For Immediate Release

August 21, 2007

On August 22 Texas Will Execute the 400th Person Since Executions Resumed in 1982;

A Houston Protest to Condemn This Milestone will be at Houston’s Old Hanging Tree

Johnny Conner is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, August 22, in Huntsville at 6:00 PM. Conner’s execution, if carried out, will be the 400th in the state of Texas since executions resumed on Dec. 7, 1982.

The United States has executed 1,090 people since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 and executions resumed on January 17, 1977, when the state of Utah’s firing squad killed Gary Gilmore.

Houstonians will protest the 400th execution at 5:30 at Houston’s Hanging Tree on the corner of Capital and Bagby. Protests will also take place around the state on Wednesday, including at the governor’s mansion in Austin.

“We will protest at the 200-year-old oak tree where Black people were illegally lynched many, many years ago. Today lynching in Texas is legal and it is done by the government in Huntsville. But Texas does not have the moral authority to execute anyone. The death penalty is used only against the poor and is a racist attack on the African American and Latino communities,” stated Njeri Shakur, a spokesperson for the Texas March Against Executions Committee, which is organizing Wednesday’s protest in Houston.

The death penalty is losing favor around the world. Even in the US there are fewer people being sentenced to death and fewer executions are being carried out. Because over 120 people have been released from death row for reasons of innocence, people sitting on juries are more reluctant to condemn a defendant to death. Only in Texas are executions continuing at a fast pace.

On Tuesday, the European Union issued a statement directed at Texas, saying, “The European Union notes with great regret the upcoming execution in the State of Texas and strongly urges Governor Rick Perry to exercise all powers vested in his office to halt all upcoming executions and to consider the introduction of a moratorium in the State of Texas.”

Texas has 3 more executions scheduled for the next week, including one of an innocent man, Kenneth Foster. Foster’s family will be in Houston to speak on Saturday at 2:00 PM at St. Saviour Baptist Church at 5202 Tronewood in N. E. Houston. ( )


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