Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Gang Founder Faces Execution

Stanley Williams, 52, Convicted murderer and co-founder of the street gang known as the “Crips”, is scheduled to be executed in California next Tuesday by lethal injection.

What was his Crime? He killed four people, a 7-11 clerk, and then 12 days later, two motel owners and their daughter. However, that was not his only crime.

He has the blood of an entire generation of young men and women on his hands. As a founder of one of the bloodiest street gangs in our nation’s history he is indirectly responsible for decades of violence spawned by his brainchild. He claims to be innocent of the murders he is convicted of, but there can be no denial of his influence on the gang culture in America. But does he deserve to die?

To answer that question, we must examine what good will come from his death. Certainly it would provide some type of closure for the families of the victims, who have waited over 20 years for this ultimate punishment, and it would also send a message to anyone else contemplating such heinous crimes. But is it in our best interest as a society?

He has definitely reformed himself. Since the time of the killings he has written several children’s books and done projects on the internet to help curb the gang violence he is partially responsible for. He has made a decent effort to redeem himself for what he calls in his own words “a legacy of blood, rage and death,''. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize for literature. It is safe to say he is not the same man he once was.

Even still, none of that can bring back the four people who were murdered. Lives are not so easy to replace. The victim’s families deserve justice. With the media circus this situation has created, it is those very families who have been forgotten. For some reason, I never see the names of the victims mentioned in relation to this case.

The names I have seen were Jesse Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Jamie Foxx, and the various other celebrities who are calling for this mans clemency. Make no doubts about it folks, this is a high profile case with many, many different players. Ironically, the most famous name of them all will be the one to decide Mr. Williams’s fate.

With California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is where the responsibility lies. He, and he alone, will decide whether or not to spare this mans life. In a strange twist of fate this isn’t the first time these men have run into each other.

Williams says in his 2004 autobiography ``Blue Rage, Black Redemption'', that he had a chance encounter with the former bodybuilding champion on Venice Beach in the late seventies. ``See that guy there?'' he quoted Schwarzenegger as saying. ``Those aren't arms -- they're legs.'' The Governor does not recall the meeting.

``I approach each case individually and I want to hear from both sides,'' Schwarzenegger said Nov. 30. ``We need to do it so that we make the right decision.''

It is a tough decision indeed. On one hand, this man is in a position to contribute to society and possibly reach some of the children that are in danger of becoming criminals like him, if we only allow him to live. On the other hand, allowing him to live would be ignoring the victims.

This is one time I’m glad I’m not the one in charge.


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