Bennie G. Thompson

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Bennie Thompson

Bennie G. Thompson is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing the 2nd district of Mississippi.

Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol

The following members of congress were on the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol: Bennie Thompson (chair), Zoe Lofgren, Adam Schiff, Pete Aguilar, Stephanie Murphy, Jamie Raskin, Elaine Luria, Liz Cheney, and Adam Kinzinger.

Background

As a young man growing up in rural Bolton, Mississippi, Thompson was well aware of the realities that plagued the South. The experiences that his family endured made him determined to be an advocate for those of who were oftentimes underserved.

While earning his Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science degrees from Tougaloo College and Jackson State University, respectively, Thompson began to develop his grassroots political activism. He joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee , and helped to organize voter registration drives for African-Americans in the Mississippi Delta. As a product of the Civil Rights Movement, Thompson has remained committed to ensuring that all people are allowed to exercise their fundamental rights.

After graduating from college, Thompson followed in the footsteps of his mother and worked as a schoolteacher. It was during this time that he began to aggressively pursue a career in politics.

Congressman Thompson is a lifelong member of the Asbury United Methodist Church in Bolton, Mississippi. He has been married to his college sweetheart, London Johnson of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, for 42 years. [1]

Local politics

From 1968 to 1972, Thompson served as alderman, and he went on to serve as mayor from 1973 to 1980 in Bolton, Mississippi. As mayor of Bolton, Mississippi and founding member and President of the Mississippi Association of Black Mayors, he initiated policies and provided services that benefited the underserved citizens of his hometown.

In 1975, having firsthand knowledge of the disparity between funding, equipment, and supplies provided to historically black universities and those provided to white colleges, Thompson filed a lawsuit to increase funding at Mississippi’s historically black universities. With Thompson as lead plaintiff, the case was subsequently settled for an unprecedented $503 million.

From 1980 to 1993, Thompson served as County Supervisor for Hinds County and was the founding member and President of the state’s Association of Black Supervisors. His reputation of being a pragmatic local public servant afforded him an opportunity to be the vocal champion for his constituents.[2]

Jackson supporter

On May 5 1984, at the Mississippi Democratic Party convention, Bennie Thompson was elected to the DNC. An early Jesse Jackson supporter, Thompson had the support of all the Jackson delegates. Reporting on the event for the Communist Workers Party's Workers Viewpoint, Mike Alexander described Thompson as a "genuinely progressive, honest young politician, who can be counted on not to sell his people out".[3]

Hollis Watkins connection

Hollis Watkins was involved in managing, advising and working on many political campaigns, including the 1967 campaign for Robert Clark to become the first African-American elected to the Mississippi State Legislature since Reconstruction, both Presidential Campaigns of Rev. Jesse Jackson, the 1986 campaign of Mike Espy who was elected as the first African-American Congressman, and the 1993 campaign of Congressman Bennie Thompson.

National politics

In 1993, Thompson was elected the Democratic Congressman for Mississippi’s Second District. Congressman Thompson’s Second District is comprised of 23 counties – Attala, Bolivar, Carroll, Claiborne, Coahoma, Copiah, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Leake, Leflore, Madison, Montgomery, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tunica, Warren, Washington, and Yazoo.

In 2000, Thompson authored legislation creating the National Center for Minority Health and Health Care Disparities, which subsequently became law. He received a Presidential appointment to serve on the National Council on Health Planning and Development.

In 2006, during the 109th Congress, Thompson’s Washington colleagues "expressed their overwhelming confidence in his abilities", as they promoted him to serve as the first Democratic Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. As Chairman, Congressman Thompson introduced and engineered House passage of the most comprehensive homeland security package since September 11, 2001 - H.R. 1, the “9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007”. Congressman Thompson’s reputation as a no-nonsense visionary has provided him an opportunity to serve his third term as Chairman.[4]

Democratic Agenda

More than 1,200 people attended the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee initiated Democratic Agenda Conference held November 16-18, 1979, at the International Inn and Metropolitan AM Church in Washington 1 DC. The conference focused on "corporate power'; as the key barrier to "economic and political democracy," concepts many Democratic Agenda participants defined as "socialism.'

The Democratic Agenda meetings attempted to develop anti-corporate alternatives" through influencing the direction of the Democratic Party during the period leading to the July 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York.

Workshops included "Relating Local Issues to the Democratic Party" - Michael Bleicher, moderator; Reba Brown, Ruth Messinger, Mary Sansone, Bennie Thompson.[5]

"SURVIVALFEST 84"

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SURVIVAL FEST 84 was held August 5 1984 in MacArthur Park.

"Come To Hear And Strategize With Those Changing The 1980's"

  • How can we support each other in electing progressive local candidates?
  • How can we make electoral work serve the grassroots movements for a freeze, for U.S. out of Central America and human needs?
  • How can we over turn the racist dual primary system in the South?
  • Is working inside and outside the Democratic Party a viable strategy and how can it be done?
  • How can we formulate demands to revitalize our basic industries without falling into the pitfall of the chauvinist anti-import solution -- letting U.S. finance capital off the hook?

This event was organized by the Communist Workers Party front, the Coalition for a People's Convention. The event was advertised in a half-page notice in the Marxist weekly Guardian, their Book Supplement - Summer 1984, p. 12, and the Communist Workers Party and Federation For Progress were listed as participants.

National endorsers of the event included Bennie Thompson - Hinds County Supervisor, Mississippi .

DSA endorsement

In July 1996, the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee endorsed Bennie Thompson, Mississippi 2, in that year's Congressional elections.[6]

Medicare for All Act

In February 2019 Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced H.R.1384 - Medicare for All Act of 2019. By May 29 she had 110 co-sponsors including Rep. Bennie G. Thompson.

