QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I was sent this question from a pen friend: Is it futile to protest executions by the prison or outside Huntsville death chambers? Are these protests merely supporting the execution ritual?
My answer: I think this form of protest came from the desire to show support (solidarity); sort of mourning with the families over the intense emotions surrounding the ritual of death. This support varies from candle light vigils to shouts and posters. A show of moral support to the families and moral disgust over the Death Penalty’s existence is never futile. At the very least, there is the spiritual quality to it that unites, heals, and motivates the masses. The very essence of these forms of protest counters the destructive, dividing, demoralizing essence of executions that leaves the wounds of the victim’s family festering while creating wounds with the loved ones of the Texecuted prisoner. All of which motivates anger and retaliation. So by no means do these purifying protests support the ritual of death nor are they futile.
However, we have to question ourselves – what are we trying to accomplish through protesting at this unit or Walls Unit (Death Chambers)? Outside the reasons listed above and perhaps motivating other Death Row prisoners’ family members here for a visit, to take some kind of action against this machine of death, while making Polunsky Unit’s administration aware of your disgust, I see no other reason.
I don’t want to take anything from those that take time out for these protests, but I also want these protests to be placed in appropriate perspective in relation to the larger picture of abolition. I must also point out those lazy activists that are merely doing the bare minimum by engaging in these types of protests, which taints the merit of this protest form. We must do more.
If we are working towards abolition, this form of protest is least affective. How many years have we been using this form of protest? Have we seen any major gains by it? If we want to really make a hard-hitting statement through protesting Texecutions, we have to be creative, bold. We need to be seen by the people in the cities, not just in this rural area. Unless we notify the media ahead of time that we will be protesting and blocking off roads leading from this unit with sit-ins to delay the Death Van’s transporting of the prisoner to the Walls Unit to be murdered. This will get the movement some attention.
We should fundraise for legal costs and ask lawyers that are against the death penalty to extend solidarity through assistance with legal representation for our sit-in protestors. Are you one of these lawyers?
Or we could take these protests to the inner city. We must find those willing to take these protests a step further. We need those willing to engage in sit-in protests. Are you willing?
Any large event that’s prone to media exposure should be mapped out. Then a team of protestors should be dispatched. If the media won’t come to us, we should go to them! Perhaps set up mock executions on execution dates in front of the television station.
Where there are a lot of people, there lies a perfect protest site. Protest teams should go BOLDLY to places where the people are like grocery stores, malls, or large Park and Ride bus stops. Besides the basic propaganda tools (i.e. shirts, posters, slogans) we need visuals that will arouse people’s emotions. We need large posters depicting lynchings along side a slogan that reads: Nothing has changed! End our barbaric ways!
“Our barbaric ways”??!! We have to make it personal. People need to feel that their either blatant or blind support of the death penalty is putting blood on their hands (I know there are some people having some ideas right now – smile). We must put the truth, in its ugliest form, in their face. But we should balance it with “Did you know...” facts, short and memorable. If we arose their emotions, we have to counter with reason, lest their emotions carry them away from our ultimate goal.
The effects of these protests will be immediate. These are also good ways to revitalize the Anti-Death Penalty Movement. We must be strategic and creative. The more serious and enthusiastic we are with our movement, the more serious and enthusiastic people will be about taking a stand against a relic of our primitive past that’s hindering the evolution of civilization.
Once we realize that we are obviously not doing something right and need to change the way we protest, the people will begin to see that the Death Penalty can’t enrich civilization and actually harms it. It must be abolished!
If anyone else has questions, I am more than willing to answer them. I encourage you to ask questions. We must think critically during critical times.
Love and solidarity
Reg “Omari Huduma” Blanton