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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Next planning meeting for 7th Annual March to Stop Executions - Sept 10

The "7th Annual March to Stop Executions" will take place on October 28, 2006 in Austin. It has been held since 2000 by a broad coalition of anti-death penalty groups.

The next planning meeting is Sunday, Sept 10, at 2 PM on the UT-Austin campus in the north dining area of the Texas Union building. Please come and help organize the march.

If you would like to get on the march planning discussion list, send an email to maustin-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

At the last meeting, on Aug 27, there were three representatives from the University Catholic Center Social Justice Committee and Catholic Longhorns for Life. They were very interested in helping organize the march this year. They attended the march last year. They are going to contact the Catholic bishop in Austin and invite him to speak at the march. He last spoke at the march in 2001 (see article below). Also they offered the use of the UCC building on the morning of the march. They also offered Inside Books the use of their kitchen to prepare food for the Inside Books pre-march brunch, if IB decides to organize a brunch again this year as they have in the past (We hope they do!). Below is an article about the 2nd Annual March, which was held in 2001.

Marchers gathered at Capitol demand end to death penalty

By Dick Stanley
American-Statesman Staff
Sunday, October 28, 2001

Maybe it was the anxiety so many feel in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax incidents on the East Coast.

Or maybe it was because none of the death penalty moratorium bills the Legislature considered this year passed.

Whatever the reason, organizers of the second annual March for a Moratorium against the death penalty estimated that the trek to the south steps of the Capitol drew fewer than half the 700 people who turned out for the first march in 2000.

There was no diminishment of passion, however, against what many marchers and speakers called legalized murder.

"We come to say with loud voices how we respect life," Bishop Gregory Aymond of the Catholic Diocese of Austin told the crowd. "Very often the poorest and least educated do not have proper legal counsel."

He noted that Texas executions account for a third of all state executions in the United States. There have been 13 this year and 253 since the penalty was reinstated in 1982.

Aymond asked legislators to reflect again on the need for the death penalty at their 2003 session, when state Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, is expected to resubmit his proposal for a two-year death penalty moratorium, which failed this year.

Led by a group of drummers, the crowd for the march, which was organized by more than two dozen groups, chanted: "The whole world is watching; moratorium now."

Signs carried by many people demanded an end to sleeping lawyers, execution of the innocent and people with mental retardation, and racist sentencing.

Speaker Sandra Cook, wife of former death row inmate Kerry Max Cook, urged the Legislature to "execute the death penalty" in 2003. Her husband spent 22 years in prison in Texas before DNA testing refuted evidence from the 1977 rape and murder of a Tyler woman.

At the back of the crowd, with plastic donation buckets in hand, stood longtime death penalty opponents Ruth Epstein and Marjorie Loehlin of Austin. Epstein is a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, and Loehlin, 80, is on the board of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Despite the failure of Dutton's and other bills against the death penalty this year, said Loehlin, at least they were up for discussion.

"That never happened before," she said.

"We're hoping (for passage) next time around," said Epstein.

Would they support the death penalty if terrorists such as the ones responsible for the mass murders of Sept. 11 were facing it?

"Not even then, I would say," Loehlin said.

Added Epstein quickly, "But I wouldn't let them loose."

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