Thursday, December 15, 2005


The December 13th execution of Stanley “Tookie” Williams by the state of California was a gruesome example of retribution, political expediency, and institutionalized murder. But in spite of that fact, Brother Williams went out like a Trojan--even to the point of trying to assist the technician to find a vein in which to inject the lethal potion that, moments later, would certainly bring his life to an end.

That scene alone demonstrated that this brother was an exceptional individual. He clearly had more strength of character than any other player in this sad and sorted affair, and therefore, was certainly worth saving.

Of course, there are those who are going to say that he didn’t have so much character that it prevented him from killing four innocent victims in cold blood. But in response to that, remember, it is not at all clear whether or not Mr. Williams committed the crimes in which he was ultimately executed, since he declared his innocence to the very end. What is clear, however, is that this brother had something far less than a fair trial.

As Dr. Firpo Carr pointed out in his piece, Terminate Tookie? Terrible Travesty!, in the December 8th edition of the Los Angeles Sentinel, the irregularities in Tookie’s trial provided more than enough grounds to, at the very least, spare this brother’s life.

First of all, the prosecutor in the case, Robert Martin, made it a point to see that there were no black jurors on Mr. Williams’ case. Secondly, he had the venue of the trial moved from Los Angeles to the predominately white city of Torrance, Ca. Also, this same prosecutor, Robert Martin, was censored by the California Supreme Court for “invidious discrimination” during the prosecution of Tookie’s case. In addition, there was absolutely no physical evidence pointing to Tookie committing any of the crimes in which he was charged, and every witness that testified against him had a vested interest in testifying for the state (such as charges being reduced or dropped for crimes they’d committed). And beyond that, one witness was even allowed to read the police report in his jail cell so he’d know how to testify. So again, to my mind’s eye, all of these irregularities in the prosecution of this brother constitutes more than a compelling reason to, at the very least, not put this brother to death.

But even if Tookie did commit the crimes in which he was convicted, the fact is, that happened a lifetime ago. In the twenty-five years since those crimes were committed Mr. Williams’ life had undergone a dramatic change, and certainly the years that he lived with death as his constant companion (not to mention the last agonizing hours that he spent not knowing whether or not he was going to live or die) should have paid some dividend on that debt. That brother must have died a million times over the years. And beyond that, it wasn’t as though he was going to be freed—he would have still had to face his natural life behind bars.

The most tragic thing surrounding this sad affair, however, is our failure to at least try to drag something positive out this negative situation. Our society was so bent on retribution that once again we’ve missed yet another opportunity to make an investment in our young people—and thus, an investment in our society.

Stanley “Tookie” Williams could have made a tremendous contribution to the curbing of crime and violence on our streets, but once again, this society has allowed its lust for stupidity to overwhelm its dire need for enlightenment. But the black community doesn’t have to follow suit. Let us mark the death of this brother as the beginning of a new era—an era where our passion for enlightenment will overwhelm society's lust for stupidity.

So let us begin our renewed demonstrations now. Let us redouble our efforts to save the next Tookie, while he’s still in the cradle. And let us pray for all our sakes, that the world at large doesn’t judge America, as severely as the state of California judged this proud blcak man.

Sphere: Related Content