Friday, March 9, 2012

Another Arizona 2012 Execution: Another Vigil Report

When I posted Tony Fasline’s report from the vigil at Robert Moorman’s execution earlier this week, I knew he and Emily would do all they could to be present when Robert Towery was executed on March 8. This time they were the only ones demonstrating, but another person who happened to be working nearby took the opportunity to express support for the campaign to abolish the death penalty.

So, as promised, here is Tony’s personal remembrance:

Tony Fasline at the execution vigil
for Robert Towery March 8, 2012

Emily and I arrived at the prison in Florence about 9:15 A.M. I wore my Roman collar so to declare one clergyman's objection to the death penalty. We established a site on a corner next to the Anthony Auto Care shop across from the prison and the designated vigil site set up by the prison. Alone, we were holding up our signs and within ten minutes we had a prison officer, armed and with bulletproof vest, come to us to invite us to the established site. No one was seated under the canopy there. Very cordial, smiling, he said he was concerned about our safety, not to go out in traffic, etc. About ten minutes later two squad cars from the Florence City Police came to check us out and tell us about safety. Adults, we knew better than to stand in the middle of a busy road! Suspicious of their concern and cordiality, I believe it was a subtle way of intimidation to get us to their site, where we couldn't hold up signs, and be subject to their restrictions. They didn't want us holding up signs protesting their "death machinery"! Every 15 minutes or so, a squad car passed by our corner, patrolling the area, not necessarily checking us out. I never felt intimidated. We were within our rights to be there.

A main road with a goodly amount of traffic, many got to view our signs. Their were a few beeps and “thumbs up,” about 5 in total. I believe many did not know what we were protesting. Really unaware of the death machine in progress. Interestingly, the proprietor of Anthony Auto Care came to us, took photos of us for his face book. He told us he was a minister, doing street ministry in Phoenix, to keep kids, pointing to the prison, “out of there.” Parting, he asked God's blessing on us. A nice affirmation.

At 10:00 A.M. we joined hands and had prayer for Robert Towery, for victims’ families, for all on death row, for an end to the death penalty. We left the site at 11:00 A.M., thinking Robert Towery had been killed about 10:00 A.M. (We learned later he was killed at 11:26 A.M.)

On the drive home, feeling somewhat depressed, we didn't talk much. Nor stop for food. To return home, we took route #387, a favorite way for us through the Gila reservation. The sun was bright, the yellow Brittlebrush abundant along the road side, with stems of blue Lupine joining them, to grace the mountains we were passing. Helpful but, feeling somewhat depressed, we both expressed our feeling that it was like returning from a funeral.

Tony Fasline at the execution vigil
for Robert Towery March 8, 2012

I have mixed feelings when I say that as these reports continue, I’ll keep posting them here. As long as Tony, Emily, and other friends of true justice keep me updated, I’ll share news of their efforts to expose the barbaric practice of execution as the worst kind of emotional reaction to the sad fact of serious crime.

We hope that one day so much effort will be focused toward prevention of violence in our society that there’ll be little demand for the type of punishment people take for granted today.

Meanwhile, I plan to post an article soon about the ideas for reforming the justice system that I discussed in my book, The World I Imagine: A creative manual for ending poverty and building peace.

Watch for it!

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