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State Executions: One component in the grand design of Global Corporate Empire
by Britta Slopianka    Axis of Logic
Entered into the database on Sunday, September 18th, 2005 @ 17:21:25 MST


Untitled Document
California's Lethal Injection Chamber

It is not often, that the people here in Germany hear about criminal cases in the United States. So a few months ago, I was surprised to see news here in Germany that Edgar Ray Killen, was convicted of manslaughter in a case, dealing with racism, civil rights, the KKK and with injustice. Killen is an 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klansman who was convicted on June 21, 2005 of murdering three civil rights workers - in 1964, exactly 41 years after they disappeared. It was also interesting that Killen’s sentence was to serve 41 years in prison, obviously for the rest of his life.

When reading about Killen's conviction and sentence, a number of thoughts came to my mind: How does the victim's family feel now? Are they able to find their inner peace regarding their loss? What is going on in the mind of the jurors, the lawyers and prosecutors and the judge who were involved in the case 41 years ago? I had other questions about a statement in the Associated Press report on the conviction at that time:

"The prosecutors had asked the jury to send a message to the rest of the world that Mississippi has changed and is committed to bringing to justice those who killed to preserve segregation in the 1960s."

Have these kinds of things really "changed" in State of Mississippi? Have these issues really changed anywhere in the United States? It is obvious that institutional racism is endemic in the United States, as it is in many other countries. The Case of Thomas Miller-El reflects decision on the part of the Supreme Court that appeared to offer some hope that blatant racism in the judiciary has a fail-safe at the top:

On June 15, Worker's World Newspaper reported on the decision:

"In a six-to-three decision on June 13, the U.S. Supreme Court sharply rebuked Texas prosecutors as well as Texas appeals courts, ruling that their excuses for racism in jury selection are unconstitutional." As a result, "The conviction of Thomas Miller-El, an African American man sentenced to death in Dallas in 1986, overturned. Now—after spending over 19 years on death row—he will be granted a new trial."

However, that hope is swallowed up when one balances this one anti-racist decision on the part of the Supreme Court against the plethora of race-based death penalty convictions and executions with no reprieve at the federal level.

As a supporter for Death Row inmates and an opponent of the Death Penalty, I obviously take great delight in the Supreme Court’s decision in the Thomas Miller-El case. Likewise, I am please to read that Gov. Perry in Texas signed new legislation in June, 2005 – Life without parole, particularly as an alternative to the death penalty. On the governor’s website we read:

"Gov. Rick Perry today signed Senate Bill 60, which gives juries in capital murder cases the option of sentencing a defendant to life without the possibility of parole."

However, those of us who demand complete abolition of the Death Penalty in the United States will not rest until the barbaric state-killings in the United States are stopped, finally and forever. As many of you know, Texas and Florida have the largest death row populations and also have the highest execution rates in the nation. At Axis of Logic, we do not view state executions as merely a fault in the U.S. government. Rather, we view state executions as an extension of the U.S.-led global corporate empire’s policies of racism and oppression of the poor in many areas of life.

When the state assumes the right to take or give life to anyone, regardless of their race, socio-economic status and even regardless of an individual’s crimes, it is telling all of us that it holds ultimate authority to demand submission by inflicting the ultimate punishment - the taking of any of our lives. Whether through war machinery or the lethal injection table, we adamantly oppose the practice of state killings as their means to reach their objective of totalitarian rule. Most recently, we have witnessed what amounts to state homicide on the gulf coast of the United States. Call it intentional - call it negligence - Either way, it has become clear that the U.S. government did not give a damn about the lives of its poor African American working class or poor whites, trapped in the floodwaters, 10 feet below sea level when Hurricane Katrina stormed inland off the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

At the Death Penalty Information Center you will see that 18 people are currently scheduled for execution in the next 3 months. Of all persons on the death rows of the United states, 1432 are African American (41.7%); 1553 (45.5%) are white; 350 are Hispanic (10.4%); and 80 (2.3%) are described as "other". Please note that only 13% of the U.S. population was African American according to the 2002 U.S. Census but almost half of the people sentenced to die in state death houses are black. Some might try to defend these statistics by saying that African Americans are more prone to commit murders. Such a defense is at bottom, fundamentally racist. The fact is that there is no moral defense for this kind of disproportionate application of the death penalty. We are opposed to the death penalty simply because it is morally wrong in any case. But we are also opposed to it because we know that it never has been and never will be applied equally across racial lines. Also, you can be certain that the 1553 white prisoners on U.S. death rows do not come from the wealthiest families in the United States. Why?

The United States may be 100 years or 100 hours from experiencing a revolution that will bring about true justice in their society. We cannot know how long it will be. But what we do know is that the U.S. appears to be nearing what is sometimes called the "tipping point". The rest of the world stands firmly against U.S. policies of war, occupation, colonization and their practice of state executions. With growing the opposition of U.S. citizens to the U.S.-led, racist, global corporate empire, we may be seeing the beginning of the end of what will be the shortest-lived empire in world history. I understand that many people in the United States will be confronting the government on September 24 for it's racist behaviors in its wars and its execution chambers. I hope that you, the reader, will join them in Washington for this demonstration for truth, justice and peace.

"Why must I have to stand here at this court with a white judge, a white prosecutor to answer your questions? Why was I brought by a white guard to this trial. Could you believe that there is justice in this atmosphere?"
- Nelson Mandela, 1962