Supported Communist Party front

Campaign-to-free-mayor-carthan.jpg
1982 National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression pamphlet

In 1982 Bennie Thompson served on the National Coordinating Committee of a Communist Party USA front the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which was led by leading Party members Angela Davis and Charlene Mitchell.

Congressional Black Caucus

Bennie Thompson is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 113th Congress:[7]

Martinez Jobs Bill

In 1994, the Communist Party USA backed Martinez Jobs Bill (HR-4708), was co-sponsored by Democratic Party California Reps Howard Berman, Xavier Becerra, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Robert Scott (Va), Tom Foglietta (Pa), Bennie Thompson (Miss), John Lewis (Ga) and Ed Pastor (Az). Maxine Waters of California was a principal co-sponsor. [8]

Congressional Progressive Caucus

In 1998 Bennie Thompson Democrat was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[9]

As of February 20 2009 Bennie Thompson was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[10]

Humanitarian Needs in Cuba letter

December 16 2021 , House Rules Committee Chair James McGovern (D-MA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (D-NY), House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations Chair Barbara Lee (D-CA), and House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy Chair Bobby Rush (D-IL) led 114 Members of Congress in a letter to President Biden asking him to prioritize the well-being of the Cuban people as they experience the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in recent history...

In the wake of this year’s protests, the members urged the administration to support the Cuban people by suspending U.S. regulations that prevent food, medicine, remittances, and other humanitarian assistance from reaching the Cuban people...

Signatories included Bennie G. Thompson.[11]

Staffer's 2000 trip to Cuba

In February 2000, Marsha McCraven from the office of Congressman Bennie Thompson spent five days in Havana, Cuba, for the purpose of "information gathering". The trip cost $1,778.47 and was paid for by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.[12]

Promoting medical training in Cuba

The invitation for U.S. students to earn a free medical education in Cuba dates to June 2000, when a group from the Congressional Black Caucus visited Cuban president Fidel Castro. It was presided over by the then Caucus President James Clyburn, from North Carolina, and was made up of Bennie Thompson from Mississippi and Gregory Meeks from New York. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) described huge areas in his district where there were no doctors, and Castro responded with an offer of full scholarships for U.S. citizens to study at ELAM. Later that year, Castro spoke at the Riverside Church in New York, reiterating the offer and committing 500 slots to U.S. students who would pledge to practice in poor U.S. communities. Castro opened the doors of the program to 500 U.S. students who began enrolling two years later.[13]

"The advantage is that you graduate a bilingual doctor and there are so many communities in the United States where this is such an important (asset)," said Ellen Bernstein, associate director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, the New York-based group that helps screen applicants for the program.

Nine U.S. students have graduated and 105 are enrolled in the six-year program now. None is from Mississippi, where the state Health Department's Policy and Planning Office says every county in the state is medically underserved to some degree.

Hoping to entice a few students from the Magnolia State, Thompson will be in Itta Bena Saturday hosting A Dream of A Lifetime Conference, which will educate high school and college students about going to the Latin American School of Medical Sciences in Cuba. Previous recruiting efforts in Mississippi consisted of sending mailings to schools, Thompson said.

The U.S. maintains a trade embargo that prevents selling certain products to Cuba, and relations between the two governments remain icy, but the free medical education is unaffected by the countries' political relations, Thompson said.

The Association of American Medical Colleges earlier this year estimated the medical class of 2007 has an average student loan debt of more than $139,000, including undergraduate years. That student loan payment equates to more than $2,000 a month with a 6.8 percent interest rate.

"Here's an opportunity to get a degree and start off not owing anyone," Thompson said.

At Saturday's program, potential students will hear from two U.S. students enrolled at the Cuban medical school: Keasha Guerrier, a 23-year-old from Long Island, New York, and Akua Brown, a 32-year-old from San Francisco. The women, who just completed their third year of medical school, are working with Dr. Luke Lampton, a Magnolia family practice physician who also is chairman of the state Board of Health.

"Their clinical knowledge is comparable to the United States' medical students at this stage," Lampton said. "What impresses me most about these students is their courage and their boldness in trying to study medicine in a foreign language. Medical school is hard enough if you don't have to take classes in Spanish."

Brown and Guerrier speak very highly of the program they learned about on National Public Radio, but they've had to make some adjustments. Both natives of metropolitan areas, they were not used to life without plentiful public transportation, stores that don't have extended hours and not being able to buy fruits and vegetables outside their natural growing seasons.[14]

Congressman Thompson’s visit to Cuba in June 2000, paved the way to exploring the possibility of trading agricultural and medical products with the communist state. In addition, he has sought to explore medical education and training opportunities that may exist for Second District students in Cuba.[15]

Rev. Lucius Walker, executive director of Pastors for Peace, a New York-based nonprofit church organized the lawmakers' visit.[16]

Castro's version

Writing in Granma April 7 2009, Fidel Castro gave his version of the Clyburn, Thompson, Meeks visit;[17]

In May 2000, another Caucus delegation visited us. It was presided over by the then Caucus President James Clyburn, from North Carolina, and was made up of Bennie Thompson from Mississippi and Gregory Meeks from New York. These congressmen were the first to learn from me of Cuba’s disposition to grant a number of scholarships to low-income youths, to be selected by the Congressional Black Caucus, so that they could come to Cuba and study medicine. We made a similar offer to the "Pastors for Peace" NGO, which is presided over by Reverend Lucius Walker, who sent the first students to the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).
When the anti-Cuban pressures and activities of the Bush administration were intensified with respect to travel and the presence in Cuba of persons under U.S. jurisdiction, Black Caucus legislators addressed Secretary of State Colin Powell and managed to secure a license that legally allowed American youths to continue their medical studies – which they had already begun – in Cuba.

