Skip to comments.Why Tookie Had to Die (Niman Time Again!)
Posted on 01/05/2006 9:56:43 AM PST by Houmatt
Stanley Tookie Williams was the convicted murderer and founder of the notorious Crips street gang. During his 26 years in prison, he transformed himself into a five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, a prolific author of childrens books, and an anti-gang-violence activist. The State of California executed him last week for a series of homicides he was convicted of committing in 1979. In signing off on the killing of Williams, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger violently silenced one of the worlds most outspoken supporters of nonviolenceall in the name of combating violence.
Right up to his death by lethal injection, Tookie Williams maintained his innocence, with supporters citing coerced testimony, evidentiary irregularities, and a racially engineered jury as tainting his trial. New evidence, in the form of four witnesses, raises possible questions to support some of these claims. The fact is, however, that Williams is technically a convicted murderer. Whether or not that conviction was flawed is a separate argument. Murderer or not, as founder of the Crips, Williams was clearly a bad dude in the 1970s. The question that confronted California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before the execution was whether or not Williams, who spent most of his life in prison, redeemed himself enough to continue living his life a free man. Schwarzenegger decided to go for the kill, rejecting Williams request for clemency.
What made the Terminator turned Governors position particularly chilling was his eleventh hour Statement of Decision, available for all to read at the governors website. Schwarzenegger cites Williams argument that he is particularly deserving of clemency because he has reformed and been redeemed for his violent past. The governor goes on, however, to argue that Williams, who never admitted his guilt, had shown no signs of redemption. His main piece of evidence for this claim was Williams 1998 childrens book, Life in Prison, a book whose publication profits fund the nonprofit Institute for the Prevention of Youth Violence. Publishers Weekly recommends the book for children aged eight years old and older. The School Library Journal recommends it for grades six and up, pointing out that the Black and white photos of Williams and fellow San Quentin prisoners are painful reminders of the life he is trying to steer kids away from.
Schwarzeneggers problem is with the books dedication, which the governor argues, casts significant doubt on his [Williams] personal redemption. Why? Schwarzenegger goes on to explain, Specifically, 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 the countless other men, women, and youths who have to endure the hellish oppression of living behind bars. The governor continues, writing, The mix of individuals on this list is curious. Most have violent pasts and some have been convicted of committing heinous murders, including the killing of law enforcement. According to Schwarzenegger, the list indicates that Williams still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address social problems.
By citing Life in Prison and basing his decision to execute Williams on his writings, the Austrian-born governor launched an assault on the Bill of Rightsparticularly on the First Amendments guarantee of freedom of speech. Lets make no mistake about this. Williams was imprisoned for murder, but in the end, after years of international accolades for his public service and anti-violence activism, he was executed for his beliefs. As an American and a political columnist, I find this particularly chilling.
Lets revisit the list of names that cost Williams his life. First off, everyone on the list is a person of coloreither African, African-American or Native American. And theyre all publicly recognized political activists. They all spent time in jail and were all internationally recognized to varying degrees as political prisoners.
Schwarzenegger made a particular point of singling out George Jackson for special attention, writing that that name in particular was evidence of Williams failed reformation. Jackson, like Williams, and everyone else on Williams list with the exception of John Africa, was a published author. Originally convicted of robbing seventy dollars from a gas station, Jackson was sentenced to serve one year to life. He gained notoriety after his younger brother shot up a court room in a failed attempt to free him. Eleven years later, after writing two critically acclaimed books and establishing himself as a self proclaimed Black Nationalist and revolutionary, Jackson, still serving time for the gas station heist, was shot to death by prison guards who alleged he was trying to escape. According to the Library Journal, Jacksons best-selling book, Soledad Brother, remains recommended for most libraries and is a solid title for Black History Month. Similar praise of Jacksons work seems to have cost Stanley Tookie Williams his life.
Lets look at some of the other names from Williams dedication that the governor cites, and lets also examine the theme that seems to be tying them all together. How about Assata Shakur? Her autobiography is described by the Library Journal as a compelling tale of white racism on a sensitive and powerful young black woman. Then theres Geronimo Pratt, the decorated Vietnam vet who became a Black Panther Party leader. Publishers Weekly describes his biography, written by Jack Olsen, as One part Kafka and one part Orwell, explaining how the story of Geronimo Pratts conviction and imprisonment, for a murder committed while he was 350 miles away from the crime scene and under FBI surveillance, is a textbook case of abuse of the American criminal justice system for political ends. After serving 26 years in prison, like Tookie Williams, Pratts conviction was overturned and he was set free.
