Behind Bars

Occupy Death Row

By Kevin Cooper

It seems that many people are glad, and in some cases downright happy that the Occupy movements have taken place across this country. Many people around the world are asking, “What took so long?” All of them want it to grow, and to include all of the people who are being affected by the one percent and their policies.

One cannot live on this planet and not know the bed capitalism lays here within this country. The roots from the tree of greed have spread to damn near every part of this world. They have had an impact, directly or indirectly, on every person in this world to one degree or another.

Capitalism, and the capitalists who run and control it, need very important ingredients to make it work. They need “The Haves” and “The Have Nots!”

These days, as it once was when this country was first formed, it is very easy to tell the difference between the two. Some of the people, who for most of their lives considered themselves the “Haves,” are finding out that they were living a lie. That now, they are part of the “Have Nots.” This reality is causing them, or at least some of them, to become part of this Occupy movement, and understandably so.

I have never considered myself to be a “Have”, nor has this country ever treated me as a “Have!” No man or woman on death row in this state, or any other state, is a “Have.” We are also the “Have Nots.” We are the bottom one-percent, who damn near everyone shits on. We are scapegoated, ignored, humiliated, disowned, and ritually tortured and murdered by and at the hands of the top one percent, and some of the 99 percent as well!

Those people who are truly the “Haves” within this country have not made it to any death row. For the most part, they never have and they never will. America has a deep-seeded philosophy in which it only allows for the execution of its poorest people. These seeds have taken root and have grown in such a way that no person who this system sees as a “Have Not” is safe from its death machine. Whether they are within this building, or on a BART platform.

It seems that the one percent are immune from the sentence of death, even when their policies in war, or peace, have killed untold numbers of people around the world. The bottom one percent are not immune, and seems to be used as part of entertainment from the media to the politicians.

While these truths must be known to the 99 percent who are now saying that they are the “Have Nots,” these truths are not acknowledged by the majority. We who are the bottom one percent, the historical “Have Nots,” the ones who are paraded before the public and humiliated, strapped to a gurney, tortured and murdered by the powers that be, we ask “Why aren’t we included in this Occupy movement?”

While people are, and should be, occupying Wall Street and every other money street in the country, as well as occupying every city that they can; I ain’t hearing no one say Occupy death row!

Nonetheless, I have been doing so since 1985 and death row itself has been occupying this country, since even before this land became a country. Executions, and the various ways that poor people have been executed throughout the years proves that executions are part of this country’s DNA.

So, I now respectfully ask this, to those of you who are part of this occupy movement, will you please not make the same mistake that was made by previous movements seeking civil or any other type of rights? And that mistake was not to include the ending of capital punishment as part of the demands.

Our fight, and our plight from here on death row is just as important to us, as your fight and your plight is to you! We understand this and respect this. All we ask, and all we have the right to ask, is that you not leave us behind, and/or out of the conversation. Any house, even a house full of “Have Nots,” divided upon itself cannot and will not stand. We must unite!

In Struggle and Solidarity

From Death Row at San Quentin Prison,

Kevin Cooper

—December 11, 2011

Write to Kevin Cooper at:

Kevin Cooper #C-65304. 4-EB-82
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94964