Effort mounts to stop the 12/13 execution of the co-founder of the Crips.

Silja J.A. Talvi

The path that took Stanley "Tookie" Williams from gang life to Nobel Peace Prize nomination has been a remarkable and most unusual one. Co-founder of the blue-clothing-drenched Crips in S. Central Los Angeles, Williams was eventually convicted of the murder of four people in 1981, a heinous crime that Williams continues to deny he ever committed. What he doesn't deny is the fact of his immersion in a brutal, intensely lived gang lifestyle in which drugs and violence simply went hand in hand. Williams had a well-deserved reputation for being a bad-ass in every possible sense, and not even incarceration on death row initially took that away from him. That is until Williams began to take a hard look at his life, and the circumstances that led him (and other young men) down a particularly self-destructive and violent path. From his cell in San Quentin State Prison, Williams set about writing children's books about ways to avoid gangs, violence, drugs, self-hatred, and incarceration. To date, Williams has written ten of those children's books, in addition to his memoir, Blue Rage, Black Redemption. This summer, Williams received a presidential award from George W. for his volunteer work. None of the recognition matters one bit come Dec. 13th, 2005, the date when Williams is set to be executed by lethal injection by the State of California. Although a federal court recommended clemency in 2002, Gov. Schwarzenegger has not expressed any interest in reversing the planned execution. Organizations including the NAACP have mounted last-minute campaigns to try to stop the execution, in addition to numerous pleas from celebrities, religious leaders and politicians.

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Silja J.A. Talvi, a senior editor at In These Times, is an investigative journalist and essayist with credits in many dozens of newspapers and magazines nationwide, including The Nation, Salon, Santa Fe Reporter, Utne, and the Christian Science Monitor.
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