It is not easy or simple, but there is hope.
Akin Adepoju, President of PADP, joins with our community of civil rights organizations, advocates, organizers, and citizens in mourning the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd. We stand with the communities who are the targets of police violence and racism.
We demand justice. The nation has watched in horror as Mr. Floyd pleaded for his life to no avail as a white police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. He told them, “I can’t breathe.” We are saddened and outraged by the senseless, but all too familiar, tragedy of George Floyd’s murder. As we watch our local and national responses to the unjust killing of George Floyd, we know we have been here too many times before. From Eric Garner to Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Jonathan Ferrell, Samuel DuBose, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, and countless other African-Americans who have been killed by police. We have been here before; we cannot return to business as usual. Changes that simply pay lip service to justice and equality will not be accepted.
We speak today against America’s founding condition – racism – and its devastating impact on our lives. We also condemn the ongoing violence against protesters exercising their fundamental right to demand equal treatment and opportunity. Locally and nationally, we must address the persistent, undeniable racism in our communities. Minimizing and eliminating racism requires deliberate action; it requires addressing the legacy of segregation and discrimination, and the dismantling of systems that support racial inequities and injustices. We stand with those seeking legal accountability for all involved and all those ready to channel this moment into action, to break down the structures of oppression in our society.
In solidarity with the march for justice,
Join us for a screening of the film In the Executioner’s Shadow. Vicki and Syl Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was raped and murdered in Philadelphia, will speak after the film. Audience Q & A will follow.
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
The only way to ensure that the state does not execute an innocent person is to stop using the death penalty altogether
When I was a young mother of my beautiful baby girl Shannon many years ago, I could never have imagined I would lose her to violent crime. I never suspected that her death would propel our family into the debate on Pennsylvania’s system of capital punishment, or that I would later be asked to serve on a government committee studying it. I never knew I would learn that Pennsylvania’s death penalty is too broken to fix and does not serve victims like me.
However, all of those things did happen. Now I want to add my voice to the many asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to abolish Pennsylvania’s capital punishment system, as other states have done.
Shannon was a beautiful and brilliant student at Philadelphia’s Wharton School when she was murdered by a serial rapist in 1998. Prior to her loss, I had not given the death penalty much thought — similar to most Americans, I would guess.
Continue to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Today, Governor Gavin Newsom took the historic step of declaring a moratorium on executions in California. Four other states have a moratorium in place — Colorado, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. The 737 California death row inmates represent over one-quarter of all those on death row in the United States. Just over four years ago, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on executions until any deficiencies identified by the recently-released state governmental study on capital punishment were resolved to his satisfaction. Governors Newsom and Wolf both pointed to concerns about racial bias, unfairness, inadequate defense counsel, and the risk of executing an innocent person. Five people have been released from California’s death row due to innocence. In Pennsylvania, that number is six.
Nationally, two of the five largest death penalty states – California and Pennsylvania – have not executed anyone in more than a decade. Overall, more than one-third of those now on death rows across the United States (34.1%) are incarcerated in states with gubernatorial moratoria — California, Colorado, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
This latest moratorium illustrates the decaying state of capital punishment. The death penalty has been disappearing, both in law and in practice, from the United States. Ohio Governor Tom DeWine put executions on hold this month to prevent the state from participating in torture. Last year, Washington State’s Supreme Court declared that the application of capital punishment in that state was unconstitutional.
Death-row exoneree Alfred Dewayne Brown (pictured) was declared “actually innocent” by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg on March 1, 2019, making Brown eligible for state compensation for the time he spent wrongfully imprisoned on Texas’ death row.