Monday, December 12, 2005

Tookie Williams denied Clemency

Nation: Here is Schwarzenegger's decision in pdf format. AP story here. Typical spin as Kravets says the Governor is doing this to shrug off the claims he is pandering to liberals.

Hollywood stars and death penalty opponents mounted a campaign to save his life, making him one of the nation's biggest death-row cause celebres in decades. His supporters argued that the founder of the murderous Crips gang had made amends during more than two decades in prison by writing a memoir and children's books about the dangers of gangs. Prosecutors and victims' advocates contended Williams was undeserving of clemency from the governor because he did not own up to his crimes and refused to inform on fellow gang members. They also argued that the Crips gang that Williams co-founded in Los Angeles in 1971 is responsible for hundreds of deaths, many of them in battles with the rival Bloods for turf and control of the drug trade. Williams stands to become the 12th California condemned inmate executed since lawmakers reinstated the death penalty in 1977 after a brief hiatus. Williams was condemned in 1981 for gunning down a clerk in a convenience store holdup and a mother, father and daughter in a motel robbery weeks later. Williams claimed he was innocent. The last time a California governor granted clemency was in 1967, when Ronald Reagan spared a mentally infirm killer.Schwarzenegger _ a Republican who has come under fire from members of his own party as too accommodating to liberals _ rejected clemency twice before during his two years in office. Less than 12 hours before the execution was set to take place, the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals said it would not intervene because, among other things, there was no "clear and convincing evidence of actual innocence."
South Central so far is taking the decision with muted sadness or happiness depending on who you talk too.
LOS ANGELES - As word spread this afternoon that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had turned down Stanley Tookie Williams' last-ditch bid for clemency, reaction was muted on the streets where Williams launched the Crips gang 35 years ago. Some residents were saddened by the news, saying the governor had missed a golden opportunity to show true compassion hours before Williams' scheduled execution just past midnight. Others, though, felt anything but compassion for the man whose legacy in South-Central Los Angeles still seems like nothing but gang colors, bullets and blood. ``There's not a lot of anger over the governor's decision,'' said Julio Ramos, a social worker at All Peoples Christian Center in South-Central, which offers a gang-intervention program for middle-school kids. ``A lot of people feel Tookie Williams is getting what he deserved.'' John Johnson, another social worker downtown whose clients include former gang members, put it this way: ``Every time a young black male or female dies from gang violence, an intelligent person would see that the guy who started this gang to begin with should be held responsible for his actions.'' However, across town in East Los Angeles, the founder of a well-known gang-intervention program said the only thing worse than the four 1979 murders that landed Williams on Death Row was the governor's failure to prevent yet another life from being extinguished. ``There is a fate worse than death and that's the decision to execute a human being,'' said the Rev. Greg Boyle, who founded Homeboy Industries in 1988 to help at-risk youth stay out of gangs. ``This is about more than any individual's merit or worth; it's about the death penalty. No other civilized country on the planet does it. And this could have been a moment of courage for the governor, who could have simply said, `I've changed my mind. I've seen the light. Nobody will be executed as long as I'm governor.' '' Instead, said Boyle, Schwarzenegger ``missed a golden opportunity to raise this above simply talking about somebody's worth and merit. I now worry about Arnold's salvation more than Stanley's.'' The irony was obvious: Boyle has devoted his life to trying to extract young men from the gang culture that Williams helped create. And he worried about the message that the governor's decision sends to teenagers lured by the gang lifestyle.

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