Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Whose side are you on?

The state of California just killed an innocent man!
So yelled Tookie supporters who witnessed the execution of Stanley Williams, the founder of the Crips gang. They shouted this in front of the families of people killed by Williams.

Williams was tried and convicted for murdering four people. During the 25 years sitting in California's death row, his conviction has been upheld. Still, some people say that Williams might not have been the gunman.

I'm skeptical of that claim, but even if it were true, Williams is still one of the founders of one of the most deadly gangs this nation has ever seen. The Crips, along with their rivals the Bloods, have wreaked havoc in Los Angeles, and their brand of violence has spread across the nation. Thousands have died, more lives have been ruined, and communities were left in shambles.

In the past quarter century of sitting in prison, Williams did apologize, and he has been publicly active denouncing gangs. And that really is good. But it does not make up for the pain he has caused.

I usually despise such extreme analogies, but in this case the gang warfare in this country is similar to domestic terrorism. And technically, Osama Bin Laden has not killed anyone, that we know of. He didn't fly the planes on 9/11. He was just a spiritual leader. Yet, even if we catch Bin Laden today, and 25 years later he has repented, converted to become a devout Agnostic, and wrote books against terrorism, that does not redeem what he is doing now.

No, Tookie is not anywhere near as horrible as Osama Bin Laden. But Williams has committed crimes worthy of the death penalty, and for that he was rightly punished.

If activists want to carry on the legacy of Stanley Williams, they should not paint him as some victim. Youths need to know that gang activity has serious consequences. We shouldn't point to law and order as the bad guy. Instead we should hold Williams up as an example of what happens when you do terrible things to people.


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