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News and reports

January 6, 2006 | Page 11

In memory of Stan Tookie Williams

LOS ANGELES--More than 2,000 people turned out for a memorial service December 20 to honor Stan Tookie Williams, whose life was cut short in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's execution chamber on December 13.

The Bethel AME Church in South Central Los Angeles was so crowded that many people stood in the parking lot to watch the proceedings on a big screen. Speakers at the service included Tookie's longtime friend and editor Barbara Becnel, hip-hop star Snoop Dogg, the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan and Tony Muhammad, Rev. Jesse Jackson and the NAACP's Bruce Gordon.

The service, which took place in the community where Tookie spent his early years as a leader of the Crips decades ago, honored Stan's transformation to peacemaker. Members of the Bloods and the Crips attended the service, including warring factions of the Crips. Not only did the memorial occur without incident, but afterward members of rival gangs met and are working toward a truce using Tookie's "Protocol for Peace."

On December 29--the day that Stan would have turned 52 years old--anti-death penalty activists across the country held events to mark the first annual Stanley Tookie Williams Worldwide Redemption Day.

In Harlem, 55 marched in an event organized by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) and the Free Mumia Coalition. About 20 turned out at the California Capitol steps in Sacramento. In Los Angeles, Community Call to Action and Accountability and the CEDP organized a reading from Williams' book Blue Rage, Black Redemption at Bethel AME Church, that 50 people attended. There, ex-gang members spoke about their own paths to redemption.

On January 7, anti-death penalty activists are organizing a "Live From Death Row" meeting at Bethel AME, where death row prisoner Kenneth Clair will call in and speak to the audience from San Quentin. They couldn't kill Stan's spirit. We will step up the fight to end the death penalty.

Rebecca Kurti, Alison McKenna and Dylan Stillwood contributed to this report.

Defend civil liberties
By John Osmand

PROVIDENCE, R.I.--Activists gathered at the Rhode Island National Guard recruiting station December 21 to hold a press conference demanding the release of records collected by the Department of Defense. The Rhode Island Community Coalition for Peace (RICCP) called the action because it was on a list of groups labeled at a "threat" and investigated by the Pentagon.

The Guard office was shut even though some 30 protesters arrived at 5 p.m., an hour before posted closing time. The group had planned to enter the office to lodge the request for the files. At one point, they chanted, "All we want for Christmas is our secret files!"

the crowd addressed the press. Mark Stahl read a statement of the RICCP, commenting, "The government has no right to spy on Americans who are exercising their fundamental rights of free speech and assembly. And we have every right to see what they've already collected on us. The Bush administration and pro-war politicians have lost the support of the public for their war and are trying to intimidate the peace and counter-recruitment movements into silence. It's not going to work!"

Margaree Little read a statement from the American Friends Service Committee, and Steven Brown of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union discussed continuing pressure to hold the Bush administration accountable. "This revelation is the latest in a long line of revelations," Brown said.

Representatives from many different groups also attended the press conference, including the Green Party, the Unitarian Universalists, the International Action Center, the International Socialist Organization, the South Kingstown Justice and Peace Action Group, and East Greenwich Citizens for the Defense of the Bill of Rights. The RICCP intends to file a petition under the Freedom of Information Act to have any records of spying released.

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