Family, supporters work round clock to stop execution of Kenneth Foster
Published Aug 30, 2007 12:56 AM
A whirlwind of activities and worldwide media coverage is rapidly organizing
support for Kenneth Foster Jr., who is scheduled to be executed on Aug. 30. His
family and supporters hope the efforts are enough to stop the killing of this
talented writer and political organizer.
Nydesha Foster with her father, Kenneth Foster.
The Save Kenneth Foster Campaign—a coalition of activists and
Foster’s extended family—has been working since May 30 to stop the
execution of a man who killed no one. Foster was convicted essentially of being
the driver of a car who, as the Austin Chronicle stated, was “at the
wrong place at the wrong time.”
In the week before the scheduled execution, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu
signed a “friend of the court” legal appeal for Foster. Activists
held signs denouncing the execution in front of a balcony near Rome where the
Pope was speaking.
The campaign has held several high-profile demonstrations and other events in
Austin and San Antonio. Most major Texas newspapers—including the Ft.
Worth Star Telegram, the Dallas Morning News, the Waco Tribune, the San Antonio
Express News, the Austin American-Statesman and others—have come out
against Foster’s execution. These articles have brought public attention
to this egregious case, giving the Board of Pardons and Parole and Gov. Rick
Perry every reason to do the right thing.
With just five days left before the scheduled execution, the Foster family
traveled to Houston for an Emergency Community Forum on Aug. 25, sponsored by
the March to Stop Executions Committee. Tasha Foster spoke first, explaining
how difficult it was to leave her spouse after visiting, “with him
blowing kisses and mouthing ‘I love you’ and me wondering if it
will be the last time I see him.”
Kenneth Foster’s 80-year-old grandfather, who raised him from the age of
four, stated, “While I have sympathy for the LaHood family, who lost
their son, I have to say that Kenneth did not kill their son and the person who
did was already executed. How will killing Kenneth make anything
Foster’s father described how the family is working around the clock,
staying up until the wee hours and then getting back to it early in the
Two other parents also spoke about the cruelty that permeates Texas and its
criminal injustice system.
Barbara Acuña talked about her son Robert, who was the last juvenile that
Harris County sent to death row—despite the fact that officials knew that
the U.S. Supreme Court was going to hear the juvenile issue weeks later.
Through tears she told the Foster family that she shared her love with them.
She also stressed that the people need to take power in this country.
Joyce Guidry, mother of death row prisoner Howard Guidry, also spoke. Howard
Guidry was recently retried in Harris County and returned to death row. Joyce
Guidry told the rally that her son was considered a political activist by the
system, and that “This mama is going to stand by him no matter
what!” She told the Foster family, “We are going to continue to
fight for Kenneth and continue till we end the whole system of capital
Tasha Foster ended the event by performing a song for her spouse called
“Walk with Me.” The music video is at www.freekenneth.com.
The next day, Foster’s supporters in Austin demonstrated outside the
church Gov. Perry attends. They received wide media coverage and several
activists spoke on camera about why Foster should not be executed.
The following day a delegation of abolitionists and Harlem residents visited
New York Rep. Charles Rangel and then held a media conference demanding a stop
to Foster’s execution, which would be the 400th in Texas.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is to announce its decision at 1 p.m. on
Aug. 29. A demonstration has been called in Austin for 5 p.m. at the
governor’s mansion. A rally will take place the same day in Chicago at
If there is no stay of execution by Aug. 30, protests will take place across
the state of Texas, including one outside the death house in Huntsville, where
the execution is set for 6 p.m.
Foster and John Amador, whose scheduled execution is the day before
Foster’s, are both on a hunger strike. They have vowed not to cooperate
with their executions, including no last meal and refusing to walk to the death
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