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Stanley 'Tookie' Williams Awaits Clemency Decision

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Stanley 'Tookie' Williams Awaits Clemency Decision

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Stanley 'Tookie' Williams Awaits Clemency Decision

Stanley 'Tookie' Williams Awaits Clemency Decision

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Convicted murderer and Crips gang co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams awaits the result of a last-minute plea for clemency before his scheduled execution next week. His fate is now in the hands of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

From NPR News, this is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya in for Ed Gordon.

On December 13th, convicted killer Stanley "Tookie" Williams is set to die by lethal injection in California but his pending execution has mobilized supporters who want his life spared. They argue that the founder of the Crips gang has turned his life around. Tomorrow Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will meet with lawyers on both sides to consider Williams' last-minute appeal. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

(Soundbite of demonstration)

Unidentified Man: Let's make some noise.

Group of People: (In unison) Let Tookie live! Let Tookie live! Let Tookie live!

MANDALIT DEL BARCO reporting:

From the streets of Los Angeles to the Austrian government, Tookie Williams' supporters have been rallying for clemency. This week leaders from the NAACP toured four California cities, asking Governor Schwarzenegger to spare the former gang leader and commute his sentence to life without parole. The call for clemency has attracted an eclectic group, including rapper Snoop Dogg, who was once himself a Crip.

(Soundbite of song)

SNOOP DOGG: (Rapping) To my ...(unintelligible) home boy who ain't never gettin' out, here's a record for ya, homey, 'cause I know you got a (unintelligible).

DEL BARCO: Snoop Dogg has recorded a song dedicated to Tookie Williams and others who are locked up. The song also features actor Jamie Foxx, who portrayed Williams in the TV movie "Redemption."

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. JAMIE FOXX: (Rapping) Yo, this is Jamie Foxx, giving a shout out to Stanley "Tookie" Williams. We got love for you, baby. Snoop, you're big for this man. Let's make it work. Stay up.

DEL BARCO: Last week, Foxx and Snoop Dogg also headlined an all-star Tookie Williams event in Los Angeles. They talked about how Williams has redeemed himself in prison, and, before an audience of 200 children, they read excerpts from some of the anti-gang children's books Williams has written behind bars at San Quentin. Eleven-year-old Kevin Porsche(ph) quoted from "Life in Prison."

KEVIN PORSCHE: (Reading) `What if I hadn't gotten expelled from high school? What if I hadn't co-founded the Crips? What if I hadn't ended up on death row?'

DEL BARCO: Williams was convicted of the shotgun murders of four people and two armed robberies in 1979. He continues to maintain his innocence and refuses to apologize for crimes he says he did not commit. But police and prosecutors don't believe him. And there are those who will never forgive him for helping create one of the deadliest street gangs in America, the Crips. Wayne Owens says Williams must pay for having killed his brother, Albert.

Mr. WAYNE OWENS: Maybe he's not the man he was when he went in there, but he is the man who did what he did, and, if he has truly grown, then acceptance of that responsibility would be part of what we call redemption.

DEL BARCO: Last week, lawyers failed to persuade the California Supreme Court to block the execution. So Williams' life now rests in the hands of a man who, like him, was also once a bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The California governor has agreed to a closed-door clemency meeting with Williams' lawyers and the victims' families. Schwarzenegger has said he'll be wrestling with the decision.

Governor ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (Republican, California): Let me tell you, this is the kind of--the toughest things to do when you're governor because you're dealing with someone's life. It's--when you have to make that decision. And so, you know, I dread that.

DEL BARCO: Observers continue to speculate on the political implications of the governor's options that could come down to a last-minute decision late Monday night. From death row, Tookie Williams himself tells supporters to continue with his anti-gang crusade. Last week he made a surprise phone call to the read-in event.

(Soundbite of read-in event)

Mr. FOXX: Stan, it's Jamie.

Mr. STANLEY "TOOKIE" WILLIAMS: Hello. How are you, my brother?

Mr. FOXX: I'm doing good, my brother.

DEL BARCO: Jamie Foxx held up the phone so the crowd could hear.

(Soundbite of read-in event)

Mr. WILLIAMS: I believe that regardless of whatever happens to me, whether I'm alive or executed, that all of you will remember me. And this isn't a goodbye, because the fact of the matter is I'm prepared for life, not death.

DEL BARCO: Unless Arnold Schwarzenegger intervenes, Stanley "Tookie" Williams will die by lethal injection sometime after the stroke of midnight on December 13th. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Los Angeles.

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