Before I give you this week’s legislative and execution update, I want to share something that FADP received from one of our supporters this week, a woman who regularly communicates with a few men on Florida’s death row.
As you may imagine, it is an incredibly stressful time on the row right now – those that are warrant eligible know that on any given day they could get the news that they are next. But do you know what brings them some measure of comfort? Knowing that people like you are fighting for them. People like you are standing up and saying: Not. In. My. Name.
She said that even though Donald Dillbeck was executed, the men on the row were impressed and grateful for the effort being put forth by all the different groups and people. They couldn’t believe you all sent 7,000 petitions to the Governor and that there were so many faith leaders trying to stop the execution!
People sometimes ask me how I can do this work in Florida, where as of late it seems like a never ending tide of bad news. My answer? I tell them about the starfish story: There’s a beach full of starfish who have washed up with the tide and are dehydrating in the morning sun. There’s a woman walking, and one by one she tosses them back into the ocean. Her friend turns to her and says, “There are thousands of starfish and miles of beach, you can’t possibly make a difference.” She bends down to grab the next starfish to toss back in the water, and says, “It makes a difference to this one.”
Please know that you ARE making a difference.
The death penalty disproportionately harms persons with serious mental illness and it also disparately affects people of color. Louis Gaskin, sadly, exemplifies both. He is a Black man with serious mental illness, whose childhood was filled with horrific abuse and neglect. He was sentenced to death for killing white victims by an all-white jury in Flagler County in 1989. Let’s eclipse the 7,000 mark from Dillbeck – Help us hit 10,000 signatures to ask the Governor to stop Louis Gaskin’s execution.
Finally, it’s been a busy week in the legislature – the Senate bill to bring back non-unanimous juries passed its final committee and is now headed to the Senate floor. We will let you know when it is scheduled for a full vote, but the time to take action is now. Tell the Florida Senate YOU OPPOSE THIS BILL. If you are a Florida resident – CALL AND EMAIL YOUR LOCAL SENATOR. Tell them not to let Florida go backwards.
In the House, the non-unanimous jury bill has one final committee stop – the House Judiciary Committee – before reaching the House floor. Please take a moment to contact the House Judiciary Committee and urge them not to schedule this bill for a hearing. As I mentioned last week, you do not have to be a Florida resident to take these actions – we know that our Governor and our state leaders pay attention to state and national and international opinions.
Together we will end Florida’s death penalty. We will figure out how to stop the ocean from pitching those starfish onto the beach. Until then, we will work tirelessly and know that we are making a difference. We will keep up the pressure. We will show our state leaders that we will not stop. Your voice matters. Use it with me.
FADP Executive Director
P.S. Mobilizing to speak out against this legislation and to oppose Louis’ execution takes resources – please consider a gift today – every dollar makes a difference.