Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The “Mumiafication” of Kenneth Foster Jr.

(Free Kenneth! Look Familiar?)
Update 8/30
Today, Kenneth Foster Jr recieved a commutation and was removed from death row and given a life sentence.
"Death has got something to be said for it:
There’s no need to get out of bed for it;
Wherever you may be,
They bring it to you, free!

-Kingsley Amis

It is relatively safe to say that Kenneth Foster Jr. will be executed in a Texas prison at the end of this month for his role in a murder that he claims he had virtually nothing to do with.

He is all set to become another grim statistic, pushing the state that brought us President Bush that much closer to the disturbing number of 400. That is 400 human beings who have had their lives snuffed out by the state. Human beings with mothers, fathers, brothers, wives, children.

People, who despite the crimes that they have committed, have the ability to change.

One can liken the loss of life, whether it be at the hands of a brutal thug or through the calculated machinations of the state, to a ripple effect. The pain reverberates regardless of the justification, the idea of closure one that is contrived and further imprisons the victims just as it does the victimizer through the notion of more death bringing relief to the pain of loss.

I cannot and will not accept the killing of human beings by the state. For me there are no exceptions to that rule. You do not demonstrate your superiority to someone by emulating their behavior. You can dress up banality and attach a bureaucracy, but in the end, when all is said and done, you still have another dead body to add to the toll taken on society by violent crime.
But at the same time I deplore state sanctioned killings, I similarly cannot accept the cynical and brutally dishonest propaganda that seeks to paint the perpetrators of violent crimes to be something other than what they are.

This is something that I saw personally while I was in the "Mumia" movement and observed from a distance the same kind of disingenuous mythologies spring up around the likes of Stanley "Tookie" Williams and "Hasan Shakur". Not surprisingly, the same people who have made idols of Mumia are now attempting to do the same with Kenneth Foster Jr. They are claiming to want to save his life, but in the cold, hard reality is that their actions and attempted deification of him aren’t doing his cause any favors.

By building him up as some kind of "innocent" victim of the "racist system", they are virtually ensuring that people outside of their echo-chambers will ignore his plea for mercy. This is of course, because in reality, Mr. Foster is anything but innocent. He may have not actually pulled the trigger on Michael Lahood, but he bears a good deal of responsibility for the man’s death.

And that is why he stands to die at the end of this month.

It has been established that Foster and his accomplices were violent criminals.

At the punishment phase of trial, the prosecutors presented evidence showing that Foster was a member of a violent, street gang. It was established that he was involved in the nearly-fatal shooting of two individuals. He was also a drug dealer who just prior to the murder of Lahood was involved in the armed car-jacking and robbery of a tourist in downtown San Antonio.

Far from being a young black man in the wrong place at the wrong time, Foster was a member of the Black Gangster Disciples and had been since 1990. He was a violent young man who was in the midst of participating in a sadistic crime spree when he willingly and knowingly participated in the murder of Mr. Lahood.

Prior to this deadly incident, Foster had demonstrated his flagrant disregard for life when he had without provocation, fired several shots into a vehicle, striking two of the occupants of vehicle and seriously wounding one of them.

Christine Santana, the only one of the occupants of the victims' vehicle who was not wounded in the shooting, identified Foster as the person who had shot at them from a moving vehicle. This incident, being just one of many that demonstrate Foster’s violent tendencies.

Foster’s jury found at the punishment phase of trial that there was a probability that Foster would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society, Foster actually caused the decedent's death or intended to kill the deceased or anticipated that a human life would be taken, and taking into consideration all of the evidence, including the circumstances of the offense, Foster's character, background, and personal moral culpability, there were insufficient mitigating circumstances to warrant a sentence of life imprisonment.
In pertinent part, the state trial court determined that all four men in the vehicle driven by Foster split the proceeds from their robberies on the evening in question, the four men followed Patrick's vehicle or LaHood's vehicle to the LaHood residence.

It was determined that Foster's involvement in the attempted robbery and fatal shooting of LaHood was the same as his involvement in the other robberies earlier that evening, to wit, Foster drove the car to the scene of the robbery and drove the robber(s) away from the scene and shared in the proceeds from each robbery.

At trial there was testimony that the Foster and his accomplices drove away from the scene of the second robbery in search of additional victims. Given this fact, the courts ruled that Foster's jury "...could reasonably have inferred that, having threatened the use of deadly force during their first two robberies that evening, the four co-conspirators were fully prepared to employ such force to effect robbery if and when, as occurred at the LaHood residence, they happened upon a victim who was unwilling to immediately comply with a demand for money made at gunpoint." Thus, Foster's jury could have reasonably inferred that Foster anticipated deadly force would be used by Brown or another member of their armed robbery conspiracy during the course of one or more of their robberies if the circumstances warranted such."

Foster’s subsequent appeals have been denied and there has been much conjecture over the "Law of Parties" which allowed for him to be sentenced to death without being the actual shooter. In essence it is a law that holds that "A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if "acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense he solicits, encourages, directs, aids or attempts to aid the other persons to commit the offense" or "If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy."

