December 13th, 2005

An execution at San Quentin.

I spent a few hours this evening at San Quentin with others gathered to protest the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams and call for an end to the death penalty. The crowd was much larger than i expected (in the thousands — perhaps four or five thousand). I'm not sure how i feel about it. Near where i entered (the later-arriving crowd) there was some chanting, general milling about, and a vibe not unlike a street fair, with a few different groups set up with their signs, news crews everywhere. As i made my way up to the front, toward the people who had arrived earlier, bodies were more tightly packed and the tone was calmer. I saw a group of women from Grace Cathedral with their collars, and someone carrying a large banner for St. Mark's of Berkeley, and felt glad to see religious people represented on the liberal side of an issue i care about.

Some people sang; some prayed; some yelled; some held each other quietly. On the whole i was glad to see so many people come out against the death penalty, though it felt strange for the event to be such a spectacle. I wondered why this government executes people and why it always does so in the middle of the night.