Skip to comments.Gang founder's death row drama gains star support
Posted on 11/26/2005 10:26:25 AM PST by Pikamax
Gang founder's death row drama gains star support
LOS ANGELES - Jamie Foxx stepped into the spotlight at his latest movie premiere with more than the usual publicity drill in mind.
Don't let it happen, the actor urged - don't let the state of California execute Stanley Tookie Williams, the convicted murderer and Crips gang co-founder who's been recast behind bars in the role of peacemaker.
Foxx is not alone. An unusually varied collection of Hollywood stars and other famous names is trying to persuade Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that Williams - who has become a celebrity in his own right - can do more for society alive than dead.
Williams' supporters range from the holy (Archbishop Desmond Tutu) to the streetwise (rapper Snoop Dogg, himself once a Crip).
Whether a movie star governor is more inclined to consider their pleas for clemency is debatable. But the chorus is only growing louder as Williams' Dec. 13 execution by lethal injection approaches.
His supporters cite Williams' efforts to curb youth gang violence, including nine children's books and an online project linking teenagers in America and abroad. A Swiss legislator, college professors and others repeatedly have submitted his name for Nobel peace and literature prizes.
Last weekend, Snoop Dogg told about 1,000 people rallying outside San Quentin State Prison that Williams' activism has touched him.
"His voice needs to be heard," said the musician, whose new song, "Real Soon," touts Williams' anti-gang efforts.
On Monday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Bianca Jagger, a death penalty opponent and former wife of rocker Mick Jagger, visited San Quentin. Jackson said he prayed with Williams, promising, "We are going to fight for you and we are going to win."
Foxx, who played Williams in "Redemption," a 2004 movie which brought the death row inmate's story to a wider audience, used the New York premiere of "Jarhead" to issue his plea.
In a jailhouse interview last week, Williams said he is unimpressed by his prominent supporters ("I'm blase about everything") and relies on his attorneys to evaluate the benefit of efforts on his behalf.
Hollywood's political and social activism has been known to provoke criticism. But Williams said he is unconcerned his famous boosters could create a backlash that might sway Schwarzenegger against him.
"In the position I'm in, I don't see how anybody can hurt," he said. "The truth is the truth no matter where it comes from."
Williams, 51, who saw the notorious gang he co-founded with a childhood friend spawn copycats worldwide, denies committing the 1979 murders that put him on death row. He was convicted of killing a convenience store worker and, days later, killing two motel owners and their daughter during a robbery.
The crimes Williams was accused of were "heinous," said former "M-A-S-H" star Mike Farrell, a longtime death penalty opponent. But Williams has made "an extraordinary transformation," said Farrell, who's lobbied for him for several years.
In apparent recognition of the power of the pro-Williams movement, the state Department of Corrections launched an unusual counterattack questioning the sincerity of his anti-gang conversion and alleging he remains involved with the Crips.
Lora Owens, stepmother of victim Albert Owens, opposes clemency and resents the celebrity involvement.
"I think most of them are abusing their popularity and their access to the media," she said. "It's an agenda. If they looked at the facts, then they'd realize Williams has not done anything to deserve clemency."
Williams' link to the entertainment world was cemented with the biographical movie shown on TV and at film festivals, including Robert Redford's Sundance. Several of those involved in "Redemption," including Foxx and co-star Lynn Whitfield, have become backers.
"If Stan Tookie Williams had been born in Connecticut in the same type of situation, and was a white man, he would have been running a company," Foxx told the AP when the film aired last year on FX. "But, born a black man who has the capability of having brute strength and the capability of being smart in the ways of the world, he's going to get into what he gets into."
Williams' support is particularly deep among blacks but extends much further, said Farrell. Working with Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Farrell gathered signatures from more than 100 religious leaders, lawmakers and others of prominence for a clemency request that went to the governor Monday. Among those whose names are attached: NAACP Chairman Julian Bond; U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Harry Belafonte; Bonnie Raitt and Russell Crowe.
Is there reason to think that Schwarzenegger's Hollywood ties might make him more receptive to celebrity pleas?
"No," Farrell said flatly. "One would hope that because he comes out of an industry beyond the political world that he's less subject to the pressures of politics but, unfortunately, his career hasn't demonstrated that."
