The 14th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty will be held in Austin on Saturday November 2, 2013 at the Texas Capitol at 2 PM.
Now is the time to join the fight to end the death penalty! More and more people are concluding that the death penalty is a punishment that Texas can do without.
Texas has executed more than 500 people since 1982. Since Rick Perry became governor more than 250 people have been executed, including Todd Willingham, who was an innocent person executed by Texas in 2004.
Anthony Graves is an innocent person who was released in October 27, 2010 after 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, including 14 years on Texas death row.
The 14th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty was Saturday November 2, 2013 at 2 PM in Austin, Texas at the Capitol.
Each autumn since 2000, people from all walks of life and all parts of Texas, the U.S. and other countries have taken a day out of their year and gathered in Austin to raise their voices together and loudly express their opposition to the death penalty.
The annual march is organized as a joint project by several Texas anti-death penalty organizations working together with leading national organizations: Texas Moratorium Network, the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center, Kids Against the Death Penalty, and national organizations including Journey of Hope … from Violence to Healing, and Witness to Innocence.
Texas has the highest number of executions of any state in the country. With that in mind, hundreds of protestors took the streets of Austin to make a change, but not everyone is happy to see them there.
Hundreds marched through downtown Saturday, protesting the death penalty and the governor they say supports it.
Marchers chanted, “Rick Perry you can’t hide! We charge you with homicide!”
“We just saw the 250th execution under Governor Perry and that includes some controversial executions,” said organizer, Lily Hughes.
Protestors allege that innocent people have been executed in Texas during recent years and brought up controversial executions like that of Cameron Todd Willingham. Willingham has already been executed, but family is trying to exonerate him from charges that he murdered his three young children. Protesters are also hoping to stop future executions like that of Darlie Routier, the Rowlett, TX mother convicted of murdering her two children in 1996. Her family is reportedly working to retest forensic evidence that they say will prove Routier’s innocence.
I’m telling you this could happen to you. If your children or anybody dies in your home, your grand kids die in your home, do not for a minute think they’re not going to accuse you,” said Sarilda Routier, Darlie Routier’s former mother-in-law.
13th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty to be Held at the Texas Capitol in Austin Saturday November 3, 2012
The 13th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty will be held Saturday, November 3, 2012 on the South Steps of the Texas Capitol at 2 PM. After a short pre-march speaker’s program, the attendees will march through the streets of downtown Austin with a stop in front of the Texas Governor’s mansion and return to the Texas Capitol to hear more speakers against the death penalty.
The march will be led by 4 death row survivors who each spent many years on death rows around the U.S. for crimes they did not commit. The 4 exonerees are coming to Texas as members of Witness to Innocence, which is the nation’s only organization composed of, by and for exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones. These individuals are actively engaged in the struggle to end the death penalty, challenging the American public to grapple with the problem of a fatally flawed criminal justice system that sends innocent people to death row.
“Other states are reconsidering the death penalty in the face of mounting budget problems and problems in the system that put innocent people at risk of execution. On November 6, California voters will decide whether to retain or abolish the death penalty in California. In 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to abolish the death penalty. Juries across the nation, including in Texas, are sentencing fewer and fewer people to death. In Texas last year, only 8 people were sentenced to death, but Texas continues to lead the nation in numbers of executions. The 250th execution since Governor Rick Perry assumed office took place on October 31. Overall, Texas is nearing 500 total executions since resuming executions in 1982 after an 18 year moratorium. Although Texas far outranks other states in executions, more and more Texans are growing uncomfortable with our state’s use of the death penalty and reaching the conclusion that it is a public policy that we can do without”, said Scott Cobb, president of Texas Moratorium Network.
After a 12 year campaign by activists and party members, the Texas Democratic Party adopted a platform in 2012 that calls for abolishing the death penalty in Texas. The number of new death sentences nationwide hit a 35 year low in 2011.
One of the speakers at the march will be Clarence Brandley, who spent ten years on Texas death row. “As they see what the death penalty really means, in my case and others, more and more Texans believe that Texas can do without the death penalty,” said Brandley, from Conroe, Texas, who has been fighting for compensation from the state of Texas for over twenty years.
