Sunday, March 12, 2006

It's time for Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break

Texas Students Against the Death Penalty has done an execellent job preparing for this year's Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break, March 13-17 in Austin.

This will be an invaluable hands-on, learning experience for students, who will plan and carry out various activities, including a protest in Huntsville. Students will gain valuable training and experience in grassroots organizing, lobbying, preparing a direct action, media relations and other skills. They can apply what they learn against the death penalty or in their activities involving other issues.

Housing is available for a fee of $25 We will house participants in rooms at a dormitory near the University of Texas at Austin. Most students will be at The Goodall Wooten, a few people will stay somewhere else. Students will share the room with one or two other people. To register, contact Hooman Hedayati at:

There is no participation fee for the Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break except for those people who need housing. The fee for housing is $25, which covers the entire week. If you do not need housing, because you live in Austin or you are making your own housing arrangements, then your participation is free, but please register so we know how many people to expect. Participants are expected to travel to Austin at their own expense and pay for their meals and incidental expenses while in Austin.

Housing spaces are limited, so please register soon. Participants who register for housing need to bring towels, sheets and pillows.

Alternative Spring Break Schedule

If you have questions or need directions anytime during alternative spring break, call Hooman Hedayati at 210-601-7231 or Scott Cobb at 512-689-1544.

Monday, March 13
Monday's events will be held on the University of Texas campus in room 201 of Waggener Hall - WAG (WAG 201), which is located in the East Mall Area on the UT campus.

9AM - 3:00 PM Housing check-in for people who have signed up for housing. Meet at The Goodall Wooten Co-ed Dormitory, 2112 Guadalupe (Corner of 21st and Guadalupe). Parking is available behind the building. Students will be staying here if they sign up for housing. If you can not check in by 3 PM, then just go directly to the Wagner Building, Wag 201 where Monday's workshops are taking place and you can check in to your room after the workshops.

3-3:30 PM -- Meet at Wag 201 for snacks and socializing before the first workshop.

3:30-4 PM Introduction to Alternative Spring Break by Hooman Hedayati.

4:00 - 5:00 PM Death Row Penpal, life and living conditions on death. Delia Perez Meyer, sister of a death row inmate, will give a workshop on how to get in contact with people on death-row and become a penpal. She will also talk about living conditions on death row. Inmates are locked in a cell most of the day. They are very isolated. Friends and family often lose touch with the inmate. Thousands of forgotten men and women in federal/state penitentiaries, county jails, correctional facilities, and overseas prisons are desperately hoping for correspondence that may lead to friendship, romance, redemption or legal help.

5 Free Pizza and soda served at first night's events

5:30 PM JEB V. GEORGE. This is a Docudrama from the Awful Truth TV show by Michael Moore about the state of the Death Penalty in Texas and Florida. It was produced in 2000. The states of Texas (Governor George W. Bush) and Forida (Governor Jeb Bush) have turned capital punishment into a state pastime. They are two of the most enthusiastic proponents of the death penalty. Correspondent Jay Martel looks at the brotherly rivalry of the Bush brothers through the prism of a football rivalry, complete with a satirical pep rally outside an actual execution in Texas.

6-7 Anti-Death Penalty Organizing Workshop presented by Campaign to End the Death Penalty and including a showing of the 12 minute film "A Voice from Death Row" produced this year by Austin filmmaker Nathan Christ. The film features Shugaa Graham speaking at a forum CEDP held at UT, as well as scenes from the "6th Annual March to Stop Executions" held on Oct 29, 2005.

7-8 PM "The Death Penalty in Texas", a question and answer open discussion with Walter Long, who was one of the leaders of the effort to ban executions of juvenile offfenders. The U.S. Supreme Court banned executions of juvenile offenders on March 1, 2005. Walter Long is an attorney who represented Napoleon Beazley and Karla Faye Tucker, among others.

8 PM Evening Time on your own for enjoying Austin, including the SXSW film festival.

9 PM (Optional movie night at Goodall Wooten) -- Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story Redemption tells the story of Stan "Tookie" Williams, founder of the Crips L.A. street gang. Story follows his fall into gang-banging, his prison term, and his work writing children's novels encouraging peace and anti-violence resolutions which earned him multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominations. After exhausting all forms of appeal, Tookie was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison, California; he was declared dead on December 13, 2005 at 12:35 a.m. PST (08:35 UTC). Williams was the 12th person to be executed by California since it reinstated the death penalty in 1977.

Tuesday, March 14

Tuesday's events will be held in room 1-104 of the William B. Travis (WBT) building at 1701 Congress. Here is a map.

11am- 1:00pm: Skills Building Workshop: Winning Step-By-Step: How to Organize and Win Moratorium and Abolition Resolutions presented by Shari Silberstein, Co-Director of Equal Justice USA/Quixote Center ( EJUSA is a national leader in the movement to halt executions, providing hands-on technical assistance, grassroots organizing support, and capacity building to state and local campaigns across the country.

1 - 2:30 PM -- Lunch

2:30 - 4 PM -- Workshop: Influencing the Texas Legislature with Les Breeding, former legislative director for a member of the Texas Legislature. During the workshop, participants will learn how to interact effectively with legislators or legislative aides.

