Kamala Harris appears to endorse MLK’s assassination conspiracy theory

Vice President Kamala Harris this month echoed the conspiracy theory that the US government assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. to end his labor activism, a move that could further undermine administration efforts Biden to fight misinformation.

“These are the things that you know we need to remind people of,” Harris said, in an interview with the Nation, said of the historical connection between the civil rights movement and the labor movement. “That’s why Dr. King was murdered, because he was bringing the civil rights movement together with working people.”

Harris apparently endorsed a popular conspiracy theory that government agencies conspired to assassinate King because in the last years of his life the civil rights icon focused on organized labor. According to this theory, economic interests in government saw King’s labor activism as an intolerable threat to the capitalist system. There is no evidence to support this theory, nor to suggest that James Earl Ray, who was convicted of King’s assassination in 1968, was motivated to kill King because of his support for the labor movement.

The vice president’s allusion to a government plot against King puts her in the company of conspiracy theorists and radical ideologues. William Pepper, a lawyer who frequently covers the events of the 9/11 conspiracy and believes the assassination of Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy, claims King’s assassination was coordinated by the FBI, CIA and members of the organized crime. Marxist groups, including International Marxist Trendency and publications like Socialist appeal and left greenalso accused the US government of assassinating King.

A spokeswoman for the vice president did not return a request for comment on parallels between Harris’ remarks and conspiracy rhetoric.

Harris is the latest Biden administration official to promote an unfounded conspiracy theory. Nina Jankowicz, who headed the now-defunct Disinformation Governance Council, and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who advised the council, have both suggested without evidence that the New York PostHunter Biden’s laptop story was a fake “Russian influence operation”. The JobThe reports by have since been authenticated by other outlets, including the New York Times.

Harris is not the first significant figure to advance this conspiracy theory. Many close to King believe he was assassinated because of his focus on economic activism, including his support for striking sanitation workers in Memphis just before his assassination and his plans to organize an “army of the poor” backed by unions to march on Washington, DC King’s son Dexter says his father was killed “because he challenged the establishment” and “talked about fighting poverty, taking the poor in Washington. … He has become too powerful.”

In 1999, members of King’s family brought a civil action against Loyd Jowers, who claimed he was involved in a plot to assassinate King. The jury found in favor of the family and found that the government conspired to kill King. But some criticized the verdict for reaching this judgment based on inconclusive evidence – because the government was not a defendant in the lawsuit, it offered no rebuttal evidence to the trial’s allegations and the inconsistencies in Jowers’ testimony was not challenged.

The Clinton administration’s Justice Department began its own investigation following the civil trial and concluded that Jowers’ allegations were not credible due to contradictions in his testimony and that of other witnesses. Jowers’ sisters, who initially corroborated his story, later recanted and claimed he made up the story in hopes of selling the story.

James Lawson, a civil rights activist who worked with King, testified at trial that he believed King was killed in a conspiracy because of his calls to pressure Washington ‘to eradicate poverty’, among other statements , “raised the level of anxiety in the White House”. and elsewhere across Washington.”

“I have no doubt,” Lawson reportedly said of King’s role in the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike and his plans to march on Washington, “that the government took it all seriously enough to plan his assassination.

“Because he confronted these forces, powerful economic forces that dominated politics in this country, they killed him,” said Pepper, the conspiracy theorist who represented the King family in this lawsuit. “They still exist today, the forces of evil, the powerful economic forces that dominate the government.”

Gerald Posner, an investigative journalist who wrote a book about King’s assassination, said after the trial: “It saddens me very much that the justice system has been used in such a ruthless and preposterous way in [the trial]. If the King family wanted a rubber stamp of their own view of the facts, they got it.”

Even with holes in the conspiracy claims, the narrative won support from much of the American public – a 2008 CNN poll found that 55% of Americans believed King’s murder was part of a larger conspiracy. wide.

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