Why Cuba?

“Of 23 counties that I represent, 22 of them are medically underserved…. One of the reasons the Congressional Black Caucus wanted to go to Cuba is that as we traveled around the world, in some of the most remote places we would always run up on Cuban doctors. So we went to Cuba.”

Hon. Bennie Thompson, U.S. House of Representatives, Mississippi.[18]

2005 Cuba trip

In May 2005, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson and two of his staff members, Timla Washington and Steve Gavin spent four days in Havana, Cuba, for the purpose of "Cuba business, fact finding". The trip cost $1,298.26 and was paid for by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.[19]

Mississippi farmers hoping to give Cubans a taste for catfish and other local delicacies are heading to the island nation this June.

Second District Rep. Bennie Thompson, who visited Cuba in 2000, will lead the group heading Wednesday to Havana on a five-day trip to drum up business with the government of Fidel Castro.

"If we aren't lucky with our individual pursuits, at least we can bring back a little knowledge," said Dickie Stevens, part owner of Isola-based Confish Inc., the largest fish processor in Mississippi.

Also planning to travel to Cuba are Isaac Byrd, a Jackson lawyer and soybean farmer; Leflore County Board of Supervisors President Robert Moore; Sykes Sturdivant, whose family owns a cotton and corn farm in Glendora; Mike Wagner, owner of a rice, corn and soybean farm in Sumner; and Danny Brookins, an exporter who has a business in Biloxi.

Except for Thompson, members of the delegation are paying their own way to Havana. The New York-based Christopher Reynolds Foundation, a nonprofit that funds projects aimed at improving U.S.-Cuba relations, is paying Thompson's travel costs.

Thompson said he discovered a new market for farmers in his Delta-based district during his first trip to Cuba.

"Agriculture is the second-leading income producer in my district next to gaming," said Thompson, a Democrat. "There are some opportunities for us in a country that is so close to our borders."

The delegation hopes to meet with top Cuban officials, including Castro, visit a Cuban farm and tour historic old Havana.[20]

Back to Cuba

"I got invited by a group called Pastors for Peace," said Representative Bennie Thompson.

The Congressman has visited Cuba five times since 2000, taking corn and rice farmers who were interested in trade on previous trips.

He says the Cubans are receptive and both countries could share research, educational and business opportunities after five decades.

"We don't have to agree with everything the Russians do, but we have relationships with them," said Thompson. "So there are other countries that we don't like their form of government, but as Americans we can still do business with them." [21]

Health Care Access resolution

John Conyers promoted House Concurrent Resolution 99 (H. Con Res. 99) Directing Congress to enact legislation by October 2004 that provides access to comprehensive health care for all Americans. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES April 4, 2001.

Sponsors:John Conyers (for himself), Jan Schakowsky, John Tierney, Barbara Lee, Donna Christensen, David Bonior, Dennis Kucinich, Earl Hilliard, Maurice Hinchey, Jerry Nadler, Donald Payne Chaka Fattah, Peter DeFazio, John Lewis Tammy Baldwin, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Cynthia McKinney, Jim Langevin, George Miller Alcee Hastings, Patsy Mink, John Olver , Bennie Thompson, Pete Stark, Julia Carson, and Mike Capuano submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce;[22]

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), that the Congress shall enact legislation by October 2004 to guarantee that every person in the United States, regardless of income, age, or employment or health status, has access to health care..

Posada letter

In 2005 several far left Congressmembers wrote to President Bush urging him to extradite alleged terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela to face justice.

We are writing to urge you to oppose the application for asylum by Luis Posada Carriles, and to support the request for extradition to Venezuela, where he is a fugitive from justice.

Signatories were; Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Cynthia McKinney, John Olver, James McGovern, Donald Payne, Lane Evans, Carolyn Maloney, Tammy Baldwin, Lynn Woolsey, Jose Serrano, Raul Grijalva, Maurice Hinchey, Bobby Rush, Edolphus Towns, Sam Farr, Bennie Thompson, Ed Pastor, Sheila Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters.[23]

Talking to the "World"

The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists held their 34th annual CBTU convention in Tucson, May 26 2005.

At a “town hall meeting” on African American, Native American, Asian American and Latino relations, including leaders from these communities, panels pointed out the importance of united action to defeat the ultra-right attacks on labor and the poor. After addressing the meeting, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told the Communist Party USA paper Peoples World, “The issue for people of color in the labor movement is that they have to stay together. As organizations change sometimes people of color are overlooked. And if they don’t stick together they lose out. And one of the things I want to share with them is if you don’t stick together then you come in on the short end of the stick.”[24]

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists 2008 conference

From May 22-25, 2008, the Communist Party USA founded Coalition of Black Trade Unionists held their 37th International Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.

Rep. Bennie Thompson was one of the speakers from the May 22 opening session. He was introduced by Tony Hill of Florida, a Communist Party supporter.[25]

CBTU 2009 conference

On May 23, 2009 Carolyn Williams, William Lucy, Honorable Bennie Thompson Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, John Sweeney addressed the Awards Banquet of the 38th Annual Convention of Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in Atlanta, GA.[26]

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists 2013 conference

The 2013 CBTU convention "will feature several outstanding panels and presentations on the racial wealth gap, immigration reform, the drop-out crisis in the black community, and the pending implementation of Obamacare".

