…and I am, like so many others, counting down. In a few minutes… not hours, minutes… Stanley Williams will be put to death by lethal injection.
I’ve been asked by several people how I feel about it. When asked, I’ve always given the same answer, long and drawn out as it is:
I’m on the fence.
Stanley Williams, whom so many called "Tookie" was a notorious gang member. He is a criminal. He may be a murderer. He is a murderer, when you get down to brass tacks. If he did not kill the people he was convicted and sent to Death Row for murdering, he is responsible, directly or indirectly, for the deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands of young men and women through the founding of one of the deadliest gangs in California history, perhaps American history. He is responsible for the deaths of the many who died by overdose of the drugs he sold. Stanley Williams is about to pay atonement for these and many other sins he committed. The fact that he was unfortunate enough to have been convicted of the worst of those crimes at a time when the Death Penalty was California Law is, simply put, unlucky for him. Too bad, so sad.
I keep seeing over and over again, because of the media frenzy (I will look for a better term than that one, I hate it) surrounding this event eight minutes from now, the many people who have come to his defense because of the things Stanley Williams has done since being convicted. I have not read any of the books Mr. Williams wrote. I never would have known about them, except for his impending death six minutes from now. Everyone who can manage to make his or her way in front of the cameras has discussed them, and the work he has done since being sent to Death Row. To them I have to say it is easy to do good in a controlled environment. It isn’t as though he is housed in the general population in San Quentin. He has been on Death Row for twenty-five years. He’s had plenty of time to contemplate and reflect on the choices he made as a younger man.
Stanley "Tookie" Williams is dead.
He died, or is dying at this moment. No-one can help him now. He cannot help himself. And it kills me.
It kills me because the world this man lived in was not one where he was given many choices, or told there were choices to be made. At this time, 12:04 am, the last breath of a life that could have been so much different is being released. It kills me.
It kills me because I see so many other young men, and young women still believing they have no other choice than to live the life Stanley Williams lived. One of violence, death, depravity, human suffering. One that should not have existed, but for the fact that someone has to be on the bottom. Always, someone has to be on the bottom of the pile. It kills me because the voices of those who would use young lives to further their own spent ones are so much louder in the places these young people live than the voices of those who do shout "There is a better way. There is another choice."
It kills me because the people who keep talking, and talking, and talking about Stanley William’s execution didn’t give a damn about him two weeks ago, or a month, year, or a decade ago. They don’t give a damn about him now, nor do they give a damn about the children on the brink right now, who could easily turn into another Tookie. For that matter, I do not believe most of those in the media would give a damn at all if it weren’t for the fact that following this story gives them ample opportunity to call this man by a childish nickname. And they won’t give a damn six hours from now when the sun rises in San Francisco and Stanley Williams’ body lies on a slab in the San Quentin morgue. End of story, end of him for better or worse … NEXT!!!
It kills me most because, for all the good Stanley Williams did during his sojourn in San Quentin, the life that ended 12 minutes ago could have done more good had it been allowed to go on. I am neither for nor against the Death Penalty. I am for justice, and I hope the families of the victims of the crimes Stanley Williams died for are able to sleep more peacefully believing that justice was served for their loved ones who died. For the most part, these people have either been ignored by the media, or been very vigilant about keeping their privacy protected. I’ve only seen the one woman who’s brother (? or son?) was one of those victims, and I’ve grown tired of seeing the same interview with her over and over again. I hope that young people who are reading or have read Mr. Williams’ books find the strength through those books to make the positive choices that will guide them to productive lives.
In addition, I pray that those who would live the life of violence that brought about the end of Mr. Williams do not cross those other children’s paths.
Stanley "Tookie" Williams has been dead for almost half an hour. My fingers do not move fast enough to capture all the words flying through my head which express the many, many conflicting emotions I have about this event. My sadness that his life came to this. My anger and disgust about the media’s slavering over the execution. My compassion for the families of the victims. My fear for the children this execution has sent mixed messages to. My disappointment that his execution was not stayed, and the disappointment over the mixed message a stay would have sent.
Stanley Williams is dead.