The Death Penalty rears its ugly head in Massachusetts

Dear Friends,   As you may know by now, the Death Penalty is rearing its ugly head in Massachusetts, and anti-death penalty state.  We have seen and heard the sorrowful testimonies of victims and the eloquent pleas of the defense for the young and troubled life of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.   Throughout the trial, Pax Christi, Agape, Quakers from Wellesley and Cambridge Friends Meetings have stood with Veterans for Peace with signs begging for Mercy and to recognize that “Capital Punishment Dehumanizes Us All,” and that “Capital Punishment is Legal Torture”, as, we might add, is “Super-max” and “Solitary.”   The alignment of groups mentioned above urge you with compelling voice to stand with us on   Wednesday, June 24th, beginning at 7:30 am   even if it means perhaps arriving a work a bit late, or any other arrangement you might have to make, coming at another time, standing for only five minutes.   In the meantime, you might call the Moakley Courthouse, flooding Judge O’Toole with calls to voice your emotions, intellectual insights, spiritual views and just plain outrage at his display of determination from before the trial and into the jury selection process (Jury had to be FOR the death penalty) to execute Dhokhar Tsarnaev, despite the fact that Massachusetts citizens have voted out the death penalty in the 1980’s.   We might conjecture that Judge O’Toole is Irish, and possibly Catholic, may even attend Mass at a local parish, so we might call Cardinal O’Malley’s office and ask him to intercede with Judge O’Toole, reminding him of recent statements by the Pope and by the Cardinal himself on the death penalty.  (We Catholics know the fuzziness of disclaimer clauses in the Catechism, as well as the stated preference by the Massachusetts Catholic Bishops that Tsarnaev be “neutralized” in Super-Max).   This is not meant to disparage the efforts of Pope Francis or Cardinal O’Malley or the other Massachusetts Bishops, as well as the Episcopal Bishop, Rev. Alan M Gates, but is to acknowledge how much work still needs to be done in forming conscience on the Death Penalty and in seeing the alternative of life in prison as “mercy.”   The huge percentage of MA citizens against the death penalty and the determination of the Judge to secure it on a federal level, speaks to political  disenfranchisement, among other spiritual, psychological, ethical and religious realities of which many of us are aware.   Media bias and coverage, has been egregiously dehumanizing of Tsarnaev and condescending to readers who have a right to expect something more than emotional rantings and “monsterizing” of Tsarnaev, referring to his robot-like impassivity.   And yet,  we all cannot imagine the pain of the victims, and may, thus, feel paralyzed in conscience and voice, as the victims are in body,  as well as in our desire to stand in public witness against the death penalty, as if participation in a silent vigil at the courthouse might be viewed as anti-victim.   OVER THESE MONTHS, THE GROUPS ABOVE, MOST EMPHATICALLY, VETERANS FOR PEACE, HAVE STOOD IN DIGNIFIED SILENCE WITH GREAT RESPECT FOR ALL CONCERNED.   WE HAVE HAD SMALL NUMBERS, AND HAVE WONDERED OUT LOUD:  WHERE is MCADP (MA Committee Against the Death Penalty)?   Where is Amnesty International?  Where are Catholic College students, Divinity School students, interfaith students, Buddhists, Muslims, people of faith?  Why have people not engaged in public outcry on campuses and in parishes?       PLEASE SPREAD THIS MESSAGE FAR AND WIDE.   CALL THE COURTHOUSE.  REGISTER YOUR PROTEST WITH JUDGE O’TOOLE.   WRITE THE JUDGE.   WE DELIVERED 400 SIGNATURES TO THE PROSECUTING ATTORNEYS AS WELL AS TO THE DEFENSE FROM A STATEMENT ASKING FOR MERCY, AS DID DEFENSE ATTORNEY JUDY CLARKE, AS DID SISTER HELEN PREJEAN, TO NO APPARENT AVAIL.   We know, however, the mystery of witness, the nonviolent belief that even the smallest act done in love touches the heart of even the most resistant.  We have the example of St. Paul in Christianity, and the teachings of Quakers John Woolman and George Fox, Lucretia Mott (who petitioned President Grant not to execute a group of the condemned), the example of Mary Dyer, whose statue is in front of the State House, and the courageous vote of the state officials in Nebraska.   Our Veterans for Peace have been eloquent on how this trial is about war, and we have been stunned by their depth and power during interviews with the press.   Please join us.  We will be at the Courthouse at 7:30 am on Wednesday, June 24th.   Please alert others on mailing lists and religious and other constituents.   We look forward to meeting you all.   Suzanne Belote Shanley and Brayton Shanley  for the Agape Community.

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