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Abolitionist E-Newsletter


February 19, 2004

Dear Friends and Allies,

The start of Death Penalty Moratorium Week 2004 is only eight days away, and citizens across Pennsylvania are working diligently to prepare for this coordinated week of public education and activism. From Feb. 27 through March 4, people of conscience will raise their voices in unison to demand that Governor Rendell impose an immediate halt to executions and the signing of death warrants. Actions will include public demonstrations, lectures, debates, teach-ins, leafleting and sermons (for complete information on the events of moratorium week, and to download fliers for events in your area, see www.pa-abolitionists.org/moraweek2004.html). Among the featured speakers will be exonerated death row prisoners Nick Yarris, William Nieves, and Ray Krone. On Thursday, March 4, coordinated demonstrations and vigils will take place across the state in conjunction with a dynamic nonviolent direct action at Governor Rendell's office in Harrisburg. Your help is needed to ensure that all of these events succeed in sending an assertive message to our elected officials that we will not tolerate their inaction on this critical issue. March 4, 2004, is the one-year anniversary of the report issued by a blue-ribbon committee of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which called for a moratorium on executions in light of extreme racial bias. We cannot let this date come and go without expressing our deep opposition to Pennsylvania's policy of state-sponsored killing. We cannot allow Gov. Rendell to ignore the committee's findings and to stand idle while human rights violations continue to be carried out in our name. Please join us in taking action during Moratorium Week.

In Solidarity,
Jeff Garis
Executive Director


In this newsletter (scroll down for these articles):

1. PARTICIPANTS NEEDED FOR NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION:
   THURSDAY, MARCH 4 IN HARRISBURG

2. COORDINATED DEMONSTRATIONS/VIGILS, MARCH 4 IN PHILADELPHIA, PITTSBURGH, ERIE, WILKES-BARRE AND BETHLEHEM

3. WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AND SUBMIT OP-EDS TO YOUR NEWSPAPER TODAY

4. CALL GOV. RENDELL'S OFFICE, MARCH 4 TO DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM



 
1. PARTICIPANTS NEEDED FOR NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION: THURSDAY, MARCH 4 IN HARRISBURG
  On the morning of March 4, anti-death penalty activists will engage in nonviolent resistance at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Activists will demand that the governor follow the recommendations made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court committee one year to the day its report was issued. We need additional participants to help make this action a success! A nonviolence training and planning meeting will be held for all participants on Wednesday, March 3 in Harrisburg. Overnight accommodations will be available. Nonviolence training will be required of all participants. Please call 215-729-8720 or email stoppadp@yahoo.com as soon as possible for more information on the action or to sign up.

2. COORDINATED DEMONSTRATIONS/VIGILS, MARCH 4 IN BETHLEHEM, ERIE, PHILADELPHIA, PITTSBURGH AND WILKES-BARRE
  Pennsylvania Abolitionists' chapters and affiliated groups are organizing demonstrations and vigils throughout the state on March 4. These events, listed below, will take place at or near Governor Rendell's four regional offices and at other locations in a statewide display of solidarity. Please help us publicize these demonstrations - forward the information to your email circle, or download a flier from our website at www.pa-abolitionists.org/moraweek2004.html
  BETHLEHEM --   12 noon - 1:00 p.m.
   Rep. T.J. Rooney's Office, 7 West Fourth Street Sponsored by Lehigh Valley Committee Against State Killing For more information: 610-691-8730 or lepoco@postmark.net
ERIE --   11:30 a.m.
   Perry Square, 6th and State; Sponsored by the Erie chapter of Pennsylvania Abolitionists For more information: 814-453-4955, x. 228 or 814-833-7031 or mike@paxchristiusa.org
PHILADELPHIA --   11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
   Gov. Rendell's Southeast Office, 200 South Broad Street (near Broad and Walnut) Sponsored by the Philadelphia chapter of Pennsylvania Abolitionists; For more information: 215-724-6120 or pauadp@aol.com
PITTSBURGH --   4:00 p.m.
   Gov. Rendell's Southwest Regional Office, 300 Liberty Ave. Sponsored by the Pittsburgh chapter of Pennsylvania Abolitionists For more information: 412-241-8154 or stopdeathpen@aol.com
WILKES-BARRE --   12 noon
   Luzerne County Courthouse, 200 North River Street, Wilkes-Barre Sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre Peace Center's Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty; For more information: 570-823-9977 or peacewb@sunlink.net
 

3. WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR AND SUBMIT OP-EDS TO YOUR NEWSPAPER FOR MORATORIUM WEEK
   Please take some time in the next few days to submit a letter to the editor or an op-ed to run in your local newspaper during Moratorium Week. The more media attention given to citizens' demand for a moratorium on executions during this concentrated one-week period, the stronger our message will be. Talking points include:
  -  Gov. Rendell's inaction over the past year on the recommendation for a moratorium on executions by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System, released March 4, 2003
-   severe racial and economic discrimination in the application of the state's death penalty (almost 70 percent of those on Pennsylvania's death row are people of color and more than 90 percent could not afford a lawyer)
-   six innocent Pennsylvanians have been exonerated after being sentenced to death, twice the number of people the Commonwealth has executed since the death penalty was reinstated
-   the great majority of Pennsylvanians (72 percent according to one poll) support a moratorium on executions text here
 
   For a complete list of talking points, see www.pa-abolitionists.org/talkingpoints.pdf and for a summary of the State Supreme Court committee's report, see www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=19&did=572

4. CALL GOV. RENDELL'S OFFICE ON MARCH 4 TO DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM
   We are calling on all people of conscience to express their outrage over Gov. Rendell's failure to take action on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court committee's moratorium recommendation. PLEASE PHONE GOV. RENDELL'S OFFICE AT THE STATE CAPITOL ON THURSDAY, MARCH 4 AND CALL ON HIM TO IMPOSE AN IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM ON EXECUTIONS. Help us hold our governor to his campaign promise. Call the governor at 717-787-2500. You will likely only have a very few seconds to speak to the staff person who answers your call, so please prepare a concise remark that conveys your feelings about the need for a death penalty moratorium and your grave disappointment in the governor's lack of leadership on this issue.

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PENNSYLVANIA ABOLITIONISTS United Against the Death Penalty P.O. Box 58128, Philadelphia, PA 19102 Phone: 215-724-6120 Fax: 215-729-6189 Website: www.pa-abolitionists.org
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