By Chuck Ross
President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division circulated an essay from self-proclaimed Marxist poet Amiri Baraka defending cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and referring to police officers as members of the Ku Klux Klan, according an email from her days at Columbia University.
Kristen Clarke forwarded the Baraka essay in an email on June 25, 1999, to her mentor, the late historian Manning Marable.
She suggested that the essay, entitled “Mumia, ‘Lynch Law’ & Imperialism” be placed in a magazine Marable edited and used for a panel on the death penalty.
“Here is a piece for the magazine & the panel 3 Race and The Death Penalty,” Clarke wrote to Marable.
The email was obtained by the American Accountability Foundation, a conservative advocacy group founded by two former Republican Senate staffers. The foundation, which has published other materials about Clarke on its website, BidenNoms.com, says that the email is from Marable’s academic archives at Columbia University.
Newly unearthed emails from the @Columbia Archives obtained by @bidennoms show @KristenClarkeJD , Biden's pick to head the investigation of Minneapolis PD, sharing articles with her colleagues comparing the police to the KKK. https://t.co/2InrqQpb8d pic.twitter.com/xli4BI9bCD
— BidenNoms, A Project of AAF (@bidennoms) April 21, 2021
Clarke studied under Marable at the time she sent the email. She contributed to a journal on black studies that Marable founded and helped the historian organize academic conferences for his Institute for Research in African-American Studies.
The American Accountability Foundation has published other documents showing that Clarke helped organize a conference with Marable in 1999 where Mumia Abu-Jamal, Assata Shakur, and other convicted cop killers were hailed as “political prisoners.”
Clarke testified at her Senate confirmation hearing last week that she was unfamiliar with the Abu-Jamal and Shakur cases and that she only provided logistics for Marable’s conference.
“I am not familiar with their cases, I’ve never worked on those matters,” Clarke said in her confirmation hearing.
“I was not the organizer of that conference, but I provided logistical support as a student at that time.”
Clarke’s handling of Baraka’s article about Abu-Jamal suggests she had some familiarity with the convicted murderer’s case. It also suggests that she thought the material was acceptable for publication in a journal and for use at an academic conference.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz responded to the document posted by the American Accountability Foundation, saying it shows that Clarke is a “radical” nominee.
“I’ve been sounding the alarm about just how radical Biden’s pick for DOJ Kristen Clarke is,” he tweeted.
In his essay, Baraka said that police officers and judges are the modern equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan.
“The Klan is now the Police, with Blue uniforms replacing the sheets and hoods. The corrupt racist Judges, are petty Klan administrators,” Baraka wrote in the essay.
He also asserted that Abu-Jamal was “being held hostage.”
“Mountains of evidence and testimony show clearly that Mumia is another Black scapegoat, another Lynch victim.”
“The rulers want to show us what will happen if we mobilize and mount full scale attack on Imperialism as Mumia did as part of the Black Panther party as a sector of The Black Liberation Movement,” Baraka also wrote in the essay shared by Clarke.
Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, was sentenced to death row in 1982 for the murder of Daniel Faulkner, a Philadelphia police officer.
His case became a cause célèbre for left-wing activists who believe he was unfairly convicted.
Baraka, who died in 2014, had a lengthy history of making anti-white, anti-Semitic and homophobic statements.
“Most American white men are trained to be fags,” he wrote in a 1965 essay.
“Smile, jew. Dance, jew. Tell me you love me, jew,” Baraka wrote in one poem cited by The New York Times in his obituary. “I got the extermination blues, jewboys. I got the hitler syndrome figured.”
Clarke’s organization, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, did not respond to a request for comment about the email or whether she supports Baraka’s rhetoric.
If confirmed, Clarke will oversee an investigation just opened into the Minneapolis police department in the wake of the conviction of Derek Chauvin.
In 2019, Clarke criticized the Chicago police department for seeking access to the cell phone of actor Jussie Smollett, who claimed he was attacked by two white Trump supporters.
Smollett was later charged with filing a false police report.
Two men, both black, told police that Smollett paid them to stage the attack.
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