[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CALIF., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Dec 13 21:49:49 CST 2005
The Repentant Criminal Stanley Williams Has Been Executed in California
Stanley "Tookie" Williams, sentenced to death for the murder of 4 people
in 1979, was executed at San Quentin Prison Tuesday, December 13, after
midnight, by lethal injection.
The day before, the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, had
rejected the request for clemency for this repentant ex-gangster, who had
co-founded the Crips gang in Los Angeles: "After studying the evidence,
searching the history, listening to the arguments and wrestling with the
profound consequences, I could find no justification for granting
clemency," he explained in a text stating the reasons for a decision which
adheres strictly to respect for the law and the application of the death
penalty. "The Williams case and the eventual irregularities in his trial,"
added the Governor, "have been minutely examined since he was found guilty
and sentenced 24 years ago, and there is no reason to reverse the
decisions of the courts which confirmed the verdict of the jury, namely
that he was guilty of 4 murders and must pay with his life."
Mr. Schwarzenegger was not convinced by Mr. Willimas repentance, on which
the clemency request was based. "The dedication of Williams book, Life In
Prison, casts serious doubts on his redemption," he wrote. "This book was
published in 1998, several years after Mr. Williams' supposed redemption.
The book is dedicated to 'Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Assata
Shakur, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, Ramona Africa, John Africa, Leonard
Peltier, Dhoruba Al-Mujahid, George Jackson, Mumia Abu-Jamal and all the
men and women, the young people who have suffered the hell of being
And the Governor reopened a senstive chapter in the history of
Afro-Americans incarcerated in California prisons: "This list offers a
curious mixing of individuals. Most have a violent past and some were
sentenced for having committed hateful crimes, including the murder of
representatives of authority. The inclusion of George Jackson on this list
defies understanding and is an indication that Williams has not reformed
and considers violence and anarchy as a legitimate means of answering
social problems." A footnote summarizes the history of George Jackson, a
Black man accused of the murder of a prison guard, who with his brother
organized a murderous escape attempt in 1970 (in which Angela Davis was
The refusal of clemency and the execution of Stanley Williams were greeted
with sorrow and revolt by the sympathizers who had watched all day Monday
at San Quentin. The actor Mike Farrell, president of the association Death
Penalty Focus, did not mince words: "Governor Schwarzenegger has washed
his hands, like Pilate, and ordered the extermination of a man who has
become a positive force in our society." The Reverend Jesse Jackson was
also shocked: "The Governor preferred revenge to redemption and chose to
use Stanley Williams as a trophy."
Questioned about the risk of riots following the execution, Jesse Jackson
relayed a final appeal from the condemned man; "Stanley Williams feels
that riots would annihilate his heritage and the strength of his
(source: Column, Claudine Mulard, Le Monde (Paris) )
Americans still strongly back death penalty
Despite the controversial execution of a celebrated death-row convict who
campaigned to stop gang violence, Americans - even in ultra-liberal
California - continue to back the death penalty.
The execution by lethal injection of former gang founder and convicted
murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams drew strong condemnation in parts of
Europe where capital punishment is banned.
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who refused to commute
Williams' sentence, was lambasted in his native Austria where the death
penalty does not exist, with Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel declaring his
regrets and the Greens party demanding Schwarzenegger lose his Austrian
In France, leading Socialist politician Jack Lang called Williams' death a
But in California, one of the United States' most progressive states,
known for launching deeply liberal causes, nearly two-thirds of the people
still support the death penalty, said Michael Brennan, a University of
Southern California law professor.
"The last recent poll, the Field poll two years ago, registered 64 percent
in favor of the death penalty," said Brennan, a specialist in the death
penalty. Brennan added that Californians' views are in line with the
"In the last 2 years, we sent something in the neighborhood of 100-plus to
death row" in California, he said.
Williams' case drew strong support from well-known leftist activists in
this state, many who believed the former gang leader's work to convince
young people to stay away from gangs and crime merited changing his death
sentence to life in jail.
On Monday night rights activist Jesse Jackson and singer Joan Baez led
more than 2,000 people gathering outside the San Quentin prison north of
They sang protest songs as they renewed calls for an end to the death
penalty as Williams was taken to be executed inside.
But they appeared unlikely to change the official policy on the death
penalty. Some 650 people have been condemned to execution in California
for their crimes, and the state's governors -- conservative Republicans
like Schwarzenegger and liberal Democrats before him -- have declined to
block the executions.
Despite the huge pro-Williams campaign, Hollywood star-turned politician
Schwarzenegger had more to lose than gain if he commuted Williams sentence
due to the continued public favor for the death penalty.
Schwarzenegger faces an uphill battle to be re-elected in the polls to
take place in November 2006.
Nevertheless, said Brennan, support for capital punishment in the United
States and in California has fallen during the past 15 years.
"The main reason for that is that people have become aware of the fact
that in that period of time more than 120 people who had been sentenced to
death in the US have been exonerated, based on findings of factual
innocence. People start to wonder about the fairness of the system," said
(source: National 9 News (Australia) )
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