Other exonerees speaking will be Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine and Albert Burrell.
Family members of people currently on death row who will be speaking include Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner (wife of Hank Skinner), Sylvia Garza (mother of Robert Garza), Terri Been (sister of Jeff Wood), Delia Perez Meyer (sister of Louis Castro Perez), and Sarilda Routier (mother-in-law of Darlie Routier).
The annual march is organized as a joint project by several Texas anti-death penalty organizations working together with national organizations: Texas Moratorium Network, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Students Against the Death Penalty, Witness to Innocence, Kids Against the Death Penalty, International Socialist Organization, the Texas Civil Rights Project, ACLU-Texas, the Journey of Hope … from Violence to Healing, The Austin Chronicle, NOKOA, Gray Panthers, Democrats for Life, and Texas Democrats Against the Death Penalty.
And of course, we will be taking the time to talk about questions on how to build a movement that combats racism in the criminal justice system, supports resistance behind bars, aims to end mass incarceration and harsh punishment and makes the death penalty history.
Our convention is always a place for family members of prisoners, former prisoners, and activists to gather, share our stories and experiences, and strategize next steps forward for our organization and the cases we work on.
We hope you will join us November 2-4 in Austin, Texas for our 12th annual national convention!
This year’s registration includes a special Saturday morning breakfast. Regular registration is $40 including the dinner, and $20 for family members, former prisoners and students. There will be a Friday evening event which is free to all convention attendees and others. Register now for the convention!
Or you can mail in your registration to: CEDP, P.O. Box 25730, Chicago, IL 60647, and make your check out to the CEDP.
BOOK YOUR HOTEL ROOM
We have reserved a block of rooms at the Clarion Inn at a special rate of $113.85 (includes tax). To make reservations, call 800-434-7378 and mention the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. The hotel offers a free breakfast and is within walking distance of the convention site.
The Campaign to End the Death Penalty is excited to be hosting our annual convention in Austin at Ventana Del Soul. Ventana is a charitable organization that provides food service and culinary arts training to young people and adults who are undermployed – with a emphasis on reentry support for the formerly incarcerated.
The Ventana Del Soul facility hosts a kitchen and café that is open daily, as well as catering services. The folks working at the venue are part of Ventana’s various training programs, often through scholarships provided by the organization.
No outside food and drinks should be brought into Ventana Del Soul.
This is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with a charitable mission the meshes nicely with the CEDP’s commitment to fighting against the injustices in the system. We should do whatever we can over the weekend to talk with and support the folks at Ventana Del Soul.
Every year, because of contributions like yours, we are able to fly family members and former prisoners to this annual gathering where they are able to participate, speak, share their story their pain and their hope. The fund is named after Costella Cannon, our dear friend and a fellow Campaigner who died in 2003. Her son was wrongfully incarcerated and a victim of torture and died while incarcerated.
The voices of family members and former prisoners are so important to the movement for justice. Politicians want us to think that the men and women behind bars are monsters. We know that this is not true. Family members and former prisoners put a human face on the criminal justice system. Their contributions to the movement are invaluable. As Lawrence Foster, grandfather of former death row prisoner Kenneth Foster once said, convention is a place where activists become family members and family members become activists.
Please donate what you are able to make sure that we have funds to get these important voices to our convention. We are so grateful for any support folks can give. Make a donation online here.
Checks made out to the CEDP can be mailed to P.O. Box 25730 Chicago, IL 60625
Featured Speakers will include:
Lawrence Hayes – Former New York death row prisoner
Mark Clements – Former Illinois juvenile life without parole prisoner and police torture victim
Darby Tillis - Former death row prisoner in Illinois
*Also invited to call in from prison are California death row prisoner Kevin Cooper and former Illinois death row prisoner
Sandra Reed - mother of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed
Jack Bryson – Whose son was on the platform with Oscar Grant when Oscar was shot and killed by Oakland transit police
Barbara Lewis – Mother of Delaware death row prisoner Robert Gattis
Delia Perez Meyer - Sister of Texas death row prisoner Louis Castro Perez
Terri Been – Sister of Texas death row prisoner Jeff Wood who was convicted under the Texas Law of Parties
Jeannine Scott –Wife of Michael Scott who was freed in the Yogurt Shop case in Austin, Texas
Derrel Myers – a member of Murder Victims Families for Human Rights and a long-time civil rights and antiwar activist
Lawrence Foster, Sr. – Grandfather of former Texas death row prisoner Kenneth Foster, Jr. whose sentence was commuted to life in 2007
Among the sessions:
The shameful record of the Texas death penalty: From Shaka Sankofa to Rodney Reed
Abolition breakfast: Why we march!
