As we close the door on the first decade of the 21st century, it’s a good time to look back at ten years of marching against the death penalty in Texas. When the death penalty is abolished in Texas, a large reason will be because of the organizing and organizing skills learned and applied by building the multi-group, diverse coalition that works each year to organize the annual march and that also works together the rest of the year on various events and campaigns around individual cases (like Kenneth Foster, Jeff Wood, Frances Newton and others) and issues including a moratorium, the Law of Parties, innocence, abolition and more. Each October since the march was first held in 2000, people from all walks of life and all parts of Texas, the U.S. and other countries have taken a day out of their year and gathered in Austin to raise their voices together and loudly express their united opposition to the death penalty. The annual march is a coming together of activists, family members of those on death row, community leaders, exonerated prisoners and all those calling for abolition.

The annual march is organized by several Texas anti-death penalty organizations, including the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Moratorium Network, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center and Kids Against the Death Penalty.

The first march was called the “March on the Mansion” and was held on October 15, 2000. One of the original ideas for the march came in emails sent by Scott Cobb when he was studying abroad in Germany in the summer of 2000. He had read online about several members of the Austin chapter of Campaign to End the Death Penalty who had been arrested at the Governor’s Mansion protesting the upcoming execution of Shaka Sankofa (Gary Graham). Scott emailed some of the CEDP members mentioned in the news article who had been arrested as well as others suggesting a march before the presidential election that November and a group of people back in Austin started organizing for the first march, which was attended by about 750 people. A picture of the first march appeared in the New York Times.
The second and third marches were called “March for a Moratorium” and were held on October 27, 2001 and October 12, 2002. In 2003, the march name changed to “March to Stop Executions”. Clarence Brandley, who had been exonerated and released from death row in 1990 after spending nine years there, spoke at the 2003 march, saying “I was always wishing and hoping that someone would just look at the evidence and the facts, because the evidence was clear that I did not commit the crime.” The “5th Annual March to Stop Executions” was on October 30, 2004. The “6th Annual March to Stop Executions” was held October 29, 2005 in conjunction with the 2005 National Conference of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, which came to Austin at the suggestion of the march organizers, who wrote an application to NCADP for them to hold the conference in Austin and organized a successful grassroots campaign to convince NCADP to come to Austin that year.
The “7th Annual March to Stop Executions”, which was sponsored by a record number of 50 organizations, was held October 28, 2006 and included family members of Carlos De Luna and Cameron Todd Willingham, who both had been the subject of separate investigations by The Chicago Tribune that concluded they were probably innocent people executed by Texas. Standing outside the gates of the Texas Governor’s Mansion with hundreds of supporters, the families of Willingham and De Luna delivered separate letters to Governor Perry asking him to stop executions and investigate the cases of Willingham and De Luna to determine if they were wrongfully executed. After DPS troopers refused to take the letters, Mary Arredondo, sister of Carlos De Luna, and Eugenia Willingham, stepmother of Todd, dropped them through the gate of the governor’s mansion and left them lying on the walkway leading to the main door.
The “8th Annual March to Stop Executions” was held in Houston on October 27. 2007. The “9th Annual March to Stop Executions” was October 25, 2008 in Houston. For the Houston marches, the Houston-based Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement were the main organizers. They held the Houston marches in one of Houston’s inner-city neighborhoods and ended the marches at the S.H.A.P.E community center.
The 2009 march was the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty and was the biggest march since 2000 and also received probably the most media coverage since 2000, including articles in every major newspaper in Texas and a large photograph on the front page of the Dallas Morning News.
Thank you to everyone who has ever attended, supported or helped organize the annual march in Texas. Because of your passion and commitment to building a more just society, the death penalty will one day be abolished in Texas.
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Photos from the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty – October 24, 2009 Photo Credit Jennifer Ross.
Below are photos from the 1st March on the Mansion in 2000.
Below are photos from the 2nd March in 2001
Below are photos from the 3rd March in 2002
Below are photos from the 4th March in 2003
Below are photos from the 5th March in 2004
Below are photos from the 6th March in 2005
Below are photos from the 7th March in 2006
Below are photos from the 8th March in 2007
Below are photos from the 9th March in 2008

If you can’t seen the videos below, click here to watch them on the march website.

10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin (2009)

Promotional Video for 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty (2009)

Please spread this to your friends on your social networks. If you have a blog or website you can embed it on your sites.

9th Annual March in Houston (2008)

8th Annual March in Houston (2007) Videos by StopExecutionsNow!

More 8th Annual March (2007) videos by CapnJackSorrow

6th Annual March in Austin (2005)
“A Voice from Death Row” produced by Austin filmmaker Nathan Christ

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