Some of the 900 who came out to hear Howard Zinn talk to Dave Zirin about “The power of the people.”
By: Carter Pagel
“People fighting against injustice starts small, but it grows because the truth is on our side.” Those words came from Howard Zinn as he spoke to Dave Zirin at the Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s (CEDP) ninth annual convention, and for me, they encapsulated the theme of the entire weekend. What I witnessed at my first CEDP convention was amazing -- whether it was Jack Bryson tearing up over the realization that he has found true brothers and sisters in his fight against injustice, or Marvin Reeves stepping back to take in a standing ovation from 900 people applauding his courage, people were profoundly affected and changed by this weekend; we all were.
A snapshot of the year 2009 shows the death penalty on the decline -- even though executions themselves were up from the previous year. 2009 saw 52 people executed -- an uptick in executions from the previous year when 42 people were put to death. But 24 of these executions were carried out in Texas alone. Out of the 35 states that have the death penalty on the books, 24 did not execute a single person. And nine men were exonerated from death row in 2009, the second-highest number since the death penalty was reinstated.
Last year, the case of Cameron Todd Williamham, who was executed in Texas in 2004, made national headlines, exposing the fact that Texas almost certainly executed an innocent man, further eroding public confidence in the death penalty.
On November 7 and 8, over 80 people from across the country attended the Campaign to End the Death Penalty’s ninth annual convention in Chicago.
During the day, workshop and plenary sessions celebrated recent victories: the freeing of Chicago police torture victims Ronnie Kitchen, Marvin Reeves and Mark Clements, who were all released this summer -- and the freeing of Michael Scott, who after ten years in prison had all the charges against him dropped.
Hearing these individuals speak of their situation and their fight, and why the Campaign is so needed, was an intense and inspiring affirmation of the importance of our work.
Delegates at the convention voted in favor of the following national initiatives for the coming year.
TROY DAVIS WORK. Delegates voted in favor of renewing our commitment to building the Troy Davis struggle. Martina Correia is on the CEDP board and the point person for this work; you can reach her at email@example.com.
The Bay Area CEDP closed out 2009 with a fantastic event on December 13 -- the fourth annual Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Summit, co-sponsored by the Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network, CEDP, Kevin Cooper Defense Committee and others.