Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the execution of Tookie Williams

I'm watching a special news show covering the Tookie Williams execution. Although I'm for the death penalty, there is no doubt that taking the life of a human being is an enormous and terrible thing. It is hard to sit here and follow the death watch.

Williams has had nothing but oatmeal to eat on his last day. He refused his last meal and has only had milk and water. His last visitors left around 6 pm and he has been alone since then, except for corrections people. He did not accept the offer of a clergyman visitor.

Although he originally said that it would be "disgusting" to ask friends and family members to be witnesses for the condemned, Williams changed his mind and he will have his five witnesses. I speculate that as the end of life draws near, the superficial things like pride become less important and the comfort of friends becomes more important.

Williams has already been taken to the building where the death chamber is. He may already be in the chamber. They will (or have already) insert two I.V. needles into him. One is a backup so that the execution is less likely to be interrupted. They will first give him a sedative through the I.V. Then they will give him a saline solution. Then a drug to paralyze his voluntary muscular activity. This will stop his breathing. Then they will administer another saline solution. The last thing they put through the I.V. will stop his heart.

The process will be watched by three groups of witnesses. One group from the media, one group from the families of the victims, and one group by special invitation of the condemned. The different groups of witnesses will not come into contact with each other, and their names will not be made public unless they chose to come forward.

UPDATE: IT'S OVER.

As of 12:36 am on the thirteenth day of December in the year of our Lord 2005, Tookie Williams has gone before his maker to give account of his actions on this earth. I am reminded that some day this will be my fate as well. And I am no more worthy of God's mercy than Mr. Williams. So I say, may God have mercy on his soul.

Interview with a crowd member:

"Why did this execution bring out such a large crowd?"

"I think it's because of what Tookie Williams means. He shows us that we have a chance of change, of redemption."

They said that there were 1,500 people there. A small group was in favor of the execution, but according to the news people, the large majority were opposed.

UPDATE II:

A press witness describes the execution. Williams did not struggle. He spoke to his witnesses during the process. It took almost ten minutes to find the second vein.

Two men and one woman among Williams's supporters made black power signs during the process. At death announcement someone shouted that California has killed an innocent man. The witnesses were told when they went in that they were not allowed to make outbursts. It comes as no surprise to me that Williams was the kind of man who attracted friends to whom the rules do not apply.

Dora Owens, stepmother of a victim, who had stared passively at Williams throughout the execution, began to cry after the outburst. Maybe she was crying at the end of her long wait for justice or maybe she was crying at the tragedy of a man, the man who shouted, who doesn't grasp the concept of justice.

The man who shouted that accusation used the words of justice, but he didn't really care if Tookie Williams was guilty or innocent. This man cared only about his clan, his tribe, his own people. He took the side of Williams, not because he really believed Williams was innocent, but because Williams was family. He took the side of a murderer and felt righteous about it. And not for one moment will he be humbled by the thought that if the people of California, those who he condemns in such self-righteous terms, shared his own morality, then Williams would have died long ago.

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