In Struggle, from Death Row at San Quentin Prison: WAR


War is defined as:

1) A state or period of conflict or armed conflict between nations or states.

2) A determined struggle or attack.

3) A condition of antagonism or conflict.

4) The techniques or procedures of war, military science.

5) A concerted effort to put down, reduce, or exterminate a group of people.

This country called America was founded on war. There have only been a few brief times in the history of this country when it has not been at war, whether within its borders or with another country. War in and of itself has different meanings to those who are being attacked in war and those who are declaring war.

I, Kevin Cooper, and the thousands of men, women, and children who are on death row across this country have had war declared on us by the same government who is now declaring war on the different peoples around the world they believe are evil. The very same statements that are and have been made by the government in this country against those who they believe are terrorists have been made against me and others in my situation.

We all have been told that we are animals; that we deserve to be eliminated; that we are expendable; that the world would be better off without us.

I have been told that I am to be executed by this government in the name of Justice, Retribution, Revenge, and yes, in the name of God-the exact same words that are currently being used to declare war on people in different lands.

Throughout this country’s history, war and the death penalty have coexisted, along with a willingness to use them both. The people who declare war and impose the death penalty do not simply inflict their will upon these certain groups of people. First they must dehumanize the people who they want to attack in war and that they want to execute.

They must make them scapegoats; they must victimize them; put them down to lift up the people in whose names war and execution are being waged.

They must belittle these people in order to make themselves feel bigger; they must demonize these people so that in their minds they are doing God’s will, and we all know what happens when ungodly people do things in the name of God.

America was founded on violence, especially violence within its own borders, inflicted upon its own people. Then it took its violence around the world in many different forms, and now for the first time in its history, this violence has come back to it in its own backyard.

Instead of taking a step back, learning from its past, and seeing what violence and war truly mean, this country is about to ignore what it has learned in favor of doing what it has historically done: create violence against poor people, and people of color.

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