Episode 6: Voices Against the Death Penalty

Highlights from the 2016 23rd Annual Starvin’ for Justice Fast and Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty, which was organized by the Abolition Action Committee. Recorded by Abraham Bonowitz.

From recordings on June 29 and 30. Speakers used on this episode (full speakers list below):

  • Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan
  • SueZann Bosler
  • Abraham Bonowitz
  • Robert Dunham

A cappella rendition of Ella’s Song: “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes”

Song “Iron Lady” by Phil Ochs.

Recordings by Abe Bonowitz used with permission. Photo provided.

Press release from organizers reprinted below.

Full Speakers List with links to and/organizations or bios

June 29

  • SueZann Bosler – Murder Victim Family Member, Journey of Hope …From Violence to Healing, Inc.
  • Dani Clark – member of the Community of Sant’Egidio and is frequently published in the National Catholic Reporter and America Magazine. She will speak about her research on the case Texas death row inmate Ivan Cantu, which has significant legal implications for the ineffectiveness of counsel issue in Texas.
  • James Connell – Defense Attorney in the Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions for Ammar al Baluchi
  • Jenn Meeropol – Executive Director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children and Granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953.
  • Michael Stone – Executive Director, Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
  • Jack Sullivan, Jr – Executive Director of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation
  • Death row family members, to be announced.

June 30

July 1

  • Shujah Graham – California Death Row Survivor, Witness to Innocence
  • Ron Hampton – Retired Executive Director of the National Black Police Association
  • Linwood Jackson – President, Delaware State Conference NAACP
  • Bill Pelke – Fast & Vigil co-Founder, Murder Victim Family Member, Journey of Hope …From Violence to Healing, Inc.
  • Delia Perez-Meyer – Sister of a Texas death row prisoner

July 2

40 Years after SCOTUS Upholds Death Penalty: Anti-Death Penalty Activists to Fast and Vigil for Four Days Outside of U.S. Supreme Court to Mark Historic Court Rulings as Death Penalty Use Declines


WHEN: June 29 and June 30 from 9:00 am until 8:00 pm
July 1 and 2 – around the clock, 24-hour presence (ending at midnight on July 2)

Evening teach-ins with noted speakers each day from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm (SEE BELOW)

*** A public rally will be held Saturday, July 2 at 12:00 pm ***

WHAT: A four day liquid-only fast and vigil to mark the anniversaries of the historic 1972 Furman and 1976 Gregg Supreme Court decisions on the death penalty.

WHO: Exonerated death row prisoners, murder victim family members, 100+ anti-death penalty activists from as many as 20 states and several countries, and leaders of state and national anti-death penalty organizations.

WHERE: On the sidewalk in front of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC

The Annual “Starvin’ for Justice” Fast and Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty protest is a four day liquid-only fast and vigil to mark the anniversaries of the historical 1972 Furman and 1976 Gregg Supreme Court decisions around the death penalty. Participants in the annual event include exonerated death row prisoners, murder victim family members, death row family members, and various leaders in the national movement to abolish the death penalty.

This year, June 29, 2016 marks the 44th anniversary of the Furman v. Georgia decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated all death penalty laws in the United States, finding capital punishment to be applied in an arbitrary and capricious manner. July 2nd marks the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Gregg decision, which upheld new state death penalty laws and allowing the resumption of executions. A special rally and media availability will be held at noon on July 2nd to mark these, and other court rulings, as part of the Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty at the U.S. This is the 23rd consecutive year that the Abolitionist Action Committee will hold its annual Fast and Vigil between the dates of these two landmark decisions. Activists, many of whom are fasting the entire four days, are traveling to Washington D.C. from across the United States and beyond.

We can arrange interviews with activists from your specific state or region. Contact abe@abolition.org with your request.

Highlights of this highly visual and interactive annual event include live music and evening teach-ins by death row exonerees, murder victim family members, death row family members, and noted activists, clergy and scholars. Please see details at http://www.abolition.org/fastandvigil/schedule.html

RAIN ALERT: In the event of rain or significant threat thereof, evening events requiring amplification will take part inside the United Methodist Church Building, immediately adjacent (across Maryland Ave. on 1st St.)

The Abolitionist Action Committee is an ad-hoc group of individuals committed to highly visible and effective public education for alternatives to the death penalty through nonviolent direct action.

Information online at www.abolition.org

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