Monday, December 12, 2005

The Case of Tookie Williams

the scribe just received a press release from the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office. He has denied clemency to Stanley “Tookie” Williams.

There is an accompanying, five-page “Statement of Decision.”

Forgive the scribe if, in all the death-laced sobriety, he still finds humor in the idea of somebody’s life being in the governator’s hand.

Or maybe you shouldn’t.

There is little in the document to suggest the matter was as soul-wrenching as Schwarzenegger would have us believe. There is a pretty nuts-and-bolts description of the original crimes (reproduced below), a fairly pat validation of all the court proceedings related to the Williams’ case, and a certain disdain for the convict’s conversion and redemption.

The document observes that Williams dedicated his 1998 book, “Life in Prison” to Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, Ramona Africa, John Africa, Leonard Peltier, Dhoruba Al-Mujahid, George Jackson, and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

“The mix of individuals on this list is curious,” Schwarzenegger (or someone who writes for him), noted. “Most have violent pasts and some have been convicted of committing heinous murders, including the killing of law enforcement.”

That stinks very highly of culture war rhetoric, targets the rebel class in this country and others, while being more suggestive and general than true in its particulars. the scribe might point out that, like the Williams case, the “guilt” of some listed has always been laced with the hint of racism and injustice.

So be careful what you say, because of what they might accuse you of doing.

The document reads in part: “During the early morning hours of February 28, 1979, Williams and three others went on a robbery spree. Around 4 a.m. they entered a 7-Eleven store where Albert Owens was working by himself. Here, Williams armed with his pump-action shotgun, ordered Owens to a backroom and shot him twice in the back while he lay face down on the floor. Williams and his accomplices made off with about $120 from the store’s cash register. After leaving the 7-Eleven store, Williams told the other killers that he killed Albert Owens because he did not want any witnesses. Later that morning, Williams recounted shooting Albert Owens, saying, ‘You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him.’ Williams then made a growling noise and laughed for five to six minutes.

On March 11, 1979, less than two weeks later, Williams, again armed with his shotgun, robbed a family-operated motel and shot and killed three members of the family: (1) the father, Yen-I Yang, who was shot once in the torso and once in the arm while he was laying on a sofa; (2) the mother, Tsai-Shai Lin, who was shot once in the abdomen and once in the back; and (3) the daughter, Yee-Chen Lin, who was shot once in her face. For these murders, Williams made away with approximately $100 in cash. Williams also told others about the details of these murders and referred to the victims as ‘Budda-heads'."

Williams might have gained as much economically by having a garage sale, but he didn’t and for choosing such a ghastly way of getting his money he should have his freedom and pursuit of happiness in the outside world revoked. It’s enough in Europe for the worst killers and crooks, why isn’t it here? Why do we have to taint the public enterprise by engaging in behavior (killing) that we supposedly abhor?

Is the message that injection is more humane and therefore validate’s the state execution as civil rather than savage?

the scribe should think not. By any anarcho-syndical analysis (our specialty here at highwayscribery), we must govern by example and understand that when we kill, we encourage killing. That when we govern by love, we may someday come to love one another.


Stefanie said...

I have been following the story and hoping that Williams would be granted clemency. Unfortunately Schwarzenegger doesn't understand mercy. I think the death penalty is wrong no matter which way you look at it. I'm very glad that Minnesota does not have it. The legistlature talks about it from time to time though, which worries me. But so fat, no one can get enough public support for it.

Stefanie said...

Oops, that should have been "so far no one can get enough public support for it.

highwayscribery said...

Prairie Home companion, top literary city, death penalty, "So Many Books", Clean Gene McCarthy...not a bad profile for good old Minnesota..

Anonymous said...

hey scribe... even I old liberal that i was can't shed a tear for Tookie ... the world is so overpopulated ... and for him to have killed those hardworking people with no remorse... I say
good riddance... shocking but I am getting to be a cantankerous old


highwayscribery said...