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Jan. 21, 2008

Omowale Clay Responds to False Accusation By LSB Member Mitchel Cohen
Open Letter to WBAI Listeners, Members and Supporters (Jan. 21, 2008)

I am responding to a publicly circulated email by Mitchel Cohen, of the WBAI Local Station Board 'ACE' faction, which was written on January 6, 2007, and which accused me of saying to him at the December 2007 LSB meeting, 'People in antagonistic relationships with me have turned up dead, been killed.' Not only is this statement a lie, but more importantly, it is indicative of the type of racial slandering and provocative acts that have been and are carried out by this faction of the WBAI board.

At first I was simply going to ignore this rant by Cohen. However, fellow board members and supporters insisted that I respond against these racial provocateurs, whose attacks only keep escalating, becoming more vehement - and now reaching the point of spreading the ludicrous lie that I had bragged about past killings in order to intimidate Cohen. This is the latest installment of their sustained attempt to use the police / government apparatus to seize power over WBAI by making phantom charges against us - the duly elected majority members of the WBAI LSB.

Let me briefly recount and explain what transpired between Mitchel Cohen and me at the December 2007 Local Station Board meeting:

1. On Oct. 26, 2007, Mitchel Cohen posted an email far and wide which said, 'This year, the elections are VERY important toward the future of WBAI, and whether the station will continue to exist and be strengthened, and whether it will be bankrupted by a bunch of fools and COINTELPRO agents in the mis-named 'Justice & Unity' faction [my italics] who are doing the dirty work of the warmongers and race-baiters in Washington, whether they are aware of it or not.'

2. Black activists take very seriously the usage, and most importantly the misuse, of labeling people 'COINTELPRO agents,' precisely because many freedom fighters past and present have been murdered, jailed or slandered by this FBI program, which primarily targeted the Black Liberation Movement.

3. Mitchel Cohen did not come to the November 2007 LSB meeting, but when I saw him at the December meeting I asked him to explain who he was talking about in the Justice & Unity Campaign, since he had not specifically named anyone as a 'COINTELPRO agent.' Cohen said, 'I do not want to say.' Of course this was an unacceptable response, given his accusations, and I reminded him of the history of how these type of labels and accusations have been used against individuals and organizations in carrying out the work of the police - and if he did not want to say who, then he in fact was labeling everyone in the Justice & Unity Campaign as 'COINTELPRO agents.' I informed Cohen that slandering people like this without substance, and sending this lie out around the country, was just the type of work that we saw destroy so many organizations in the past. I informed him that his 'police name-calling' was an antagonistic act against the Justice & Unity Campaign, and in particular against its Black members, against whom this tactic has been most used in the past. I informed him that I am now clear who he is and the level to which he and his faction will go to destroy what they could not defeat at the ballot box. And that was it!

4. Anyone with a clear understanding of the political history of COINTELPRO understands that its greatest weapon is to smear, slander and create hostile conditions between political activists so that the police can make use of the resulting antagonisms.

5. The relevance of Cohen's provocative actions takes on a deeper meaning when viewed in the context and pattern of continued acts by this 'List-Prog' yesterday, 'ACE/independents' today faction, which seeks to destroy the use of WBAI radio as a channel to express and report on the conditions that affect the working class and communities of color across this city and region.  Thus, we can see the historical pattern in their attempts to character-assassinate progressive people from communities of color at the station, like Bernard White, Errol Maitland, Father Lawrence Lucas, Michael Tarif Warren, Cerene Roberts and Lisa Davis, for example. This 'ACE/independents' faction has tried but failed to denigrate the character and substance of the Justice & Unity Campaign - a unified coalition of progressive activists from vari ous class, racial and gender backgrounds who are the majority of the WBAI board and who, precisely because of their politics, activism and professionalism, are the best medicine for meeting the station's needs for guidance.

6. Lastly, all of us in the Justice & Unity Campaign want you to know what we have to deal with when engaging with this 'ACE/independents' faction and the lengths to which they have gone, and will go, to slander our members of color by labeling them criminals and using the typical race-baiting stereotypes of violence, ignorance, stupidity - and now, 'COINTELPRO agents' - when talking about us. However, we know these types well - for our communities have been the targets and victims of these racist demagogues and government-orchestrated tactics throughout our history.

Thank you,
Omowale Clay

[Justice & Unity member of the WBAI Local Station Board]