One struggle: The Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the new movement for racial justice.
Our vision for winning abolition: How we fight matters!
Derrick Jamison was one of four exonerated death-row inmates ( along with Ray Krone, Shujaa Graham and Ron Keine) who went to Santiago, Spain to film a TV commercial featuring Coca-Cola’s sports drink Aquarius. They filmed for 6 days, sometimes for 18 hrs a day for these few seconds of air time. Coca-Cola says that their message reached hundreds of millions of people in Spain, Central, and South America. Three of the exonerees featured in the commercial will now be at the 11th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on October 30 at 2 PM at the Texas Capitol in Austin.
When James Suggs, an eyewitness to the robbery and murder of a Cincinnati bartender, was shown photo arrays of suspects by police, he identified two men—but neither of them was Derrick Jamison. There were also multiple contradictions between physical descriptions of the perpetrators given by witnesses and Derrick’s actual appearance. This information was withheld from Jamison’s trial, and as a result, an innocent man spent nearly 20 years on Ohio’s death row for a crime he did not commit.
In February 2005, Ohio Common Pleas Judge Richard Niehaus dismissed all charges against Derrick after his conviction was overturned three years earlier. Jamison was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 based largely on the testimony of Charles Howell, a co-defendant whose own sentence was reduced in exchange for testimony against Derrick.
Statements were withheld that contradicted Howell’s testimony, undermined the prosecution’s explanation for the death, and ultimately would have incriminated other suspects for the murder. Two federal courts ruled that the prosecution’s actions denied Derrick a fair trial.
Today, Derrick is fully aware of the inequality of the criminal justice system. “There is a double standard when it comes to justice in our judicial system, especially with wrongful conviction,” he says. “If you are a minority or a low-income citizen, the pursuit of justice can be an elusive one. But if you are rich it happens overnight.”
Although his resentment towards the system is subsiding, Derrick continues to express anger about how the 17 years he spent on death row impacted his life and the lives of his family members. At the time of sentencing, he was incredibly troubled because of his unjust imprisonment. “I was very angry, furious and distraught. . . all the emotions that stir up anguish. It made me feel it was over for me. Not only did that sentence affect me, it was the demise of my mother and father.”
Derrick expresses daily gratitude for his release. “In the 21 years I experienced ‘dead man walking’ I never had anything to smile about,” he says, “but on that day, I felt the smile come from within my heart. The sun shone down on me that day.”
The annual march is organized by several Texas and national anti-death penalty organizations, including Texas Moratorium Network, the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center, Kids Against the Death Penalty, the Texas Civil Rights Project, Amnesty International at the University of Texas, S.H.A.P.E Community Center, the Journey of Hope … from Violence to Healing, and Witness to Innocence.
The state of Texas has executed Marvin Wilson, a man who shouldn’t have been eligible for the death penalty because of his low IQ. If you are angry that Texas has executed a person with an IQ of 61, then plan to come to the 13th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty at the Texas Capitol on November 3, 2012 at 2 PM.
Ron Keine: Along with three other co-defendants, Ron Keine was convicted of the kidnappying and murder of University of New Mexico student William Velten in 1974. He was sentenced to death in New Mexico.
Harold Wilson: After 16 years and a total of three death sentences, DNA evidence led to the acquittal of Harold WIlson on November 15, 2005. He was the nation’s 122nd person to be freed from death row.
Greg Wilhoit: Greg’s wife Kathy was found brutally murdered in her apartment on June 1, 1985. This left Greg alone to raise his daughters Kimberly and Kristen, ages four and fourteen months at the time. Almost a year later he was arrested and charged with Kathy’s murder. The case against him was based on the statements of so-called dental experts – barely out of dental school – claiming that a bite mark found on Kathy’s body matched Greg’s teeth.