So far, Schwarzenegger hasn't said much about the execution, other than that he views it as a complex subject.
"It's never a fun thing to do. You're dealing with someone's life," he told reporters.
Williams' lawyers have requested a meeting with Schwarzenegger but haven't gotten a commitment.
The famous have long rallied to high-profile prisoners, including American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, convicted of killing two FBI agents, and Jack Henry Abbott, whose jailhouse letters to novelist Norman Mailer were published as "In the Belly of the Beast." Abbott's release, which Mailer supported largely because of the convict's writing talent, ended tragically when he fatally stabbed a young man six weeks after being released. Back in prison, Abbott committed suicide.
Such celebrity campaigns rankle victim advocates. Nancy Ruhe, executive director of the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, argues that they glamorize a man like Williams and confer unwarranted role-model status.
"He becomes someone to look up to," Ruhe said. "There are so many people in our country you can look up to, but most certainly it should not be someone who has murdered several people."
If Schwarzenegger commutes Williams' sentence to life imprisonment, it would be the first time a California governor has done so since 1967. That's when Ronald Reagan - the last actor-turned-politico to govern California - spared the life of Calvin Thomas, a 27-year-old man convicted in a firebombing that killed his girlfriend's toddler son. His lawyers argued that Thomas was brain-damaged.
Comparing Schwarzenegger and Reagan, veteran political reporter and Reagan biographer Lou Cannon sees a key difference: The future U.S. president had quickly made the transition from actor to leader, while Schwarzenegger, as Cannon sees it, still is struggling with the metamorphosis.
"I don't think he's going to be dismissive of these (stars), because they're from his community, but ultimately that's not going to make his decision," said Cannon. "He'll decide it on the merits."
Whitfield, who came to know Williams while preparing to film "Redemption," said those merits are self-evident.
"I don't think of myself as speaking as a celebrity. I come with the advantage of having delved into his story," she said. "No one has said, 'Can you just open up the gates and let Stan be a free man in the world.' ... But he at least can continue to do the work he's doing."
I guess this is where the rubber meets the road.
If the lives of the people he gunned down mean anything,then he must die as scheduled.
What is it with these people. They need to dig up Charlie Starkweather...
He may well have done some good since his original crime.
But he murdered four people - in cold blood.
God may well forgive him. We can not.
That's just four that we've proven. I've heard he might have killed a lot more--or ordered their deaths.
If you murdered people. You should die. No good works after should matter. IF he did good works after, Thats his deal, an infinate amount of good works will not bring his victims back to life. And I doubt seriously if the gang problem has improved at all because of this persons actions after he was jailed. His spawning of one of the worst gangs (terrorists really)in this nation, he can never make up for. Arnold should let the law play out and let this guy pay for his crimes.
If Tookie had been a white boy who founded a violent Aryan or KKK gang and murdered several black people, there would be no celebrities coming to his defense...and if any did, they would be labelled racists.
But because Tookie is black, founded the Crips, and killed Asians, anyone who wants to see him pay for his crimes is a "racist."
Welcome to Liberal Doublethink.
Think this is a circus? Wait until the day that Scott Peterson's time is up.
I wonder how many victim's of tookies these "stars" visited.
It is useflu in these situations to focus on the facts
"Tookie (when he was 26 years old) and a "friend" robbed a Seven-11 convenience store. While the till was being robbed of $60.00 Tookie ordered the 25 year old night clerk into the cold room. The kid was heard begging for his life. Tookie shot him twice with a 12 gauge shotgun.
Two days later Tookie and a "friend" broke into a family run motel with the intent to rob. They forced their way into the family quarters and pumped two 12 gauge shots into the 53 year old woman ... in the base of her spine and the torso. He shot the father twice in the chest and the daughter once in the head. "
Then once in prison Williams committed a series of assault on prison officers and a series of sexual assaults on male inmates.
He is also responsible for all of the other murders when the crips and bloods were trying to kill each other (no loss when they succeed), but missed each other and killed innocents. I remember the S.O.B. from when I was a deputy sheriff working Lennox Sheriff station in the area where he was at the time organizing his little band of crooks and murderers.
