Stanley Williams

American murderer (1953-2005)

Stanley Tookie Williams III (December 29, 1953December 13, 2005) was an early leader of the Crips, a notorious American street gang which had its roots in South Central Los Angeles in 1969. In December 2005 he was executed for the 1979 murders of Albert Owens, Yen-Yi Yang, Tsai-Shai Lin, and Yee-Chen Lin.

I was able to gradually in a piecemeal fashion change my life slowly but surely through education, through edification, through spiritual cultivation, battling my demons. And eventually, that led to me embracing redemption.


Democracy Now! interview (2005)Edit

Interview with Amy Goodman, in "A Conversation with Death Row Prisoner Stanley Tookie Williams from his San Quentin Cell" in Democracy Now! (30 November 2005)
  • Working together, we can put an end to this cycle that creates deep pain in the hearts of our mothers, our fathers, and our people, who have lost loved ones to this senseless violence.
  • Once I was in solitary confinement, it provided me with the isolated moments to reflect on my past and to dwell upon something greater, something better than involving myself in thuggery and criminality. It had to be more to life than that. It had to be more than the madness that was disseminating throughout this entire prison.
  • Between the years of 1988 to 1994, and it's a continuous — it's an incessant reality for me. My redemptive transition began in solitary confinement, and unlike other people who express their experiences of an epiphany or a satori, I never experienced anything of that ilk. Mine — that wouldn't have been enough. I often tell people that I didn't have a 360-degree turnaround; I had a 720-degree turnaround. It took me twice as much. Just one spin around wouldn't have done it. I was that messed up, that lost, that mentacided, brainwashed. So, I was able to gradually in a piecemeal fashion change my life slowly but surely through education, through edification, through spiritual cultivation, battling my demons. And eventually, that led to me embracing redemption.
  • I’m talking to any youth who are considered to be or deemed to be at-risk or even hinting around being a thug or a criminal of any type of genre. I mostly propagate education and the need for it, because to me, that is the terra firma in which any human being must stand in order to survive in this country or to survive anywhere in the world, in dealing, you know, with every aspect of civilization, every aspect of surviving. Education is very important. It took me all of these years to discern that, and now I do.
  • We started out — at least my intent was to, in a sense — address all of the so-called neighboring gangs in the area and to put, in a sense — I thought I can cleanse the neighborhood of all these, you know, marauding gangs. But I was totally wrong. And eventually, we morphed into the monster we were addressing.
  • And when you maintain this sense of peace and you live by truth, by integrity, these things don't bother me. It doesn't. I have been experiencing moribund type experiences most of my life. I could have died many a times. I could have died when I was shot. I could have died when I was shot at by the police and rival gang members. There were many opportunities for me to die. Of course, I don't want to die. I mean, after my redemption I have what I consider to be a joie de vivre, so, you know, I have an enjoyment, a love for life. So that’s why I can calmly sit here and speak to you or anyone else with peace in my heart and peace in my mind. I don't get rattled. Nothing can rattle me. Nothing will ever rattle me. I have been rattled the majority of my life.
  • Well, the fact that a person such as me, of my ilk, who deemed the opposing gang as an eternal enemy, it wasn't hard for people to believe me, because they knew where I stood. There were no clandestine or latent messages. Everybody knew where I stood. And for me to come out and say that what we were doing was wrong, it was believable. That's why people didn't – or at least the gang members didn't discredit my propensity and my alacrity for peace. That's why I was embraced with sincerity by those who I knew and those I didn't know on both sides of the fence.
  • The death penalty, it's not a system of justice, it is a system of – a so-called system of justice that perpetuates a, shall I say, a vindictive type of response, a vigilante type of aura upon it. We’re talking about something that is barbaric. We’re talking about something that – it doesn't deter anything. I mean, if it did, then it wouldn't be so many – especially in California, we're talking about over 650 individuals on death row. And if it was a deterrent, this place wouldn't be filled like this. And it's an expensive ordeal that – the money, as you know, the monetary means comes out of the taxpayers' pocket.
  • And for anyone to think that murder can be resolved by murdering, it's ridiculous. I mean, we look at all of the wars that we have throughout other countries and other nations, and all it does is – this violence, all it does is engender violence. There seems to be no end, but a continuous cycle, an incessant process of blood and gore that doesn't end. And through violence, you can't possibly obtain peace. You can, in a sense, occupy a belief of peace; in other words, through this mechanism of violence, you – it appears that because there is a standing army or standing police that is used in brutality or violence or a system that uses brutality or violence that that is going to totally eliminate or stop criminous behavior or criminous minds or killings or what have you, but it doesn't.

Quotes about WilliamsEdit

  • What is certain is that since 1992, “Tookie” has been a voice reaching out to the voiceless. He has encouraged youth to lift themselves up so as not to end up locked up. His voice has reached impoverished and alienated youth in places police dare not tread. Through his personal transformation in prison, he has brought light to dark places because he knows where to look. He speaks truth to power with a sincere knowledge of what lies ahead for these youth and gives them a stark look at what their future could be if they don’t renounce gang life and all that it stands for. And they listen, because he was one of them.

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