News and reports
March 5, 2004 | Pages 10 and 11
Save Kevin Cooper
SAN FRANCISCO--Kevin Cooper's stay of execution, recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, was a major victory for death penalty opponents. Yet Kevin is still on death row, and activists are now recognizing that we need to keep fighting for him until he is free.
At the same time, we have a historic opportunity in California to push for a moratorium on the death penalty. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty chapter at UC Berkeley will host a "Live From Death Row" event to celebrate the victory and continue the struggle.
The Campaign is also launching a new chapter at San Francisco State University with students who fought against the execution. The Committee to Save Kevin Cooper met February 16 and decided to re-launch with the name Free Kevin Cooper Committee for a California Moratorium.
The committee will continue to build public support for Kevin, while exposing the horrors of the largest death row in the country. We want to build opposition to the planned execution of inmate Donald Beardslee and all future executions in California.
We also want to publicize the case of Stan "Tookie" Williams, a death row inmate whose writings and work on death row have resulted in multiple nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. The FX network has produced a movie about his life story, called Redemption. The movie will air on April 11, and has already been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and is being heavily promoted by the network.
All of these elements can come together in the Free Kevin Cooper Committee for a California Moratorium, which held its public launch in Richmond February 21 with Jim Brown, an NFL Hall of Fame member, and Barbara Becnel, an advocate for Williams.
The Committee is bringing together the activists, community members, and people of faith who fought to stop Cooper's execution. The aim is to link that struggle with other cases on California's death row, and push politicians and legislators to win real justice for Kevin Cooper--and end all executions in California.
LOS ANGELES--Some 700 people joined the March for Immigrant's Rights downtown Los Angeles February 28. There were families with children and activists out in twenty or so contingents with banners demanding "General Amnesty," "Ending the Raids and Round-Ups by La Migra/Immigration,", and the ISO's Querremos Un Mundo Sin Fronteras (We Want A World Without Borders).
The march was held in preparation for a larger November march against an ballot initiative aimed at repeating Proposition 187, which barred immigrants from receiving social services for until a court struck down much of the law. Today, the racist, anti-immigrant xenophobes are working on a new proposition to deny education, medical and other social services to immigrants.
There was also a lot of anger from the crowd about the recently revoked law to grant undocumented immigrants driver's licenses. Several organizations worked in coalition to build the march, including Hermandad Mexicana Nacionál, Movimiento Latino USA(LMUSA), Korean Americans for Peace, the Bert Corona Foundation and many other activist groups.
The exciting news from these coalition meetings is that this new coalition will build the March 20 anti-war rally and march as well as other issues which must be tied together: women's rights, anti-death penalty work, immigrant's rights, anti-racist/pro-civil liberties organizing, and the right for gay/lesbian marriages. This event marked the beginning of solidarity between the immigrant communities and groups doing anti-war organizing.
NEW YORK--Hundreds of students at Columbia University engaged in a week of protests following the latest in a series of racist incidents on campus. Last month, a student newspaper, The Federalist, printed a cartoon called "Blacky Fun Whitey," which read in part, "Black people were invented in the 1700s as a form of cheap labor."
The cartoon came three months after the Columbia University Marching Band issued racist, sexist, and homophobic flyers for a performance, and just three weeks after the Columbia College Conservative Club held an anti-affirmative-action bake sale in the main student center.
From February 23 to 25, students held silent protests on the steps of Low Library, wearing black clothes and signs reading "I am being silenced." The following two days, hundreds of people gathered for speakouts in which students denounced racism at Columbia and the complicity of the university administration.
After ignoring student requests that he address racism on campus for weeks, Columbia President Lee Bollinger finally issued a statement calling for greater "tolerance" from students. But the protesters are clear that they are fighting for structural change at Columbia, an institution at which people of color are underrepresented in both the student body and the faculty.
On February 27, representatives from the ad-hoc coalition Columbia University Concerned Students of Color presented a list of nine demands to university officials. These demands focus on the need for changes to Columbia's curriculum, more student control over faculty hiring, increased space and funding for groups and organizations representing students of color, and mandatory courses on racism for university administrators.
As one student leader said at the speakout: "It needs to be understood that we ain't going nowhere. We aren't just standing here, we want tangible results...We will be here until we see change, and let that be known."