Isn’t this just airing dirty laundry?
We understand the long and painful history of COINTELPRO state repression and believe that state repression enables abusers. It fosters an environment of avoidance and defensively closes ranks among comrades who reflexively doubt or look the other way in the face of charges of interpersonal abusive within movement organizations. Rather than addressing issues of abuse in movements straightforwardly, comrades dismiss accusations as divisive COINTELPRO tactics. Tragically, those who speak up on these matters are cast as suspicious and denounced as disruptive or unprincipled. If you consider our broader hopes for a free society, abuse is what is truly disruptive and unprincipled. Silence, in the face of such behavior, is ethically and politically bankrupt. Allowing predators to move from organization to campaign without sanction and escape accountability is common and unconscionable. Expelling a predator from the movement removes a disruptive element from the movement so that we can get on with the work, which runs counter to the low grade chaos and disruption predators foster in our ranks, which COINTELPRO prefers.
The CBMH is issuing this statement to shed light on the abuse that lurks in our movements and gives cover to abusers who move from organization to organization. The CBMH is dedicated to fighting for a better world, realizing abolition and in particular, demanding the freedom of Mumia Abu- Jamal.
“Historically, sexual violence has been hidden within social movements or alleged to discredit them. Movement leaders may be the subject of false accusations to undercut their influence, or accusations against leaders may be kept quiet so as not to jeopardize their status.” https://www.yesmagazine.org/opinion/2016/06/27/when-police-kill-a-black-man-with-a-rape-conviction-should-women-still-protest
As activists engaged in freeing veterans of the most revolutionary organizations of the 1960s and 70s, we are well aware of the devastating impact of state political repression on individuals and organizations. The state has a history of using internal dissent and allegations of misconduct [some of which they have fomented through infiltration or other means] to disrupt and destroy radical organizations. This reality cannot be used as a rationale to sweep all sorts of corrosive internal violence under the rug under the guise of maintaining a united front and not showing any weakness. In reality, the weakness is not the revelation of abuse that may be seized upon by the state to undermine the organization or movement as a whole. The weakness is the proclivity to protect the abuser (which often multiplies their impact as they continue their behavior unchecked) and discard the victim.
The failure of our movements to hold Rovira accountable all these years paved the way to the abuse of a young woman in the CBMH, not to mention the countless others who’ve swallowed their trauma. We support our member and refuse to be silent.Campaign to Bring Mumia Home (CBMH)
Abusers gain cover by invoking COINTELPRO and using it to discredit the accusation. Yet these kinds of behaviors (sexual assault and violence) are firmly within the toolkit of COINTELPRO. “What the FBI gets is that when there are people in activist spaces who are committed to taking power and who understand power as domination, our movements will never realize their potential to remake this world. If our energies are absorbed recuperating from the messes that informants (and people who just act like them) create, we will never be able to focus on the real work of getting free and building the kinds of life-affirming, people-centered communities that we want to live in.”
Eradicating sexual violence in social movements is one way of dislodging the tentacles of the state.
The failure of our movements to hold Rovira accountable all these years paved the way to the abuse of a young woman in the CBMH, not to mention the countless others who’ve swallowed their trauma. We support our member and refuse to be silent.