Guest speakers include Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Larry Rousseau, executive vice president, Public Service Alliance of Canada. CBTU President Emeritus William Lucy will be the special keynote speaker at CBTU’s Awards Banquet.[27]

2015 CBTU conference

Rep. Bennie Thompson addressed the May 2015 Coalition of Black Trade Unionists National Convention in Chicago.[28]

Peace Pledge Coalition

In 2007 90 Members of Congress, pledged in an open letter delivered to President Bush: "We will only support appropriating funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office." The letter was initiated by the Peace Pledge Coalition. The Coalition was led by Tim Carpenter, Progressive Democrats of America, Bob Fertik, Democrats.com Medea Benjamin, CodePink, Bill Fletcher, co-founder of Center for Labor Renewal David Swanson, AfterDowningStreet.org, Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats of America, Kevin Zeese, Voters for Peace, Democracy Rising, Brad Friedman, co-founder of Velvet Revolution, Bill Moyer, Backbone Campaign.

Bennie G. Thompson signed the letter.[29][30]

Voted against cutting funding for ACORN

In September 2009, following the lead of their Senate colleagues, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to cut off funds to ACORN. the vote was 345-75. All of the 75 were Democrats, and included Bennie G. Thompson. [31]

Voting rights press conference

July 13, 2011 WASHINGTON, DC-- Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) made this statement today at the voting rights press conference:

"[In Ohio] We have one of the most draconian voter suppression bills in the United States. If we are going to have a society that involves all of its citizens, we cannot allow for these kinds of bills to be passed by legislature after legislature... Across this country, 11% of all people who are eligible to vote do not have a government issued ID. That's 21 million people. Every time we take one step forward, we take two steps back. And we're not going to allow it to happen. "

Members in attendance:

Rep. Bennie Thompson, Rep. Corrine Brown, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez, Rep. Tim Ryan, Rep. Gwen Moore, Rep. Betty Sutton, Rep. Hank Johnson, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Donna Christensen, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Steve Cohen, Rep. Karen Bass.

Organizations and leaders in attendance:

Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Tamika Mallory, National Action Network, Barbara Arnwine, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Laura Murphy, American Civil Liberties Union Hilary Shelton, NAACP, Rafael Collazo, National Council of La Raza/Democracia USA, Nichole Austin-Hillery, Brennan Center for Justice, Campus Progress, Center for American Progress, Diallo Brooks, People for the American Way.[32]

RNA supporter

Fifty years ago as a Mississippi alderman, Bennie Thompson defended the Republic of New Afrika and participated in a news conference blaming cops for the group's violence even as FBI saw group as waging "guerrilla warfare."

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the congressional commission investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, has been a vocal critic of an event he deems an insurrection and offered his sympathy to the police officers injured that day. He's even gone as far as to sue former President Donald Trump for responsibility for the melee.

But as a young African-American alderman in a small Mississippi community in 1971, Thompson placed himself on the opposite side, openly sympathizing with a secessionist group known as the Republic of New Afrika]] and participating in a news conference blaming law enforcement for instigating clashes with the group that led to the killings of a police officer and the wounding of an FBI agent. Thompson's official biography makes no reference to the separatist RNA.

Thompson's affection for the RNA and its members — which FBI counterintelligence memos from the 1970s warned were threatening "guerrilla warfare" against the United States — was still intact as recently as 2013, when he openly campaigned on behalf of the group's former vice president to be mayor of Mississippi's largest city.

The congressman had a much lower national profile back in 1971, when newspapers referred to him simply as Alderman B.G. Thompson from the community of Bolton, Miss., where he became acquainted with the RNA. He was never charged with any wrongdoing in connection with the group but on multiple occasions publicly sided with RNA members, even as law enforcement documented how the group had engaged in violence and was training for possible warfare.

RNA was founded in 1968 — hundreds of miles away from Mississippi — in Detroit, where its first major run-in with police led to the fatal shooting of an officer in 1969. Its members were charged with the killing but acquitted. Thompson was never linked to the shooting.

An FBI teletype recounted the shooting as having occurred when a Detroit patrol car occupied by two officers encountered a group of black males armed with rifles near where the RNA was holding its second annual meeting.

"Officers stopped and alit from scout car, and as they approached the group, they were fired upon," the teletype said. "Officer Czapski was killed and [redacted name] was seriously wounded."

By 1971, RNA was under constant FBI surveillance as it sought to move its "capital" to a 20-acre plot of farmland in Thompson's hometown of Bolton, Miss., with an adjunct headquarters in the capital city of Jackson, Miss., where RNA members threatened to renounce their U.S. citizenship and create a separate New Africa country in the U.S. Southeast.

In spring 1971, Mississippi law enforcement got a tip that a member of the RNA wanted on an outstanding warrant might be traveling in Bolton in a stolen car, the memos show. A squad of officers encountered the RNA members and arrested many of them for hindering the investigation. The fugitive and car weren't found, but many of the group's members were held on bond.

Thompson and a state lawmaker held a news conference after the arrests, one captured on video and preserved at the Mississippi Department of Archives & History. Thompson took the lead in bashing law enforcement for pursuing RNA, claiming officers were "often times beating and kicking those who emphasized their constitutional rights."

"My utmost concern in this matter is to see that people who reside or pass through the town of Bolton are treated fairly and given every opportunity afforded them by law," Thompson said in the archival news footage. "This was not done in the case of the Republic of New Afrika. They are charged with obstructing justice. ... I believe this is an attempt on part of law enforcement officials to stop the Republic from building its community."

Thompson suggested the group be left alone if it was law abiding. But by the time Thompson had uttered those words, the FBI had already determined the group had engaged in multiple violent crimes, and posed a national security threat with its stated plan to take over the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia to create a secessionist new country for African-Americans.

The sheriff who led the arrests told a far different story than Thompson's, saying officers who went to execute an arrest warrant were met with resistance and that officers found a large cache of weapons and ammunition inside the group's facility.

