe and Asia in an effort to bring accountability to the current administration for its declaration of war on false pretenses. She has also advocated for a full investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

“Government can do good,” McKinney said several times in her speech, but it is “a nightmare when good people do too little.”

McKinney credited her motherhood as the inspiration that motivated her to act against elitist corporate power to promote human rights. While seeking black male leaders as role models for her son, she found a “long legacy of attack on authority of black leadership.” Those bold enough to stand up and speak out for righteousness were labeled as enemies of the state for “inciting the Negro,” she said. Many of these, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey, were punished for their lack of compliance with those in ruling power, the details of which McKinney said are revealed in the government-released COINTELPRO documents.

“I’m just a peace and justice activist,” she said.

As well as taking a vocal stand against environmental racism and the for-profit prison system, she pointed out that it is the minority mortgage holders who are suffering the disproportionate brunt of losses in the current subprime foreclosure crisis striking our nation.

In a conversation at Café Roma following her lecture, McKinney described leaving the Democratic Party to seek nomination on a third party ticket as an overdue act to “disengage from an abusive relationship.”

McKinney said her Oregon itinerary included buying hiking boots for her “first hike ever” to an old-growth forest the following day with a small group of supporters and environmental activists.

See for more information about McKinney’s Power to the People Committee.