4 - 5 PM -- Planning and Sign-making session for the next day's protest in Huntsville.

Wednesday, March 15
Bus trip to Huntsville
(Everyone meet at the Goodall Wooten Dormitory at 2112 Guadalupe to get on the bus)

8 AM Bus Departs Austin for Huntsville

1 PM Arrive in Huntsville, have lunch (at your own expense)

2:30 PM Tour of Texas Prison Museum

3:30 Texas Death Row, talk by Reverend Carroll Pickett, former death house chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville from 1982-1995. Pickett ministered to ninety-five men on the final day of their lives and was present in the chamber during their executions. He is now an outspoken activist against the death penalty. He is the author of "Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain".

4:30 PM Arrive at The Walls Unit to prepare for protest of execution of Tommie Hughes.

5-6:30 PM Protest Execution of Tommie Hughes,

7 PM Depart for return trip to Austin.

Thursday, March 16

Advocacy Day at the Texas Capitol

9 AM Start getting to the Capitol. If you drive, parking is available either at meters along the streets or a short walk away at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage at 1201 San Jacinto located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets. Parking is free for the first two hours and $.75 for each half hour thereafter (maximum daily charge: $6.00) Map of the Capitol Complex.

10-12 PM MVFM (Murder Victim Family Member) panel. The Panel will take place in room E2.016 in the lower level of the Capitol. Panelists include:
Renny Cushing: Renny Cushing is the founder and Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights. His father’s murder in 1988 has shaped his work as an advocate for crime victims and as an opponent of capital punishment. As a victim-abolitionist Renny has been a pioneer in the effort to bridge death penalty abolition groups and the victims’ rights movement.

Audrey Lamm Audrey is a senior at the University of Oregon. When Audrey was two years old her mother and her mother's friend were murdered in Nebraska. Audrey was in the building when the killings took place. The killer was apprehended, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Several years ago, as the date of execution for her mom's killer approached, Audrey and her father, Gus, became involved in an effort to prevent the killer's execution. The Killer, Randy Reeves, had his life spared and is now serving life in prison instead of facing execution.

Christina Lawson: Christina suffered the loss of both her father and her husband. Her father was murdered when she was a child and her husband, David Martinez, was executed this past summer, July 28, 2005. She has witnessed the pain from both sides: the loss of her father, the anger and hate felt towards his killer, the loss of her husband, the sorrow for his victim's family and loved ones, the loss of a Daddy for their child. She has realized through her pain, that the death penalty does not bring anyone back, it does not heal anyone... it brings back the pain of losing a loved one and destroys another innocent family.

12-1 Lunch

Afternoon: Visits with legislators and/or their aides.

4 PM Tour of the Capital

4:30 PM Meet in the Capital Cafeteria to socialize and exchange information about what people learned during their visits with legislative offices.
More time on your own for enjoying Austin

5 - 8 PM -- Petition Signature Gathering Competition: We will divide into teams and fan out throughout Austin to collect signatures on a petition against the death penalty. People can collect signatures at places such as where SXSW events are taking place, outside certain bookstores or other stores if they allow it, on the streets in downtown Austin and wherever else the teams want to try. The team that collects the most petition signatures (with names, addresses, email addresses and possibly phone numbers) will win a prize of $100 We will decide as a group on the workshop what size the teams can be. Options are 1, 2, 3, 4, or more person teams.

8-9 PM -- Gather at Goodall Wooten to announce the winner.

9 PM -- More time on your own for enjoying Austin

Friday, March 17

This is Spring Break, so today we will have some fun and take a break after all the hard work we have done all week. Everyone is free to choose their own activities. Some things people could do are: Go swimming at Barton Springs Pool, attend a SXSW film or music event, go shopping, take a Segway tour of Austin, go jogging around Town Lake, go bike riding, visit a museum or do something else. Some of these activities cost money, so plan accordingly.

11 PM -- UT Campus visits (optional) - Each day, UT offers two student-guided walking tours of campus for prospective students and families that begin at the Main Building ("UT Tower") and cover the center of campus from the unique perspective of a current student. This is one of the best ways to get a feel for campus and we recommend that all prospective students who are mobile take the tour. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes, and feel free to bring your camera.

7 PM We all go have a final meal together! (Everyone buys their own dinner. We will decide as a group where to go eat).

9:30 PM (Optional Friday night event):- At the Alamo Downtown, there will be a showing of State vs. Reed directed by Ryan Polomski & Frank Bustoz. Synopsis: Did Rodney Reed kill Stacey Stites? This documentary explores the case that landed a 28 year old Bastrop man on Texas' Death Row.

Saturday, March 18: Departure Day

Students leave Austin when they get up if they didn't leave Friday night.

Alternative Spring Break was started by Texas Moratorium Network in 2004. It is now a program of Texas Students Against the Death Penalty and is entirely run by students for students. Co-sponsoring organizations include Texas Moratorium Network, Campaign to End the Death Penalty - Austin Chapter, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Murder Victims Families for Human Rights, Victims of Texas, The Peace and Justice Committee of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX and Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress.

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