"They started slamming doors in our face and running against the doors and cursing us, and we advised them we was the law, we had to come in," Hinds County Sheriff Fred Thomas is quoted as saying on the archived videotape. "...They didn't want us to carry out our duties. So we had to make arrests upon these people. And in the meantime, we recovered numerous amounts of guns, ammunition, radio equipment, and a good many more things."

A few months later, a more tragic clash ensued when FBI agents and Jackson police raided a home where RNA members were holed up in August 1971. The police were met with gunfire, which killed one officer and wounded a second officer and an FBI agent.

Jackson Police Department records show that William Crumley, the FBI agent on scene, reported that when the officers arrived at the house, they announced they had a warrant, gave the occupants inside the house 75 seconds to surrender peacefully and then shot a canister of tear gas into the house to flush out the RNA members.

"Firing immediately started coming from inside the house," the police report said. "Crumley heard someone scream that he was hit."

The violent shootout made national headlines, and again Thompson came to the defense of the group.

An Associated Press article published Aug. 28, 1971 in The Greenwood Commonwealth newspaper in Mississippi under the headline "Blacks Accuse Police" reported Thompson joined some black community leaders in Jackson to announce the formation of a justice group to support the RNA in the aftermath of the fatal shooting.

While some black leaders urged an easing of tensions, Thompson's new group was more assertive, blaming police for the RNA's problems. At the press conference a speaker next to Thompson claimed that police were "out to kill some niggers," the AP reported.

A separate newspaper article in the Times-Picyaune included a more complete quote. "This kill some niggers attitude more than anything else is responsible for the policeman's death," a speaker alleged at the event where Thompson was featured.

According to the 2013 book "We Will Shoot Back," which chronicled the black armed resistance in Mississippi personified by RNA, Thompson was part of a small group of moderate black politicians who "defended the New African nationalists' right to organize, but never actively participated."

Several members of the RNA were convicted of various crimes in the Jackson shooting, ranging from murder and attempted murder to sedition. The group's president Imari Obadele was among those charged and imprisoned. Most served time in prison before being released. One member accused of firing the fatal shot was sentenced to life in prison.

A March 1969 FBI memo described RNA as a "black extremist, separatist organization whose purpose is the formation of a black nation within the United States and a black army to defend and attack its enemies."

A year earlier, FBI informants who attended the RNA's organizing meeting in Detroit reported it was an offshoot of Malcom X's black nationalism movement that aspired "to form a 'Black Government or Black Nation' that would negotiate with the United States for several southern states in return for domestic tranquility."

"The delegates to this conference signed a Declaration of Independence disavowing their United States citizenship and they chose as the name of the new Black nation 'The Republic of New Afrika,'" the memo added.

The FBI was deeply concerned, the memo said, that delegates of the group called for "guerrilla warfare against the United States and indicate that plans were being formulated to send Negroes out of the United States to be trained and equipped with the latest weapons."

Documents obtained by law enforcement and historical researchers show RNA eyed creating a black nation out of five Southeast states: Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina and held "nation-building classes" to further the cause.

The documents, echoing sentiments also reported to the FBI by informants, showed the group wanted to "get control of our land" through organizing African-Americans, holding votes and "by arms if necessary."

The group was blamed for several other violent crimes, including a deadly bank robbery in Manhattan and the fatal shooting of a police officer who stopped a car full of RNA members in New Mexico. Some of those perpetrators were arrested and convicted, while others fled to Cuba to escape prosecution, according to news stories.

FBI officials declined comment on the Republic of New Afrika, referring Just the News to the bureau documents released on its FOIA Web site.

When asked how the FBI classifies the group today, spokesman Paul Bresson said: "The FBI does not designate domestic terrorist organizations. When it comes to domestic terrorism, our investigations focus solely on the criminal activity of individuals — regardless of group membership — that appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce the civilian population or influence the policy of the government by intimidation or coercion. It's important to note that membership in groups that espouse domestic extremist ideology is not illegal in and of itself— no matter how offensive their views might be to the majority of society."

A 2001 U.S. Department of Energy report on extreme leftist groups declared that "RNA members participated in a number of criminal activities including murder, assaults, and robberies.

"The nationalist movement of the 1970s, which initially had the same agenda, resulted in extremists within the movement forming several terrorist groups including the Black Liberation Army and the Republic of New Afrika," the report said.

Over time, the group faded from the news headlines, though it still maintains a presence on social media today. It has had no major encounters with law enforcement since 2001, when authorities found one of the fugitive RNA members who had fled to Cuba living in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He was arrested and convicted.

While the group's profile has diminished in the 21st century, Thompson's allegiance to some of its members remained strong for decades.

In 2013, former RNA vice president Chokwe Lumumba was elected mayor of Jackson, Miss., during a campaign in which Thompson aired a campaign ad supporting Lumumba's candidacy. The congressman later officiated at Lumumba's installation ceremony as mayor.

Lumumba died suddenly at age 66 just months after taking office. Among the many luminaries who lamented his passing was Thompson.

"I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba,” Thompson said in 2014. "I have known Mayor Lumumba since 1974. One of the reasons I was so public about my support for the Mayor was that I believed once people got to know the real Chokwe Lumumba, they would find him to be an extremely bright, caring, and humble individual. His election as Mayor and very short term in office demonstrated exactly that."[33]

Endorsing Lumumba

Lumumba, Thompson

In mid May 2013 Rep. Bennie Thompson spent a day campaigning with Jackson Mississippi mayoral candidate Chokwe Lumumba around the city. He was also joined by former candidate Regina Quinn, Sen. Sollie Norwood (D- Jackson), Supervisor Kenny Stokes and Councilwomaman Larita Cooper-Stokes.

