Law and Disorder Radio – J. Patrick O’Connor on the Framing of Kevin Cooper – Homeland Security Documents Show Massive Nationwide Monitoring of Occupy Movement – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murders and the Framing of Kevin Cooper

Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murders and the Framing of Kevin Cooper is the title of Patrick O’Connor’s new book. This is an important document chronicling Kevin Cooper’s controversial conviction and death sentence in 1985. When O’Connor committed to writing the book, he poured over thousands of case documents from trial transcripts, grisly autopsy photos, appeals and judicial rulings. He then began interviewing those involved in the trial and appeals. The picture began to take shape, a familiar one. The prosecution and the police withheld and destroyed evidence that would have exonerated Kevin Cooper from the brutal murders of the Ryen family and their guest.

J. Patrick O’Connor:

  • In 2008, the Mumia book that I wrote was coming out and I was in the San Francisco Bay Area with attorney Jeff Mackler of the Mobilization to Free Mumia.
  • We had about 15 venues that we went to all over the Bay Area. Invariably, supporters of Kevin Cooper would come to these events and afterwards would take me aside and say, you have to write a book about Kevin Cooper.
  • His case is a lot different than Mumia’s but there are a lot of similarities.
  • Once I started reading the transcripts of this trial, I could see there were a lot of things wrong with this case.
  • It took me about two and half years from the start to the publication of the book.
  • Chino Hills is Arabian horse country. This family named the Ryens lived in a hilltop house with a very big spread, about 15 Arabians. San Bernadino–about 45 miles east of Los Angeles.
  • In this area, most of the people were either raising horses or grazing cattle. This family was a mom and dad, both chiropractors, a ten-year-old daughter named Jessica and an eight-and-a-half-year-old son named Josh.
  • A friend of Josh’s, eleven-year-old Christopher Hughs, spent the night.
  • Around midnight that night, the home was broken into. The family was assaulted with an axe or a hatchet, I think two knives, and an ice pick.
  • It was an incredible fight, these people didn’t stand in line and say I’m next.
  • The father, Doug, was 6’1″, 190 lbs, a former Marine, an MP in the Marines and could take care of himself. The mother 5’8″, very strong; she was the one that would train the horses, these enormous horses that she could control.
  • Both of them kept loaded weapons in the bedroom. The idea that one perpetrator could use four different weapons to perpetrate this attack is kind of ridiculous on its face.
  • What put Kevin Cooper in the crosshairs is that three miles from Chino Hills is Chino, which is home to the California Institute for Men, where every felon in Southern California is sent for classification.
  • Cooper was sent there for two burglaries in LA. He escapes and holes up in Chino Hills for the next two days, in a house located 125 yards from the Ryens’ house.
  • Josh, who had survived, told the deputy sheriff that it was 3 white men. They put out APBs for 3 white guys.
  • When they discern Kevin Cooper’s prints are all over that hideout house, they discard that information and start planting evidence that would implicate Cooper and making up big lies about stuff that would implicate him.
  • He would have been the only African-American in the community.
  • They contaminated the crime scene. There are 2 bathrooms in this house; the cops used one of the bathrooms that had blood in the sink.
  • They didn’t type the blood properly; they put blood from all different parts of the room in the same bag.
  • So, there’s no way to track the motions of who died, what was the order of death?
  • They took the walls out, they carted out all the furniture, put it out on the front yard. Then they moved it to a warehouse where the air conditioner broke. It got up to 120 degrees inside; they lose all the blood evidence in the warehouse.
  • The night of the murders, Cooper left after 9pm to hitchhike to Mexico. Cooper sees his mug shot on TV, he goes on the lam. Cooper is arrested and convicted; he gets the gas chamber.
  • He came within 3 hours and 45 minutes of being executed before there was a moratorium. Kevin Cooper is fifth in line. This moratorium will end in 2013.
  • They had to have the complicity of numerous people inside the sheriff’s department and a very willing DA’s office to perpetrate this fraud on Cooper.

