On Tuesday it happened! From all across the state, from Memphis and McKenzie, from Cleveland and Clarksville, from Knoxville and Crossville, citizens dedicated to justice coalesced on the state capitol to bring the message to our state legislators that Tennesseans will not accept an arbitrary and capricious death penalty system!
My, albeit unscientific, count placed the number of participants at nearly 100, a huge increase from last year, coming from 25 of Tennessee’s 33 Senate districts. We had a terrific group of long-time abolitionists from Knoxville rise before 5:00am to make it to the hill for a hard day of lobbying. The wonderful Mrs. Johnnie Turner, President of the Memphis NAACP Branch, joined the group and they had a terrific impact on the Shelby County delegation of the General Assembly.
A brave and amazing core of murder victims family members joined us to tell legislators, in meeting after meeting, that killing in their names dishonors their loved ones. And Joyce House, and her daughter in law, Pam, put a human face on the issue of wrongful conviction as state policy-makers were reminded that Tennessee has been holding an innocent man on death row for 21 years!
All in all, it was a great day. We’ve come away with no less than 5 Senate Republicans committed to voting for our study bill! And new co-sponsors for both the study and the moratorium bills! So stay alert, because it’s moving day, and we’ll be looking to start the ball rolling to pass legislation in the coming weeks!
And you can check out a great photo set, including terrific pictures of our lobbyists meeting with many state legislators, courtesy of Harry Simpson, here.
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