02 December 2005

More on Death

Nguyen Van Tuong, the Australian drug trafficker, is dead. He was hanged this morning. Peace to your soul, Nguyen. In the grand design of the universe, everything happens for a reason. Perhaps your death will help Singapore take a few small steps towards the eventual abolition of the death sentence. Or at least save the life of some young foolish Australian somewhere who had been contemplating the same crimes as you did.

Meanwhile an even more dramatic case continues to unfold on the other side of the world. Stanley Tookie Williams, a five-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, is scheduled to be executed on 13 December 2005, and people are campaigning for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to spare him. Here's a news report:

Rallies plead for Tookie's life
Protesters in Fremont decry nation's 1,000th execution
By Josh Richman

SAN FRANCISCO — Elected officials, clergy and others rallied on City Hall's steps Wednesday to urge Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to spare the life of condemned murderer and activist Stanley Tookie Williams.

The rally was among at least a dozen events held in Fremont and elsewhere throughout the state Wednesday — with scores more staged nationally and around the world — in opposition to the death penalty in general and Williams' execution in particular.

A group of local protesters gathered on the steps of Mission San Jose on Wednesday morning to oppose the country's 1,000th execution since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

An execution was scheduled to take place late Wednesday, but the governor of Virginia granted clemency to the inmate. The next execution is scheduled to take place at 11 p.m. PST today in North Carolina.

The "day of action" coincided with the state Supreme Court's rejection of Williams' lawyers' last-ditch challenge to ballistics evidence and other factors underlying his conviction; only a federal court or the governor can intervene now.

Schwarzenegger will hold a closed-door clemency hearing with Williams' attorneys and prosecutors Dec. 8; Williams is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 13.

"Become 'The Redeemer,' not 'The Terminator,'" San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano urged the governor Wednesday.

"There is no human being who is created without an aim and a purpose," said Nation of Islam Minister Christopher Muhammad of San Francisco, adding that Williams has now found that purpose: to help young men ask and answer the same tough questions of themselves that he has of himself.

"Killing will never bring peace, killing will never bring closure — not once. It is a spiritual impossibility," said Rabbi Alan Lew of San Francisco's Congregation Beth Sholom. "Life is a sacred gift. All life. Every life."

Others speaking to scores of activists and a media crush in San Francisco included the most Rev. John Wester, auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco; United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta; and Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

Wednesday's events came two days after human rights watchdog Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued their own calls for Williams' life to be spared.

Williams, now 51, was convicted of murdering four people in two separate robberies in 1979; he has continued to claim his innocence of those crimes, but state and federal courts have upheld his convictions at every turn. He's also the co-founder of the notorious Crips street gang, which spread from Los Angeles to cities throughout the nation and world, wreaking violence upon communities.

But since emerging from solitary confinement in 1994, he has become known as an anti-gang activist and author who directly or indirectly has inspired uncounted youths to straighten out their lives. He's been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize — once by a Swiss lawmaker and four times by a group of American college faculty led by a professor at Belmont's Notre Dame de Namur University.



Stanley Tookie Williams is a fascinating character. Read more about him on Wikipedia. Once a violent criminal, he is now an anti-gang activist who reaches out to young, troubled people in jail and inspires them to turn their lives around.

Picture on the left shows Tookie in his (much) younger days.

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6 comments:

geekgeek said...

While I don't really doubt Stanley Williams' intentions now of being anti-gang, one must wonder if he would have taken the same path had he not be incarcerated on Death Row.

It's amazing how being told that you're going to die can really change your character around 180 degrees.

Perhaps the Singapore government should consider it as a new form of punishment: the "fake" or "delayed" death sentence. Pretend to sentence the prisoner to death. Keep on death row for 10 years. If he turns into a new leaf (possibly hoping for clemency), upon stringent evaluation, the courts can always "commute" his death sentence.

カイ said...

I don't think it's going to hasten a moratorium on the death penalty in SG any faster than we're going to win the soccer world cup. But at least no one can argue that it's not going to act as a deterrent from now on... you should have seen the publicity it's garnered here.

Merv said...

I've got an idea on how to have our first Singapore Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Sentence enough druggies,murderers, gang members to death. Then delay the hanging by decades.

With enough numbers, the odds of one turning a new leaf and becoming a Nobel Peace prize nominee will be greater.

mugster said...

I've always thought the US shouldn't still have a death penalty, since it was such a critic of Micheal Fay's caning, and constantly lambasts half the world for human rights violations.

カイ said...

Well, the US isn't that big a fan of AI too: http://www.antiwar.com/orig/zunes.php?articleid=6268

Sheesh, no wonder CSJ couldn't 'summon' his Big Brother's talking points this time.

And it's probably the most hypocritical democracy in the world what with their pro-war, pro-torture gov't.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, Wang, this anti-death penalty stuff is the typical leftist way.

Tookie? Do you know what he did? Not focusing on that, arhhhh?

Shot down a whole chinese family and made the daughter crawl on the floor and shot her in the backside?

You all forgot, arhhhh?

As far as I am concerned, you pay me, I fly to US and put bullet in Tookie's head easy.

Those stories of Tookie changing character are false. Read his own words. He did not help the police investigate the crimes of his gang. Right to the last, he was a gangster chief. All that writing kid's stories was just a show.

It is fine to oppose the PAP's grip on Singapore but cowardly and disrespectful to oppose the death penalty.

Show some guts.

Flosduellatorum.