December 4, 2021 (Saturday)
The 22nd Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty will be held on Saturday, December 4, 2021.
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 march is a coming together of activists, family members of those on death row, community leaders, exonerated death row survivors and all those calling for abolition. The march started in Austin in 2000. In 2007 and 2008, the march was held in Houston. It came back to Austin for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. It was in Houston again in 2014 and back in Austin in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. In 2020, we held an online march because of the pandemic. In 2021, we plan to be back in Austin for an in-person march.
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, Austin Abolitionists, 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.
Funded in part by a grant from The Judith Filler Foundation.
The first march was called the “March on the Mansion” and was held on October 15, 2000. The second and third marches were called “March for a Moratorium” and were held on October 27, 2001 and October 12, 2002. In 2003, the march name changed to “March to Stop Executions”. Clarence Brandley, who had been exonerated and released from death row in 1990 after spending nine years there, spoke at the 2003 march, saying “I was always wishing and hoping that someone would just look at the evidence and the facts, because the evidence was clear that I did not commit the crime.” The “5th Annual March to Stop Executions” was on October 30, 2004. The “6th Annual March to Stop Executions” was held October 29, 2005 in conjunction with the 2005 National Conference of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, which came to Austin at the suggestion of the march organizers.
The “7th Annual March to Stop Executions”, which was sponsored by a record number of 50 organizations, was held October 28, 2006 and included family members of Carlos De Luna and Cameron Todd Willingham, who both had been the subject of separate investigations by The Chicago Tribune that concluded they were probably innocent people executed by Texas. Standing outside the gates of the Texas Governor’s Mansion with hundreds of supporters, the families of Willingham and De Luna delivered separate letters to Governor Perry asking him to stop executions and investigate the cases of Willingham and De Luna to determine if they were wrongfully executed. After DPS troopers refused to take the letters, Mary Arredondo, sister of Carlos De Luna, and Eugenia Willingham, stepmother of Todd, dropped them through the gate of the governor’s mansion and left them lying on the walkway leading to the main door.
The “8th Annual March to Stop Executions” was held in Houston on October 27. 2007. The “9th Annual March to Stop Executions” was October 25, 2008 in Houston. The “10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty” was October 24, 2009 in Austin. The “11th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty” was October 30, 2010. The 12th Annual March was held on October 22, 2011 and was led by 26 death row survivors – innocent people who had each spent years on death rows for crimes they did not commit. The 13th Annual March was November 3, 2012. The 14th Annual March was in Austin on November 2, 2013. The 15th Annual March was in Houston on October 24, 2014. The marches since 2015 have all been in Austin. The 21st Annual March in 2020 is all online.