CA Executes Williams; Reactions Sharply Divided


Before Stanley “Tookie” Williams was executed at California’s San Quentin prison this morning, Kenneth Smith, 19, of Los Angeles said he felt as if he owed his own life to the man who had co-founded the Crips gang 35 years ago, reports the San Jose Mercury News. “Growing up, I read the books he wrote in prison, and they helped keep me from joining gangs,” said Smith. “He showed me clearly what would come from becoming a gangbanger — a life in jail, or worse. Now they’re killing him, even though he turned his life around in prison and reformed. Isn’t that what prison is supposed to do?”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down Williams’ last-ditch bid for clemency yesterday. While Smith was sympathetic to Williams, others disagreed. “There’s not a lot of anger over the governor’s decision,” said Julio Ramos, a social worker at All Peoples Christian Center, which offers a gang-intervention program for middle school kids. “A lot of people feel Tookie Williams is getting what he deserved.” John Johnson, another social worker whose clients include former gang members, said, “Every time a young black male or female dies from gang violence, an intelligent person would see that the guy who started this gang to begin with should be held responsible for his actions.”


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