June 22, 2000: Shaka Sankofa executed in Huntsville, Texas.
14 years ago today, our revolutionary comrade Shaka Sankofa, an innocent Black man on Texas death row, was legally lynched by then-Governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush.
Sankofa, also known as Gary Graham, was just 17 years old when he was framed for murder. He was a tireless prisoner organizer and fighter for human liberation.
In New York on June 22, 2014, we held a 10-hour demonstration outside Bush campaign headquarters. As the execution hour approached, hundreds march and blocked rush hour traffic in Times Square. I was among 11 death-penalty foes arrested and jailed for up to 30 hours.
The angry protest continued after our arrests. When Sankofa’s death was announced later than night, people again took the streets, chanting “Avenge Shaka, free Mumia!”
Today we honor Shaka’s memory with our determination to fight U.S. imperialism at home and abroad — and to end the racist death penalty and mass incarceration of people of color in the U.S. prisonhouse of nations.
Texas has obtained a new batch of the drugs it uses to execute death row inmates, allowing the state to continue carrying out death sentences once its existing supply expires at the end of the month.
But correction officials will not say where they bought the drugs, arguing that information must be kept secret to protect the safety of its new supplier. In interviews with The Associated Press, officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice also refused to say whether providing anonymity to its new supplier of the sedative pentobarbital was a condition of its purchase.
The decision to keep details about the drugs and their source secret puts the agency at odds with past rulings of the state attorney general’s office, which has said the state’s open records law requires the agency to disclose specifics about the drugs it uses to carry out lethal injections.
Until obtaining its new supply from the unknown provider, Texas only had enough pentobarbital to continue carrying out executions through the end of March. Earlier this week, a court rescheduled two executions set for this month in Oklahoma — another leading death penalty state — because prison officials were having trouble obtaining the drugs, including pentobarbital, needed for its lethal injections.
Such legal challenges have grown more common as the drug shortages have forced several states to change their execution protocols and buy drugs from alternate suppliers, including compounding pharmacies that are not as heavily regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as more conventional pharmacies.
Texas prison records examined by the AP show the state also has a supply of the painkiller hydromorphone and sedative midazolam, the drugs chosen earlier this year by Ohio to conduct its executions when they lost access to pentobarbital.
But in their first use in January, Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire made gasp-like snoring sounds for several minutes during his 26-minute execution. His family later sued, alleging their use was cruel and inhuman.
Huntsville, Texas: Protest against the execution of Ray Jasper, March 19, 2014.
"The U.S. Supreme Court denied the application for stay and writ of cert. At 6:00 in Huntsville, Texas, the murder of Ray Jasper began.
"Members of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement read some of Ray Jasper’s poems as the fatal drugs were going through his veins.
"Elder Jean Dember has finished reading and passed the book to Pat who is seen here reading from the book called Walking in the Rain.
"A young woman going to law school at Texas Tech is on spring break and drove all the way to Huntsville to protest his execution. Tonight she is driving back home to El Paso. Thank you Dennie for joining us
"Ray Jasper was a father to Alize, a son, a friend to so very many. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
"RAY JASPER, PRESENTE!"
Photos and report by Gloria Rubac / Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement
HOUSTON — Anthony Graves survived 18 years in prison for murders he did not commit, a dozen of those years on death row, where he was twice scheduled for execution.
On Wednesday, Graves stood defiant outside a courthouse in a blue pinstripe suit with several state lawmakers and announced that the State Bar of Texas would be investigating his complaint against the prosecutor who convicted him, Charles Sebesta.
“Give us justice,” said Graves, 48, of Houston.
#NATO3 Trial: Just in case you were curious about the longstanding history of editorial bias (and fortune telling) from the Chicago Tribune, here’s a cartoon the Trib published on May, 16, 1886, about five weeks before the Haymarket 8 trial began on June 21, 1886.
Seven defendants were sentenced to death and one to a term of 15 years in prison. The death sentences of two of the defendants were commuted by Illinois governor Richard J. Oglesby to terms of life in prison, and another died under mysterious circumstances in jail before he could be executed. The other four were hanged on November 11, 1887.
Via Richard Reilly
Huntsville, Texas: Members of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement protest during the execution of Suzanne Basso, February 5, 2014.
"It was a freezing cold evening in Huntsville as texas executed the second woman in the last nine months, Suzanne Basso. A doctoral student in psychology from Sam Houston joined us for a while and said she new Suzanne because she worked with mental patients at the Estelle Unit where Suzanne has been housed for many years. A low day in the history of Texas executions—a mentally ill woman who was paralyzed from the chest down was murdered."
Once again, the state of Texas and the U.S. Supreme Court collaborate to execute a mentally ill or mentally disabled person.
Photo and report by Gloria Rubac
Eighty five people possess as much as half the earth’s population. Police violence against youth of color, children and the disabled is a daily occurrence, with no repercussions. People of color and the disabled are legally lynched in open violation of international law.
The day is coming when they will murder, starve or torture one too many. On that day every police station and court house in this land will burn. And all the NSA surveillance in the world won’t stop it.
"I am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but with blood." - John Brown at his execution, December 2, 1859
Houston, Texas: Death penalty abolitionists say ‘Stop the Executions’ at Martin Luther King Day Parade, January 20, 2014.
Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Edgar Tamayo Arias is illegal. The World Court ruled in the Avena decision in 2004 that all Mexican citizens on death rows across the U.S. should have their cases reviewed. This needs to happen since these men were denied their rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations which the U.S. signed. STOP THE EXECUTION OF EDGAR TAMAYO!
If there is not a stay of execution, the Abolition Movement will go to Huntsville on Wednesday for the scheduled execution of Edgar Tamayo Arias. Let us know if you can get off work or school to go with us.
Photos and report Gloria Rubac / Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement
Today in history: January 17, 1961 - Patrice Lumumba assassinated.
Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first leader of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only twelve weeks later, Lumumba’s government was deposed in a coup. He was imprisoned and on January 17, 1961 he was executed by firing squad, an act that was committed with the assistance of the U.S. and Belgian governments. Documents publicly released in 2006 show that the CIA had concrete plans to assassinate Lumumba; the U.S. government virulently opposed his Pan Africanism and feared he was a communist.
Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)
LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A condemned man appeared to gasp several times and took an unusually long time to die — more than 20 minutes — in an execution carried out Thursday with a combination of drugs never before tried in the U.S.
Dennis McGuire’s attorney Allen Bohnert called the convicted killer’s death “a failed, agonizing experiment” and added: “The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled at what was done here today in their names.”
An attorney for McGuire’s family said it plans to sue the state over what happened.
McGuire’s lawyers had attempted last week to block his execution, arguing that the untried method could lead to a medical phenomenon known as “air hunger” and could cause him to suffer “agony and terror” while struggling to catch his breath.
McGuire, 53, made loud snorting noises during one of the longest executions since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. Nearly 25 minutes passed between the time the lethal drugs began flowing and McGuire was pronounced dead at 10:53 a.m.
Torture on top of torture.