Been following the Stanley Tookie Williams story this evening. In case you don't know what I'm talking about its the story of a man on death row who is about to be executed at midnight California time tonight.
Williams is in jail for the alleged murder of 4 persons back in 1979, murders which he has repeated denied committing but for which he was sentenced to death back in 1981. His lawyers have filed motions and asked for clemency from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger all to no avail up to this point. Would you expect clemency from a Governor better known as the Terminator? Alrighty then!
Williams is also purported to be the founder of the notorious Crips gang in LA, something which haunts his past and may be a factor weighing into the repeated denial of clemency.
Was arguing the point with someone who said that if he was indeed the founder of the Crips street gang he deserves to be executed since so many innocents have been killed by this notorious group but my argument was if that's the case and a man is judged not on the actual crimes he was being charged with but on other crimes then many a politician would deserve the death penalty for their ignoble deeds.
Tookie's is an interesting story because in jail he has become an outspoken critic of gangs, has written numerous anti-gang books aimed at kids and was actually nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Surely here is a rehabilitated man. Still his opponents harp on the fact that he has never apologized for committing the murders. Tookie's claim is that since he didn't commit the murders he has nothing to apologize for. A weaker man would probably just apologize and gain clemency but Tookie seems to be sticking to his guns (so to speak). Got to respect that somehow.
Now I'm not here to debate the right and wrong of the situation as I'm sure everyone has their own belief. His lawyers claim he was set up and that the witnesses were frauds, the prosecution claims he is a cold blooded murderer and deserves to die for his deeds. The debate will rage on up till the injections are delivered into his body and even after his, what I now believe to be inevitable, death tonight.
No that's not what I'm here to discuss. My issue was with what I just saw on CNN. As you know CNN has to give you 24 -7 coverage of every even remotely interesting news item delving into every nook and cranny of any aspect of the individuals involved and this news story is no different. Interviews with Jessie Jackson, recorded comments from the governor, statements from Tookie's lawyers etc etc but what really grabbed my attention was this.
CNN interviewed a former death row inmate (cant remember the name) who was wrongfully accused of murder and spent a decade on death row. He continually protested his innocence (just like Tookie) and in 1995 he was exonerated proving that sometimes the justice system can be indeed wrong. You would think someone like this would know that sometimes the system can make mistakes but yet this former inmate was absolutely adamant that Tookie deserved the death penalty even if he did apologize for the murders. He claims that the proof against Tookie is irrefutable and he deserves to die. Wait a second they don't put you on death row unless the evidence is irrefutable do they? So wasn't it irrefutable in your case yet somehow they proved that it was wrong and you managed to escape with your life?
Imagine that. Your ass got lucky and got a reprieve but yet you cant have the same compassion for someone possibly in a similar situation. Here is someone who should realize that everything isn't always black and white in justice and sometimes you get caught up in the grey but yet he was so confident in Tookie's guilt. Absolutely amazing!
Anyway Tookie I'm writing this like you're already gone because I honestly don't expect any last minute reprieve. God go with you and forgive you for any sins you have committed.