By Carl Dix, Spokesperson for the RCP, USA

Revolutionary Worker #1059, June 18, 2000

On June 22, 2000, the State of Texas is planning to carry out the final step in a gross miscarriage of justice. It intends to execute Shaka Sankofa (Gary Graham) on that day despite a mountain of evidence pointing to his innocence of the crime he was convicted of and put on death row for 19 years ago. The Supreme Court has already turned down Shaka's appeal for a new trial to present this evidence.

At the age of 17, Shaka was wrongfully convicted of the murder of a white man named Bobby Lambert in Houston in 1981. Six eyewitnesses who were in the parking lot the night Lambert was killed say Shaka was not the gunman, including several who saw the gunman's face and are certain it wasn't Shaka. The police reports from the night of the killing list all these witnesses. Yet none of them were brought to court to testify at Shaka's trial, and the prosecutors went ahead and framed up Shaka for murder. Four alibi witnesses say that Shaka was with them that night and couldn't have been in the parking lot where Lambert was killed. On top of all that, Lambert's widow has pleaded with the authorities to spare Shaka's life, but her plea has fallen on deaf ears. Only one witness said in court that Shaka was the gunman, and his testimony contradicted an earlier statement that Shaka wasn't the gunman!

Shaka's story is a sharp example of the intense cruelty of the criminal justice system in Texas, the injustice of the death penalty in this country and the intolerable inequalities that weigh on the lives of Black people. Sankofa is on death row slated to die on June 22 because he's a poor Black man the state decided to pin a murder on 19 years ago. And because he was denied adequate legal counsel. And because the authorities have taken steps to cut off appeals of such outrageous convictions in federal court. It is because of cases like Shaka's that George W. "Baby Doc" Bush has already presided over more than 130 executions since becoming Governor of Texas less than six years ago!

Bush claims that all the people executed on his watch have been guilty. In these death penalty cases, police and prosecutors have ignored and suppressed evidence of innocence. Almost all of these defendants were too poor to afford good lawyers to fight for their lives. Since dead men and women tell no tales, none of the victims of the Texas legal death machine are around to call out Bush's claim for the bald-faced lie that it is.

Shaka's lawyers have filed petitions asking Bush and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole to grant Shaka clemency. His supporters are stepping up protests in Texas and around the country. It is urgent that determined action is mounted now to save Shaka's life. This system's program of pigs, prisons, repression and death chambers is intolerable. Many more people are waking up to this truth. Now, as capitalist politicians like Bush and Gore try to cover up this program and ignore the protest it is generating, it is time and way past time to turn up the heat.



This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)