Dogging The Politicians

Campaign Keeps Up The Pressure As Election Nears

By: Marlene Martin

From coast to coast, the Campaign continues to dog the politicians as they hit the campaign trail. Here are a few highlights:

  • On June 18, 100 protesters greeted George W. Bush's motorcade before a Palo Alto, Calif., fundraiser. Two demonstrators got inside and disrupted Bush's speech.
  • On June 23, Campaign members went into an Al Gore fundraiser in San Francisco and chanted to draw attention to his silence on the Gary Graham case.
  • On July 14, 100 protesters picketed a Bush fundraiser in New York City.
  • On July 18, 60 protesters picketed outside of a Bush fundraiser in Chicago.
  • On August 4, 15 protesters disrupted a Bush fundraiser in Pittsburgh, chanting and unfurling cloth signs.
  • On August 10, a dozen Campaigners picketed outside a Gore function in Atlanta.

We want to put the heat on both Bush and Gore for their horrible record of support for the death penalty - and call attention to the fact that neither one of them represents the growing national support for a moratorium on executions. A recent poll showed that 62 percent of people want a halt on executions until the fairness of the death penalty is studied.

Our "get in their face" tactics have helped to push the issue of the moratorium to the forefront in this election year - where both Bush and Gore would rather it not be. The last thing they want to do is debate the issue of the death penalty - and it's the first thing we want them to do.

We want to know why both presidential candidates can continue to support a system that is so rife with flaws. Why are these presidential candidates not more concerned with fairness in this life-and-death issue? Why is it okay that the death penalty targets the poor and minorities?

And why in the face of the case of Gary Graham - a case so riddled with problems that it moved the country to question his guilt - did neither of these men speak out about the glaring injustice that was being committed? Instead Bush, who tried his best to keep a low profile during the execution, insisted that Graham had "full and fair access to the courts." And all Gore could muster was to say that he wasn't familiar with the case.

Just who do they think they're fooling?

Here are a few facts about Bush and Gore to keep in mind as we keep up the pressure:

BUSH

  • Oversees the second largest death row in the country and the state that carries out the most executions.
  • Vetoed legislation passed unanimously by the Texas legislature to create a public defender system;
  • Opposed legislation that would bar executing the mentally retarded;
  • Claims that no innocent person has been executed in Texas - even though he gave the go-ahead to kill Gary Graham, almost certainly an innocent man.

GORE

  • Part of an administration that expanded federal crimes punishable by the death penalty to 60.
  • Remains silent about the overt racism of the federal death penalty system - where 75 percent of federal death row prisoners are people of color, more than half of them Black.
  • Favors the death penalty even though "that support comes in spite of the fact that there will inevitably be some mistakes," he told the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Though the Campaign is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates, it is worth noting that Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader is the only candidate in this election who is against the death penalty.

Our aim is to put the issue of the death penalty at the forefront of the national political debate in this country. As we say in one of our chants: "Bush and Gore, you can't hide, we've got justice on our side!"