On Tuesday the 13th at 4PM, there was a small demonstration at the corner of McAllister and Franklin Streets over the execution of Tookie Williams at San Quentin the night before.
There were about 50 protestors and twenty media people...
...which felt bizarre...
...an example of a manufactured media op(portunity)...
...at its most brazen.
One has to give the oganizers credit (click here to see who they are) for getting such a large turnout, however, from the mainstream press.
I'm opposed to the death penalty on two grounds: one, that innocent people have been and continue to be executed; and two, execution by the state is murder in my name and I actually take the Ten Commandment injunction "Thou shalt not kill" seriously.
James Wolcott wrote the following yesterday:
"I held out the fugitive hope that the moderate side of Schwarzenegger might prevail as his wife tugged him in the direction of leniency and mercy. What a fool I am. Whatever Maria Shriver said or didn't say was of no consequence, nor were the pleas for clemency from citizens, famous and obscure alike, who felt Williams had done enough good over the last twenty years to deserve having his life spared.
The death penalty must be abolished. No former movie action hero--or Yale cheerleader with enough psychological baggage to sink the African Queen--should be entrusted with the power of life and death over his fellow citizens. These are essentially frivolous, uninformed men playacting blue-suited roles of grave responsibility. And, no, I don't think Bill Clinton should have executed Ricky Ray Rector either. Capital punishment must be de-politicized, and as long as politicians make the final decision, depoliticization is impossible. So abolish it."
There is a scatalogical, nasty piece of work in the blogosphere who accurately bills himself as "The Rude Pundit" (click here to get to his site). On occasion, he's one of the most brilliant ranters on the internet and that's saying something. Here's a few excerpts from his take on the California governor:
"Man, the Rude Pundit wants Arnold Schwarzenegger to be in charge of all decisions of life or death. He wants that deep thinkin' demi-Nazi to walk from cell to cell at San Quentin and mark a chalk X outside each door. Because Arnold Schwarzenegger is just who we all want tellin' us who should live or die, who deserves mercy and who deserves death. Goddamn, what an easy world it'll be havin' Arnold Schwarzenegger make all those decisions.
Fuck, let's not limit Arnold Schwarzenegger to the executable on death row; send Arnold Schwarzenegger into hospitals so he can give the thumbs up or thumbs down to each person on life support."
"Who's been indirectly responsible for more violence since the early 1980s, Tookie or the Terminator? Tough question, no?
For, if nothing else, the Williams case has laid clear the absurdity of the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you spend your life acting like an amoral, gun-firing buffoon, why should anyone expect you to act differently as the governor? That would require an act of clemency by the voting public, that might require you to say you wanted to redeem yourself for your past sins."
"And the most disheartening thing of all was how little was mentioned, in the cruel march to the death chamber, of how the ex-wife of one of Williams' alleged victims, Albert Owens (whose family is entirely fucked-up in conflict over the execution), called for support of Williams' efforts to redeem himself for his gang-building past: "I, Linda Owens want to build upon Mr. Williams' peace initiative. I invite Mr. Williams to join me in sending a message to all communities that we should all unite in peace. This position of peace would honor my husband's memory and Mr. Williams work."
"A call for peace to honor the dead? What fuckin' country does Linda Owens think she's living in? Not in George Bush's America, where more must die in Iraq to make sure the dead are honored. And certainly not in Arnold Schwarzenegger's California."
At one point during the media op protest in front of the California Public Utilities Commission building, this gentleman started an elaborate call-and-response chant with the crowd. "Hi-hi-ho-ho, the death penalty's gotta go" was one section, if I remember correctly.
For a more nuanced take on the whole subject, Alan Maass from The Socialist Worker has a great post up on "Counterpunch." Click here to read it.