The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Kevin Cooper:
Framed for Murder

Jun 11, 2018

For more than 30 years, Kevin Cooper has been on California’s death row, even though there is overwhelming evidence that he did not commit the 1983 murders he was convicted for.

From the very beginning, many pieces of evidence clearly pointed away from Cooper, then a 25-year-old black man. The sole survivor of the murders, then eight-year-old Josh Ryen, told a social worker that the killers were three or four white men. Two witnesses also reported seeing three white men in the Ryens’ van shortly after the murders. Blond and brown hair were found in the victims’ hands. It’s a long list.

And yet, San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies arrested Cooper for the murders. Cops claimed they had found a bloody button and some cigarette butts linking Cooper to the crime, but only after second searches of a house and a car. At the same time, the cops claimed they had lost bloody coveralls and a shirt linked with the murders! A sham trial, complete with racist crowds holding “Hang the Nigger” signs, sentenced Cooper to death.

Cooper appealed the verdict. A DNA test in 2002 did find Cooper’s blood on a T-shirt discovered near the murder site–but it was tainted with a chemical preservative, meaning that the blood had come from a test tube!

In any “justice” system, which can claim a semblance of justice, that finding alone would have been enough to not only throw out Cooper’s conviction, but to put the cops and prosecutors on trial for framing an innocent man. A judge and former FBI official said publicly that the cops had obviously framed Cooper. Five of the jurors who convicted Cooper signed statements calling for new, more advanced DNA testing.

But courts have rejected Cooper’s appeals, and Governor Jerry Brown has refused to allow new DNA testing.

Another California politician, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, has now called on Brown to allow the testing. This is actually an about-turn by Harris who, at her former job as California’s attorney general, had also refused to allow new DNA testing for Cooper! But now Harris is reacting to a recent New York Times article, which criticized her for that.

These two prominent California politicians turned their backs on Cooper, probably because they did not want to expose a corrupt, racist justice system that railroaded Cooper to death row; they did not want to risk a weakening of the police and courts–which are there to control the population on behalf of the ruling class.

Kevin Cooper, who said he did not think the governor or courts would stop his execution, put it plainly: “I’m frameable, because I’m an uneducated black man in America. ... Sometimes it’s race, and sometimes it’s class.”