Memorial Service for Stanley Williams
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Los Angeles, California

When I visited Stanley three times and had prayer with him, he said, "I regret I was a predator upon my people. We were programmed to attack Black people. Whites were safe around us. The tragedy of my situation today is that I will not be killed for what I did, but for what I didn't do. I would rather die, than lie to get clemency. I will not join the corrupt system of jail house informers and snitches, in the name of redemption."

[By the way, it was an informant, in desperation, that gave President Bush the information that led us to war in Iraq; the informant has since recanted.]

He said, "Reverend, there is a system. Since we don't make drugs or guns, there is a system – a relationship between gangs, corrupted police, traffickers, and transportation at the borders and pick up points in the fields where drugs are grown."

Whites kill Blacks; we rebel. When Whites violate Blacks, as in Rodney King, we rebel. But when Blacks kill Whites, we get longer time or execution. When Blacks kill Blacks, we just count the numbers. It's permitted. The scale is not balanced. There's a flaw in the system.

Charles Manson, who killed Sharon Tate (nine months pregnant) and brutally slaughtered several others, is still alive. Sirhan Sirhan who killed Robert Kennedy before the eyes of the world is still alive. Jennifer Porter, in Tampa, Florida, hit four black kids with her car, dragged a three year old over 100 feet, then fled the scene. Her father wiped the blood from her car. She taught school the next morning. The babies' mother pleaded for the person to come forward. She would not. Somebody spotted the dents in the car, and turned her in; she admitted she hit and killed, and injured the children. She got not one day in jail – just years probation.

OJ and Blake – who had more circumstantial evidence against them –had dream team lawyers, and they walked away.

Through all of these contradictions and inconsistencies, Tookie said we must now go another way. "My legacy: don't self-destruct, don't kill and be killed, in my name. If I doubt God, it undermines the character of my faith. I feel good in my changed life. To the end and beyond, I will espouse anti-gang, anti-drug, anti-violence, and be a healer, not a predator. I feel good, and changed."

He relished his new status in the world, his new feeling as a social transformer.

When I went back into San Quentin, and shared with Barbara and him the Governor's decision, he said, "Don't cry, and don't give up. I've been here before, in the valleys and shadows of death. Bullets whizzing by my head. It's my background on trial. I hope my message endures." Then we prayed again. Monday afternoon, I said, "I will see you in the morning." He smiled, and laughed, and he said, "I don't laugh very much. But children make me laugh. I hope my message won't be lost."

Fight back with your mind. Your education. You can't fight very well behind bars. Only voters can be jurors.

The Governor said Tookie did not prove to him that he had been redeemed. The Bible said, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from trouble." You can tell a tree by the fruit it bears. Tookie's tree is full of fruits of hope and appeals for lifestyle change. Only those who have been somewhere, he laughed, are eligible to be redeemed.

The Judeo-Christian faith is full of the legacy of people whose scars became stars. Moses – born in poverty under a death warrant, raised in Pharaoh's household, lost touch with his people as a prince of Egypt. They didn't trust him. He saw the oppression. He killed two people, and became a fugitive from the law. Egypt didn't trust him. One day, God spoke to him, a fugitive, and said, take off your shoes, you are standing on holy ground. He was redeemed.

King David, with a harem of women and concubines, became greedy. He saw Bathsheba, Uriah's only mate. He sent Uriah to the front line and had him killed, so he could live with Bathsheba.

David begot Solomon. Jesus is in the lineage of David.

Saul of Tarsus persecuted and killed Christians. He fell from his horse, and was redeemed. He became Paul the Evangelist.

Malcolm, Part I, was a street hustler, pimp, and a predator. Malcolm, Part II, redeemed.

The deeper the hole, the longer is God's rope of hope.

I visited Nelson Mandela a month ago. He had a big picture of Schwarzenegger congratulating Mandela for his capacity to forgive and redeem his persecutors. The governor took the picture, but missed the message.

Dr. King forgave those who bombed his house.

To the Crips and those who saw Tookie as a hero in the counter culture, a gang banger, and to those who now see Tookie as a martyr figure, a transformed man, we are now facing the Friday night experience. It's not difficult to follow Jesus as a hero figure, feeding the hungry, walking on the water, healing the sick, upsetting the government. But then, the hero was killed. Fear and doubt set in the camp. It's easy to follow a hero while he is alive. But on Friday night, the hero was executed, crucified.

Can you wait until Sunday morning? Can you wait until resurrection? To renewal? Shall you go back to the old ways and the old days, shall you go backwards by fear or forward by hope?

It was at that point, after having lost everything, where Job said, "My worst fears have come upon me." But I will not surrender. I will not curse God and die.

My worst fears are upon me. Though you slay me, yet will I trust you. I know my redeemer lives, he lives within my soul, and the soul will never die.

Tookie, I will see you in the morning.