Did Jerry Brown really call capital punishment 'state murder?'

Published: Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2010 - 5:00 pm

More than a decade before Jerry Brown's current incarnation as undeclared gubernatorial front-runner, he hit the airwaves of liberal Berkeley radio station KPFA five days a week to speak his mind.

What he said then, as he interviewed poets, activists and the likes of leftist icon Noam Chomsky, promises to resurface this year as the 71-year-old former governor ponders running for a historic third gubernatorial term.

During his three years on the air, Brown repeatedly blamed corporate malfeasance and political corruption for undermining American democracy and even causing deaths, according to edited excerpts of the radio broadcasts.

Brown regularly attacked President Bill Clinton as a lackey for business interests and in one excerpt stated, "I don't believe Clinton is different from Richard Nixon."

He did call capital punishment "state murder" and said U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both Democrats, had "sold out" U.S. truck drivers by letting their Mexican counterparts drive uninspected vehicles into the United States.

In one of the most controversial excerpts, Brown called the prison system a racket that pumped profits out of the poor's misfortunes and into the pockets of prison guards.

"The big lockup is about drugs," Brown stated in an excerpt from late 1995. "Here's the real scam. The drug war is one of the games to get more convictions and prisoners. There's a lot of chemicals out there and when certain ones are made illegal, they become a huge profit opportunity and bring violence, crime and more people to imprison."

The excerpts, since removed, were posted on Brown's We the People Web site. The Bee recovered them through a Web cache of the old site.

Read more articles by Jack Chang



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