How about Angela Davis? Governor Schwarzenegger should have recognized her name. Davis, an internationally acclaimed scholar and author, works for the state of California as the Presidential Chair and Chair of the Womens Studies Department at the University of Californias Santa Cruz campus. If uttering her name warrants an execution, most of the United States Womens Studies scholars as well as a whole bunch of Sociologists had better hightail it to the Canadian borderpronto.
Then theres Leonard Peltier, the American Indian Movement activist imprisoned for 29 years for a murder that ample public evidence clearly demonstrates he did not commit. Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, petitioned the United States for his release five years ago. Notable human rights activists such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sister Helen Prejean, Rigoberta Menchu and Coretta Scott King, along with Amnesty International, the National Lawyers Guild, seventeen U.S. Congressional Representatives and the European Union Parliament have all called for Peltiers release. If this is grounds for execution, then Schwarzeneggers killing field is going to get pretty crowded. Its no wonder that a growing number of Austrian politicians now want to strip him of his Austrian citizenship, with some calling to change the name of Austrias Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium to Stanley Tookie Williams Stadium.
And lets not forget about Nelson Mandela, who is recognized the world over as an idol in the universal struggle for basic human rights. Or Malcolm X, whose name now graces parks and boulevards across California and America. Schwarzeneggers mention of these icons in the global civil rights movement as part of his justification for killing Tookie Williams is nothing short of grossly obscene and un-American. So is executing someone for exercising their freedom of speech and standing in solidarity with notable political dissidents.
Not a single word about what Williams did, his four victims, nothing. This is more an indictment of Governor Schwarzenegger and his audacity to reject clemency for an unrepentant, psychopathic murderer than the execution of an unrepentant, psychopathic murderer.
But what more do you expect from leftist murderer lovers?
He had to die because he comitted MURDER. End of discussion.
I support Niman when he says that 26 years on death row is too long and I support his call to expedite the execution of these criminals
I'm so sick of hearing about this vile monster.
LET HIM DIE ALREADY!!!
"Stanley Tookie Williams was the convicted murderer and founder of the notorious Crips street gang."
Was anything more needed from this article after this first sentance ?
He had to die because we PUMPED POISON INTO HIS BLOODSTREAM and the book-peddling bastard deserved it.
It's important to note that Tookie also "transformed himself" into "Exhibit 'A': Why being a murderous thug can be bad for your health!"
Tookie Had to Die
Possibly the most ignorant statement in a very ignorant screed. What is hard to understand about freedom of speech? You can say whatever you like, but most people will judge you on the things that fall out of your mouth, or that you commit to paper. Tookie was executed for his foul deeds, not his words.
Be a cold day in Hell ("How is the temperature there, Tookie?") when MY eight-year-old reads anything by that POS.
Dedicated his book to innocent political prisoners?? The author forgot to mention that these were criminals who played the race card when needed. What a load of BS.
I'm getting the hang of this liberal journalism thing.
Tookie aint gonna start up any more MURDER squads of crack addled kids!
Tookie aint gonna shotgun any more innocent TAX PAYING CITIZENS!!!
He transformed himself into nothing but an insincere apologist and fraud who tried every angle to escape justice.
He did not transform himself into a "Nobel nominee", some bleeding heart scumbag liberal nominated him as a cause-celebre, not out of any hint of actual merit.
Why is it that "new evidence" seems to show up JUST WHEN someone is about to be put to death?
I see that they've modified the claim that it was "an all white jury." to a "racially engineered" jury. It WAS NOT all white. There was at least on black member. Also, the 9th circuit court - the most liberal court in the country - couldn't find any legal grounds to overturn the conviction.
What a skeptic!! You've never woken up in the morning and suddenly remembered an event from 20 years ago that would clear a convicted murderer? ;o)
Publically recognized by who? Other liberal "activists" like Amnesty International or the Nobel Committee?! In jail for what? Violent crimes, not "political" issues.
He had to die because that was his sentence after a fair trial.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger violently silenced one of the worlds most outspoken supporters of nonviolenceall in the name of combating violence.
******Fixed to tell the truth.
******California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger FINALLY silenced one of the worlds most outspoken supporters of GANG VIOLENCE all in the name of PROMOTING MURDER.