Richard e Hill - a Writer's Journal

Tookie Williams: Redemption or Justice?

Redemption or Justice

The execution date is set --- 13 Dec 2005 for Stanley Tookie Williams, the born again pacifist, who was previously the leader and acknowledged co-founder with Raymond Washington of the Los Angeles street gang a.k.a. the Crips. Tookie had an epiphany while in San Quentin prison on Death Row and authored children books and began an “in-house” crusade against his former lifestyle. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, has been the subject of a movie and the center of anti and pro execution groups. His co-founder Raymond Washington was murdered in 1981 before he could have an epiphany.


While living on the Southside of Chicago, I became familiar with the street gang culture; the Cobras, the Rangers (who became the Blackstone Rangers then the Black P Stone Nation) and the Disciples (a.k.a. the Gangster Disciples) are recalled. The modus operandi is the same; first serving as “protectors of the turf” before becoming extortionists, murders pillagers and illegal drug distributors (note: the Crips were the major manufacturers and distributors of “crack” cocaine). The “protected area and occupants” then become the client and recruiting bases. America sends mixed signals regarding gangs and their criminal activity. “The Godfather”, an organized crime depiction is hailed as one of the greatest movies ever made and the Sopranos is an award winning television staple. Many street gangs mimic these sympathetically portrayed fiction works, adopting some of the storylines into reality such as ritual executions of rivals and drive-by shootings. This is not intended to hold the entertainment industry culpable for the proliferation of street gangs, but basking these characters in celebrity, non-redeeming lights does not help.


Redeeming, redemption, and Tookie Williams. There is blood on Mr. Williams’ hands, if not from the victims in the case that placed him on Death Row, those hands wringing for redemption are gloved with the lives taken in the ascendancy to the leadership of one of the largest and most violent organizations in the world. The light of redemption shines brightly at the end of the tunnel that the condemned shuffle, shackled towards finality. I for one would be more convinced of the sincerity of Mr. Williams’ convictions (no pun intended) if he also calls for and leads the dissolution of the organization he self-proclaimed created. Before he is mentioned in the same breath as Dr. Martin Luther King and the Honorable Mother Teresa (two legitimate Nobel laureates), I would like to see some weapons removed from the streets and surrendered with drugs, youths returning to schools, and the urban neighborhoods returned to residences instead of crime scenes.

 

A stay of execution would be appropriate in these instances, otherwise . . .

 

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