I’m in Oklahoma City today. This morning is the clemency hearing for John Grant, scheduled to be the first of seven executions planned in Oklahoma. Last night there was a protest and prayer vigil outside of the Governor’s mansion. This morning before I attend the hearing with our friends at the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, we’ll vigil again outside the Oklahoma Board of Pardons building.
Death Penalty Action co-founder Scott Langley is in Missouri, where Ernest Johnson is scheduled to be killed at 6pm CDT, UNLESS the US Supreme Court does its job and puts a stop to it. Executing a man with Ernest Johnson’s intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional and immoral. Scott is in Missouri to support our friends and allies at Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
If the execution goes forward, Death Penalty Action’s Deputy Director, Rev. Brandi Slaughter, will convene our Virtual Vigil starting at 5pm CDT. Register here to be part of the zoom audience, or watch on our Facebook page.
Abolitionists who live in Missouri are urged to participate in the in-person vigils and protest events with MADP & Allies. (Scroll down to events for details.)
It is times like these when we get to recognize what is happening, and do our part to shine a spotlight on it. I was quoted by Courthouse News Service, which asked for my thoughts on yesterday’s announced denials in other cases by the US Supreme Court.
Abraham Bonowitz, executive director of Death Penalty Action, was disappointed at the denial of Buntion’s death penalty appeal, but he suggested the high court’s hard shift in favor of capital punishment will backfire.
“People hear about these things and say ‘that’s messed up’ and they realize this is government run amok,” he said in a phone interview as he was waiting to board a plane to Oklahoma, where he will attend the clemency hearing for a death row inmate who experienced extensive child abuse while growing up in the state’s child welfare system.
Between the poorly defined standard for executing those with reduced mental capacity and the number of former President Donald Trump’s conservative judicial appointees reversing lower court rulings in favor of those on death row, Bonowitz said pro-death penalty efforts have “greased the rails to the execution chamber.”
“Every time they execute someone with valid concerns, people wake up,” he said.
“People hear about these things… People wake up.”
On a day like today, that’s our job — to wake people up. If you oppose the death penalty, it’s your job and mine. Today we vigil. Those who pray, do so. And we join together to shine a spotlight on what is being done needlessly, in all of our names. Watch for updates on Death Penalty Action’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
And Please support Death Penalty Action’s work to shine the spotlight on executions in the United States. We’re on the ground in Oklahoma, Missouri and virtually, wherever else we need to be.
Yours in the Struggle,
Abraham J. Bonowitz, Director, Death Penalty Action
PS: There are eight more executions scheduled before the end of the year. Please support Death Penalty Action’s work to shine the spotlight on executions in the United States.