Stanley “Tookie” Williams and Redemption
Effective Essay Writing
August 14, 2009
Can a person on death row be redeemed? Redemption is not a word commonly associated with a four-time convicted murderer awaiting execution on death row. While some think the death penalty is barbaric, others believe it is just punishment for the crime committed. Stanley Tookie Williams, convicted murder and co-founder of the notorious Crips gang, was described in black and white depending on who was speaking of him. The case of Williams’ leaves much room to argue guilt or innocence.
Stanley “Tookie” Williams was born on December 29, 1953 to a 17-year-old mother in the New Orleans Charity Hospital. He never met his father who deserted them before Williams turned 1-year-old. In 1959 he and his mother caught a Greyhound bus to Los Angeles and settled into South-Central Los Angeles which Williams recalled as “a shiny red apple rotting away at the core” according to his autobiography Blue Rage, Black Redemption.
In 1971, Williams joined Raymond “Truck” Washington to form the West Side Crips. This gang along with the Bloods of Los Angeles went on to perpetrate over 70 gang related homicides in 1974, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. In 1972, two youths left a concert at the Hollywood Palladium and were attacked by 20 Crips members who wanted their leather coats and wallets. When Robert Ballou, Jr. refused, he was beaten to death. He was not a gang member, played football in high school and was considered to be a good person by friends and family alike. Nine Crips members
were later arrested and charged with his murder. This was considered the first murder by the Crips and evidenced the criminal side and ruthlessness of the gang.
Williams is apprehended in 1979 for four murders and placed on trial. He is accused of murdering Albert Owens, 26, a store clerk for a take of between $60 and $122. He also murdered Robert Yang and his family, mother, father and sister. Again his take was about $100 and this occurred at the Brookhaven Motel that the family owned.
The murders actually shocked Williams own community and tips started pouring in that Williams had been bragging about the murders. Ballistics matched Williams’ shotgun to the shell casings left at the crime scenes.
Williams is tried for all four murders in 1979 and found guilty of guilty of murder and two counts of robbery. He is sentenced to death and sent to San Quentin prison.
From 1980 to 1988 Williams is involved in many violent incidents in prison. They include assaulting other prisoners, death threats against guards, throwing chemicals and other substances on guards and participating in sexual activity with a female visitor that had to be stopped by gun officers. He was also stabbed by another death row inmate who belonged to a splinter Crips rival gang. He was finally placed in solitary confinement in
October, 1988, and it was then that Williams sought redemption. He had always maintained his innocence in the murders and believed that his background and upbringing were responsible with other things contributing to his “rage”. He believed later that this solitary confinement was the beginning of his quest for change within himself. Williams published his first in a series of children’s book in 1996, Gangs and Wanting to Belong. He agrees to do a taped interview to support the 1992 gang truce and repudiates his gang affiliation. He issues a public apology for his part in forming the Crips and apologizes to anyone afflicted by gang violence. He writes his book Life in Prison which attempts to dissuade young people from the path of violence he took which landed him in San Quentin. He is nominated for the Nobel Prize seven times as a result of his writings and activities and is given a President’s Call to Service Award from President Bush.
Cited: Alonso, A. (October 26, 2006), Stanley Tookie Williams Could be First Gang Member
Executed in California, Street Gangs Magazine, 7
Dieter, R. (2008), The Innocence Report, www.deathpenaltyinfo.org
Malkin, M. (November 26, 2005), The Tookie Files, www.michellemalkin.com
Williams, S. (October, 2005), Press release, www.AP.com
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