The state murder of Stanley Tookie Williams was an undeniable blow to the anti-death penalty movement. But it was also an important opportunity to see the politics of the American Way of Death at work.In its more than 200 pages, the report documents everything that’s wrong with the death penalty in Illinois at every stage of the process -- from corrupt police officers and unreliable testimony to inadequate lawyers and an insufficient appeals process.
The fight to save Stanley Tookie Williams reached its peak in the weeks before his scheduled murder by the state of California, with press conferences and protests, celebrity support and newspaper ads. But it was a struggle years in the making.
Just a little more than one month before Stan Tookie Williams was executed, we held our first Save Tookie Committee meeting in a high school in South Los Angeles, a few blocks from where Tookie grew up.
In early December, as abolitionists across the country raised the cry in defense of the life of Stan Tookie Williams, an unexpected breakthrough came in the case of the country’s best-known death row prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal.
In the 1990s, Public Enemy recorded “911 Is a Joke” because the emergency number didn’t work for poor African Americans who called it in order to get help.
Recently, FEMA, under the Bush administration and the leadership of its then-director Michael Brown, showed the world during Hurricane Katrina that it, like 911, is a joke. It was not there for the poor people who needed it, though it was supposed to be.
The first attempt to put a moratorium on executions in California since capital punishment was reinstated in 1978 has been blocked in the state assembly. The bill, which would have suspended executions for two years, was passed out of one legislative committee, but legislators in the Assembly Appropriations Committee put the bill on hold, effectively killing it for the rest of the legislative session.
Abolitionists all over the country should be motivated by the actions that prisoners have been taking to oppose the horrendous conditions on Texas death row. Texas not only leads the country in the number of executions it carries out each year, but also in the brutality and inhumanity with which the prisoners are treated. To name a few examples, prisoners do not have a work program or any group recreation; they cannot have contact visits; no TVs are allowed in their cells; they are allowed only one 5-minute phone call every six months; and health care is inadequate.
Stan was a true leader for peace I was very hurt when the governor decided to deny Stan Tookie Williams clemency and go forward with the execution. I couldn’t believe that!
The racial lines are so clearly woven into the fabric of society that I wonder if there will ever be any racial unity among people in this country. Will we continue to be looked upon as meaningless, worthless, savage, immoral, three-fifths of a human being?
This past December, following the fatal shooting of a New York City police officer, New York Governor George Pataki called legislators back to Albany for a special session. In a baldly political move that simultaneously paid lip service to tougher gun control laws, the governor tried to push through a vote on legislation that would overturn the decision made by the New York State Assembly last spring to put New York’s death penalty to rest indefinitely. The death penalty, Pataki argued, was needed for killers of police officers.
In December, Mexico joined a list of more than 90 countries around the world that have outlawed capital punishment. No one had been executed in Mexico since the early 1960s, but the death penalty was still technically legal until the end of last year. “Mexico shares the opinion that capital punishment is a violation of human rights,” said Mexican president, Vicente Fox, as he signed the new legislation into law.
Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to intern at the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.
I came to Chicago without a clear distinction of the type of internship I was looking for. I knew that I needed an internship that was involved in the Black community and involved in community activism. The Campaign to End the Death Penalty fulfilled both of these desires and provided me with a wonderful learning experience.
By: Pardoned Illinois Death Row Prisoner Stanley Howard
“This case has been heard by every court in the country, and they found no reason to overturn the conviction or to stop the execution. This eleventh-hour petitioning is only a ploy to delay justice. The execution must proceed.”
Nothing makes me more angry than hearing a bloodthirsty prosecutor utter those words, as though they were taught in some kind of training camp for prosecutors.
The Campaign raised $1,800 with our December fundraising letter. We want to thank all of you who so generously donated. These funds helped to offset the cost of sending an organizer and former exonerated California death row prisoner Shujaa Graham to California in the important fight to try and stop the execution of Stan Tookie Williams. While our efforts were not successful, we vow to continue the fight. Thank you all!!
Anti-death penalty activists, former death row inmates and family members of those still on death row gathered at the University of Chicago for the fifth annual convention of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) November 12–13.
March in December against Wesley Baker's execution
By: David May
On December 5, the state of Maryland executed Wesley Eugene Baker, despite a recent comprehensive study proving that Maryland’s death penalty is racist and arbitrary in many ways. Wesley was the first black man executed in Maryland since the study came out and since the end of a short-lived moratorium that was enacted by former Gov. Parris Glendening after much pressure from our movement.
“I seek to occupy the death house to halt the 1,000th execution, and with my body prevent the flow of poison to the prisoner’s veins. My intention is not to commit a crime, but to prevent one.” Renny Cushing Executive Director, Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights
In January, New Jersey lawmakers passed legislation requiring an immediate moratorium on all executions in the state and the creation of a study commission to examine the state’s death penalty system. This is the first time in U.S. history that a state has enacted legislation imposing a moratorium on the death penalty.
The 13- member study commission will have until November 15, 2006 to report its findings. All executions will be suspended while the study is being conducted. There are currently 10 people on New Jersey’s death row. No executions have taken place since 1963.