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Supporters, detractors clash over what Williams' legacy will be
Contra Costa Times ^ | 12/14/5 | Kiley Russell

Posted on 12/14/2005 7:58:27 AM PST by SmithL

Even before the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the struggle to define his life -- and shape his legacy -- had already begun.

In the convicted killer's failed pleas for clemency, in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's denials, from the mouths of his supporters and detractors, there emerged contrasting portraits of a peace activist and a jailhouse con man. It is a paradox that will follow him to his grave.

On one side are those who believe in Williams' redemption and the good he did through his anti-gang speeches and children's books.

Fresh from the San Quentin Prison chamber where she had just watched her friend die early Tuesday, Barbara Becnel told a cheering crowd that she is "now a woman on a mission."

"That mission is one: to obtain justice for Stanley 'Tookie' Williams by proving beyond a shadow of a doubt his innocence, (and) continuing to preserve the incredibly remarkable legacy of this man who personifies redemption," she said.

Part two of her new mission is to defeat Schwarzenegger in the next election.

Rudy Langlais, who produced "Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story," also witnessed the execution and spent most of Monday with Williams.

"All day long he was talking about the children," Langlais said. "All he talked about was how we needed to save the children."

The portrait painted by families of the victims and the governor, however, is filled with violence and Williams' stubborn refusal to take responsibility for the pain he inflicted on the world.

Schwarzenegger wrote that Williams presented "little mention or atonement in his writings and his plea for clemency of the countless murders committed by the Crips following the lifestyle Williams once espoused. The senseless killing that has ruined many families, particularly in African-American communities, in the name of the Crips and gang warfare is a tragedy of our modern culture."

Williams was 17 when he co-founded the Crips, a violent Los Angeles street gang that has crept all across the United States and into many other countries.

A jury convicted him in the 1979 shotgun killings of convenience store clerk Albert Owens, 26, during a 7-Eleven robbery in Whittier; and of Yen-I Yang, 76, his wife, Tsai-Shai Yang, 63, and their daughter, Ye-Chen Lin, 43, during a robbery at the motel they operated in Los Angeles.

For many, however, the gruesome, unprovoked murders do not negate Williams' personal transformation, and the story even gives hope to others who are trying to turn around their lives.

His message of peace, not his acts of violence, which are denied by Williams and his supporters, will be his lasting legacy, said Phil Gasper, professor of philosophy at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont and an anti-death penalty activist.

"I nominated him for the Nobel Peace Price (after) finding out more about what he had done and meeting many of the people who had been influenced by his writings," Gasper said.

"It's impossible to make the argument that this is all some kind of phony act to save himself. He used the money from the books that he wrote to do anti-violence work. He didn't spend it on his defense."

Williams is credited with writing nine children's books warning of the dangers of gang life and drafting a template to end gang violence. His autobiography was made into a TV movie starring Jamie Foxx.

"He managed to have this enormous impact sitting in his cell in San Quentin," Gasper said. "His voice really connected to young people, and he knew that was going to be the case. He used that credibility in his final years to do something very, very positive."

But Williams' efforts to reach out beyond prison walls may fade as the memory of his high-profile fight to save his own life retreats into history. His plea for peace, after all, was aimed at a notoriously unpredictable audience: the young, the disaffected and the desperate.

"It's really hard to say, but I think young people, they think about how he was a former gang member, he started the Crips. They don't think about him writing children's books. They don't think about his anti-gang talks," said Richmond police Sgt. Michael Booker, who heads up an anti-gang unit and coaches basketball at Kennedy High School.

"All I can tell you is the kids I've seen over the years have responded to more positive role models."

As long as adults continue to hold Williams up as an example, however, his ideas will live on in classrooms and counseling centers around the country.

Jim Weber, 78, of Oakland said he worked for about five years in juvenile halls and alternative schools in Los Angeles, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties.

He would post Williams' picture in the classroom and ask students to read passages from his book about prison life.

"They think it's glamorous to be in prison," he said. "They think, I'm in the big house and that makes them manly."

"I was trying to scare them into realizing how terrible it would be in prison."

At Richmond High School, several teachers had their students read Williams' books and used newspaper accounts of his pending execution as a springboard for discussions about gang life, redemption and the death penalty.

On Tuesday afternoon, students had mixed reactions about the execution.

