Do you want Stanley “Tookie” Williams to live or die on Tuesday? And why?

I’m also intensely curious to learn what you think about California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s options for granting clemency — not just ethically and morally, but also from a purely political standpoint. How will the Austrian Caesar’s “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” affect his chances for reelection? What would granting clemency do to his standing with the national and Californai state GOP party leadership? And how would it affect his political core? (Or does he have a political core?)

Aaron Barlow is the only diarist here to write about Tookie’s case: “Ignorance and Arrogance: Don Imus on Capital Punishment.” Aaron reports that Don Imus said he was all in favor of the execution because it “sends a message.”

We’re in suspended animation while we wait for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to announce his decision following the private clemency hearing on December 8.

The city of Los Angeles is bracing for riots if Williams is executed: “Fearing a repeat of the 1992 race riots in which 52 people died, police, schools and community groups have been told to prepare for violence if clemency is not granted.”

Robin Toma, executive director of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, said the organization had received “credible” threats of violence if Williams is put to death.

There are also fears that Williams’ execution could cause unrest in the prison system.

TalkLeft has done a great job following the case:

Waiting for Governor’s Decision on Tookie

Update: At HuffPo, Bianca Jagger writes about her meeting with Tookie Williams last week and why Gov. Schwarzenegger should give him clemency. No decision yet. … […]

Cheers for California Assemblyman Joe Nation (D-San Rafael) who urged Arnold to grant clemency […]

We will soon know if Gov. Schwarzenegger believes in redemption, compassion, grace and mercy.

There’ve been several diaries at Daily Kos about Tookie that didn’t garner much attention. But, the ‘winger bloggers have been all over Tookie and the clemency hearings:

Free Tookie; Gas Mike Farrell

I’ve been checking out the Tookie Williams thing. It always amazes me how many black people will support a vile, worthless criminal simply because he’s black. I wonder how many black people he victimized before he was finally caged. … […]

A sociopath will do whatever it takes to save his hide, and if that means writing children’s books or espousing nonviolence or eating dog crap with a fork or wearing a ballet tutu or finding a shrubbery for the Knights Who Say “Ni,” that’s no problem. A smart sociopath will find the path to his goal and take it, no matter what it is.

The odds that this is what Tookie Williams has done are overwhelming …. […]

Tookie man-crush sufferer Mike Farrell is a 40-watt bulb pretending to be the blazing light of reason; he’s not terribly bright, as his previous blatherings reveal, and he’s in over his head. He and his liberal pals are almost certainly being played. If he wants Tookie Williams to be released from prison, he should agree to let Tookie spend the first five years of his release on house arrest, in Farrell’s home. …

Read all at Hog On Ice blog

The ‘winger blog bashing of Tookie and his supporters goes on and on.

On November 30th, Amy Goodman interviewed Tookie Williams:

AMY GOODMAN: In a half-hour interview, death row prisoner Stanley Tookie Williams speaks from his cell in San Quentin about his case, his life and his redemption. He helped start the Crips street gang – his greatest regret – but behind bars he has become a leading advocate for the end of gang violence. He has written nine books and has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is scheduled to die on Dec. 13 unless Governor Schwarzenegger grants him clemency. Actions are planned across the world today in what has been described as International Save Tookie Day. […]

While his court appeals have largely been exhausted, judges have publicly admitted there’s a strong case for clemency. In 2002, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his death sentence but in a rare move urged then-Governor Gray Davis to consider commuting the death sentence. The judges praised Tookie Williams for his, quote, “laudable efforts opposing gang violence” and his, quote, “good works and accomplishments since incarceration.”

I listened to the full interview on Nov. 30th, and I will freely admit that I found Willians — in the way he spoke and his attitude — to be unsympathetic, arrogant, and hardened. An example:

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you think the jury found you guilty?

STANLEY TOOKIE WILLIAMS: Oh, it was quite easy. It was a paradigm of racism. We are talking about prosecutorial misconduct. We are talking about exclusion of exculpatory evidence. We are talking about I.A.C., which is ineffective assistance of counsel. We are talking about biased jury selection, which results in an all-white jury. We’re talking about involuntary psychotherapic druggings, the misuse of jailhouse and government informants. And last, but not least – …

– no — not a shred of tangible evidence, no fingerprints, no crime scenes of bloody boot prints. They didn’t match my boots, nor eyewitnesses. Even the shotgun shells found conveniently at each crime scene didn’t match the shotgun shells that I owned.

(Listen to, watch, or read the full interview by Amy Goodman of Tookie Williams.)

This part I found moving:

STANLEY TOOKIE WILLIAMS: Well, I can quite — I can easily demythologize the thought that, well, a person, when he goes to prison, of course, they’ll change. They’re locked up. That’s not so, because I was incorrigible from the moment I got here all the way up to 1988, so that debunks that theory. And once I was in solitary confinement, it provided me with the isolated moments to reflect on my past and to dwell upon something greater, something better than involving myself in thuggery and criminality. It had to be more to life than that. It had to be more than the madness that was disseminating throughout this entire prison.

But, it is irrelevant if I find Tookie Williams personally appealing or not. I am opposed to the death penalty. I hope that Ahnuld does the right thing.

Do I think that Williams should get out of prison? Only if it’s proven that he’s innocent…. I don’t know all the facts of the case, and that’d be nearly impossible. As Wiilliams himself told Amy Goodman, those who favor him dying “have not delved into every shred of evidence, all of the transcripts, all of the appeals.” That’s a tall order, and one I can’t fulfill, but there are a couple Web sites — “” and “Save Tookie” — that try to do just that.

What matters for me is that murdering Tookie solves nothing, makes the United States look barbaric to the rest of the world, and destroys Tookie’s future chances to influence more young people against the gang life. And his execution may cause terrible suffering in Los Angeles, which needs another race riot like it needs another earthquake.

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

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