By Jackie Jones
Originally published on BlackAmericaWeb.com
Many people recall the 1976 movie “Network” and its exhortation to open one’s window and yell, "I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore.”
Well, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is calling on the public to start “Shouting from the Rooftops,” its campaign to educate the public about wrongful executions and continue its push for an end to the death penalty.
“Since 1973, 138 people have been released from death row who have been exonerated."
“Since 1973, 138 people have been released from death row who have been exonerated,” said Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director of the coalition.
That may seem like a huge number, but there are many others convicted under questionable circumstances who may not be granted clemency or given a commuted sentence.“As long as we have the death penalty, some innocent people are going to be executed,” Rust-Tierney told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
The latest campaign was inspired by the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted of killing his children in an arson fire at their home in Corsicana, in northeast Texas. An article by David Grann in the Sept. 7 edition of The New Yorker magazine reviewed the case and revealed that investigators now believe the fire was accidental, possibly caused by faulty wiring in the house.
“The evidence they were relying on to say it was an intentional fire was just wrong,” Rust-Tierney said.
Shouting from the Rooftops, according to Rust-Tierney, “picks up on a statement (Supreme Court) Justice (Antonin) Scalia wrote that there has not been ‘a single case - not one - in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent's name would be shouted from the rooftops.’"
“We responded with 'Innocent and Executed,' where we documented four cases - Willingham’s, Ruben Cantu, Carlos De Luna and Larry Griffin - where investigators and reporters documented they were innocent and executed,” Rust-Tierney said. “We’re taking Justice Scalia at his word and asking people to shout it from the rooftops, literally.”
NCADP is urging Shouting from the Rooftops participants to make videos of themselves alone or with friends or family literally shouting from rooftops that Willingham was innocent and executed. NCADP will post the videos on their web site and on YouTube. The staff of the NCADP has already posted a video on YouTube, and two staff members also produced and posted a “how-to-make-a-video” video.
The coalition’s site also has a list of other suggested activities for the public, including writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about the Willingham case, calling for an end to the death penalty and putting a Shouting from the Rooftops banner on their blogs or Web pages.
“Having Tom Joyner go before the (South Carolina) parole and pardons board and getting them to admit there’s been a mistake ought to inspire,” Rust-Tierney said, referring to the radio host winning a posthumous pardon Wednesday for his great-uncles who were executed in 1915 for a murder they did not commit.
“We were delighted for him, but we were also saddened that he had to do this,” she said. “But this kind of thing is still going on. “We need to alert the public that this is a real problem.