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Stanley “Tookie” Williams – Justice Delayed No Longer

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On Monday Governor Schwarzenegger surprised no one when he denied the clemency request of Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams self-admitted founder of the Crips gang and convicted quadruple murderer. As I write this, Williams is scheduled to die in about an hour by lethal injection and I’m having a little deathwatch of my own as I write this article and read over his inglorious history.

Clemency was a last chance for Williams, whose lawyers had already filed about a dozen appeals and petitions for a new trial on every imaginable technical grounds, from the ethnicity of the jurors in his original trial to the motives of some of the witnesses at the trial. Surprisingly no appeals were filed on the basis that the jurors may have been biased because of Williams’ repeated threats to have them all killed. None of the appeals was successful and although Williams maintained his innocence, the evidence against him in the four murders was overwhelming, including the testimony of an accomplice and physical evidence linking a shotgun in his possession to the murders. There was even an additional eyewitness who was never called to testify in the trial, although he testified to witnessing Williams kill one of the victims at his own trial.

Williams attracted a lot of attention to his cause because of his claims to have been ‘redeemed’. He authored a memoir and several children’s books while in jail, and was actually nominated for a Nobel prize seven times based on his writing and work on anti-gang education, plus he was the subject of a very sympathetic cable biopic starring Jamie Foxx. Much of his written work could be characterized as self-promotion designed to justify himself and excuse his history of violence, though there is certainly some value to his books warning children of the dangers of gangs. By law Williams could not profit monetarily from his writing, but he certainly seems to have reaped major profits in attracting supporters.

Protesters have gathered at San Quentin, among them former Crip and popular rapper Snoop Dogg, actor Mike Farrell and folk singer Joan Baez. Authorities in various parts of California have some concern over the possibility of rioting in the wake of the execution. Williams’ supporters have laid out their case on the Web site www.tookie.com.

Despite his claims of redemption, those who knew Williams maintain that he continued to be in contact with his old gang throughout his 22 years in jail, and he was never willing to accept offers of a lighter sentence in exchange for information on the Crips organization. He also continued to be involved in violent incidents and gang-related activity while in jail.

Schwarzenegger’s decision not to grant clemency follows the recommendation of the state Parole Board which voted 3-1 against clemency for Williams. Clemency is almost never granted solely on the basis of good works done in prison, which is Williams’ main basis for the request. It usually requires a confession and a statement of remorse from the subject, neither of which Williams was willing to give.

As Williams goes to his death, many are asking “why?”

Why does anyone feel a moment’s regret for the execution of a multiple murderer whose convictions represent only a fraction of his actual violent crimes? Why would anyone object to the execution of someone who created a nationwide organization which deals drugs to children, terrorizes urban populations and carries out indiscriminate territorial warfare in many of our cities – violent crimes to which Williams is an accessory? What makes people so eager to believe good of a violent murderer when common sense should tell them to fear and revile him? Or why has it taken 22 years, a dozen court decisions and over a million tax dollars to finally get to this day when Williams could have been executed 20 years ago after his mandatory appeal? And for that matter, why would the Nobel prize committee even consider an award for this murderous gangster?

Suggesting that a few childrens’ books and an anti-gang memoir could erase all the harm that Tookie Williams did during his life is ludicrous. Remorse can’t bring his victims back to life or undo all the harm that his legacy with the Crips has done. For the state to assume responsibility on behalf of the people to execute any human being is a grave and serious matter, but if we accept that as citizens we can delegate that responsibility to the state, then who could ever be more deserving of that fate than Tookie Williams? The evidence against him is undeniable and the crimes he committed were inexcusable.

They say that “justice delayed is justice denied,” and this execution was certainly delayed far too long to be fair to the families of Williams’ many victims, but some justice has at last been delivered because during the two hours it took to put this article together Tookie Williams took the long walk to the padded table and was finally executed.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Maurice

    Great writing as usual, Dave. I am not surprised there was no rioting.

    My opinion of the Nobel prize committee has gone way down.

  • lumpy

    Thanks for such a links-rich article. My impression of Tookie is that he was a master manipulator who worked the system and took every advantage he could get to prolong his life on death row. 22 years is just ridiculous. Too bad he didn’t live in Texas.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Thanks guys. I think the rioting was not there because even his supporters were a little uneasy with Tookie, and those on the street knew who and what he really was.

    I also think Lumpy hit it right on the head. Tookie was manipulative. I think he was using all these well-intentioned lefties who turned out to support him and he was certainly taking advantage of Barbara Cottman Becnel who co-authored most of his books. She was his dupe and chief apologist, and I think that ultimately that’s a pretty thankless job.

    Putting aside the issue of whether we ought to have a death penalty or not, I think that if ever there was someone whose death was no loss to society Tookie Williams was that guy.

    Dave

  • GoHah

    solid work–Gordon

  • http://www.chancelucky.blogspot.com chancelucky

    While I’m personally opposed to the death penalty, I do agree with both the governor and you that the fact that he never confessed to the crimes was problematic for Williams’s “redemption” argument.
    It did make his claim seem disingenuous.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I am on the fence about the death penalty, but it certainly seems to me that, if anyone deserved to die at the hands of the state, Tookie Williams did. I honestly don’t understand why this was national news.

  • Bliffle

    My take, after reading what I could find, is that Tookie was a ruthless manipulator and killer, but most importantly, an accomplished conman. I don’t see much to doubt in his conviction, most of the claims of his supporters are rebutted, and I think his ‘redemption’ is fake, a story created entirely by Williams and successfully employed to manipulate gullible people on The Outside.