In the past week, we’ve seen a slew of endorsements between both Jackson mayoral candidates Councilman Chokwe Lumumba and Jonathan Lee. There is no question that the most prized endorsement belonged to Second District Congressman Bennie Thompson of Bolton.

In this 1 minute radio ad that features the congressman’s very familiar hook “He’s the one we need”, Rep. Thompson skewers Lee by tying him to Rankin and Madison County Republicans and referring to Councilman Lumumba as “the real Democrat” in the race.

I’m certain that all of the candidates sought the endorsement of Congressman Thompson but now that he has thrown his support behind Chokwe Lumumba, it will be interesting to see if it will close the gap and and change the trajectory of the race.

Lumumba Transition Executive Committee

Circa June 18, Jackson Mayor-elect Chokwe Lumumba announced the members of an advisory committee that will help ease his transition into the mayor’s office in July.

Remembering Chokwe

On March 8 2014, hundreds of people, especially from the South and particularly Jackson, Miss., came to mourn and reflect on the life of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, who died suddenly on Feb. 25 at the age of 66. Starting with a March 5 tribute at the historically Black college, Jackson State University, Mayor Lumumba’s life was memorialized for several days, ending with the masses lining the streets for his burial motorcade.

People gathered for the “Home Going Ceremony” in the main room in the Jackson Convention Complex, with hundreds more in an overflow area. They were regaled for hours with stories of a young Chokwe, before he took the name honoring an African people who resisted slavery, the Chokwe of Central Africa, together with the name of the great anti-imperialist Patrice Lumumba, the first elected Prime Minister of Congo assassinated at the behest of the CIA in 1961.

Besides his son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, and daughter, Rukia Lumumba, those on the program included Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain NAACP leader, Medgar Evers; Civil Rights leader Hollis Watkins; Congressperson Bennie Thompson; interim Jackson Mayor Charles Tillman; former Mississippi Gov. William Winter; and singer Cassandra Wilson. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan sent a condolences statement.</ref>Honor Chokwe Lumumba By Larry Hales on March 11, 2014[35]Update on Cuba Travel: We Gathered 59 Signatures, The LAWG Cuba Team: Mavis, Emily and Karina on May 03, 2013Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) moderated a plenary panel at the Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday, June 28, 2014. The panel, entitled “Our Southern Strategy: Where Do We Go from Here,” focused on the role that the South plays in changing the way that democracy applies to all citizens in the United States. The panel included fellow congressional members: G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Bennie Thompson (D-MS). Tougaloo College was crucial to the Civil Rights Movement, a safe haven for many activists and a gathering place for the leaders of the Movement. The panel was part of the weeklong Freedom Summer 50th anniversary intergenerational conference. Danny Glover; Julian Bond; Dick Gregory; Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and Benjamin Jealous, former President and CEO of the NAACP, were among the participants.[36]

Southern Echo connection

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Jaribu Hill connection

Errick D. Simmons October 7, 2016:

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With Latrice Westbrooks, Jaribu Hill, Bailey Willie, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson and Lois Hawkins.

"Building Bridges to Empower a true majority" conference

Louis Head October 23, 2015:

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Ricardo Briones, Southwest Workers Union - San Antonio, Marilyn L. Young - Tunica, MS, Rep. Bennie Thompson, Brenda Hyde - Southern Echo, Inc. and Leroy Johnson - Southern Echo lead off Voting Rights Act Anniversary Convening in Jackson, MS South X Southwest Experiment — in Madison, Mississippi.

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Flag protest

Dozens of Mississippians protested outside the U.S. Capitol on Flag Day, June 2016 , hoping to generate enough national support to pressure Mississippi lawmakers to change the state flag, the only one in the country that still features the emblem of the Confederacy. Critics of the flag say it's a symbol of hate and a reminder of the South's segregationist past.

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“The real issue for all of us is the symbol that that flag represents,’’ said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who spoke at the rally. “It doesn’t matter whether it flies in the Capitol or whether it’s on a cemetery or a (Veterans Affairs) hospital — all those symbols need to be pushed aside. … But you know, it’s a tough row to hoe.’’

But House lawmakers blocked another attempt by Thompson last week to also remove from House grounds all other items featuring the Confederate flag, including statues.One of the speakers was Carlos Moore, an attorney from Grenada who filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to declare the Confederate flag unconstitutional. “Historically, the federal courts have been the only way we have got any civil rights advanced in Mississippi,’’ he said.

Celebrities, congressional lawmakers and others joined Tuesday's protest. Actress Aunjanue Ellis, star of the TV series "Quantico" and a McComb resident, sponsored the trip for dozens of Mississippians.

Michael Eric Dyson, a professor at Georgetown University, called the flag a "byproduct of hate and not heritage."

“This flag must come down because it represents everything that America is supposed to not be,’’ he said. “When that flag comes down, love goes up.’’

Legislation to change or remove the flag haven't made it to the floor of the state Legislature.

State Rep. Kathy Sykes, D-Jackson, plans to reintroduce her bill next year — when the state celebrates its bicentennial and opens a civil rights museum — that would adopt a flag designed by Laurin Stennis, granddaughter of the late Democratic Sen. John C. Stennis of Mississippi. Sykes held up the Stennis flag at Tuesday's rally.

[37] |

Jackson Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries also spoke. Students from colleges such as Tougaloo and Jackson State also made the trip to Washington.[38]

March on Mississippi

Citing a pattern of civil rights abuses by Nissan against its predominantly African-American workforce in Mississippi, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, actor Danny Glover, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks and hundreds of workers, civil rights leaders, and social justice advocates converged on the automaker’s factory in Canton, March 4, 2017, to demand that the company respect its workers’ right to vote for a union free from fear and intimidation.

