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September 2010, Week 4

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Fri, 24 Sep 2010 20:52:17 -0400
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From: National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
     <[log in to unmask]>

Dear friends:

Below is a message from Andrea Bible, of the National
Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. Her
email appeared in our mailboxes today, and with her
permission, we're sharing it with you. It's long, but
incredibly important. We thank her, the National
Clearinghouse, and all of you for what you do.

Dear ones:

Today I am grieving.

I am grieving because last night, just after 9pm
Eastern time, people in the State of Virginia killed
Teresa Lewis.

I am grieving because the people who were given the
power to decide whether or not to kill Teresa Lewis
were unswayed by new evidence showing she was not the
mastermind behind the crimes, as the judge who
sentenced her to death believed her to be.

I am grieving because we live in a country where
politicians and the courts believe it is ok to use the
state's resources to kill someone.

I am grieving because we live in a country where
politicians and the courts believe it is ok to use the
state's resources to kill someone who functions at the
level of a 13-year-old.

I am grieving because my colleagues and I, Teresa's
attorneys, and many other advocates and supporters
around the country who worked to prevent her senseless
and unnecessary death were not powerful enough to stop
it.

I am grieving because the alternative that I was
fighting for -- that Teresa's life be spared -- would
have meant that she would have spent the rest of her
life prison in conditions of isolation and deprivation.

I am grieving because I keep hearing the voice of my
friend Susan, who at age 19 plead to 25-to-life to
avoid the death penalty for killing the man who held
her hostage and abused her, saying, "It was exactly
like my abuser. The state said that they were going to
kill me, just like he used to tell me."

I am grieving because there are women whom I respect,
admire, and am inspired by -- like Tracee, Ellen,
Susan, Sara, and countless others -- who also faced the
death penalty and now are serving Life Without Parole
sentences.

I am grieving because I am remembering Deborah Peagler,
who died earlier this year of lung cancer after being
released from CA prison after serving more than 26
years; Debbie plead guilty in 1983 to avoid the death
penalty, only to have her attorneys discover documents
in 2005 showing that the prosecutor knew at the time
that they did not have sufficient evidence against her
to pursue the death penalty.

I am grieving because I know that the men who Teresa
Lewis and her co-defendants killed didn't deserve to be
killed either.

I am grieving because today, the state of Georgia is
preparing to kill Brandon Rhode, whose execution was
postponed earlier this week after he tried to commit
suicide.

I am grieving because 35 states still have the death
penalty, and there are 14 executions scheduled between
now and the end of the year, and another six already
scheduled in 2011.

I am grieving because our prisons are full of black and
brown people, poor people, queer, transgender and
gender non-conforming people, people with mental health
issues, people with disabilities, people who have been
subjected to horrors, people who have been neglected,
people who are incredibly talented artists, people who
are loving parents, people with incredible gifts,
people who deserve the opportunity to express their
full potential, people who deserve to live free of fear
and deprivation, and people who, despite all they have
endured, manage to sustain more moments of dignity and
resistance and humor and humanity than I ever would
have imagined possible.

I am grieving because sometimes it feels like too much;
too much suffering and oppression and trauma and
violence to stop.

I am grieving and I am outraged.

And I am hopeful.

I am hopeful because I know that I am a part of a
powerful movement for justice, for healing, and for
collective liberation.

I am hopeful because even in my grief, I feel
profoundly connected to all of you who share this
commitment to building another world, one where all
people have access to the material, educational,
emotional, and spiritual resources necessary to be safe
in thrive in our communities.

I am hopeful because I am privileged to work with
amazing women who join me everyday in the struggle for
justice.

I am hopeful because I know that people all over the
world expressed opposition to the killing of Teresa
Lewis.

I am hopeful because I have witnessed, and been a part
of, countless acts of resistance to the forces of
violence and oppression.

I am hopeful because many of those acts of resistance
have resulted in powerful, meaningful, liberatory
changes.

I am hopeful because I don't have to look all that hard
to see evidence that we are doing it, we are building
the world we want and deserve.

I am hopeful because I have to be. There is no
alternative.

And I am grateful.

I am grateful to each of you for being a part of the
struggle alongside me, in your own ways.

I am grateful for the ways that each of you sustain me
and my spirits, even from afar.

I am grateful for the many expressions of support and
solidarity that people sent to Teresa, her attorneys,
my colleagues, and me this week.

I am grateful to Teresa's attorney and to the countless
other volunteer attorneys throughout the country who
dedicate themselves to fighting for justice.

I am grateful that Gaile Owens, who was set to be
executed by the State of Tennessee next Tuesday, had
her sentenced commuted in July to life with the
possibility for parole by Governor Bredesen.

I am grateful for the countless organizations and
affinity groups and collectives and individuals who
work so determinedly to create the change we want to
see and to build the world in which we all deserve to
live.

I am grateful for the opportunity to confront the
dissociation and fatigue that comes from absorbing too
much suffering and trauma, to tap into my grief and
outrage, to express myself, and to move, once again,
toward action.

And I am grateful for this life and the chance to be my
best self. I hope to do right by it.

Onward,
Andrea

PS: Today I am going to make a donation to the National
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty in Teresa Lewis'
honor. If you want to join me in doing so, you can
donate online at http://ncadp.org/

I also am feeling especially proud of the work of the
National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered
Women this week; if any of you want to send them some
love this week, too, you can go to
http://www.ncdbw.org/more.htm

And I also am always grateful for the work and
leadership of Critical Resistance and their vision of
creating genuinely safe and healthy communities that
respond to harm without relying on prisons and
punishment. To support their work, go to:
http://criticalresist.live.radicaldesigns.org/article.p
hp?id=55


Contact us at [log in to unmask] Please join NCADP on
Facebook or LinkedIn, follow us on Twitter, read more
on our website, blog, or at the Huffington Post, and
contribute online.

photo in banner provided courtesy of Scott Langley,
www.langleycreations.com.

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