    Aside from that, I think his books are a joke. They were ghost written and are impractical. Also, very expensive: $84 for a 24 page book is a lot of money for precious little. The books seem to consist of nothing but exhortations against gangs and a glossary of gang terms. The glossary is of no use to anyone except police. Oh, and potential gang members! They say that Williams would be effective as a speaker against gangs, but I think exactly the opposite. And clemency at this time would have offered an escape to gang members. And would have demonstrated the efficacy of jailhouse lawyering and conning.

    Remember, Williams had 26 years to fulltime develop his cons and excuses. The poor people who he manipulated were simply under-equipped to deal with such an onslaught of alibiing.

    As for being an ‘expert’, I don’t think so. Did Williams immerse himself in Psychology and Anthropology books and studies while in jail to find the roots of gangs? No. He spent his time rationalizing his own behaviour and manipulating others. Williams knew nothing about gangs except how to climb to the top and how to sieze power.

  • Anthony Grande

    If I was Governor I would have given Tookie clemency along with every one else no matter what.

    But Tookie’s case for clemency was just ridiculous.

    I am glad the Governor didn’t give in to the girlie men or his Kennedy wife. I now have more hope for our Governor and his future as Governor.

  • Anthony Grande

    Dave said: ” I think he was using all these well-intentioned lefties who turned out to support him and he was certainly taking advantage of Barbara Cottman Becnel who co-authored most of his books. She was his dupe and chief apologist, and I think that ultimately that’s a pretty thankless job.”

    How was she his dupe and apologist? Did she not make money off of his story?

  • Anthony Grande

    I think it is just great that liberals, conservatives and moderates here at Blogcritics.org can come together for this cause and case of common sense.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    That’s a good question, Anthony. I don’t know if she legally could make money off of those books in California or not. In some states she certainly couldn’t, and there’s no state in which Tookie could. My guess would be that the money from the books went into some sort of charity fund for outreach to gang youth, but I’ll look into it.

    Dave

  • Anthony Grande

    I couldn’t imagine her not being able to collect. I mean she wrote the stories and all, not Tookie, and she is not incarcerated.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    On doing some research I find that Williams’ share of the money went to a group called the Institute for the Prevention of Youth Violence which seems to spend most of its time campaigning to make Tookie into some sort of happy muppet figure.

    In addition to her writing, Becnel is the Excecutive Director of a pretty legitimate charity called Neighborhood House. I can find no indication that she didn’t keep her share of any profits from Tookies crime memoirs, but at the same time I’m confident that she’s well intentioned and would only have done good with the money.

    Becnel was more than just his co-author. She was also his most outspoken advocate, hired lawyers for his appeals and spearheaded all the promotion and organization of protests surrounding his execution. One interviewer described them as ‘platonic husband and wife’, so I suspect they were pretty damned close. As far as I know she’s not the woman involved in the famous incedent where Tookie was caught having sex in the prison meeting room and attacked a guard.

    Dave

  • http://www.myspace.com robby

    thats bullshit i fuckin hate pigs tookie williams is a god and arnold shwarzenegger is a steroid head prick.

  • STM

    Yeah, had Tookie Williams admitted his guilt and expressed remorse he’d probably still be with us.

    But he didn’t. Even so, the death penalty serves no purpose except to bring the state down to the same level as those it has condemned to death.

    Truth is, Williams may have been more value alive than dead, especially if he continued to turn young people off gangs.

  • Ratface

    Tookie sucked gerbil dick and liked it. Rot in hell Tookie.

  • Zedd

    I don’t believe in the death penalty but if others have to undergo this form of punishmet…. He was a criminal and paid the price for his actions.

    Didn’t understand the big deal….

  • potato farmer

    STM#15. Still be with us. Who is this us you speak of Kemosabe. Im sure you would have taken tookie cookie in and helped him on his jorney to become a good soul. A good old hangen or skinen for that boy wooda been real nice dont ya thunk.

  • chea

    tookie rules…even in death…arnold is a political puppet and had to deny clemency if the people that support him were to give him another term…

    INJUSTICE reigns in the what is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave…if you dont realise that then you are well and truly lost..

  • STM

    “STM#15. Still be with us.”

    Hello VI, you old ‘Bama boy, you …

    I just don’t believe in the death penalty, mate. It doesn’t help anything …

    Nice comments today about your wife, BTW.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    tookie williams is a god and arnold shwarzenegger is a steroid head

    Did you even LOOK at the picture of Tookie? Who’s the roidhead again?

    Dave

  • Robbie

    Oh Dave your a funny one.

    Very clever
    Tookie was a problem now he is not lets talk about that strange weather we have been getting!

  • Benoit

    i’am not agree with is death this guys had to teach other if he was there today his mind can change the world i think the its dead was a gross mistak

  • Cyberdyne Systems Model 101

    Tookie…. you are terminated….

  • Renee

    Why are Americans so backward? R y’all inbred? Wankers

  • Renee

    Y’all want the right to bear arms and then u wonder why u have the highest homicide rate in the world! Yeah tookie was a loser, but he was a product of society – just like all the other serial killers and poor unfortunates that were born in ur elitist fucked up country! Remember Ted bundy was white and his father was his grandfather and his mother was his sister! Nuke the lot of ya xxxxx u have no idea! Including u Dave so called journalist NOT!