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The politics behind the legal lynching of Tookie Williams

Published Dec 19, 2005 9:35 PM

Following are excerpts from a Dec. 15 Pan African News Wire column.

Tooke Williams

The execution of Stanley Tookie Williams by the State of California on Dec. 13 was a well planned and politically calculated action by the ruling elites in the United States. Despite the fact that the initial trial that convicted Williams was fraught with errors and constitutional violations, the court system refused to grant him a new trial.

The denial of clemency by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was based on his right-wing politics and his close links with the Bush administration. Bush, a former governor of Texas, a state that has carried out more executions over the last three decades than any other in the country, is a staunch supporter of capital punishment. Bush put more people to death than any other governor in the United States.

Executing Williams provided the right wing with an opportunity to shore up its political base, which has been shaken by the failing fortunes of the Bush administration over the disastrous defeats in Iraq as well as the growing economic crisis in America.

The response of Schwarzenegger to the request for clemency by Williams’ legal team illustrates clearly his disdain for the liberation movements of African and oppressed peoples both in the United States and internationally. Towards the end of the five-page document he cites Williams’ dedication of his first book to revolutionary leaders in the African and Indigenous world as the basis for his denial. This document can be read in full by clicking on the URL below: 5-page PDF of the Governator’s decision: http://www.latimes.com/media/acrobat/2005-12/20933940.pdf

What was most striking about the denial was the section quoted below: “The dedication of Williams’ book, ‘Life in Prison’ casts significant doubt on his personal redemption. This book was published in 1998, several years after Williams’ claimed redemptive experience. Specifically, the book is dedicated to ‘Nelson Mandela, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Assata Shakur, Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt, Ramona Africa, John Africa, Leonard Peltier, Dhoruba Al-Mujahid, George Jackson, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the countless other men, women, and youths who have to endure the hellish oppression of living behind bars.’ The mix of individuals on this list is curious. Most have violent pasts and some have been convicted of committing heinous murders, including the killing of law enforcement.”

“But the inclusion of George Jackson on this list defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems.” { Jackson, a Black Panther leader and author of the book, “Soledad Brother”, was murdered by prison guards at San Quentin prison in 1971.}

Consequently, this was a deliberate act of murder committed before the eyes of the world and specifically targeted at the right wing to win their lagging support and the oppressed peoples of the United States and the world as a gesture of contempt, hatred and provocation.

However, the actions of Schwarzenegger and his political class has further exposed the true character of the ruling class in America. People have condemned this lynching throughout the United States and the world. It has galvanized a broad coalition in opposition to the racist death penalty and has intensified the debate over capital punishment and the genuine character of the American national security state.

The writer is the editor of the Pan African News Wire based at Wayne State University in Detroit.