Crystal Alexander, 17, said that Williams' execution was cruel and that the state, by taking his life, is as guilty as Williams was.

Rocky Nunez, 14, said he was unconvinced of Williams' redemption and that he received justice. "I think 27 years was much too long to wait, they should have killed him right away," he said. "He killed four people."


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; US: California
KEYWORDS: stanleywilliams; tookie; tookielegacy
I read on another thread that Tookie hasn't committed any crimes since his execution.
1 posted on 12/14/2005 7:58:28 AM PST by SmithL
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To: SmithL

I read on another thread that Tookie hasn't committed any crimes since his execution.
----
Yes, and while he is at it, he can send the California taxpayers a check for 26 years of room and board.


2 posted on 12/14/2005 8:01:05 AM PST by EagleUSA
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To: SmithL

He was only a cause celebre because he was famous enough to draw out the usual death penalty crowd, lead by Mike Farrell. He'll be forgotten by the time of the next high-profile execution.


3 posted on 12/14/2005 8:02:37 AM PST by AmishDude (Your corporate slogan could be here! FReepmail me for my confiscatory rates.)
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To: SmithL
I heard one time that the recidivism rate for executed felons was zero.
4 posted on 12/14/2005 8:03:05 AM PST by teenyelliott (Soylent green should be made outta liberals...)
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To: SmithL
His legacy????? He died an unrepentant, cold-blooded murderer. Who gives a rat's tush about his legacy?

Frikkin' idiots...
5 posted on 12/14/2005 8:03:08 AM PST by LIConFem (A fronte praecipitium, a tergo lupi.)
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To: SmithL
Williams' legacy"


How about less than a semen stain on a blue dress?





6 posted on 12/14/2005 8:04:03 AM PST by G.Mason (Others have died for my freedom; now this is my mark ... Marine Corporal Jeffrey Starr, KIA 04-30-05)
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What's a "Tookie?" Anything like a "Sheehan?" Time marches on. Hehehehe....


7 posted on 12/14/2005 8:04:15 AM PST by eureka! (Hey Lefties and 'Rats: Over 3 more years of W. Hehehehe....)
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To: SmithL
"All day long he was talking about the children,"

Yeah, when he wasn't busy murdering innocent people.

8 posted on 12/14/2005 8:06:23 AM PST by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it)
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To: SmithL; All
"I nominated him for the Nobel Peace Pri(z)e (after) finding out more about what he had done and meeting many of the people who had been influenced by his writings," Gasper said.

I wonder if Gasper voted Republican?
9 posted on 12/14/2005 8:08:27 AM PST by econjack (Some people have the reasoning power of plankton.)
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To: SmithL
On one side are those who believe in Williams' redemption and the good he did through his anti-gang speeches and children's books.

...Which sold the sum total of 300 copies. What a crock!

I notice the "on the other side" part got mighty short shritf in this puff piece. There wasn't one victim in all this, there were four, and Mookie wasn't one of them.

10 posted on 12/14/2005 8:08:33 AM PST by Billthedrill
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To: SmithL

Legacy: more and swifter executions. DNA will make it possible.


11 posted on 12/14/2005 8:12:18 AM PST by cloud8
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To: SmithL
this man ... personifies redemption

Yeah, right!

12 posted on 12/14/2005 8:17:26 AM PST by ozoneliar ("The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants" -T.J.)
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To: SmithL

http://www.homestead.com/prosites-prs/tookiewilliamsvictims.html


13 posted on 12/14/2005 8:18:39 AM PST by commonguymd (My impatience is far more advanced than any known technology.)
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To: SmithL

What to argue over? He's a executed mass murderer.


14 posted on 12/14/2005 8:24:37 AM PST by funkywbr
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To: SmithL

Stanley "Tookie" Williams is not a bonafide BLACK martyr.
Glorifying Tookie to mythic proportions is REALLY an insult to American Blacks and TRUE MARTYRS of racism.

It seems a deliberate joke by perverse leftists to elevate a less than lesser cause to a cause celebre status. It is clear to rational persons that leftists indulge in evil manipulations to express their contempt for truth and for the truth of the matter.


15 posted on 12/14/2005 8:25:53 AM PST by purpleland (Vigilance and Valor! Socialism is the Opiate of Academia)
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To: SmithL
to obtain justice for Stanley 'Tookie' Williams by proving beyond a shadow of a doubt his innocence,

Maybe she can get O.J. to help her find the real murderer.

