Friday, August 27, 2004

James Allridge III

As coincidence would have it, three of the six friends of James' who witnessed his execution last night are current or former NCADP board members. Here is a letter from Dave Atwood, who used to be on NCADP's board and is now chair of our Texas affiliate.

Dear friends of James,

There were six witnesses for James at his execution yestereday: Stanley Allridge, Darren Allridge, Christa Dold, Sr. Helen Prejean, Bill Pelke and myself. James remained faithful and focused right up to the last moment - you have read his last words in the newspaper articles.

Ten pieces of James' art were held by his supporters outside the prison walls as he was being executed. What a wonderful witness. This is what James wanted.

Although this was an extremely painful experience for all of us, we know that James' life was not in vain. He is a shining example of human transformation. We are all indebted to him for this. We can all honor his life by telling his story and showing his art whenever we have an opportunity.

I can't put into words my admiration for the Allridge Family: Mr. and Mrs. Allridge, Stanley, Darren and Gary. They have gone through so much with the loss of Ronald and now James. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers. There will be a wake in Ft. Worth tonight (Friday) and a funeral service on Saturday morning. I am waiting for details from Stanley Allridge.

Bill Pelke with the "Journey of Hope...From Violence to Healing" came to Texas in early August to tell his personal story of forgiveness and have people sign petitions for James. Bill spoke to at least 15 different groups throughout the state. James' story of transformation was heard by hundreds of people throughout the state.

Jim Marcus and the legal team at Texas Defender Service did a marvelous job in preparing the appeals to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and U.S. Supreme Court. They could not have done more. They deserve our respect and support.

Our appreciation to Sr. Helen Prejean, Susan Sarandon, Christa Dold, Margery Layton, Abby Harmon, Chauncy Ashburn, Ruth Westfall, Ralph McCloud, the Sisters of St. Mary, Melissa Barker, Joe Gindratt, the Cliftons, Priscilla Atwood and the hundreds of supporters of James over the years.

Keep the Clendennen and Allridge families in your thoughts and prayers.

In love and appreciation for the work of so many people,
Dave Atwood

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