The March on Mississippi – expected to be the largest protest to hit the Magnolia State in years – follows a series of rallies at Nissan dealerships that swept across the South last month.

“I am proud to join in fighting to give workers at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi, plant the justice, dignity and the right to join a union that they deserve,” said Sen. Sanders. “Nissan has union representation at 42 out of its 45 plants around the world. The American South should not be treated differently. What the workers at the Nissan plant in Mississippi are doing is a courageous and enormously important effort to improve their lives.”

The march was organized by the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), a coalition of civil rights leaders, ministers and worker advocates. In addition to Sen. Sanders, Glover and Brooks, a diverse coalition of politicians and civil rights leaders including U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner, Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson, and Sierra Club President Aaron Mair joined the march.

“Powerful corporations like Nissan are the poster-child for America’s rigged economy,” said Danny Glover. “Nissan’s arrival in Canton promised good jobs for the community, but instead the company has committed rampant safety and health violations and denied its workers their basic right to vote for a union free from fear and intimidation. Nissan workers in Canton have my full support for their fight for fairness and respect at the workplace.”

The March on Mississippi began with pre-march speeches by Sanders, Glover and others at 12:30 p.m. CST at the Canton Sportsplex, 501 Soldiers Colony Road, in Canton. Protestors then marched approximately two miles to Nissan’s assembly plant to deliver a message to the company: Workers’ rights equal civil rights.[39]

Chokwe Antar Lumumba connection

Congressman Bennie Thompson, at the January 2017 Jackson Community Kwanzaa Celebration, encouraged citizens to retain hope in the face of the swearing-in of Donald Trump. He reminded them that they and their ancestors survived slavery, segregation and Jim Crow; the administrations of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush I and II.

At the state level, Congressman Thompson and Chokwe Antar Lumumba, speaking to the crowd at the Medgar Evers Community Center, underscored the attacks of the Republican dominated government on (1) Jackson Public Schools and public schools in general, through underfunding and the multiplication of charter schools, (2) Jackson's airport, and (3) the governance of Jackson's Capitol Complex. (Thompson also referenced the attempt to convict Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith as a part of the attack on black people in the Jackson and Hinds County area.) All of them also indicated that there is probably more to come in the new session.[40]

No Trump

Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Jackson, Mississippi’s revolutionary mayor, would not be sharing the stage with President Donald Trump at the grand opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum this December 9 2017.

“I believe that Trump’s presence is a distraction. His policies don’t reflect his statements that this is a movement that will bring people together. Trump has not demonstrated a continuing dedication to the ideals the civil rights movement upholds,” Lumumba said

Trump will no longer be speaking at the museum opening—since the announcement that he would was met with justifiable rage and disgust—but he will still be in attendance.

To add further insult to injury, Lumumba learned that he would also not have the opportunity to speak at the historic event.

“I had some words that I wanted to say,” Lumumba said, “but when I found out that I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to speak, I decided that I didn’t want to share the stage with Trump.”

Instead, Lumumba will hold a press conference with U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and NAACP President Derrick Johnson. The conference will take place at the same time as the museum opening.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), will also not be in attendance because of Trump’s "toxic" presence.

“President Trump’s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum,” Thompson and Lewis said in a joint statement.[41]

Biden allies

In early 2019 Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, had been speaking to Joe Biden regularly and urging him to jump in the race. Richmond said he believes that Biden is “95 percent” committed to running and has been coordinating calls between Biden and other members of Congress. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said he has been informed that he’s on a “call list” and Biden should be reaching out soon.

Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), a longtime Biden friend, said the former VP called him last week. While Biden wasn’t “declaratory” about a White House bid in that call, Casey told The Hill Tuesday, it would be “very surprising” if Biden didn’t run.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a former Biden staffer during the 1980s, hasn’t spoken to Biden recently but said there is nothing stopping his former boss from running again.

“At this stage in life, he doesn’t have a lot to lose and has a lot to gain. And he has a lot to offer the country,” Connolly told The Hill outside of the Capitol. “He offers the prospect of some desperately needed healing in this country after this scourge.”[42]

Effort to Stop Development Projects

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Rep. Ro Khanna, Tefere Gebre of Greenpeace, Grace Tuttle of Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights and Naadiya Hutchinson, Government Affairs Manager at WE ACT for Environmental Justice were listed as speakers for a "Special Town Hall" dated September 15, 2022 sponsored by Our Revolution. The meeting is to discuss strategies to stop the public from using strategic litigation to shut down development prjects. Our Revolution, Greenpeace, Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) and WE ACT for Environmental Justice participated. In a mass email, Our Revolution linked to a letter signed by democrats to thwart development projects.

From the event invitation:[43]

"Our Revolution, America’s largest grassroots progressive organization, is partnering with Greenpeace USA to stop a looming threat to our communities and our planet. together, we are hosting a Town Hall to mobilize our networks of millions of members and hundreds of local chapters to stop a deal negotiated between Senator Joe Manchin, The American Petroleum Institute (API), and Democratic leadership to fast track permitting of fossil fuel extraction projects, leading to potential catastrophic climate impacts.
Join frontline communities and our allies in Congress to learn what you can do to help us stop Manchin's Dirty Deal!

From a mass email sent by Our Revolution dated September 12, 2022:

"Our Revolution is leading the charge alongside frontline communities and environmental justice groups like Greenpeace to kill Joe Manchin’s side deal for more dirty oil favors.

"Manchin is willing to shut down the government for more fossil fuel projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline in WV and strip safeguards from impacted communities.

"Dems can’t celebrate “the biggest climate steps in history” while reversing them by caving to a literal coal baron.

"Our coalition of 650 organizations is urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to detach the deal from the must-pass bill to fund the government — we cannot let Manchin hold us hostage!