Gary Drinkard: Gary Drinkard was sentenced to death in 1995 for the robbery and murder of a 65-year-old automotive junk dealer in Decatur, Alabama. He was assigned two court-appointed lawyers; one specialized in collections and commercial work and another represented creditors in foreclosures and bankruptcy cases. These lawyers failed to present two witnesses: physicians who would have testified that Gary’s recent back injury made committing the crime a physical impossibility. Despite being home at the time of the murders, Gary was convicted and given the death sentence
Randy Steidl: When questioned about the 1986 murders of newlyweds Dyke and Karen Rhoads, Randy assumed the police were questioning many people in the area. He did not know either of the victims but cooperated with the police and gave a corroborated alibi for the night of the murders. It was a shock when he and a friend were arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death within 90 days. Randy had poor representation, no DNA evidence against him, and witnesses who fabricated testimony against him due to police misconduct. He spent 12 years on death row trying to prove his innocence.
Jeremy Sheets: Jeremy Sheets was released after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Nebraska Supreme Court decision overturning his conviction. Prosecutors then dropped the charges against him. Jeremy Sheets is the 95th Death Row exoneree of 138 in the United States since the reinactment of the Death Penalty in the 70′s.
Sabrina Porter: She is the only female death row exoneree in the country. Porter was convicted of killing her 9-month-old child when she was 19 years old. She already had two other children by two men, was unmarried, was not well educated, was black, was on welfare, and lived in a very racially impacted small town in Mississippi, according Carol Turowski, co-director of the law school’s Innocence and Justice Clinic. Only a few months before the death of her child, Mississippi passed a new felony child abuse law that allowed prosecutors to pursue the death penalty for any child death that resulted from child abuse. Porter was eventually acquitted at a retrial when the medical examiner changed his original opinion, stating that the child died of an internal kidney malady.
Ray Krone: His world was turned upside down in 1991 when Kim Ancona was murdered in a Phoenix bar where Ray was an occasional customer. Ray was convicted. The case against him was based largely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of a supposedly “expert” witness who claimed bite marks found on the victim matched Ray’s teeth. In 1992, he was sentenced to death.
Nathon Fields: When James Suggs, an eyewitness to the robbery and murder of a Cincinnati bartender, was shown photo arrays of suspects by police, he identified two men—but neither of them was Derrick Jamison. There were also multiple contradictions between physical descriptions of the perpetrators given by witnesses and Derrick’s actual appearance. This information was withheld from Jamison’s trial, and as a result, an innocent man spent nearly 20 years on Ohio’s death row for a crime he did not commit.
Clarence Brandley: Clarence Brandley was working as a high school custodian in Conroe, Texas, in 1980, when police arrested him for the murder of Cheryl Fergeson, a 16-year-old student. In an all-too familiar scenario, the murder of an attractive blonde woman was reflexively blamed on an African-American man. Though the entire school’s custodial staff would have been equally suspect in terms of motive, opportunity, and means of committing the crime, Clarence was the only black man on staff. When his white co-workers voiced suspicion of Clarence, he was quickly arrested and charged.
While the police interviewed Brandley and one of his white co-workers, an interrogator proclaimed that, “One of you two is going to hang for this,” and told Clarence, “Since you’re the nigger, you’re elected.” In his first trial he faced an all-white jury. One juror refused to convict, causing a hung jury, and was met with a constant barrage of harassment and threats after the trial ended, ridiculed for being a “nigger-lover.” Clarence’s second all-white jury convicted him, and in 1981 he was sentenced to death.
Delbert Tibbs: His his story became the basis for tremendous community support. Such celebrities as Angela Davis and Pete Seeger- who wrote a ballad, “Ode to Delbert Tibbs” – became involved and raised money for the Delbert Tibbs Defense Committee. Through this support, Delbert was able to hire lawyers and after two years, the Florida state supreme court overturned his conviction by a 4-3 vote. It was 1982 before the District Attorney finally dropped the case.
Kirk Bloodsworth: He was convicted in March of 1985 for the brutal killing and sexual assault of a nine year old girl. The victim was found dead in July of 1984. Bloodsworth was released from prison in June 1993 and pardoned in December 1993. He had spent over eight years in prison, two of those years facing execution. Bloodsworth also became the first person to be exonerated from death row through postconviction DNA testing.