Probably applies to most of us.
I'm sure his four victims would have contributed more to society than this two-legged bag of sh!t ever could or would. Fry him.
I have a feeling that if he is not granted clemency and he is indeed executed there will be riots.
I say that starting the crips in and of itself should warrant the death penalty.
It strikes me that these folks are protesting the death penalty, and are not professing this fellow's innocence. Huge difference.
Having said that, I fully expect Schwarzenegger to grant clemency. If he doesn't, he'll be a pariah in Hollywood. Will he be prepared to deal with that?
But, look, if killing four people in cold blood doesn't warrant the death penalty, nothing does.
He will cave......fear of riots by gang members will suck him in.
Nor I. I believe in forgiveness and I believe in redemption. I also believe that only God can look straight into a man's heart and know whether he has truly changed.
Considering that, even in the midst of his "transformation," Tookie planned to use dynamite and shotguns to kill his jailers and escape from prison, I cannot help but consider his "metamorphosis" to be a charade.
Well, Tookie and I have something in common....we are both "unimpressed" with the celebrities speaking up for him.
Fry the bastage already.
Huh? Minority, yes. But tiny, tiny?
This is a breathtaking statement.
I support the message which would be carried to today's youths -- by executing this killer.
He didn't spare the lives of his victims. Why spare his life?
I imagine his 4 murder victims' lives would have made more significant contributions to their respective families and friends than any contribution this coward could make in anyone's life.
This killer is simply an opportunist and a con man. He's talks a good game NOW, but he couldn't live it. Talk is cheap.
Heck, even what passes for a Republican in CA would be a moderate Democrat most elsewhere. There is somply no way that any TRUE Rebuplican or right of center legislation is getting any traction.
If anyone thinks Ah-nold is anything other than a RINO they need to step away from the crack pipe:-)
You're fooling yourself. You don't see them protesting Scott Peterson's death sentence. How about anyone else's scheduled execution?
And one thing you're overlooking: Snoop Dogg was a frickin' MEMBER of Tookie's gang. Funny how you gloss that over.
Jamie Foxx is an idiot and I'm ashamed he's from Texas. Now go and die, Tookie.
There are NO perps in CA, only VICTIMS responding involuntarily to society's inequities, on other VICTIMS.
IMO the "TOOK" will live long and prosper, while all of those that died by his hand rot in their graves while their loved ones mourn.
Yeah...and we all know how many rioting thugs voted for him.
And people want the Constitution altered to accommodate his running for President. Oy...
Whether he can do more alive than dead is a given. First, no make that finally, he has to pay the piper.
This man shouldn't be executed because he is Black? He shouldn't be executed because he has done "good work" since he killed 4 people in cold blood?
He is a founder of the Crips. How many innocent people have been killed by the Crips and by the gangs that his creation spawned?
Maybe it's just me but it seems to me that the rationale behind the protests is upside down. I haven't heard one word from the Belafonte's and Jackson's about the victims.
As a parting shot, I don't remember Mike Farrellhaving much to say when Daniel Pearl was beheaded.
Anyone who claims that minorities are being somehow "held back" or "held down" because of their race is a chump. Just take a good look at the Asian community and tell me how they've been harmed by racism.
If anyone's holding down blacks, it's the black community itself. It's the crabs-in-a-bucket syndrome: one starts to climb out and the rest grab ahold of him and drag him right back down to their depths.
It is my contention that the argument is not about this person's innocence. It is accepted that he is guilty. The argument is about the death penalty.
As far as I am concerned there is no reason to commute this guy's sentence. He killed 4 people in cold blood. The very least he could do is show remorse. And part of that remorse would be an acknowledgement of what he did and an apology to the families of the victims. The fact that he has not admitted to his crimes, nor issued an apology, is very telling to me.
There. Fixed it.
Jesse Jackson won't be there..because to him this has nothing to do with justice. It has to do with race. He wants everyone to be treated equally, until they are.
I am not in favor of the death penalty, I am in favor of locking up murderers and child molesters in a 5 X 7 wire cage and wielding it shut. Until this type of true punishment is handed out, I will keep my mouth shut about the death penalty.