Article 37.071(b)(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedures permits the infliction of the death penalty only if the jury believes beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant "intended to kill the deceased or another or anticipated that a human life would be taken."

Under this law, and given the facts of the case, it is hardly a stretch to see how a jury could have come to the conclusion that it has, and why the courts have subsequently upheld the jury’s verdict.

It is also easy to see how such laws draw such ire from opponents of capital punishment and the families of those convicted of death or given long sentences through the application of such laws.
But the idea that we need to turn violent criminals into heroes in order to save their lives ought to be one that has seen it’s day come and go. Yet the same "activists" who have perpetuated and clung tightly to, the mythology of Mumia, are set to attach the same kind of nonsensical revisionist history to Kenneth Foster.
It is not enough for them to argue that it is morally reprehensible for the state to murder a citizen. They have to take it a thousand steps further into their crypto-Marxist delusions that alienate anyone not already of their political persuasion and cause further harm to those they claim to want to help.
If you look for information about Foster online, you will run into a mess of political diatribes that are as heavy upon rhetoric as they are deficient on facts.
Moreover, the Mumiaphiles who have apparently grown weary of their cop-killing hero, have turned their attention to Foster and are busy re-writing his life and re-casting him as a political activist that they want him to be, instead of the career criminal that he is. They don’t want to just save Foster’s life, they love him, they idolize him, they assign him a new identity and in doing so they alienate anyone with any sense of compassion for those that Foster and his cohorts victimized.
Take for example an excerpt from an interview of Walidah Imarisha (a long-time Mumia addict, and now a Foster activist), by Hans Bennet (also a long-time Mumia junky turned Foster devotee.)
Walidah is talking about visiting Foster whose name when he is proselytizing to the revolutionary crowd, is Haramia:
"They finally brought Haramia out, dressed all in white as are all prisoners at the Polunsky Unit. I was struck by how young he looked. Just like Hasan, these two strong brothas, who have been through hell every day, who are committed souljahs to the struggle, still can have their faces split with wide summer day smiles that call their child selves back into their bodies."

It is hard to think of this slimy attempt at some kind of poetic description of an un-repentant criminal as anything but grotesque, but imagine yourself as one of Foster’s victims or their families. For them it must be nothing less than infuriating.
All the more so once you realize that, as far-left extremists, Walidah and Hans reserve their compassion only for people such as Mumia and Foster. Had these black men on death-row not been convicted of murdering whites, that there would be no interviews or flattering babble.
I am convinced that the Walidahs and Hans Bennets of the world care not whether those they champion are guilty or not. I doubt that either has taken the time to read the transcripts of either Jamal or Foster’s case. For them, these human beings are a living breathing means to a political end.
There are most certainly many decent people fighting for the life of Kenneth Foster. But when they put people like "Mario Africa" of the violent cult known as MOVE, Walidah, or Hans to the forefront of their movement they are all but destroying any semblance of credibility that they may have.
By putting people on a pedestal who worship death and those who bring it, they are not saving Foster from his date with the executioner, they are helping to ensure it.


At 7:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

what are your thoughts as to a violent offender, given life for murder, sent to prison,attempts and/or kills again. Nothing to lose.

jon pisano

At 8:30 PM , Blogger Tony Allen said...

If we really value life than I think it fair to say that there is always something to lose.

The scenario you asked me about would no doubt be a tragedy. Much in the same way it would be a tragedy for someone to be put on death row when they are innocent.

Simply put, death has enough cheer leaders. I cannot be one of them.

Although I think I understand the viewpoing of those for capital punishment, I firmly believe it is something we can do without.

PA for example pretty much does not have a death penalty execpt for on the books. The only people that have been executed have been people who had given up their appeals, and there have only been three.

It's mere existence engenders pointlessly long appeals (i.e. Mumia)and keeps the victim's family hanging on for a sentence that will very likely not ever be carried out.

At 11:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kenneth Foster's Death has been commuted!! This is the first time in 8 years that Rick Perry has commuted a death sentence.


Keith Hampton, Kenneth's lawyer, credits the movement with putting the necessary pressure on the system for this victory.

As long as social injustices oppres and marginalize whole sectors of society and perpetrate injustice, social movements will challenge them, and sometimes we will win.

Abolish the racist, anti-poor death penalty!

At 3:56 PM , Blogger Tony Allen said...

As an opponent of the death penalty I am glad that the sentence was commuted to life.

However, the notion that "pressure on the system" by the "movement" is the cause might be too much of an assumption.

For many people, even those who are pro-death penalty, this case was controversial to begin with.

Although I haven't seen any data to back this up, I would wager that most people wouldn't support the use of the death-penalty against someone who was not the actual trigger man.

I still believe that the premise of my article, that is that deception on the part of Foster's supporters is detrimental still stands un-challenged.

It is a fact that many people who were advocating Foster's death cited his supporter's re-writing of the man's history as another reason for him to die.


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