Condemned US inmate nominated anew for Nobel Peace Prize
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - A condemned US inmate who turned from a gang leader to an anti-gang advocate behind bars has been nominated for the 2006 Nobel peace prize, the college professor behind the nomination said.
Professor Philip Gasper of Notre Dame de Namur University in California has nominated convicted killer Stanley "Tookie" Williams for the prize five years in a row, according to Alice Kim of the Campaign to Stop the Death Penalty.
A Swiss parliamentarian was the first to recommend Williams for the prize, Kim said.
"I respect him for his willingness to be public with his stand against gangs and for peace, though he must cope daily with a violent prison environment where gang members and unfriendly prison officials surround him, many of whom do not support his message or his work," said Gasper.
"Moreover, I admire Mr. Williams because of his ability to do this remarkable work for youth, despite the fact that he is, in prison jargon, a 'dead man walking'."
Williams is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in San Quentin Prison on the San Francisco Bay early on Dec. 13.
Celebrity governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will hold a clemency hearing on Thursday at which each side will get 30 minutes to make their case why Williams should be spared or killed.
"His contributions to anti-gang activities; his children's books and his role in negotiating gang truces has had effects in the United States and internationally," Gasper told AFP.
"This is somebody who is playing a very positive role. It would be a huge loss to society to stop him from playing that role."
Williams, who co-founded the notorious Crips gang in Los Angeles, has maintained his innocence in the four 1979 murders that resulted in his death sentence.
The 51-year-old Williams was convicted in 1981 of the murders but has since renounced his violent past, penned children's books and worked to stem gang warfare.
Aside from writing children's books with anti-gang themes, Williams has inked a "Protocol for Street Peace" for gangs to use to achieve truces.
Gasper, head of the department of philosophy and religion at the private Catholic university in Northern California, said his nomination of Williams for the peace prize was endorsed by 32 other professors.
Support for Williams has gained momentum in recent weeks. Rallies have grown increasingly frequent at the prison gates. Actors, musicians, Nobel laureates and political leaders have urged Schwarzenegger to grant clemency.
Rapper Snoop Dogg, born Calvin Broadus, lobbied for Williams in his latest music CD and in a new music video.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People launched a four-city tour in California on Tuesday to rally support for Williams.
Meanwhile, a group called Religious Imperative to Stop State Murders and a hippie-generation icon, "Wavy Gravy," dressed as "Santa Insanity Claus" planned a demonstration at the prison gates on Tuesday.
Gravy and the group were to deliver gifts including Life Saver candy "for the children of the world," a life preserver for Schwarzenegger and Twinkies for inmates, organizers said.
Vigils outside the prison were expected to intensify with the approach of the execution date.