Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The father of former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Georgia Democrat, said Tuesday his daughter may try again to take medical supplies to war-battered Gaza.

The father, Billy McKinney, one of Atlanta’s first black law enforcement officers, quoted his daughter as telling him by telephone Tuesday that an Israeli patrol boat three times rammed a mercy vessel carrying her, 15 other activists and medical supplies to Gaza.

Nobody aboard the boat was hurt, but the vessel was destroyed, he said she told him. He said his daughter called to say that she was safe.

Ms. McKinney, an antiwar activist who was the Green Party presidential nominee during this year’s campaign and represented two different House districts in Georgia for 12 years, was one of 16 activists aboard the SS Dignity, which was carrying medical supplies from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus to Gaza, which has been under Israeli air assault since Saturday.

See related story: Gaza protest boat sails into Lebanon

An Israeli patrol boat intercepted the 66-foot Dignity, which reportedly pulled into the port of Tyre in southern Lebanon on Tuesday.

“She told me that they were in international waters in the Mediterranean and that an Israeli warship started chasing them and rammed them three times,” Mr. McKinney said in a telephone interview from his home.

“I was very worried yesterday, but I feel better today” because he spoke with his daughter, he said. “She said she’s safe. She only wanted me to know, and her mother to know, that she was safe. I feel a whole lot better now.”

Mr. McKinney said this was not the first time that his daughter had tried to take medical supplies to Gaza. The Palestinian-ruled coastal strip is about 30 miles long with a population of about 1.5 million.

“She didn’t tell me and her mother till the day she was leaving,” Mr. McKinney said of his daughter’s plans to go to Gaza. “Her mother was very worried. But we couldn’t do anything about it.”

He was asked whether Ms. McKinney planned to return to the United States, where she divides her time between Atlanta and Los Angeles.

“If I know my daughter, she’s going to complete that mission,” he replied. “She’s a very determined woman.”

Ms. McKinney’s mother, Leola, said she will be worried about her daughter “until she gets back,” adding that there was nothing she could do to prevent her from going to the Middle East.

“I’m her mother, and I didn’t want her to go in the first place,” she said. But, she said, “she’s an individual and makes up her own mind. I didn’t think she would be safe over there.”

Ms. McKinney, the first black to represent Georgia in Congress, criticized the Bush administration for allowing terrorists to attack New York and Washington on Sept. 11 and introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

She made headlines after Capitol Police officer Paul McKenna grabbed her on March 29, 2006, as she entered the Longworth House Office Building without an identifying lapel pin. He filed a police report saying that she had “struck his chest with a closed fist.”

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