TOOKIE WILLIAMS WROTE JUVENILE LITERATURE SO INSPIRING, IT’S A PITY HIS VICTIMS NEVER GOT TO READ IT TO THEIR CHILDREN. Last night, the California State Supreme Court refused to grant a stay of execution to convicted murderer and co-founder of the deadly street gang the Crips, Stanley “Tookie” Williams Sr. Short of a governor’s pardon, Tookie will (finally) die by lethal injection in San Quentin on December 13 for the brutal murder of four people in 1979. A group of Hollywood’s limousine “liberals,” radical leftists, and Farrakhanites now urge Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (whom they otherwise despise) to grant clemency – and he has granted them a private hearing next week to discuss the matter. We wish he’d instead offer them front row seats to the blessed event.
Tookie Williams founded the Crips in 1971, eight years before he and three other men went on a murder-and-robbery spree that netted approximately $250 and left four people dead. The murders were notably gratuitous. Albert Owens – the clerk in Whittier, California – lay prostrate on the floor of a back room as Williams shot him twice in the back. Williams told one of the three men who went along on the job he killed Owens because he didn’t want any witnesses to identify him and “because he was white and he was killing all white people.” He then robbed the Brookhaven Motel, in the process murdering an elderly Chinese couple and their daughter (whom he referred to as “Buddhaheads”). Tookie killed all his victims with a 12-gauge shotgun, which he held inches from their quivering bodies before pulling the trigger to inflict maximum damage.
Clemency was not Williams’ first option: escape was. Within weeks of his capture, he devised a plan; he would have two accomplices meet the van that transported the quartet from prison to the courthouse. They would kill the two deputies on board, and Williams would kill the one prisoner who could act as a witness against him in the Owens murder. The survivors would then dynamite the van, so authorities would not immediately know who escaped. Williams went on to plot subsequent escapes, assault prison guards, and order gangland murders from behind bars. His violence and intransigence got him six years in solitary confinement.
After the escape plans fizzled, he exploited California’s leftist judicial establishment to the fullest, but the evidence against him was so overwhelming even the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could not overturn his conviction.
In the last 11 years, Tookie got smart and embarked on a massive PR campaign to portray himself as a “redeemed” former gang member, writing children’s books against the gang mentality. In the process, he became the Left’s latest noble savage. Nearly 20 years after being sentenced to murder, Tookie got to meet Winnie Mandela, Louis Farrakhan, and other VIPs; last Monday, Jesse Jackson and Bianca Jagger dropped by the cellblock. Williams was nominated for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. (The committee rejected him, either because he did not sufficiently criticize U.S. foreign policy or because he had not killed enough people to qualify.)
Williams’ purported chrysalis convinced Tinseltown’s Mumia Abu Jamal groupies to beg his clemency: Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Mike Farrell, former Crip Snoop Doggy Dogg, Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Jamie Foxx, and Bonnie Raitt – not to mention such washed-up ‘80s leftists as Desmond Tutu, Mario Cuomo, and Jesse Jackson – have asked that his sentence be commuted. Sixties radical Tom Hayden has vouched for Tookie’s “transformation,” although admitting Tookie Williams’ supposed change of heart “is not the primary cause of [gang] truces.” (Emphasis in original.)
At a “Save the Peacemaker” rally last weekend, Nation of Islam Western Regional Minister Tony Muhammad (standing in for grand mullah Louis Farrakhan himself) said the United States murdered millions of Indians, which makes it the real criminal:
This government needs clemency from God itself. Our president needs clemency; a president who has murdered tens of thousands on foreign soil. He needs to show that he is a redeemed man, and even in that act, President Bush can call for the clemency of Stan “Tookie” Williams.
He then told Gov. Schwarzenegger, “If you execute, you destroy the hopes of hundreds of young men and women who have gotten involved in gang culture.”
Despite his alleged turnaround, prison officials state Williams is still involved with the Crips, directing action from his jail cell for the past eleven years. San Quentin spokesman Vernell Crittendon notes Tookie still maintains an “unusually large bank account,” being mailed checks 50 or 100 times larger than those other inmates (like Scott Peterson) receive. Not only has he never admitted guilt in the murder – much less expressed any remorse – and continues to consort with Crips in prison.
And he’s never helped the one force that could effectively stop the Crips: the Los Angeles Police Department. Tookie Williams has revealed nothing about the personnel, practices, or operational structure of the gang he co-founded. In his writings, he boasts he “underwent many years of soul-searching and re-education, without ‘debriefing’ (another word for ‘snitching’).” Snitching, he says, would “rip my dignity out of my chest” – an unfortunate image for a man who shot (at least) four people through the torso at close range.
Tookie’s good example failed to rub off on those closest to him. The California penal system seems to be holding a Williams family reunion. His son, Stanley “Little Tookie” Williams Jr., serves alongside him in San Quentin, convicted on a 16-year sentence for second-degree murder of a 20-year-old woman. Another son, registered sex offender Lafayette Jones, is now wanted by Fontana, California, police for allegedly molesting an ex-girlfriend’s 13-year-old daughter at gunpoint, holding the child captive for six hours on the afternoon of on November 13.
Based on all this and more, L.A.’s top police officials have petitioned Schwarzenegger to reject clemency appeals.
Allowing Tookie Williams to receive the death sentence 24 years after it was imposed by a jury of his peers is not an outrage; the outrage is that thousands of Americans were conned into lavishing sympathy on this murderer instead of his victims and their families, that a street thug who’s learned to manipulate the Left enjoys glowing press coverage, a positive biopic, warm personal relations with Hollywood’s elite, and an honored position in the Crips. (And the New York Times probably considers even this cruel and unusual punishment.)
Opponents of the death penalty say a death sentence will keep Tookie from completing “all the good work” he began in prison. This is part of the exchange when one commits certain heinous crimes: he forfeits the right even to do good works – just as he denied his four victims the right to write children’s books, design socially constructive grade school curricula, or encourage people to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” His good works – if there are any – will be continued by good people, the kind who don’t end up on death row for carrying out repeated executions.
The Left claims the death penalty is no deterrent but Tookie’s “powerful story of redemption” is, showing children they, too, could wind up incarcerated. If his incarceration serves as a deterrent against gang violence, his death will make a more “powerful” tale yet. If it doesn’t, his execution will not interfere with that. Either way, weakness and surrender are never a deterrent – to totalitarians, terrorists, or common street thugs.
I’m not a father confessor, but I’m fairly certain of this moral arithmetic: Writing children’s books is not an appropriate penance for killing an entire family in as bloody a way as possible, dedicating his entire life to a ruthless pursuit of violence, and founding an organization that has trapped generations of inner city youths into the same destructive cycle. Whether Tookie Williams has achieved “redemption” is not a concern of the state – as the idolatrous, secular Left would have it (“immanentizing the eschaton” as William F. Buckley Jr. called it) – it is a matter to be decided when Stanley Williams Sr. stands before a Higher Authority. Which meeting should arranged with all speed.