Fightback: How do they Die?

by Sylvia Weinstein

Gary Graham (Shaka Sankofa) was put to death at 6:49 p.m. on July 22 by lethal injection.

What is lethal injection? Here is a description from Zolo Angona Azania, who is on death row at Indiana State Prison:

“The extinguishment of a human life by lethal injection is dressed up as a medical procedure which is actually a cold, calculated, ritual murder.

“The condemned prisoner is strapped to the death gurney. The first drug is sodium pentothal. A saline solution is then used to ensure the tube is cleared out so the drugs won’t mix because sometimes there’s a chemical reaction where they can clog. The third one is pancuronium bromide. That is the muscle relaxer.

“The fourth syringe then pushes another saline solution through. The fifth syringe is potassium chloride. That is the toxic drug that stops the heart.

“Following the completion of the injection process, and a five-minute waiting period, the blinds to the witness area will be closed and the Physician advised.

“If the offender’s heart has not stopped, the lights shall be dimmed, blinds opened, and the Superintendent or designee shall order the injecture procedure to be repeated.

“After this procedure is completed, the blinds will once again be closed, and the Physician will again check for signs of life. The Physician shall then report his findings to the Superintendent or designee.”

That’s what this government did to Gary Graham. He was 17 years old when he was arrested for the crime of robbery, not murder, which came later. He was an abused child; his mother spent months in mental institutions. His father was a chronic alcoholic who spend years in prison.

Gary Graham committed stupid crimes of robbery and rape but he did not commit the crime for which he was executed.

Only one witness said she had seen him at the scene of the crime; she had seen him for three seconds from 30 feet away and in the dark. Six witnesses said that Gary was not the killer and four of those witnesses passed a polygraph test.

Gary Graham is an example of the injustice system gone mad. The death penalty serves no purpose except to intimidate and threaten young men of color, and, in fact, the whole of the working class.

There is no one person, no matter how murderous or dangerous, who could possibly murder more people than this government has in the past few years. That includes Colombia, Iraq, the Third World countries-all of whom have felt the terror of U.S. bombs and military might.

In fact, the refrain, “Rockets red glare/Bombs bursting in air” is an apt anthem for imperialism’s strongest strong arm, the USA. As Martin Luther King said, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government”.

To all who have marched against the death penalty and to save the lives of countless Gary Grahams, don’t be discouraged. We have begun the long march to justice-and to an end of the death penalty.

Your acts represent real courage and are a testimony to the true nature of humankind, to the true brotherhood and sisterhood of everyone.

While this government stands in disgrace, you who marched against the death penalty stand shoulder to shoulder with our foremothers and fathers who struggled for human rights for all. We will win! 

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SPONSORED By THE MOBILIZATION TO FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL & THE INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL. CO-SPONSORS: Courage Foundation/Assange & Middle East Children’s Alliance, Arab Resource Organizing Center. HEAR Alice Walker, prize-winning novelist; Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers; Jamal Jr, Mumia’s grandson; Chris Hedges, prize-winning journalist