22: Kevin Cooper Live From Death Row

August 14, 2018

This week, we interview Kevin Cooper, who has lived for more than three decades on California’s death row in San Quentin prison for a quadruple homicide, despite clear evidence that he was framed by the San Bernadino Country Sheriff’s Department.

Kevin talks to us about his long fight for freedom, including the darkest moments on February 9, 2004, when he came within four hours of being murdered by the state of California. He was saved that night by a last-minute court decision that was the result of a nationwide campaign of protests and “Live from Death Row” events, in which Kevin spoke to thousands of people across the country.

Listen to this interview, and you’ll quickly understand why Kevin Cooper was able to inspire so many people to get involved in the fight for his life — and, as he always insists, the life of every single person threatened by the death penalty. Kevin also talks to us about his intellectual and political awakening over the long course of his fight, and in particular, the role played by comrades in the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, a group we at Better Off Red worked with closely during those years.

It’s a moving, heartbreaking and inspiring conversation, and it didn’t seem right to follow our usual format of having an opening segment on an unrelated topic. Instead, we begin with a quick introduction to give context about Kevin’s work with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

If you like this episode as much as we hope you do, please spread the word to your friends on and offline, and consider giving us a review on iTunes so that as many people as possible learn about Kevin Cooper and his case.

As always, if you want to make a financial contribution to help make Better Off Red sustainable, go to http://www.patreon.com/BetterOffRedPod.

Links for this episode:

Nicholas Kristof’s massive New York Times exposé of Kevin’s case (http://bit.ly/KristofCooper)

Socialist Worker’s 2004 account about the dramatic stay of execution (http://bit.ly/2004stay)

Kevin’s essay “Occupy Death Row” (http://bit.ly/OccupyDeathRow)

Visit savekevincooper.org to read Kevin’s essays, see his artwork and learn more about his case.

Music and audio for this episode:

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)
Stevie Wonder, “They Won’t Go When I Go”
Public Enemy, “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos”
Gil Scott-Heron, “Lady Day And John Coltrane”
The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, “Pray For Me”
Bob Marley, “Redemption Song”