Stanley “Tookie” Williams “was condemned in 1981 for gunning down convenience store clerk Albert Owens, 26, at a 7-Eleven in Whittier and killing Yen-I Yang, 76, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, 63, and the couple’s daughter Yu-Chin Yang Lin, 43, at the Los Angeles motel they owned. Williams claimed he was innocent” (Benjamin).
While he was in prison, however, Williams was in fact rehabilitated. So much so that he “had made amends by writing children’s books about the dangers of gangs and violence. “During Williams’ 24 years on death row, a Swiss legislator, college professors and others nominated him for the Nobel Prizes in peace and literature” (Benjamin).
Williams himself stated, “There is no part of me that existed then that exists now…I haven’t had a lot of joy in my life. But in here,” he said, pointing to his heart, “I’m happy. I am peaceful in here. I am joyful in here” (Benjamin).
But William’s rehabilitation wasn’t enough for then Governor Schwarzenegger. He stated since there was no “apology or atonement…there can be no redemption”.
So what about his books? What about the fact that Williams spoke out against gang violence? None of that seemed to matter. Despite what is assumed about using “lethal injection” to execute prisoners, it is not humane. And in Williams’ case it was degrading.
“Officials at San Quentin State Prison seemed to have trouble injecting the lethal mixture into his muscular arm, apparently struggling to find a vein.It took them, it may have been 10 minutes to deal with that. Williams at one point grimaced, it looked almost at frustration at the difficulty there,” media witness John Simerman of the Contra Costa Times told CBS Radio News. “You doing that right?” it sounded as if he asked one of the men with a needle” (Benjamin).
I am not going to get into my stance about the death penalty here on this blog, but when my daughter saw my dismay once Williams was, in fact, executed, she asked me what was wrong. So I explained the details of the case to her.
The next day during the pledge of allegiance at school, my then seventeen year old daughter decided to turn her back to the flag. Of course she was brought down to the principal’s office, and I was given a phone call. When asked why she turned her back on the flag she said, “for Tookie Williams, because liberty and justice apparently isn’t for all”.
I couldn’t have been prouder.
Source : Benjamin, Scott. Tookie Williams is Executed. CBS/AP December 13, 2005, 9:41 AM. Web.
Photo Credit: www.talkleft.com
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