California Killing: The Case Of Kevin Cooper
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
A man named Kevin Cooper has been given a date to die: On Feb. 10, 2004, the State of California plans to kill him, by pumping him full of poison.
Cooper, convicted back in 1984 of the slaying of three members of the Ryen clan, and a visiting family friend, was also charged with stabbing an 8-year old boy, but luckily the child survived.
Why lucky? Well, apart from the obvious reason (his sheer survival), Joshua Ryen saw who attacked him, and upon recovery told police that it was 3 white or Latino men who slew his family, his friend, and tried to kill him.
When young Josh saw TV news accounts of the attacks, he turned to a cop who was present, and exclaimed, when the picture of Kevin Cooper flashed across the screen, That wasnt the guy who did it. It was 3 Mexicans... out of the mouths of babes, eh?
But, San Bernardino officials didnt care; what does it matter that the lone surviving victim cleared their suspect? It meant nothing. They had their manand on the 10th of February, they wanna kill him.
Kevin Cooper, now a man of 45 years, has spent the last 19 years of his life on Californias Death Row, for a series of brutal crimesthat he did not commit.
Cooper turned his cell into a school room; studying writing, politics and African-American history. He has grown into a vibrant, talented and educated individualyet California still wants to extinguish his light.
It is important to note that he is an African-American man. That wasnt lost during his Dec. 1984 trial, around which time demonstrators, calling for his death, hung a toy gorilla in effigy. Indeed, the media coverage was so hyped, the demonstrations so hostile, that the trial was moved to San Diego.
Not only was the only living eyewitness ignored; but shortly after the murders, a local woman came forward to tell police that she thought her boyfriend was involved in the grisly killings. Why? When he came home the night of the slayings, she said, he was wearing a pair of overalls, drenched in blood. The woman turned them over to the cops. Before the day was over, the overalls were pitched into the stations dumpster. Did it matter that the man was wearing a t-shirt the color and brand of the t-shirt found in the sceneit also, bloody? No. Did it matter that he owned a hatchet, like a weapon used in the Ryen home, and it was conveniently missing from the couples home. No.
None of it mattered.
They wanted, and focused on, Kevin Cooper; nothing else mattered.
Police and prosecutors told jurors that a bloody shoe-print found at the scene conclusively proved Coopers guilt. Were the jurors told that Deputy William Baird had a pair of prison shoes in his (crime) lab, which were Coopers size? What they also didnt know was that the Deputy, post-trial, was fired for stealing five pounds of heroin from the evidence lockerfive poundsboth to use and to sellto drug dealers!
Kevin Cooper is on Death Row, awaiting a date with death, based on investigators such as these!
Welcome to the American Way of Death!
Help saveno; help Free Kevin Cooper!
© 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal