The Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s first national convention, held in Chicago November 3-4, was a huge success. More than 100 people registered, and nearly 200 turned out to the super rally Saturday evening.
Not too long ago, support for the death penalty was a central part of the politicians’ law-and-order agenda. But we’ve seen a growing questioning of capital punishment--thanks to the pressure of activists who have exposed the injustices of America’s death machine.
A Day Of Action To Mark 20 Stolen Years On Death Row
By: Lucy Herschel
December 9, 2001, is the 20th anniversary of the arrest of Pennsylvania political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Mumia has spent most of these 20 years in 23-hour lockdown on death row. With no human contact, fully shackled and handcuffed whenever he leaves his cell, Mumia aptly describes his home as "a bright, shining hell."
Credit: Charles Nailen - The Hoya - Georgetown University
By: Anne Thompson
The Georgetown University chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty held its first-ever Death Penalty Awareness Week October 22—26. The event was so successful that the Campaign voted at its recent national convention to hold a Death Penalty Awareness Week in all chapters during the same week in October next year.
Members of the Death Row 10--a group Illinois prisoners who were tortured by Chicago police--were offered deals recently by Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine, but only if they drop their torture claims. These deals mean that some members of the Death Row 10 could eventually go free. But their freedom would come at a big price.
Actor and death penalty opponent Danny Glover caused a stir when he took an uncompromising stand against the death penalty at a seminar at Princeton University in November.
Glover made it clear that he is against the death penalty in all cases, even in that of Osama bin Laden: "The death penalty is inhumane...whether that person is in a [jail] or it’s bin Laden." This made national news in a mainstream media that has demanded blood in the wake of September 11 and celebrated the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Reports From Workshops And Sessions At The Convention
At our first national convention, we wanted to bring together the experiences of local chapters to help give our work a national focus. Together, we discussed important questions raised in the movement today and set some goals for ourselves in the year to come.
Nuts and Bolts of Chapter Organizing by Nate Goldbaum
The Saturday evening indoor rally was one of the highlights of the Campaign’s first national convention. Nearly 200 people attended the rally, which marked the successes in our movement against the death penalty and challenged people to keep building on the momentum.
The barbaric nature of the death penalty came through loud and clear as former death row inmates and family members shared their stories of injustice. All of the speakers emphasized the importance of struggle--a running theme throughout the Campaign’s convention.
SHUJAA GRAHAM is a former death row prisoner who spent 12 years behind bars in California before he was finally exonerated and set free. Ever since, he has spoken out against the death penalty and the U.S. injustice system. He talked to Eric Ruder about his story and the fight against the death penalty.
Could you describe what happened to you?
I went to prison when I was 19 years old. The year was 1969. I went in on a robbery charge, and I was supposed to do four years and get out.
Participants from the Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s convention talk about their reaction to the weekend.
It was at the end of his speech on Saturday night. David Bates, a victim of torture by Chicago police, asked his daughter, Daniella, to come on down. He lifted her high above the podium. A pause filled the air, as we gazed upon this beautiful little girl in a bright blue dress. She looked a bit apprehensive and then smiled, as we all smiled at her and her father.
If sitting on death row for 25 years was not torture enough, the state of Georgia botched Jose High’s execution November 6. It took prison guards almost 40 minutes to start the IV that would kill High, a procedure that usually takes five minutes.
Emergency medical technicians were unable to find a usable vein in Jose’s arm and abandoned their efforts after 15 to 20 minutes. In violation of the ethical code of the American Medical Association, a physician was called in to find a useable vein. Eventually, one needle was stuck in High’s hand and a second needle was inserted in High’s neck.
Terry Sims and Anthony Bryan, friends of mine, were the first two men executed by lethal injection in the state of Florida, and it was done in the name of God, Justice and the American Way.
In the name of justice? What kind of justice exists for a poor man assigned a public defender or low-budget state-paid attorney to go up against the state’s top-notch prosecutors? There’s nothing fair about it. Nor is there any justice in it.
I received the last issue of the New Abolitionist and was really touched by three articles.
First was the article by Stanely "Tookie" Williams. He said it best when he said, "Murder plus murder equals double murder." The second article I wanted to mention was the one by John Wheat’s brother. I could tell that he hurt writing this article. And the other article that really touched me was a letter from Nancy Resendiz. I could only assume that Angel Resendiz is her husband.
In the aftermath of the September 11 tragedy, people are shocked, afraid and angry. A counterpart to these emotions is patriotism. The airwaves and print media are rife with declarations of "One America" with a collective desire for retribution.