Tuesday, December 13, 2011

“Happiness exists on earth, and it is won through prudent exercise of reason,

knowledge of the harmony of the universe, and constant practice of generosity.” —José Marti


It’s that time again. A holiday season that grows inexplicably in length from year to year, a season that one clever friend has dubbed “Hallowthanksmas.” Children and parents flood the streets at the start of this season and beg door to door for sweets, which can no longer be homemade, must not be offered unwrapped and pretty much becomes an advertising campaign for manufacturers of cheap, mass produced candy. Costume outlets clean up because what I see, especially on the toney upper eastside, has been more store bought and less the result of an involved parent and a child's imagination.

Vampires were big this year. And not just among the knee-high trick-or-treaters, as the popular movement known as Occupy Wall Street has made undeniably clear. We, as a nation—specifically 99% of the nation—are being sorely tricked by the 1% who seem to own everything. What treats OWS has in store for them continues to unfold. That’s the crowd The Mister and I have joined and we don’t need to wear costumes, though we are happy to see others who protest and demonstrate in various homemade costumes that sparkle with originality and that lighten the mood of a serious attention to the destruction of our civil liberties, our way of life. We have brought treats to those who staunchly occupied Liberty Square, otherwise known as Zuccotti Park, like bags loaded with apples and oranges and then, when the colder weather set in we brought bag loads of thermal socks.

We also brought fliers.

Because around July of 2010 I began a journey with a man who I call a friend. Before that, I had searched for a way to broaden a personal dedication to ending the death penalty in this country. I joined a book club specifically geared to that cause. I needed an education, to arm myself with the facts that continue to shame our so-called civilized nation. I learned a lot. I am still learning, but at some point I felt ready to make a deeper, more personal connection. In my search I met a woman online who directed me to a young man on Texas Death Row. I read his story on the website volunteers have organized for him. He desperately needed another volunteer to type his handwritten updates that are posted on his website and facebook page. I ‘auditioned’ as it were and soon became a self-described amanuensis to Robert G. Will, a man who I would quickly learn was remarkable.

So, in October, when one of his chief supporters in Texas—a dedicated young woman with a family of her own, who still manages visits to Rob every week—sent me a batch of fliers in support of Rob’s cause The Mister and I headed downtown to OWS and did our best to engage, inform, and thank the passersby who took them from our extended hands.

Rob has been at the Polunsky Unit on Texas Death Row for 11 years. That’s 11 years of not seeing his little boy grow up or feeling a physical touch, the warm embrace from family and friends who love and support him. It’s 11 years of what he describes in painful detail in his personal letters to all of us and in his updates as an “Orwellian Hell.” That’s 11 years that he has been tortured at the hands of vengeful guards who, for whatever reasons, have themselves not learned compassion. It’s 11 years of the freedom we often take for granted. Eleven years of his life he will not get back.

Yet, he inspired and continues to inspire other men on Texas Death Row. He teaches them Yoga and meditation. He drives some toward the light of self-education. He is a self-taught artist of the highest caliber who engages and teaches non-violent resistance in the manner of the world’s greatest leaders like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. And, he continues to inspire me, and volunteers like me, who are in awe of his strength, integrity, talent and compassion.

And now, given the holiday spirit, we are asking for people to accept this plea for Robert G. Will and return with a generous donation. He needs financial backing, a lot of financial backing. Volunteers both here and abroad are working tirelessly for his freedom, to overturn a gross injustice. So many of us are struggling in our own way with economic downturns, as the 1% casually refer to the tsunami caused by the banks and corporations that threatens to drown us. All of us have personal responsibilities to family, friends, and the kind of lives that generous people live.

He needs so much more than court-appointed attorneys. Sadly, as Rob himself has written, it is all too typical that Texas court-appointed attorneys do nothing more than to aid the state. Prosecuting attorneys are armed with audio and visual exhibits. They prepare extensively. Everyone who has been released from Death Row has benefitted greatly from extensive fundraising. Supporters will have to raise over $100,000 to get the DNA testing done that secures a release. As Rob has written: “From knowing men who have been exonerated from Texas Death Row I’ve witnessed first hand how absolutely vital funds are for any and all legal purposes. Every exoneree has had pro bono and/or paid attorneys. I need to have that kind of help on my legal team. I need your help; we need your help.”

You can help in ways big and small, literally. Visit our webpage for Rob and read his story. Learn about this remarkable young man who has been wrongfully sentenced to Texas Death Row for a crime he did not commit.

To help in our efforts to raise funds for his cause check out our web shop! There are solidarity items like the PERSEVERANCE unisex t-shirts with a bold graphic design. These are high quality 100% cotton shirts designed by Dennis Schröder from Supportershirt and printed by DirAction from Hamburg. And they come is all sizes! Or choose among the other original items offered here.

Our main goal is to bring attention to Rob’s case by raising awareness and raising the much needed funding for his legal defense.

Lethal Injustice Rob Will e.V. is also a part of the Rob Will Defense Committee. They are a non-profit organization approved and registered in a local court in Leipzig, Germany. They have a tax number and are authorized to issue receipts for all donations. All contribution from donations and merchandise will be used exclusively for Rob’s defense and for his campaign.

Please consider making a generous donation in one of two ways:

Sending money via www.paypal.com is very easy. Just click on the "send money" tab at the top of the paypal page. Insert our email address—lethalinjustice@gmail.com—for the recipient and follow instructions.

You can also make donations directly to our bank account:

Lethal Injustice Rob Will e.V.
Bank für Sozialwirtschaft
IBAN DE17860205000003507800

Give the gift that keeps on giving. Be that person who spreads the word about Rob Will. Support Rob’s bid for freedom. Thank you all, in advance, for that perfect gift that will bring us all a generous return.

* * *

This poem by
Assata Shakur was included by Rob in the very first update I typed for him:


I believe in living. I believe in the spectrum

of Beta days and Gamma people.

I believe in sunshine

in windmills and waterfalls,

tricycles and rocking chairs.

And I believe that seeds grow into sprouts,

And sprouts grow into trees.

I believe in the magic of the hands.

And in the wisdom of the eyes.

I believe in rain and tears.

And in the blood of infinity.

I believe in life.

And I have seen the death parade

march through the torso of the earth,

sculpting mud bodies in its path.

I have seen the destruction of the daylight,

and seen the bloodthirsty maggots

prayed to and saluted.

I have seen the kind become the blind

and the blind become the bind

in one easy lesson.

I have walked on cut glass.

I have eaten crow and blunder bread

and breathed the stench of indifference.

I have been locked by the lawless.

Handcuffed by the haters.

Gagged by the greedy.

And, if I know anything at all,

It’s that a wall is just a wall

and nothing more at all.

It can be broken down.

I believe in living.

I believe in birth.

I believe in the sweat of love

and in the fire of truth.

And I believe that a lost ship,

steered by tired, seasick sailors,

can still be guided home

to port.

-Assata Shakur

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