Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Kill Tookie

Californians are actually conflicted over the question of whether the founder of the ruthless Crips street gang -- Stanley "Tookie" Williams -- should be executed on Dec. 13. (Texans wouldn't be.)

Let's review the facts, according to the Los Angeles Times: Tookie has been on Death Row for more than 20 years for the 1979 shotgun slayings of Albert Owens, a 7-11 clerk; and Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang and Yu-Chin Yang Lin, who were shot to death 11 days later at their motel.

Last week, a Times article boiled down Tookie's Death Row days to this: "Williams has apologized for founding the Crips, a gang that has wreaked havoc around the country, and urged youths to shun gang life. However, he has steadfastly maintained his innocence in the slayings. In response to criticism that he could not be redeemed because he has not admitted culpability for the slayings, Williams wrote in his autobiography: 'I will never apologize for capital crimes that I did not commit — not even to save my life.'"

Joshua Marquis, DA of Clatsop County, Ore., and co-author of "Debating the Death Penalty," wrote a marvelous op-ed piece in the Times, headlined, "He's a Murderer. He Should Die." Clearly, he sees no legal or moral reason to spare the unremorseful killer's life, but he also presents some interesting facts (here in his words):

-- "His true distinction comes only in his possibly being the second African American among the 12 people the state of California has executed in the last 35 years."
-- "Williams claims he discourages kids from getting involved in gang life, yet a San Quentin official recently suggested that he still orchestrates gang activity outside the prison, according to an Associated Press story."
-- "In his 2004 memoir, he refused to back off the code against 'snitching,' in which identifying a drive-by shooter is considered a worse sin than shooting a 4-year-old in the head with a Tech-9."
-- "Williams' case recalls that of Norman Mailer and his friends, who 'adopted' killer/writer Jack Henry Abbott. After Mailer and others secured his release from prison, Abbott stabbed and killed a young aspiring actor. If his sentence is commuted, Williams will be an even shinier icon to the thugs who follow his example into violence and incarceration."
-- Celebrities have made Tookie their cause-du-jour. "It is especially offensive to his victims' families, whose names the celebrities championing his cause probably don't
know."

I can't add too much more, except to advise you to read Marquis' column. Tookie's guilt isn't really in doubt. The question of clemency is a no-brainer: Kill Tookie.

1 comment:

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