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2,000 in LA View Stanley Tookie Williams

2,000 people in Los Angeles paid their respects yesterday to Stanley Tookie Williams, executed last week in California.

"Many of the people who lined up today for a last look at the man didn't know him; never met him," Ali said. "But they came to pay their respects because they have a Tookie in their family, or identify with his struggle."

Who were they? Here's one example:

When elementary schoolteacher Macella Hibbler, 34, heard that Williams' body was on public view, she threw sweaters on her three young children and hurried to the mortuary to see the man whose life story had saturated the news media only a week ago. "My only thought has been this: How can I get my children to understand, I mean really understand, why we're here?" she said. "I'm telling them, 'Watch the road you take and make wise decisions. That way you won't wind up in a coffin.' "

Another said:

Standing outside the mortuary, watching the spectacle in the street, Wanda Smith, 42, shook her head and said, "I feel sorry for Tookie. It could have been my own brother, or my son. "I hope that his death will make gangbangers stop killing each other," she said. "I've been to so many funerals, it's heartbreaking."

I think that is the legacy Williams hoped for.

His body will be cremated, his ashes scattered in South Africa. Rest in peace, Stanley Tookie Williams. You made a difference, and a positive contribution, whether Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks so or not.

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Leslie Fulbright wrote Sunday about her recent interview with Williams on death row. During the interview, a storm outside caused the electricity to fail and the lights to go out.

My first reaction was to look at the door.... I looked for a prison guard who could bust open the door and pull me out should anything go wrong. Williams sensed my apprehension.

"Don't panic," he told me. "I'm here, I can protect you. I've got your back." He calmed me down. The lights returned within seconds. A prison guard then appeared and looked in. "I'm fine," I mouthed to him.

Fulbright and Tookie continued on with the interview..

....In that moment, the convicted murderer became a man to me. I was no longer apprehensive. I asked my questions.

.....Near the close of our talk, I again asked Williams how he was feeling. "I am excellent," he said. "I have a sense of halcyon." I couldn't say the same; I was a composed wreck. Now that the murderer had become a man to me, I couldn't help but wonder how it would feel to know you would soon die. I would be afraid.

She asked other reporters if they had tried to interview Tookie. Most said they had not. She ends with,

Asked whether I faced an ethical dilemma by becoming too close to this case, I would say no. Yes, I shed a few tears on my own time. But, to me, the reporter who didn't even try to talk to Williams is the one with the ethical dilemma. His voice was essential.

Danny Glover, [correction: a journalist with the same name as ]the actor and anti-death penalty activist, wrote this article yesterday for the National Journal's Beltway Blogroll, comparing Williams with Corey Maye, who sits on death row in Mississippi, convicted of a cop killing which many in the blogosphere believe was self-defense.

Glover notes that bloggers can have a tremendous impact on the death penalty debate. It's a debate that is going to grow louder in the coming months and years.

Blogging about the death penalty, and particularly against it, is not a new idea. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has been at it for 18 months, and Amnesty International launched Death Penalty Blog in July. Some state affiliates of NCADP, including those in Alabama, Missouri and Tennessee, also publish blogs.

Glover notes the increase in bloggers who are now participating in the debate, particularly due to Williams and Corey Maye.

However American views of the death penalty evolve, blogs are sure to be a factor in that intellectual shift. And bloggers' musings over the execution of Tookie Williams and the death sentence of Cory Maye could prove to be the catalyst for that shift.

TalkLeft will continue to blog about Maye, as well as the others either now on death row or executed in the past, the guilty as well as the innocent. We've been blogging about them and the death penalty for three and half years, and welcome the blogswarm. It's time for the U.S. to end the barbaric practice of state-sanctioned killings.

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  • Re: 2,000 in LA View Stanley Tookie Williams (none / 0) (#1)
    by merlallen on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 07:10:14 AM EST
    That would be a great legacy. RIP

    TL, speaking of Maye, I read somewhere that everyone given the DP in Mississippi gets an automatic appeal, although I could find no info about whether Maye's had his yet. Do you know if he's had his appeal yet?

    Re: 2,000 in LA View Stanley Tookie Williams (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 09:38:51 AM EST
    Asked whether I faced an ethical dilemma by becoming too close to this case, I would say no. Yes, I shed a few tears on my own time. But, to me, the reporter who didn't even try to talk to Williams is the one with the ethical dilemma.
    Leslie Fulbright presented, I think, a deeper insight with this statement than she may have realized at the time. It seems that usually one of the first psychological actions people take in justifying killing another is to first de-humanize them. The reverse is equally true, as Leslie showed here.

    Re: 2,000 in LA View Stanley Tookie Williams (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 12:49:20 PM EST
    Uh, dehumanize a cold blooded killer? Right. Seems like that's an awfully short putt. Go ahead pick it up. It's as good as in. LOL, Jimbo

    Re: 2,000 in LA View Stanley Tookie Williams (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 01:12:26 PM EST
    It's time for the U.S. to end the barbaric practice of state-sanctioned killings. ..or, ya know, murder. Rest in pieces, Tookie.

    Re: 2,000 in LA View Stanley Tookie Williams (none / 0) (#6)
    by jimcee on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 07:28:33 PM EST
    I'm sure he had a nice 'viewing' which is more than his shotgun blasts left for the victim's kin. Tookie Williams....., man the Left picks some strange people to beatify.

    Re: 2,000 in LA View Stanley Tookie Williams (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 01:37:16 AM EST
    If he didn't do it, then isn't LWOP cruel and unusual? If you argue that you agree that he didn't do it but still think he should be in prison for life, isn't that inconsistent? Jimbo

    Re: 2,000 in LA View Stanley Tookie Williams (none / 0) (#8)
    by Slado on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 08:07:21 AM EST
    TW's legacy.. Murder of 4 people in cold blood. 99.9% chance he is guilty of these crimes. Sure he "might" be innocnet but 20years worth of appeals in liberal California say he wasn't. Founded the Notorious Crips gang. Commited countless small crimes that we'll never know about. Founded a culture or way of life that has resulted in countless murders of unnice and innocent black people in our country. While in prison injured and attached several prisoners and also a few guards. Planned an escape from Prison that inluded the murder of prison guards that was only foiled by a fellow prisoner who chickened out. ETc... This was a horrible human bieng who showed no signs of remorse. I do not support the death penalty on practical reasons but I shed no tears for Sadistic murdering gang members who play nice when the rent comes do. That death penalty opponents have chosen this man to make their stand is appaling and thier lack of consistency sets the movement back. RIP Tookie Williams

    Re: 2,000 in LA View Stanley Tookie Williams (none / 0) (#9)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 12:17:59 AM EST
    "I do not support the death penalty on practical reasons but I shed no tears for Sadistic murdering gang members who play nice when the rent comes do." Strictly small potatoes compared to sadistic, murdering presidential administrations that will probably never have to pay anything.