violence is ubiquitous"
Abu-Jamal address to Kent Students during commencement on the
30th anniversary of the Kent State massacre:
I was asked to write some words about the Kent State massacre
of May 197 0 in Ohio, my mind's eye filled like a bucket under
a dripping sink. Each word a dropnot of water, but of blood.
Each drop a shimmering round crimson mirror which plops into a
reddened basin and overflows.
drop is a bright place that communicates a world in a word. My
Lai. Kent State. Hiroshima. Philadelphia. Tulsa. Jackson State.
Rosewood. Haymarket Square. Waco. Wounded Knee. Sand Creek. Fort
course for any student of history this list could go on and on
and on, for massacres are integral to the American enterprise.
What these bloodstained markers of history, and somewhat fairly
recent 20th-century history I might add, teach us is the ubiquity
of state violence, as well as the impunity of state actors who
commit what could be called, if it happened anywhere else, crimes
much time in prison did the trained killers of Kent State do;
how about the trained killers of the students at Jackson State?
I think they received the same sentence as the bombers of the
MOVE house in Philadelphia, the exact same one as the highly trained
killers of Waco, and ultimately the same as the killers of Amadou
Diallo, and the vicious killers of Attica.
time, no sentence, for the system saw this as no crime. Kent State
teaches that a so-called free society will slaughter students
who are exercising their alleged Constitutional right of demonstrating
for peace and give awards to the killers, and do so with impunity.
The passions that drove over a quarter of a million people into
the streets against the Vietnam War have cooled in 30 years.
for many, for the poor, for radical dissidents, for prisoners,
and increasingly for Black youth, that war has come home. Kent
State was indeed a vile and bloody marker, but as Amadou Diallo
shows us, the blood spilled by the state continues to run. It
also teaches us the very real limits of the law. When it is the
state itself that commits criminal acts, all these absolutely
awesome examples scream at us from the charnel house of history.
And none of these vicious, premeditated mass murderers spent a
single hour in a jail cell.
does this tell you of the nature of things? In truth, weren't
those four kids at Kent State in fact liquidated because they
were exercising their alleged Constitutional rights? What does
this reveal about the true nature of the state? Of America? Of
Lai, Kent State, Hiroshima, Philadelphia, Tulsa, Jackson State,
Rosewood, Haymarket Square, Waco, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fort
Pillow, Attica. Place names of mass murder. Blood drops falling
into a vast red-stained bucket, a bucket called America.
Move! Long live John Africa!
death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.