Guest – J. Patrick O’Connor, editor of and the author of The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal (2008). He has previously worked as a reporter for UPI, editor of Cincinnati Magazine, associate editor of TV Guide, and editor and publisher of the Kansas City New Times.

Homeland Security Documents Show Massive Nationwide Monitoring of Occupy Movement

Last month we gave Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Carl Messineo of the Partnership for Civil Justice the Law and Disorder Tip of The Hat Award for creative use of FOIA. The documents obtained by the Department of Homeland Security show massive nationwide monitoring, surveillance and information sharing between DHS and local authorities. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg. The documents are heavily redacted and don’t show the full scale of coordination. “These documents show not only intense government monitoring and coordination in response to the Occupy movement, but reveal a glimpse into the interior of a vast, tentacled, national intelligence and domestic spying network that the U.S. government operates against its own people,” says Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the Executive Director of the PCJF.

Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard:

  • We filed a series of FOIA requests and demands in November of last year when it was clear the Occupy movement was being subjected to a coordinated assault.
  • We wanted to expose and uncover the role of the federal government working hand in hand with local police and municipalities to shut down this movement. A movement that is inspiring people all over the country and is a force for social change.
  • What we have is the tip of a very carefully submerged iceberg.
  • What we’ve seen is massive surveillance, coordination, monitoring of peaceful protesters all over the country by the federal government.
  • There is monitoring that’s gone on from Washington, DC, to Atlanta, to Detroit, to Dallas; there is an intense focus going all the way up to high ranking members of the administration.
  • We know that with the creation of the fusion centers and the “suspicious activity” reporting, the vertical integration of law enforcement and intelligence operatives in the US was coming from a federal level, from the Department of Homeland Security, with billions of dollars.
  • It’s critical that the people of the United States see this. The way for this to be stopped is to uncover it and expose it. We see time and again the FBI creating its own terrorist plots, in many times as PR to justify their oppressive apparatus.
  • One of the defining features of the Obama administration is the fact that it took on this apparatus put in place by the Bush administration and not only didn’t take it apart, but deepened it.
  • There is really a structure now in the United States that has the US government spying and collecting data on its own citizens.
  • We have regulation that has been put into place under the Obama administration where there is growing use of military support for domestic civilian authorities which is very concerning.
  • We can see that the real spark for social change is people getting together for collective action.
  • What we want to accomplish is to keep the streets, sidewalks and parks open for grassroots democracy and social change. People need the ability to come out and come together without fear that they’re going to be beaten or mass arrested.
  • National Special Security Events: The Secret Service and Federal Government becomes the lead coordinating arm and local police work under that umbrella. In Tampa and Charlotte you can see they’re enacting these very repressive ordinances that look unconstitutional.
  • The ordinances are trying to stop people from doing things are permitted, that are lawful.
  • There is growing effort to take public space out from under our feet and one way of doing that is to say that there’s going to be an effort to restore the grass, and we fought this battle back in 2004 at the RNC in New York when we came to challenge the effort of New York City to ban mass assembly on the Great Lawn of Central Park.
  • A lot of this effort is to make people feel alone and suffer in silence.

Guest – Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild’s national Mass Defense Committee. Co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in Washington, DC, she recently secured $13.7 million for about 700 of the 2,000 IMF/World Bank protesters in Becker, et al. v. District of Columbia, et al., while also winning pledges from the District to improve police training about First Amendment issues. She won $8.25 million for approximately 400 class members in Barham, et al. v. Ramsey, et al., alleging false arrest at the 2002 IMF/World Bank protests. She served as lead counsel in Mills, et al v. District of Columbia (obtaining a ruling that DC’s seizure and interrogation police checkpoint program was unconstitutional); in Bolger, et al. v. District of Columbia (involving targeting of political activists and false arrest by law enforcement based on political affiliation); and in National Council of Arab Americans, et al. v. City of New York, et al. (successfully challenging the city’s efforts to discriminatorily restrict mass assembly in Central Park’s Great Lawn stemming from the 2004 RNC protests).