By Daniel Hirsch
Cynthia McKinney has a long reputation for voicing unpopular opinions. As a Democratic congresswoman turned Green Party presidential candidate, she's taken controversial stances on issues such as voter rights, government involvement in 9-11 and the Iraq War. Having recently returned from a humanitarian mission to Gaza, McKinney has unique insight on Israel and Palestine—she spent a week in an Israeli prison.
When traveling with a group from the Free Gaza Movement to deliver goods and medical supplies to Gaza by boat, McKinney's boat, the Spirit of Humanity, was stopped and boarded by the Israeli navy. They then imprisoned McKinney with the other 21 passengers of the ship, which also included peace activists from around the world and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire.
After spending a week in jail, the activists were released and eventually given entry into Gaza. McKinney has since returned to the U.S. to embark on what she calls the "Gaza Solidarity Triumph Tour," a series of speaking engagements with the aim of informing the public on her story and possible rights violations committed by the Israeli military. She stops at SSU on Aug. 22.
The group's experience traveling to Gaza has been mostly unreported in American media, and McKinney hopes to correct this omission with her series of talks. But besides the mission of education, the tour will also serve to promote alternative news media. The Triumph Tour is a fundraiser for the San Francisco Bay View, an independent publication with a focus on the Bay Area's African American community.
In a recent interview with the Bay View, McKinney expressed her support for the paper and her reasoning behind the tour: "We want people to come and show their appreciation for the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, and also to commune and have a good time as we discuss how we're going to move our country forward in these dire times."
After speaking events in Oakland, McKinney travels to the North Bay and speaks on Saturday, Aug. 22, in the Warren Auditorium in Ives Hall at Sonoma State University. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 3pm. $5. www.sfbayview.com.
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