16 posted on 12/14/2005 8:25:54 AM PST by Klatuu
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To: SmithL

I like Rocky...


17 posted on 12/14/2005 8:28:51 AM PST by Dallas59 (“You love life, while we love death"( Al-Qaeda & Democratic Party)
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To: SmithL

I took me one seconds to figure what his legacy should be. "Murderer"


18 posted on 12/14/2005 8:29:22 AM PST by Logical me (Oh, well!!!)
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To: SmithL
I agree with that policeman, Michael Booker. Most people, especially youths, won't remember Williams as an anti- gang activist, or the writer of a few children's' books: They'll remember him as the founder of a gang which was responsible for countless brutal murders all across our country for over 30 years, which in turn led to the creation of numerous other street gangs which caused almost as much trouble and destruction as the Crips.
19 posted on 12/14/2005 8:33:56 AM PST by Chewie84
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To: SmithL

He will have no legacy. He was just a murderer. Nothing more. Now he's a DEAD murderer. Nothing more. Ten years from now, nobody will remember his name.


20 posted on 12/14/2005 8:35:50 AM PST by IronJack
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To: SmithL

John Wayne Gacy Jr., Chicago serial killer, while waiting for his execution painted profusely. Should have Gacy's art output, his prison legacy, redeemed him and saved him from excution? Was this talented treasure to art world sacrificed at the execution block of the racist state?
Well, Gacy was white and so were his some 20 victims.
And his art works show pedestrian-level graphics of clowns.


21 posted on 12/14/2005 8:40:19 AM PST by purpleland (Vigilance and Valor! Socialism is the Opiate of Academia)
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To: SmithL
He will never commit another murder again. There's zero chance of recidivism. The Left loves murderers - they can have their legacy. I'm happy he's off the planet for good.

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

22 posted on 12/14/2005 8:47:09 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: teenyelliott
LOL! You beat me to it. The Left hates the death penalty because it works.

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

23 posted on 12/14/2005 8:48:22 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: LIConFem
Williams' 15 minutes of fame are over. What is it about DEAD those bloomin' idiots don't understand?

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

24 posted on 12/14/2005 8:49:52 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: econjack
How many people have actually read his books? Pardon me if I can't find them on the Amazon.com best-seller list.

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

25 posted on 12/14/2005 8:51:38 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: SmithL
"It's impossible to make the argument that this is all some kind of phony act to save himself. He used the money from the books that he wrote to do anti-violence work. He didn't spend it on his defense."

How do we know that? And why didn't a dime of this money go to help his victims' families?

26 posted on 12/14/2005 9:30:49 AM PST by NYCVirago
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To: NYCVirago

New York Post headline, inexplicably placed on Page 27:
Tough Tookies


27 posted on 12/14/2005 9:35:46 AM PST by jjmcgo
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To: SmithL

I heard he had quite a record for disturbances and assaults in prison.

Time to throw the carcass out with the rest of the trash.


28 posted on 12/14/2005 9:36:43 AM PST by rock58seg (It's time for Islam to actually become a religion of peace or a religion of the past.)
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To: rock58seg
Relax folks... Tookie may become a martyr to the intellectual left, but he'll just be one of their thousands of martyrs. He's never going to make the top 20 though - I mean, do you want to go to a party wearing a Che T-shirt or a Tookie T-shirt?

Anyhow, as for the average black American, they're as happy to see Tookie gone as the rest of the country.

For the gangs in the ghettos, it's not like they're going to spend a lot of time reading up on Tookie's heroic legacy.
They've got better (sarcasm) things to do.
29 posted on 12/14/2005 9:52:39 AM PST by lOKKI (You can ignore reality until it bites you in the ass.)
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To: goldstategop
Yup. It's okay to kill an unborn baby, but good golly don't hurt the murderers!

I don't care if old Tookie could turn water into wine. His penalty was given for crimes already committed.

I'm glad he is dead. Every time a murderer dies, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. : )

30 posted on 12/14/2005 11:14:26 AM PST by teenyelliott (Soylent green should be made outta liberals...)
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To: SmithL

You can always gauge how liberal a person is by how much they worry about their legacy. They just don't understand that history will be the ultimate judge.


31 posted on 12/14/2005 11:17:22 AM PST by tertiary01 (Dems ..the party that repeats history's mistakes over and over and....)
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