Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Taking a Stand

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Photos and more to go with this post, posted on FreeSpeech.com (click)

Legislator Takes Stand Against Death Penalty

January 25, 2005 By CHRISTOPHER KEATING, Capitol Bureau Chief of the Hartford Courant

Bill Dyson is no stranger to taking a lonely stance.

The veteran Democratic legislator was at it again Monday, staging a high-profile, one-man protest against the death penalty by sitting alone in the center of the Legislative Office Building's grand atrium on a gray folding chair.

Wearing four red stickers that said, "Do Not Kill In My Name," Dyson could not be missed by anyone walking in the building.

He wore a hand-made sign around his neck:

"Abolish the death penalty in Connecticut."

Dyson, the legislature's senior Democrat with 28 years at the Capitol, has spent a career advocating for issues of principle, even when the odds seemed against him. Monday he was trying to draw attention to the legislature's lack of debate over the planned execution of serial killer Michael Ross, an Ivy League graduate who has admitted killing eight girls and women.

Dyson's protest, lasting more than five hours, started before the announcement that a federal judge postponed Ross' execution Wednesday so he could conduct a mental competency hearing.

"We ought to be having a debate," Dyson said as he sat.

"I wanted to point some light on the issue, and that's why I'm here. I'm not sure people are fully aware of what is about to happen in their name. We're talking about taking a life. We're talking about whether we're going to engage in killing."

House Speaker James Amann, who defeated Dyson in a bitter battle for speaker, said the consensus of the House Democrats was to deliberately avoid a debate until after Ross' execution.

As for Dyson, "the majority of his caucus disagrees with him," Amann said.

"I disagree with him on this issue. ... I don't think the votes are there to abolish it at this point."

Since the House is in session Wednesday, Amann said he expects that some members will want to speak about the death penalty during "points of personal privilege" allowed by the speaker.

Amann, however, said he will not allow a free-wheeling debate this week.

"I'm hoping people will not try to make a mockery of the session Wednesday," Amann said.

"Wednesday is not the proper time to have a debate."

The full debate is scheduled to start Jan. 31 in front of the legislature's judiciary committee, which will hear from invited speakers and the general public on the death penalty. The committee's co-chairman, Sen. Andrew J. McDonald, D-Stamford, said that at least one legislative attorney worked throughout the weekend on drafting death-penalty bills - including one that would abolish it entirely.

"Notwithstanding what Bill Dyson might say, we are moving as rapidly as possible to have a debate on this issue," McDonald said Monday.

At the Capitol complex, a steady stream of legislators, lobbyists and state employees stopped Monday to chat with Dyson as they were on their way to the cafeteria or various offices.

Riding up the escalator to the second floor, lobbyist Fritz Conway called out to Dyson on whether he could provide some refreshment:

"Bill, hot chocolate? Coffee? Tea?"

Dyson, 64, said he purposely chose the prominent spot in the middle of the atrium so that he would be seen by a wide variety of people.

"If they go in and out of this building, they're going to see me," Dyson said.

"If they go up the escalator, they're going to see me."

A longtime anti-war activist, Dyson said he opposes the death penalty on principle - while conceding that Ross was guilty of heinous crimes.

"I don't want to engage in being party to taking somebody's life," Dyson said.

"I refuse to be a part of it."

He said he was glad to hear the execution had been put on hold.

"It says somebody is taking note that it's worth taking a review. That may create some momentum. Any momentum against the death penalty is good."

The above came from the Hartford Courant website.

Fair use of copyrighted material

* * * *

My email to incoming Gov. Rell of Connecticut regarding Rowland and corruption

How can there not still be sleaze in the Connecticut Governor’s Office, if former Rowland aids are answering Rell’s phones? (post)

Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?
(post contains pictures of young adults brutalized by police, and picture of a 1978 Chevrolet Corvette and one of the houses I fixed up from a boarded up condition)

This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

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