Friday, January 06, 2006


Organizational Dilemma

A quick caveat. Nothing in this post should be conceived of as conveying anything other than ecstatic delight at the recent stay of execution received by Greg Thompson (see the previous posts of this week)

Stays of executions are great. This most recent one resulted in a spontaneous Alex dance party around the office (be careful if you ever have "I Will Survive" playing when I'm around). However, they do leave us with a little organizer's dilemma. We've been gearing up to deal with this execution all week. On Monday, I'm going to one of our chapters to talk about the case. We're trying to bring a lot of people into the meeting to reinvigorate the chapter. What to do now? Invitations and email have been sent out. Calls have been made. A car has even been rented. And we need to have the meeting, because we need to get that city activated. So where do we go from here?

That's the problem with organizing around executions. They either happen, and people feel like they are failures and drift away, or they don't and people feel successful and they drop away. Or all of a sudden you don't have anything to organize around. It's tough. But with execution dates approaching, no abolition organization can afford to avoid it.

So what do we do with this meeting? We're going to have it, because we've set it up and because we may be able to get people there. What do I talk about? How about the fact that a man so mentally ill came this close to execution and could still be executed? Greg Thompson's case still demonstrates the ridiculously narrow parameters by which our legal system defines competence. And then what we need to do to ensure that it never happens again. So on Monday I'll be on the road (to abolition) to talk about why we need to keep working, even though Greg Thompson's life isn't in imminent danger (imminent of course being a relative term). There are still 103 people on Tennessee's death row, and I certainly don't want to have to gear up for 103 executions.
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