People Can Remember Tookie Williams by Organizing to Change the Law
Dr. B. Cayenne Bird

Dr. B. Cayenne Bird is an ordained minister and a 37-year veteran op-ed journalist and publisher. She volunteers her time as founder and director of United for No Injustice, Oppression or Neglect UNION. The UNION is active in prison reform and criminal justice issues. She is a mother and grandmother and focuses on human rights and restorative justice. She is also the host of television series "Cayenne Common Sense" and publishes a daily online newsletter to subscribers.

December 27, 2005

People Must Organize to Change the Death Penalty Laws 

Formula to change the laws is easy when many people help with the work and expenses

I am very certain that the prisoners and the rest of us who do not like our hard-earned tax dollars to be used to murder in our names are still mourning the public murder of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. I want to remind everyone in California that we live in a State where the initiative process is alive and well but it is up to each one of us to find and train those 6500 workers to force the change in the laws. 

Nobody understood organizing better than Stanley "Tookie" Williams. I propose that the way for his students to honor his memory is to organize their voting muscle instead of to lament or feel helpless. What a perfect tribute to his memory this would be to mobilize the youth to end the death penalty 

We have the legislator's gang, the CCPOA gang,and the La Familia of law enforcement in charge of the California turf. We as voters can do something about that with simple tools. Pens, protest signs, recruiting to build voting databases, raising money to pay signature gatherers and to buy media space, taking twenty people each to the polls on election day and always registering the poor and teaching them how to get out the vote against the Republicans. 

A bill has been proposed to put a Moratorium on the Death Penalty but at this time such a bill doesn't have a prayer to be passed as the California legislature is in gridlock. There are too many Republicans who vote against everything healing or progressive to achieve the 2/3 vote required to change most laws. At least some of the Republicans would have to vote for such a moratorium. That will not happen based on their past lock-step voting performance records on law changes such as amending Three Strikes for example. Check their voting records so you can see this insane pennywise, pound foolish trend for yourself.

The only way to end the Death Penalty or to get a moratorium in place is through the initiative process because the Republicans are legislative dinosaurs who aren't about to have a change of heart. In fact, another bill has been proposed by Roy Ashburn (R) Bakersfield to speed up the executions in spite of the common knowledge that the system is corrupt arrest through parole.

The fact is that 6500 people willing to work can change any law, defeat any politician, do recalls and force reform through our initiative process. There are least 3 million voters attached to a State prisoner, this does not include those on parole, in county jails, federal prisons or in juvenile halls. This voting muscle outnumbers everyone if only the poor and uneducated will learn how the system works and be motivated to do something about the current oppression controlling our lives

Here's the basic formula. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do it, but it does take organizing the numbers of ACTIVE people to be ready to go because there are only 150 days to collect the signatures needed.

6500 x 200 signatures each gathered on a registered initiative filed with the Secretary of State equals l.3 million signatures, about twice what it takes to get a change in the law on the ballot This is a little more than one signature per day. 

6500 x $200 each would pay for the signature gatherers and some of the publicity campaigns needed to win. 

13,000 workers could win it with 100 each 

26,000 workers could get it on the ballot with 50 each and so forth 

That is enough of a potential voting group to cream Schwarzenegger at the polls.

If we don't organize, raise money, do initiatives to change the harsh laws, we can expect to be at the mercy of politicians put into office by law enforcement labor unions. Except that they have no mercy. Prisons and punishing are their holy grail and they can treat people in this horrible manner and still call themselves Christians. 

Other groups outside of human rights do this TO us everyday. The more who will help up with the work and put up funds, the faster we can do away with the death penalty.

Blood does not wash out blood. 

Jesus himself was a victim of the death penalty and this is not how he would have wanted His birthday honored. It is a barbaric practice from the dark ages that does not deter crime. How does killing the mentally ill inmates on death row deter another mentally ill person from acting out his illness? 

It doesn't.

Our failure to massively organize and mobilize a citizen's voting group allows this abomination to take place. Schwarzenegger is a murderer as sick as the most mentally ill person on death row who has predictably acted out his illness. Maybe he's a bit sicker since Schwarzenegger killed in a calculating, cold-blooded manner for the sake of political gain. He sold his soul for an election and it is only appropriate that he loses that election at the hands of the voters he most anguished and outraged with this misuse of our tax dollars. Executions cost more than imprisoning people for life and at no time in the Bible did they ever kill the mentally ill for acting out their illness. 

There is never going to be a better time to do an initiative campaign than now because millions in press coverage and the high profile murder of Tookie Williams has created an international outcry. Five more executions are expected to take place in California this year. These initiative campaigns are done all the time by groups outside of human rights/prison reform. 

The San Francisco Chronicle's poll that 66% of California voters favor the death penalty doesn't take into consideration that the majority of the poor people don't even bother to vote. There is something we can do about this rather than just crying the blues. Why not channel your grief into organizing and teaching the poor, especially the neighborhood kids, about voting muscle. 

The movie stars could kick in a million but each person who abhors barbarism can contribute too. It shouldn't always depend on a handout whether or not we can effectively change laws with initiatives. The Repugs can raise the money to do an initiative in a few hours with a single email. That is how they can control us. We outnumber them all, our human rights gangs are larger and in a majority rules democracy, he with the largest database of active voters can make the laws. 

That would be the human rights people who have been snoozing while some very bad people brings us to a place where we are to try and celebrate the holidays with a high profile state murder. 

Who picked that date to kill Tookie Williams? Spawn of Satan? 

Someone on the payroll of we, the people, to ruin everyone's holiday? For shame!

Our UNION did four protests and several lawsuits this year so we cannot do this campaign as the coffers are empty. But we can all reach out and see what we can do to bring in fresh workers to our movement, can we not? There is no way we are even close to tapping the 3 million people connected to state prisoners to get them moving and registering the poor to vote. Much more one on one teaching needs to be done. 

I note there is a lot of preaching to the choir instead of reaching out and doing public education. The prisoners on death row need to learn how to mobilize their families. Their lives depend on organizing.

When there is a crisis, it's too late to put this necessary voting machine together. Misplaced priorities is what is killing us, and those on the sidelines are the problem. We outnumber everyone so it is only by inaction that we are suffering oppression. 

Let's be backbones, not wishbones and teach the gang kids a way to utilize their networks which will give them hope for the future instead of a lifetime of slavery to the State as prison slaves. Forget washing the car, cleaning the house and wasting money when our democracy and very lives are at stake.

"Ignorance and apathy of the people rule governments.Knowledge is power. Knowledge comes from reading newspapers,not from getting your news from television alone" 

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