It doesn’t shock me that Tookie Williams was refused clemency. It saddens me, as do all such executions, but it doesn’t shock me. I can even see things from Schwarzenegger’s point of view: the courts have had their say, the process has come to an end, and the state has determined what the penalty should be. It is difficult for an elected official to use his personal discretion at the last moment. But I was shocked to read , among Schwarzenegger’s justifications for his refusal, the following:
In addition to arguing that Williams’ continued claims of innocence should be counted against him, the governor made a point of quoting the dedication of Williams’ 1998 book “Life in Prison.”
In the dedication, Williams named 11 people, all of whom had been imprisoned or in custody. Among them were Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid leader; Malcolm X, the black nationalist leader assassinated in 1965; and Angela Davis, the black Marxist professor acquitted of murder charges in 1972.
Schwarzenegger and his aides focused on one name on the list — George Jackson, the author of “Soledad Brother,” a book about life in prison. Jackson was “gunned down on the upper yard at San Quentin Prison” on Aug. 21, 1971, in a “foiled escape attempt on a day of unparalleled violence in the prison that left three officers and three inmates dead,” Schwarzenegger said.
“The inclusion of George Jackson on this list defies reason and is a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed and that he still sees violence and lawlessness as a legitimate means to address societal problems,” the governor said.
I posted a while ago about the British government’s plans to criminalize statements “glorifying terrorism”. Here it seems that if it tipped the balance of Schwarzenegger’s decision, Williams’s dedication of a book to a controversial historical figure, may have cost him his life. A book dedication hardly amounts to an endorsement of all of a person’s attitudes and actions anyway. What can Schwarzenegger have been thinking in including this in his statement?