Monday, July 03, 2006

Still updating: Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty

The Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty is over, but we still have a few more updates to bring you. This installment comes from NCADP intern Matthew Rankin, who is a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Matthew, one of the latest additions to NCADP’s collection of abolitionist interns, is president of his campus fraternity, Gamma Lambda Chapter Phi Kappa Sigma.

In the abolitionist movement it can be easy to forget exactly what we are fighting for. Events like Starvin’ for Justice ‘06 put that into perspective for me. It reminded me exactly what we are fighting for: individuals. Our movement is not just a broad fight based on ideology but also a fight that if won will touch the lives of individual people across the country.

When I arrived at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to join the crowd of abolitionists, I was immediately welcomed by those who had enough energy to greet me. It was a very warm place and not just because of the sun; the hearts that stood at the vigil were filled with love.

As I walked around the event I could not stop myself from thinking, “this is why I am fighting the death penalty.” I also realized something else that day; that our fight is much bigger than just me or the organization that I work for. People like Bill Pelke, “Paul the Peace Walker,” Christine Lawson and many others helped me remember that our fight is not centered at the NCADP. Millions of people across the globe want to abolish the death penalty and if the NCADP is successful we will give a voice to those people.

As I began distributing literature to passers-by, I was reminded that not everyone wants to abolish capital punishment, which I can accept. What I can not accept is those who are not educated on the subject. People in our country cannot continue to support the death penalty without knowing the facts. Support for the death penalty, unfortunately, all too often is rooted in ignorance. It is this ignorance that we must fight.

Starvin’ for Justice ‘06 was a powerful experience for me and I was only out there a couple of hours. I have nothing but respect and love for the people who gathered below the steps of the Supreme Court to make their voices heard.

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