I didn't really know Kent myself, though I'm sure we've been shoulder to shoulder at a few demonstrations and other events, particularly this past year. The peace and justice community that he was such a part of is devastated, of course.
I'm still sorting through all the grieving emails and tributes that showed up in my in-box this week, and will post more about his life and legal battles when I find the most complete story about what happened. For now, here's his obituary, sent to everyone in his email address book; that's his own electronic signature at the bottom.
Because of the public scrutiny of the accused, the dehumanization of "criminals", the expense and energy one needs to invest in legal defense, the humiliation of jail, the constant coercion to take a plea under threat of state violence if found guilty at trial, and all the social consequences of being a felon, prosecution and criminalization can be so much more damaging to a life, career, family, and spirit than what may actually be handed down by a judge - that truth is always left out of the sentencing. It pushes way too many people - including the innocent and mentally impaired - to take their own lives over things that should never even merit jail, much less execution. I hope we can turn that around soon.
Please, all, remember that while suicide is 100% preventable, it can trigger a cascade of despair and further self-destruction within communities; keep close tabs on your own moods as well as on your loved ones in the coming weeks and months. If you need to, call a friend, see a professional, or dial a hotline to talk, cry, or rage. Try to wait to act on your impulses until the urgency passes - you can always reserve the option of suicide for when your moods improve, which they eventually will; that's why I'm still here - once I feel better, even if conditions are worse, killing myself never looks like the best solution to whatever I'm struggling with. Remember - we need all the help we can get on this planet; we need to keep the good guys alive to get through this.
Condolences to Kent's family and friends - to all whom his life and death so deeply touched.
Have a blessed journey Home, Kent.
A reminder for all the colorful peace and justice activists we've lost over the years, from the film about Abbie Hoffman, "Steal This Movie": We can't sing louder than the guns when we're gone...