North Texas Daily

Student: Protest use of death penalty

Student: Protest use of death penalty

September 01
21:51 2010

OPINION

Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, Texas has experienced a number of tragedies. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed, yet he was innocent of the charges against him. Reginald Blanton, an African American, received inadequate legal representation in the courtroom and faced an all-white jury. The evidence brought against him was circumstantial at best, yet he was sentenced to die and was executed in 2009. Challenging the stigma of the infamous all-white jury, death penalty apologists often tell us that minorities are simply underrepresented in the eligible jury duty pool. A study conducted by the Dallas Morning News shows otherwise. Studies from the Death Penalty Information Center show us that while African Americans make up about 12 percent of the population, they are almost 50 percent of those living on death row; however, they also indicate that murder rates have actually increased in states that still use the death penalty.

In recent news, Chicago Police Investigator Jon Burge was found guilty for the torture of almost 200 African American and Latino men. It was reported that Burge and his officers would attach jumper cables to the victims’ genitals and electrocute them. The list of crimes and torture performed against these men only gets worse. While the officers tortured their victims, they used racial slurs to further humiliate and demean them. This eventually compelled the “suspects” to confess to crimes they did not actually commit. These tortured confessions sent many to death row. Mark Clements, one of Burge’s victims, is among the numerous people who have finally been exonerated from his so-called crimes. He and others are not keeping their stories silent, but they are not the only ones speaking out against the death penalty and police brutality. Sandra Reed, mother of Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed, is traveling the country to be a voice for her son who, like so many before him, suffered from racism in our courts.

As the laundry list of injustices piles up, people from all over are fighting back against the death penalty. One of the many protests will occur this Saturday at 5 p.m., as multiple organizations plan on marching from Denton Square to UNT in protest of the death penalty, followed by a documentary about Rodney Reed in Wooten Hall, Room 122. Everyone is invited to attend and take a stand against the injustices of the death penalty.

Laura Lamb is an Anthropology junior. She can be reached at Laura.Lamb@my.unt.edu

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