Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mississippi, Texas, Race, & the Death Penalty

We also oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites. Executing James' killers will not help balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment.
That's from a letter Barbara Anderson Young wrote on behalf of herself, her mother, and her two brothers to Robert Shuler Smith. Young is the sister of James Craig Anderson.  Smith is the District Attorney of Hinds County, Mississippi.  Deryl Dedmon is the young man arrested on a charge of capital murder for killing Anderson. His lawyer says it was an accident.
Holbrook Mohr reports for AP.
Investigators say Dedmon and John Aaron Rice attacked Anderson before Dedmon climbed into a green Ford F-250 with two teenage girls and ran Anderson down.
Rice is charged with assault. Police say he left the scene just seconds before Dedmon was run over.
Anderson is black, Dedmon white.  The "authorities" whoever they may be, say it was a hate crime.  The FBI is said to be investigating.  Anderson's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
And they seek punishment.
Those responsible for James' death deserve to punished for their criminal acts and we want them punished to the fullest extent of the law.  We hope that the criminal prosecutions will send a strong and clear message to those with hate in their hearts.
But not death.
We simply ask that the message be tempered with the love of our Savior.
Because, you know,
As Coretta Scott King stated in explaining her opposition to the death penalty, "An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation.  Justice is never advanced in the taking of human life."
Which is about as simply and clearly put as it gets.
Smith told the AP that he takes seriously what the family wants. That's
a very strong consideration that will weigh heavily in our decision.
They always say that.  They usually mean it when the family wants death.  Not so much when the family isn't after blood.  But maybe a little more when the killer's white and the victim black.  
I guess we'll find out about Smith.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, a couple of states to the west, where an execution scheduled for tomorrow is itself an unconstitutional hate crime, Governor I-don't-lose-sleep-over-killing-the-innocent hasn't yet formally announced that he can't be bothered to think of a reason to grant Duane Buck a 30 day reprieve.  But the 5th Circuit did announce that it won't do anything for him.
Want some numbers?  Nationwide, since we started killing again in 1977, there have been 269 executions for interracial murders.  16 times a white person has been killed for murdering a black person.  253 times a black has been killed for murdering a white one.
* * * * *
There are those who say that racism is a thing of the past, that we're now a post-racial society.
Don't you believe it.
Anderson Letter

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