Editorials | Opinions | December 2005
|'I Watched a Man Die Today'|
Steve Lopez - LATimes
San Quentin - It's just past midnight, and another Crip is on his way to the graveyard.
|Protesters at San Quentin State Prison show their support for Williams early today. (AP)|
Stanley Tookie Williams, who shotgunned four people to death a quarter of a century ago and couldn't sell the story of his redemption to anyone who mattered, took a lethal shot in the arm and closed his eyes for good.
I watched him die from 12 feet away. The execution team struggled to tap a vein, and Williams raised his head as if to question their competence. He also looked at supporters and exchanged final words with them before the drugs kicked in and he was gone.
Nothing I saw made me feel any differently about Williams, the Crip co-founder whose legacy is terrorized neighborhoods and a chorus of weeping mothers.
His anti-violence books and speeches were too little, too late, and the methodologizing of him was as unconvincing as the Nobel nominations.
But his execution was a macabre spectacle in a nation that preaches godly virtue to the world while resisting a global march away from the Medieval practice of capital punishment.
I would have had no problem leaving Williams locked up with his regrets and haunted by his deeds for the rest of his natural life.
I watched a man die today, killed by the state of California with institutional resolve, and wondered what we gained.