Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stop The State Murder Of An Innocent Man On August 30, 2007!!! Free Kenneth Foster!!!

Kenneth And His Daughter
Please Go To Http://www.freekenneth.com To Find Out How!!!
(W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Subscribers To View Video Please Go To The Following Link:http://weallbe.blogspot.com/2007/08/stop-state-murder-of-innocent-man-on.html)

Kenneth's Wife And The Mother Of His 11 Year old Daughter, The Popular Holland Hip Hop Artist Jav'lin Did This Video To Raise Awareness About The Plight Of Her Husband Who Is Set To Die In Texas On Thursday August 30, 2007
Jav'lin videoclip "Walk with me"

Kenneth Foster’s Songs of Freedom

by Alexander Billet / August 24th, 2007

The debate over “black culture” has taken a turn for the especially
absurd in recent months. If one were to take the Don Imuses of this
country at their word, then somehow the daily horrors of the African-
American experience–the poverty, the discrimination, the brutality–
stem from the way the community views itself, from the “self-
loathing” of the ghetto to the “thug mentality” of hip-hop. It’s the
classic argument; that if only the black community would trade in its
bling for bootstraps, then they will most surely prosper in the land
of opportunity.

Tell that to Kenneth Foster.

Ten years ago, Kenneth was a young college student, a music lover,
and recent father. Born in Austin, Texas, he spent his high school
years working for several small record companies in the area. In 1995
he began his first year at St. Phillips College majoring in
sociology, and less than a year later, in May of ‘96, he started his
own label, Tribulation Records. Kenneth had a bright future ahead of
him, no doubt.

But a year later, Kenneth was convicted of murder. The previous
August, he had been driving a car with three friends in the San
Antonio area. One of those riding in the car, Mauriceo Brown, got out
in front of a party to talk to a woman, Mary Patrick. While Kenneth
and his other two friends were eighty feet away, waiting in the car,
they heard a gunshot. Brown had shot Patrick’s boyfriend, Michael

Kenneth never had a gun in his hand, never saw, let alone aimed at
LaHood, and never he pulled the trigger. Even the prosecution admits
this. And he did not know anyone was going to be shot that night.

But according to Texas’ “law of parties,” Kenneth should have
anticipated the loss of life that was to come that night because he
was in the same car as Brown. It’s a law straight out of a Franz
Kafka novel, where the accused are expected to have an almost psychic
ability to predict when a crime is going to happen.

Kenneth’s execution has been set for August 30th, 2007. He is guilty
of nothing except driving a car.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise. This is Texas, the state that
has executed the most people of any state since the reinstatement of
the death penalty. A disproportionate number of these people have
been of color. This is the former stomping ground of the Texecutioner
George Bush, and the current Governor Rick Perry has already
surpassed Dubya’s record of 156 executions. LaHood was the white son
of a prominent Houston attorney. Kenneth is a working-class black
man. It was the perfect concoction of sick ingredients to continue
the pattern of the racist American injustice system.

But Kenneth has not spent the past ten years wallowing in misery. He
is a founding member of DRIVE (Death Row Inter-Communalist Vanguard
Engagement), a radical, multi-racial organization of death row
inmates fighting for better conditions in prisons and against the
injustice of the prison system. They have staged cafeteria sit-ins,
hunger strikes, and worked with groups on the outside to publicize
their cause. Kenneth also continues to write poetry about himself,
his case, and the need for a world without racism and inequality. On
August 22nd, he and fellow prisoner John Joe Amador, scheduled to be
executed the day before Kenneth, announced they will be taking part
in a “protest of passive non-participation” against their own
executions. It is clear he is not giving up without a fight.

Because of these efforts, and because of the bald-faced racism his
case puts on display, Kenneth’s cause has gained national and
international attention. Activists in Texas and beyond have mobilized
demanding his execution be stayed.

He has also gained support, not surprisingly, from the Welfare Poets,
one of underground hip-hop’s most radical and outspoken groups. Their
music has been a staple in many-an-activist’s CD player for a decade
now. When Kenneth and other DRIVE members heard of the group in 2004,
they had a letter sent to the Welfare Poets, extending an invitation
to perform at an anti-death penalty rally in Austin. They accepted,
and began to cultivate a personal relationship with Kenneth. As Ray
Ramirez, a founding member of the Poets told me, “Learning about
Kenneth’s case and seeing the injustice is real easy, but learning
about the man has been a fascinating experience. He lives with an
undying hope, always looking to the betterment of the world. He is a
true soldier for the people and an amazing poet and writer at that.”

In 2006 the Welfare Poets contributed to a compilation called “Cruel
and Unusual Punishment,” which sampled the work of several artists
opposed to the death penalty. Another performer on that comp was
Kenneth’s wife Tasha, an MC who goes by the name Jav’lin. Her song
“Walk With Me,” and the video for it, is about Kenneth’s case, and
can be downloaded on her site (http://www.javlin.nl) for 99 cents,
which goes toward his defense fund.

Jav’lin described to me recently what motivated her to write such a

“I write down everything I feel, sometimes that turns into a song.
Well that’s what happened with ‘walk with me’. I wrote down how I
felt about his situation, turned it into a song and started leaking
that to people. People said it made the situation more visual, so I
decided that if I did a video along with it that would really give
people a good visual of what happened and it did. However, my initial
reason for recording the song was just to let Kenneth hear this. Hip
hop is the voice of the streets, music that appealed to Kenneth when
he was still out in the streets and I wanted him to know that ‘the
streets’ back here knew of his story and agreed that it was injustice
that was placed upon him.”

Decades ago, racism was enforced with trees and nooses. Billie
Holiday sang of this “strange fruit” in defiant protest. Today that
same racism is backed up with needles and gurneys. It is a form of
state sanctioned murder to keep people divided and scared. And
despite everything spoon-fed to us about rap’s “violence,” Kenneth
Foster’s case sheds ample light on where the real violence and
depravity is coming from.

*To learn more about Kenneth’s case, DRIVE, and to sign the petition
demanding his execution be stopped, go to FreeKenneth.com

Alexander Billet is a music journalist and activist living in
Washington DC. He is a frequent contributor to Dissident Voice and
Znet, and has also appeared in Socialist Worker, CounterPunch and MR
Zine. His blog Rebel Frequencies can be viewed at
http://www.rebelfrequencies.blogspot.com, and he may be reached at:
alexbillet@hotmail.com Read other articles by Alexander, or visit
Alexander's website.

No comments: