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Mid-Missouri
Fellowship of
Reconciliation

FOR News May 2001


P.O. Box 268
Columbia, Missouri
65205
573-449-4585
email: jstack@coin.org


State Continues Business of Killing

Antonio Richardson’s Execution Stayed

McVeigh Execution Stayed Until?

Declaration of Life- Newspaper Signature Ad

Memorial Day Observance and Peace Actions

School of the Americas Training/Monsanto Action

Special thanks

State Continues Business of Killing
Missouri is embarking on a pace to make 2001 the bloodiest year yet in our state’s history. January was the only month so far when state officials hadn’t scheduled a state killing. Three men were lethally poisoned at the Potosi prison so far this year; Attorney General Jay Nixon has requested the Missouri Supreme Court set execution dates for five other men. Consequently, it’s quite likely the state will kill monthly for some time to come, unless we the people awaken our state’s slumbering conscience. The Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation condemns all violence, whether
a killing’s committed by a deranged individual or a deliberative state. We mourn the violent death of any human being and extend condolences to all grieving the loss of a loved one to murder. We note with sadness, the executions of the following men this year and have included, where people can send notes of condolence:
* Stanley Lingar: Executed February 7. Letters can be routed to Lingar’s family via his attorney, Kent Gipson, 5319 Rockhill Rd., KC MO 64110;
* Tomas Ervin: Executed March 28 (sorry at this time we have no address to send notes);
* Mose Young: Executed April 25. Send letters c/o Geraldine Wynne (his cousin), 8126 Marilyn Ct., St. Louis MO 63134.


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Antonio Richardson’s Execution Stayed
Abolitionists received good news in early March, when Antonio Richardson’s execution was indefinitely stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Justices, a few days earlier had agreed to hear the appeal of Ernest McCarver, a North Carolina prisoner. The Court will consider whether the execution of mentally-retarded people constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment." (Of course, from our perspective any killing would come under that definition). Apparently the Court will determine if "evolving standards of decency" in the United States have rendered such executions unacceptable and thus unconstitutional. Execution dates were stayed for Richardson and a few other U.S. condemned prisoners who are mentally retarded, until the Court considers the McCarver case, likely no sooner than the fall of this year.

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McVeigh Execution Stayed Until?
The tragic saga of the Oklahoma City bombing has taken a bizarre twist in recent days. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft reluctantly imposed a 30-day stay in the execution of Timothy McVeigh, when it was learned that the FBI had failed to turn over to defense attorneys thousands of pages of agency documents relating to their investigation. Most certainly that stay will be extended to allow his attorneys to fully examine the papers. Such a fiasco seems to give McVeigh a greater opportunity to bring further embarrassment and cast public doubt upon the agency (especially among individuals and groups of his ilk). If only the stay had been granted for reasons of pure conscience, realizing killing is wrong.

Bud Welch, whose daughter Julie, died in the bombing, notes that a majority of family members who lost a loved one killed in the bombing, now realize the execution of McVeigh will not help with their healing. Welch spoke in Missouri several weeks ago during the ten-day Journey of Hope From Violence to Healing, sponsored by Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty. McVeigh’s killing, Welch says, would just be an "event. Healing, on the other hand, is a process, often life-long, which won’t be furthered with the killing of yet another human being." Welch had been a life-time proponent of the death penalty, but switched his position after his daughter’s violent death. Several months after the bombing though, Welch recalled a conversation he had with daughter. As they drove, news of another Texas execution came on the radio. According to Bud, Julie had said, state killing "‘was only teaching children to hate.’" Soon after realizing he himself had become consumed by hatred, he began speaking out against the planned federal killing. "Revenge is what drove Timothy McVeigh to kill in response to the killings of the Branch Davidians at Waco. Revenge is what’s driving the United States to kill McVeigh." He laments, "What more violence will be spawned by the killing of this man" who appears to be getting his wish: to become a political martyr for the extreme right-wing?

Welch is among the inspiring human beings during our violent, vengeful times who are charting for our species a path of compassion, upon which we are challenged to tread and evolve. Part of that trek for him came when he saw broadcast news reports of Bill McVeigh, Tim’s father and recognized the profound pain in his face, much akin to his own suffering. Welch searched him out and met with Bill and his daughter, sharing their common sense of loss (in Bill’s case, a son he no longer can publicly, proudly acknowledge—a grown child nearing execution). Let us all reach out to those in our midst mourning the loss of their loved one.

The FOR will also hold a vigil the day before the federal execution of Timothy McVeigh, from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the Boone County Courthouse with a prayer vigil proceeding at 6:30 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 204 E. Ash—to recall those killed in the bombing, their grieving families, to solemnly protest McVeigh’s execution and to remember his family. Call 449-4585 for details.

