A California judge ordered Crips gang co-founder Stanley “Tookie” Williams to die by lethal injection Dec. 13. The San Jose Mercury News said the case sets up one of the most vigorous debates over the state’s death penalty since it was put back on the books almost three decades ago. From actor and death penalty opponent Mike Farrell to former gang members who say Williams turned their lives around, foes of capital punishment gathered in Los Angeles to protest the prospect of Williams’ execution 26 years after the crime that landed him on death row.
Barring an unforeseen reprieve from the legal system Williams’ hope for survival depends on clemency from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor must weigh Williams’ death sentence for four 1979 murders against his well-publicized renunciation of gang life and his work against gang violence, which has earned him several Nobel Peace Prize nominations. Williams’ legal team, led by a powerful New York law firm, plans to focus on his transformation into an apostle against gang violence and the benefits of saving his life to continue that work. The clemency petition is due by Nov. 8.