"Bernie railed against it on the Senate floor this week and says he’ll vote it down, and Our Revolution is calling for a progressive mutiny in Congress.

"A coalition of 72 US House Reps have signed onto a letter[44] led by US Rep. Raul Grijalva - but we need more of our representatives in Congress to stand in opposition.

Bennie G. Thompson signed the letter.

Staff

The following are past and present staff:[45]

External links

References

  1. official Congressional bio, accessed August 15, 2011
  2. official Congressional bio, accessed August 15, 2011
  3. Workers Viewpoint, June 6, 1984 page 14]
  4. official Congressional bio, accessed August 15, 2011
  5. Information Digest, December 14, 1979, page 370/371
  6. Democratic Left, July/August 1996, page 21
  7. Congressional Black Caucus: Members (accessed on Feb. 24, 2011)
  8. PWW Support for jobs bill grows, Evelina Alarcon, Oct. 1 1994, page 3
  9. DSA website: Members of the Progressive Caucus (archived on the Web Archive website)
  10. Congressional Progressive Caucus website: Caucus Member List
  11. [1]
  12. American Radio Works website: Trips sponsored by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation
  13. [http://academic.udayton.edu/health/02organ/providers01.htm Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D Affirmative Action, Cuban Style, New England Journal of Medicine Volume 351:2680-2682 December 23, 2004 Number 26]
  14. http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=405x6433
  15. Ee-elect Bennie G Thompson for congress, accessed jan. 10, 2010
  16. Black U.S. Lawmakers Visit Cuba, 5/31 By PAUL SHEPARD, Associated Press Writer
  17. Reflections of Fidel, The seven Congress members who are visiting us, Havana. April 7, 2009
  18. Advertizing page for film Salud!, accessed Jan. 10, 2011
  19. American Radio Works website: Trips sponsored by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation
  20. CubaNet, Thompson to lead business group to Cuba By Ana Radelat, Clarion-Ledger, Washington Bureau. May 31, 2005.
  21. MS Now News A Cuban immigrant and U.S. citizen reacts to ending embargo Wednesday, December 17th 2014, 11:40 pm CDT Thursday, December 18th 2014, 1:41 am CDT By Roslyn Anderson
  22. Dem. Left, Summer 2002
  23. Green Left discussion Restricted Group, 990 members Letter from US Congress Members for extraditing Posada to Venezuela May 20, 2005
  24. Peoples World, Black trade unionists urge labor unity, by: Martin Frazier June 3 2005
  25. Broadcast Urban: 37th International Convention - May 24 Opening Session" (accessed on Dec. 19, 2011)
  26. [ http://broadcasturban.net/webcast/cbtu2009/, CBTU 38th Annual Convention of Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in Atlanta, GA]
  27. [Special to Orlando Times May 2013 NEW BLACK LABOR LEADER SAYS IT’S TIME TO “RE-BOOT’’ FOR GROWTH & ACTIVISM]
  28. Yoube, New Union Voices: CBTU Black Lives Matter 2015National CBTU's Channel Published on Jun 2, 2015
  29. War Is A Crime .org, Peace Pledge Coalition
  30. [http://www.democrats.com/peace-pledge Democrats.com. Sign the Pledge for Peace petition. Bob Fertik August 19, 2007
  31. [http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/09/the_75_democrats_who_are_prose.html American Thinker, September 18, 2009 The 75 Democrats who are pro-sex slave ACORN defenders By Ethel C. Fenig]
  32. [https://fudge.house.gov/press-statements/rep-fudge-ohio-has-one-of-most-draconian-voter-suppression-bills-in-the-us/Marci Fudge press release, REP. FUDGE: "OHIO HAS ONE OF MOST DRACONIAN VOTER SUPPRESSION BILLS IN THE U.S." July 13, 2011]
  33. [2]
  34. BlackMountain News, Lumumba on transition: Morale is 'major weakness' Jun. 18, 2013
  35. Lifting travel ban on Cuba

    A May 03, 2013 Press release from the radical controlled and Institute for Policy Studies affiliated Latin America Working Group's Cuba Team stated:

    Due to your action/emails/phone calls we have 59 signatures from House representatives urging President Obama to support travel to Cuba by granting general licenses for ALL current categories of travel.
    By eliminating the laborious license application process, especially for people-to-people groups, that is managed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the majority of the bureaucratic red tape that holds up licensable travel to Cuba would disappear and actually facilitate what the President wanted to see in 2011, liberalized travel regulations.

    Signatories included Rep. Bennie Thompson.

  36. EHN Press release, Norton to Moderate Plenary Panel at the Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, Saturday Jun 27, 2014
  37. [https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/06/14/mississippians-rally-washington-protest-state-flag/85876780/Clarion Ledger, Mississippians rally in Washington to protest state flag Deborah Barfield Berry, Clarion-Ledger Washington Bureau Published 6:25 p.m. ET June 14, 2016]
  38. [3]
  39. [4] PW Workers, civil rights leaders, elected officials to converge on Mississippi Nissan plant March 2, 2017
  40. [5]
  41. The Root, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba Declines to Share Mississippi Civil Rights Museum Stage with White Supremacist-in-Chief Kirsten West Savali December 9, 2017
  42. The Hill Exclusive: Biden to run for White House, says Dem lawmaker BY SCOTT WONG AND AMIE PARNES - 03/12/19 10:54 AM EDT
  43. Archive Special TOWN HALL: Stop Manchin's Dirty Deal (accessed September 12, 2022)
  44. (accessed September 12, 2022)
  45. http://www.legistorm.com/member/504/Rep_Bennie_Thompson_MS.html. Accessed 12/12/2011