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PRESS RELEASE                                                                                                                  CONTACTS:

MEDIA ADVISORY                                                               SCOTT LANGLEY or SHEILA STUMPH

16 January 2007                                                                                                       214-226-0503 (mobile)         

 

Civil Disobedience Planned to Mark 30th Anniversary of Executions

At U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC

 

10:00 am Wednesday – Press briefing at the United Methodist Building, Room #3
Location: 100 Maryland Avenue, NE (next to U.S. Supreme Court)

 

WASHINGTON -- Thirty years after the execution of Gary Gilmore, the first execution under contemporary laws, members of the Abolitionist Action Committee will stage a highly visual demonstration at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 17.  Wednesday also marks the day that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three Texas death penalty appeals and when the 1,060th prisoner since 1977 is scheduled for execution.

 

Participants from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kansas and Vermont will peacefully and visibly call for an immediate cessation of all executions in the United States through civil disobedience and the risk of arrest. 

 

“Whether by lethal injection, electrocution, hanging, or firing squad, the death penalty has proven to be a complete failure to the victims, to the families of the executed, and to our society as a whole. It is time for us all to recognize this and act upon it. We have tolerated a broken death penalty system for 3 decades too many,” said Rachel Lawler, founding member of Vermonters Against the Death Penalty.

 

Thirty years ago, on January 17, 1977, the State of Utah shot to death Gary Gilmore, who "volunteered" to be killed in revenge for his murder of Ben Bushnell and Max Jenson.  This state-assisted suicide was the first execution under the Supreme Court’s upholding of the death penalty in 1976.

 

On the 20th and 25th anniversaries of that first state-sponsored killing, a total of 25 arrests were made of death penalty abolitionists for unfurling banners that read "STOP EXECUTIONS!" at the top of the stairs leading to the front doors of the U.S. Supreme Court.  January 17th, 2007 will be the 30th anniversary.  To date there have been 1059 prisoner-killings, with another scheduled in Texas on the evening of January 17. 

 

“Public and legal opinion in the U.S. is strongly against executions.  In 2006 we saw Maryland, California, Florida and New Jersey all stop lethal injections in their states, and in the last seven years, we have seen a dramatic decrease nationally in both death sentences and executions. Now is the time to end this practice once and for all,” said Scott Langley, Abolitionist Action Committee organizer for the January 17th action.

 

The Abolitionist Action Committee is an ad-hoc group of individuals committed to highly visible and effective public education for alternatives to the death penalty through nonviolent direct action.

 

(see included biography sheet on the participants)

 

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