Shujaa Graham: Shujaa was framed in the 1973 murder of a prison guard at the Deul Vocational Institute in Stockton, California. Despite the local community’s involvement and support, Shujaa and his co-defendant Eugene Allen were sent to San Quentin’s death row in 1976. Because the district attorney had systematically excluded all African-American jurors, in 1979 the California Supreme Court overturned the death conviction. After three years on death row, Shujaa and his co-defendant continued to fight for their innocence. Their third trial ended in a hung jury, and it was not until after a fourth trial that they were found innocent. Rather than being protected by the United States’ criminal justice system, Shujaa often points out that he won his freedom and affirmed his innocence “in spite of the system.”
Dave Keaton: David Keaton was arrested in 1971 for the murder of an off-duty police officer at a Florida convenience store. After three days of relentless interrogation – with threats, lies, and beatings – investigators coerced a confession from him. Although details of the number of participants in the crime, the weapons used, and the location of the “getaway car” differed sharply from the state’s evidence, an all-white jury convicted David and he was sentenced to death. He was 18 years old.
Lawyer Johnson: Johnson, a black man was sentenced to death by an all white jury for the murder of a white victim. In 1982, the charges were dropped when a previously silent eyewitness came forward and identified the state’s chief witness as the actual killer. In 1983, a bill was filed to obtain compensation for Johnson’s wrongful conviction.
Derrick Jamison: When James Suggs, an eyewitness to the robbery and murder of a Cincinnati bartender, was shown photo arrays of suspects by police, he identified two men—but neither of them was Derrick Jamison. There were also multiple contradictions between physical descriptions of the perpetrators given by witnesses and Derrick’s actual appearance. This information was withheld from Jamison’s trial, and as a result, an innocent man spent nearly 20 years on Ohio’s death row for a crime he did not commit.
Dan Bright: Dan Bright spent nine years in prison, four of which were on death row, for a 1995 Orleans Parish murder that he did not commit. Mr. Bright suffered from a staggering series of injustices during his trial. First, his attorney did not investigate the case and was drunk during the trial, violating Mr. Bright’s constitutional right to effective counsel. Second, the district attorney’s office withheld crucial information about the States’ primary witness which seriously undermined the witness’ credibility. The witness had a criminal record and was on probation at the time of the murder, making him more susceptible to pressure by the police to cooperate.
Herman Lindsey: July 9, 2009, the Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Herman Lindsey be acquitted and released from Death Row. The court said that “the state had failed to produce any evidence in this case placing Lindsey at the scene of the crime at the time of the murder,” and that the evidence presented was “equally consistent with a reasonable hypothesis of innocence.” Lindsey became the 135th person to be exonerated from U.S. Death Rows since the Death Penalty was reinstated. )
Albert Burrell: After spending 13 years on death row, Albert Burrell was released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on January 3, 2001, shortly after the Louisiana Attorney General dismissed charges against him and his co-defendant, Michael Graham. They had been sentenced to death in 1987 for the murder of an elderly couple. Their convictions were thrown out because of a lack of physical evidence and suspect witness testimony used at trial. Albert came within 17 days of a scheduled execution in 1996 before his attorneys won a stay. Prosecutor Dan Grady acknowledged that the case was weak and “should never have been brought to [the] grand jury” to begin with.
Juan Melendez: Juan Roberto Meléndez-Colón spent seventeen years, eight months and one day on Florida’s death row for a crime he did not commit. His story highlights the many problems that plague the death penalty system, including its high risk and inevitability of being imposed on the innocent, its unfair application on the basis of race and ethnicity and its almost exclusive imposition on our most vulnerable members of society—the poor.
Texas has executed more than 500 people since 1982. More than 250 people have been executed since Rick Perry became governor.
Before his execution, Todd Willingham told his parents, “Please don’t ever stop fighting to vindicate me.”
Before his execution, Troy Davis told his supporters in a letter, "There are so many more Troy Davises. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this Unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country."
On November 2, 2013 at 2 PM in Austin, you can join the fight for justice by attending the 14th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty.