Candlelight Vigil Today for Williams
LOS ANGELES -- Activists seeking clemency for convicted killer and Crips gang co-founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams will hold a candlelight vigil today in front of the restaurant founded by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger has scheduled a private clemency hearing Thursday with Williams' lawyers and prosecutors.
The rally will be held at Schatzi on Main in Santa Monica, according to Danielle Heck of the Save Tookie Committee-LA.
Schwarzenegger no longer owns the restaurant.
Yesterday, a rally was held in Leimert Park to urge Schwarzenegger to grant clemency to Williams, who is scheduled to be executed Dec. 13.
In addition to seeking clemency for Williams, participants expressed opposition to the death penalty in general, Heck said. Two other executions are scheduled in California in coming months.
Williams was convicted and sentenced to death in 1981 for four Southland murders.
His supporters believe Williams, who has maintained his innocence and hopes to become the first California condemned murderer to be granted clemency since 1967, has redeemed himself in prison through his work encouraging young people to stay out of gangs.
They also contend Williams, who is black, was convicted by a jury without any black jurors on circumstantial evidence and questionable testimony by jailhouse informants.
Prosecutors say Williams never accepted responsibility for the murders of Albert Owens, a Whittier 7-Eleven employee, and the shotgun murders of Thsai- Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang and Yee Chen Lin at a South Vermont Avenue motel less than two weeks later.
In a 50-page response to Williams' petition for executive clemency, Los Angeles County prosecutors wrote that "this cold-blooded killer, Stanley Williams, now seeks mercy, the very mercy he so callously denied" the four murder victims.
Included in the response were letters from law enforcement officials and two family members of one of his victims, all urging Schwarzenegger to let the execution proceed.
Williams, now 51, was 16 when he and a high school friend, Raymond Washington, began the Crips in South Los Angeles in 1971.
Known as "Big Took" to fellow Crips, Williams helped build the gang into a nationwide criminal enterprise that continues to spawn street violence more than 30 years later.
Since being condemned to death, Williams has renounced his gang past, penned children's books, been the subject of a cable TV movie called "Redemption" starring Jamie Foxx and was nominated in 2000 for a Nobel Peace Prize by Swiss Parliament member Mario Fehr for work he has done to curtail youth violence from his 9-foot-by-4-foot cell on San Quentin's death row.
Calls for clemency have been mounting from religious and community leaders and celebrities such as Foxx, the rapper Snoop Dogg, actor Mike Farrell and activist Bianca Jagger.
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