The Huntsville Item published a front page story on the anti-death penalty alternative spring break. We were all happy to know that people in Huntsville woke up and read about our group of young people in their morning papers. In 1964, students came down to the South during Freedom Summer to fight for civil and human rights and to build a more just nation. Now, their grandchildren are coming back to finish the job.

Published: March 16, 2006 01:28 am

Students take stand against death penalty

Matt Pederson
Staff Reporter

Many college and high school students prefer to head somewhere tropical to spend their spring break, but a few came right here to Huntsville on Wednesday, and they came with a purpose.

Students from all over the state, and a few from across the country, flocked to Huntsville to take part in a protest of the execution of Tommie Hughes. The event is part of the 2006 Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break, sponsored by Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.

Joel Pasley and Angela Martellaro are high school students who came all the way from Shawnee, Kan., to spend their spring break fighting the death penalty.

In attending the lectures and learning about the system, Pasley said he was most shocked to learn about the condition the prisoners live in.

“Some people have letters from pen pals about the conditions,” Pasley said. “For just minor things, their clothes were taken away and their meals were taken away and it really surprised me that in the United States that would go on. It seems like something that would go on in another era in another country.”

Martellaro said her vacation has so far been a learning experience for her in which her beliefs were even more firmly ground.

“We all had a simple understanding of the problems with the death penalty and after coming here, we’ve learned so much in detail about what goes on with capital punishment,” Martellaro said. “It’s just been so educational, because we all are in agreement that it is wrong and there are problems with the system, and this has been so specific, with so much information, that it really strengthened my beliefs.”

By listening, learning and participating, Pasley is hoping to go back home with a better understanding of how to fight what he believes to be an unjust policy.

“I want to learn how to petition to get a moratorium on the death penalty in Kansas,” Pasley said. “Even though it’s suspended right now, why wait until somebody is executed to try and save more lives.”

Read the whole story here.

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