Column: Justice must be served

By Matt Simmons

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will soon decide if he will grant clemency for crime lord turned anti-gang activist Stanley “Tookie” Williams, who is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 13th for the murders of four people 25 years ago. Many of Schwarzenegger’s most liberal supporters have demanded that he show mercy and commute his sentence to life in prison. But before mainstream liberals start pressing the Governor, we need to analyze all of the facts.

First of all, Williams was convicted by a jury that was composed of 10 whites and not a single black. The key witnesses for the prosecution were criminals that testified against him in exchange for leniency in their trials. Furthermore, the only physical evidence found against Williams was a shotgun shell casing that might have been fired from a gun that Williams purchased five years before the murders.

While in prison, Williams has transformed into a crusader against gang violence, writing nine children’s books denouncing violence and gangs. He also helped negotiate a peace treaty between the Crips – the gang he founded – and the Bloods, the Crips’ longtime rival.

As a black man and a Democrat who believes that the criminal justice system is the most racist institution in American society, I obviously must support clemency for Williams, right? Wrong. Despite the facts that show grounds for clemency, Schwarzenegger should do the right thing and not intervene.

The fact remains that Williams was convicted of ruthlessly killing four people and he must now pay the price. It is true that most of the witnesses used against him were indeed criminals. But that merely reflects the fact that most of the people he associated with were criminals. Also, many of the witnesses testified that Williams bragged to them about committing the murders, and those present during the killings testified that Williams was the shooter. It is hard to imagine that multiple witnesses all concocted the same story without any factual basis.

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In any event, it is not Schwarzenegger’s job to determine if Williams is guilty. A jury found Williams guilty and the ruling has been consistently upheld by judges on the state and federal level. What Schwarzenegger must decide is whether Williams deserves to be shown mercy.

I believe that Williams’ good deeds should be commended. His books may have actually spared thousands of young children from following the path that he took. However, the Crips continue to kill and recruit kids to join their world of drugs and violence. Many of the administrators of San Quentin State Prison, where Williams is being held, believe that Williams’ transformation is a charade and that he still runs the Crips from death row. And as the founder of the Crips, Williams is at least partly responsible for the deaths of hundreds – maybe even thousands – of young black men who were slain by gang members as well as for the drug trade that has destroyed so many black communities in Los Angeles.

Although many liberals have tried to make this a case of discrimination against blacks, this is not a racial issue. The truth is every black person should be ashamed of heartless criminals like Williams, and liberals should be ashamed that so many of them are coming to his defense.

The time has come for justice. We must remember Albert Owens, a young father of two that pleaded for his life before he was shot twice in the back by Mr. Williams. We also need to remember the Yang family, the Taiwanese immigrants who left their homeland for a country that promised liberty and justice for all, only to be killed when Williams robbed their motel for $600. Schwarzenegger must make good on the promise and make sure that justice is served. Williams showed no mercy to the individuals he brutally executed. I see no reason why he should receive mercy now.

Matt Simmons is a senior in LAS. His column appears every Thursday. He can be reached at [email protected].