USA: Nation divided as former gang leader Tookie Williams executed at San Quentin prison
- Title: USA: Nation divided as former gang leader Tookie Williams executed at San Quentin prison
- Date: 13th December 2005
- Summary: WIDE OF DOME OF ST PETERS
- Reuters ID: LVA22R0G4TQI31BGJSJ0A4243UG9
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Duration: 00:00:04
- Aspect Ratio:
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Domestic Politics
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: California prison officials executed Stanley Tookie Williams, 51, the ex-leader of the Crips gang who brutally killed four people in 1979, early on Tuesday (December 13) after top courts and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected final appeals to spare his life. The unofficial time of death was 12:35 a.m. PST Tuesday.
The execution by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison north of San Francisco followed a frenzied but failed effort to reopen the case by supporters of Williams, who repudiated gang life during his 24 years on Death Row. Thousands of protesters gathered outside the prison carrying signs and lighting candles.
"Well I am for an absolute moratorium on the death penalty," said actor Sean Penn.
"What it says is rehabilitation is dead and it is a made up word. What it says is that no matter how much you changed, no matter what you do to change your life, you are still considered a criminal, you are judged by your past and not by your future or your present. That is what it says," said protester Elizabeth Anderson.
A prison spokesman described Williams as quiet and cooperative before the execution. But once the process began, many journalists reported that Williams was frustrated because the procedure took as long as twenty minutes.
"It seemed to take a lot longer than Williams thought it would. He kept lifting his head putting it down in what seemed frustration, seemed to keep asking, Are you doing this right?," said journalist Kim Curtis.
Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace department, spoke out on Tuesday against the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams, saying an execution gives no chance of any reform.
"Our society should be a society which promotes life and not death," Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace department, told Reuters Television.
Martino, speaking shortly after the execution in California, repeated the Roman Catholic Church's stand against capital punishment.
"This is terrible because you know the death penalty is a penalty where there is no alternative, there is no possibility for the human being who happens to be a criminal - to be corrected, to reform, to become a good citizen," he said.
"With the death penalty you don't give that alternative and that not taking into account the many, many mistakes and errors, judicial errors that we discover from time to time were committed and innocent people were executed," he added.
The case of Tookie Williams has generated widespread interest and fierce debate over the death penalty in the United States because Williams, has written a series of books warning young people against gangs.
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- Embargoed:28th December 2005 12:00