[sixties-l] Execution Tonight -- But first a word from our sponsor

From: Mitchel Cohen (mitchelcohen@mindspring.com)
Date: Mon Mar 05 2001 - 14:13:54 EST

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    Nine prisoners in the US are scheduled to be executed these first two weeks
    in March, according to Amnesty International (see letter at end). Many of
    those on death row have extremely low IQs, and are mentally disabled.

    In another post I will present new evidence of the relationship between
    childhood exposure to pesticides (such as those being sprayed over NY and,
    this coming summer, urban areas up and down the entire eastern seaboard)
    and mental disability often leading to violence against other people.

    In this context, we should also remember those who have scuttled
    lead-prevention programs, such as the landlords' candidate for Mayor of New
    York, Peter Vallone (who had also been endorsed, when he ran for governor,
    by the Working Families Party).

    Too often, the connections between seemingly random acts of violence
    against people (including murders), and pesticide and lead exposure
    (leading to mental disability) are overlooked. Yet one sure result of the
    spraying will be higher levels of violence, as well as breast and prostate
    cancers, asthma and other illnesses.

    As I'd overheard two 14-year-olds joshing on the subway: "The nurse just
    told me I have high levels of lead." Said the other: "Well, at least it'll
    protect you from all the radiation in the air." Truly gallows humor. In
    more ways than one.

    Here are three upcoming events in NY that reflect on this subject and that
    are worthy of our support:

    Alexander Cockburn to speak at ABC No Rio
    156 Rivington Street (between Clinton & Suffolk)
    Thursday, March 8, 7:30 pm
    Co-sponsor: The Rosenberg Fund for Children

    Fatally Flawed: The Death Penalty from the Rosenbergs to Mumia Abu-Jamal

    (Robert Meeropol)
    Robert Meeropol is the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. In 1953,
    when he was six years old, the United States Government executed his
    parents for "conspiring to steal the secret of the atomic bomb." For thirty
    years he has been a progressive activist, author and speaker. In 1990,
    after leaving private law practice, he founded the Rosenberg Fund for
    Children and now serves as its Executive Director. The RFC provides for the
    educational and emotional needs of both targeted activist youth and of
    children in this country whose parents have been harassed, injured, jailed,
    lost jobs or died in the course of their progressive activities.
    Robert Meeropol's searing indictment of capital punishment connects the
    wrongful execution of the Rosenbergs in 1953 with the politically and
    racially motivated use of the death penalty in the United States today.
    Sliding Scale: $6/$8/$10
    FRI - SUN MARCH 9-11
    Critical Resistance Northeast Regional Conference will be held at Columbia
    University Law School in New York City March 9-11. This conference will
    serve as an organizing and strategy session
    for over 1500 activists, prisoners and scholars from our region working to
    affect progressive social change in our various communities.

    Pleasae keep scrolling to read the Amnesty International letter on the
    death penalty, below.

    - Mitchel Cohen
    Brooklyn Greens / Green Party of NY

    Killer Nation
    Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

    March 02, 2001
    The USA is about to carry out its 700th execution since resuming judicial
    killing in 1977, Amnesty International warned today, pointing out that more
    than 500 of them have occurred since 1993. Nine more prisoners are
    scheduled to be executed in the next nine days, including two this evening.

    "The USA is engaged in a cruel, brutalizing, unreliable, unnecessary and
    hugely expensive activity for no measurable gain," Amnesty International
    said. "The fact that it is violating human rights standards in the process
    only adds to the deepening shadow being cast on its international
    reputation by its relentless resort to this outdated punishment."

    As of this morning, there had been 697 executions in 31 US states since
    1977. Between this evening and next Friday, nine more prisoners are
    scheduled to be put to death in seven states:

    -- 1 March, Oklahoma: Robert Clayton - his IQ has been assessed at 68. An
    IQ of 70 or under indicates possible mental retardation. International
    standards oppose use of the death penalty against such individuals.
     -- 1 March, Virginia: Thomas Akers - he has borderline mental retardation
    and a long history of mental illness. He pleaded guilty to the crime,
    asked to be sentenced to death and has been allowed to drop his appeals.
    -- 2 March, North Carolina: Ernest McCarver - his IQ has been measured at
    67. He is facing execution despite the fact that the state legislature is
    about to consider proposals to outlaw the use of the death penalty against
    the mentally disabled. Thirteen of the 38 death penalty states have
    enacted such legislation.
    -- 6 March, Georgia: Ronald Spivey, a 61-year-old is facing death in the
    electric chair after more than two decades on death row.
    -- 7 March, Missouri: Antonio Richardson - International law prohibits the
    use of the death penalty against those who were under 18 at the time of the
    crime. Antonio Richardson was 16. This would be the USA's ninth execution
    of a juvenile offender since January 1998, out of a known world total of
    12. Richardson's IQ has been assessed at 70.
    -- 7 March, Texas: Dennis Dowthitt - he has been diagnosed with serious
    mental illness. His lawyers are fighting for a reprieve so that they can
    further investigate his long-held claims of innocence.
    -- 8 March, Oklahoma: Phillip Smith - he has consistently maintained his
    innocence. He was convicted on circumstantial evidence. In 1999, the
    prosecution's key trial witness, who put Smith at the crime scene, recanted
    his testimony.
    -- 9 March, North Carolina: Willie Fisher - he was defended by a lawyer
    whose severe depression and other health problems meant that did not
    adequately prepare for the trial. He was subsequently disbarred for
    failing to properly represent clients. International standards require
    that capital defendants be provided with adequate legal representation
    above and beyond the protection afforded in non-capital cases.
    -- 9 March, Delaware: David Dawson - he has been incarcerated for 15 years.
     He has learned to read and write on death row. He is held in his cell 24
    hours a day, except for 45 minutes of recreation, alone, followed by 15
    minutes to shower three times a week.

    Since 1977, there have been about half a million murders in the USA. The
    700 men and women executed so far have been selected by a system riddled
    with arbitrariness, discrimination and error. It is a lethal lottery of
    which the USA should be ashamed, and which other countries should condemn.

    "The victims of violent crime and their families deserve respect,
    compassion and justice", Amnesty International said. "Killing a selection
    of prisoners offers none of these things. It is an illusory solution to a
    pressing social problem, and merely amounts to a failure of political vision."

    Among the 700 were those who committed their crimes when they were still
    children, the mentally impaired, those denied adequate legal
    representation, foreign nationals denied their consular rights, and
    defendants whose guilt remained in doubt. Race continues to play a role in
    who gets a death sentence. In over 80 per cent of the 700 cases, the
    crimes involved white victims.

    "There is no evidence that the US authorities have prevented a single crime
    with this policy," Amnesty International continued. "They have diverted
    countless millions of dollars away from more constructive efforts to fight
    crime. And the macabre absurdity is that it creates more victims - the
    family members of the condemned - often in the name of victims' rights."

    "The death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to
    it. The sooner US politicians begin to find the political courage to
    educate public opinion rather than hide behind it, the better".

    Since the USA resumed executions in 1977, over 60 countries have abolished
    the death penalty. Currently, 108 countries, are abolitionist in law or

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