Successful social movements require continuous innovation in order to succeed. The movement to end executions often lags behind larger social movements in innovations and in adopting new technology, mostly because there are relatively few people involved in the stop executions movement compared to other movements, like the environmental movement.
During the campaign to save Kenneth Foster, a few of us down here in Texas, started an online video campaign as part of the Save Kenneth Foster effort. We asked everyone who has a webcam to record a statement and upload it to YouTube saying why Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles should stop the execution of Kenneth Foster on August 30, 2007. Later that week Gov. Rick Perry commuted Kenneth Foster’s sentence.
Our idea was talked about by other bloggers, including Capital Defense Weekly (CDW site is temporarily down). People on MySpace and Facebook posted links to it. Now, NCADP is taking our idea and running with it in another case, that of Troy Davis. We love it when this happens. Way to go NCADP! October 9th is Troy’s birthday and in celebration of this occasion NCADP is asking all of his supporters worldwide to send him a video birthday message and to post that message on YouTube. We encourage everyone to upload a video for Troy Davis.
There has been a lot of innovative work coming out of Texas, such as using YouTube for an online video campaign and the award-winning “Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break” program, which was the recipient of the Campus Progress Award for “Student Issue Campaign of the Year”. Students Against the Death Penalty, an outgrowth of the alternative spring break, was also an early adopter of Facebook, where its group currently has more than 2000 members.
Unfortunately, the national leadership of the anti-death penalty movement has not recognized the innovative work going on in Texas by directing major funding to Texas. In 2006, Texas was turned down for funding by the Tides Foundation, which instead chose to send $70,000 to fight the death penalty in two states where it does not even exist.
Funding should be prioritized to go to those states where the most executions are taking place and to those groups with a proven track record of innovation. More funding to innovative groups equals more innovation equals fewer executions. This is about saving peoples’ lives. We hope the situation will change in 2008 and that Texas groups who are doing innovative, effective work will be given the funds that will surely spark even more great work and help reduce the number of executions in Texas.