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Declaration of Life- Newspaper Signature Ad
(The following ad will appear in the Columbia Daily Tribune and Jefferson City Post Tribune on Sunday, July 1. That date falls between, June 29- the anniversary of the 1972 Furman v. Georgia decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court halted the death penalty, ruling it unconstitutional since it was found to be arbitrary and capricious—and July 2, the anniversary of the 1976 Gregg v. Georgia Supreme Court decision, which allowed executions to resume in the United States).

We urge the State of Missouri to abolish the death penalty! Over 700 persons have been legally murdered in this country since 1978. Missouri has killed 49 of them and ranks 4th in the nation. Over 3,700 men and women currently await execution on America’s death rows, including over 75 facing death in Missouri.

Death row prisoners are poor. 54% are members of racial minorities. Race,
social status, location of the crime, and "chance" are the deciding factors in who is sentenced to death. The people the state chooses to execute do not have power, prestige or wealth.

It is impossible to avoid placing innocent people on death row. Over 400 people were wrongfully convicted of capital crimes in the US between 1900 and 1999. At least 23 of these prisoners were executed. Capital punishment does not deter murder. It perpetuates violence. It sanctions revenge. It
teaches children that some killings are OK. It makes all citizens complicit in state-sanctioned murder.

Human life is sacred. We believe the killing of one human being by another is morally wrong. We insist that no government has the moral right to execute anyone for any reason.

We, the following, call on the State of Missouri to stop executing men and women and to abolish the death penalty. Each of us makes this Declaration of Life: "As long as state executions continue, I request that, should I die as a result of a violent crime, the person or persons found guilty of
killing me should not be sentenced to death. He, she, or they must face the appropriate
consequences of their criminal action, but my death does not justify their death."

Signature      Print Name        Address (not published)

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Print-out, sign and send the coupon above to Mid-Missouri FOR, P.O. Box 268, Columbia MO 65205 by June 18. We suggest, if affordable, a $5 donation per person’s name appearing on the ad. The amount of money gathered will determine the size of the ad. Groups may also donate and will be noted on the ad as opponents of the death penalty. (May be mailed with other coupon in newsletter)

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Memorial Day Observance and Peace Actions
Memorial Day weekend is a highly militarized time in mid-Missouri. The annual air show at the Columbia Regional Airport on Saturday and Sunday (5/26-27) and the parade on Monday (5/28) do not represent the true spirit of Memorial Day, but rather are used to glorify weapons of mass destruction and the military that deploys them.

Mid-Missouri FOR will be joining Peaceworks and other supporters of nonviolence at the air show with signs, banners, a display and leaflets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. To car-pool from Columbia meet at 9:15 a.m., either or both days at the Peace Nook, 804 C Broadway. (You may want to leave your car in the 8th St. parking garage near Walnut to avoid getting a ticket) Folks will also leaflet before the parade, from 9:00 to 10:00 on Monday morning. Meet at the Nook at 9:00. The focus will be opposition to Star Wars and U.S. intervention in Colombia. For more info call Peaceworks at 875-0539.

We encourage everyone concerned with appropriately recalling all people killed and harmed in war, to attend the Veterans for Peace Memorial Day gathering from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the MLK Memorial near the trailhead of the MKT trail, just off Stadium Blvd. The best memorial for war casualties is to strive to prevent more war.

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School of the Americas Training/Monsanto Action
A series of work shops will take place from June 20-24 in St. Louis to prepare for the November protests at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. The activities for local organizers are also planned to coincide with an action at the corporate headquarters of Monsanto in St. Louis on June 25. Workshops running from June 20-22 at St. Louis University will include, affinity group formation, direct-action planning, street theater, consensus decision-making, lobbying, magic for activists and more.

A Nonviolence Training for Trainers is scheduled at the University June 22 -June 24. Registration fees are accessed on a sliding scale. A nonviolent direct action will be planned that evening with the protest planned at Monsanto the following day at noon. Under the direction of General Montoya, an SOA graduate with paramilitary ties, a Monsanto-produced herbicide is being used in the U.S.-funded "War on Drugs". In reality this is the same old counter-insurgency war that SOA graduates have waged across Latin America with devastating impacts upon the poorest and most vulnerable. The toxic spraying happens in conjunction with the military push into Southern Colombia that has resulted in countless human rights violations.

To register contact Jeff Winder at 202-234-3440 or jwinder@soaw.org

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Special thanks to the folks who made this newsletter and our outreach efforts possible:

Bertrice Bartlett, Laura Bergin, Cedric Brown, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Lorraine Caputo, Nan George, Dean Hargett, the Missouri Catholic Conference, John and Kim McHale, Kevin Locke, David Mehr, Mike Murray, The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Ruth O’Neil, Marty Patton, Aritha Payne, Liz Schmidt, Devin Scherubel, John Schuder, Jude Sommer, Jeff Stack, the many donors to FOR and to fund Jeff’s work, plus the hearty mailing crew.



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