Join us under the tent
Last night the State of Florida conducted its 103rd execution; its fourth execution this year. As we stood across from the Death Chamber, the skies opened. Thunder boomed and lightning streaked across the sky. It was pouring. And yet, people showed up. We sang, spoke, and prayed. We stood together, not just at the prison, but in vigils all across the state to show our opposition to the execution.
As he spoke, Father Ruse invited some of Duane Owen’s friends to join him under the tent – literally and symbolically recognizing that Duane himself never had the benefit of being “brought under the tent.”
It was such a powerful moment, I urge you to watch this video recording of the vigil and look at the picture below of a young Duane that his friends brought to the vigil to remind everyone how we failed Duane at every turn – his parents, the foster care system, the school system, and finally the legal system.
As I drove back to Tampa, and got just a bit south of the prison, the skies cleared, and the sun broke through the clouds as it was setting. I don’t think it was a coincidence.
Before the execution yesterday, in coordination with Catholic Mobilizing Network and Death Penalty Action, we delivered nearly 7,000 petition signatures and over 350 letters signed by Faith Leaders from across the world to Governor DeSantis and the Florida Board of Executive Clemency, urging them to stay the execution.
While our leaders refused to listen to our pleas – the rest of the state, country, and world was listening. Watching. Bearing witness to what is happening here in Florida. Read our press release here in full.
What happened last night serves as a stark reminder that Florida desperately needs legislation to protect people with serious mental illness from the death penalty. If you haven’t done so already, we need you to sign this petition to protect people with serious mental illness from the death penalty and stay tuned for how you can help in the 2024 legislative session.
So far this month I’ve shared with you the stories of John Ferguson and Thomas Provenzano, two men with serious mental illness who were executed in Florida nearly ten years ago. In the coming weeks we will have more stories to share. But today, it is with a heavy heart that we must add Duane Owen to our shameful list. I long for the day when we will never have another execution story to tell. Until then, we will show up, rain or shine, and we will fight.
Come and join us under the tent.
FADP Executive Director
P.S.: Please make a contribution of $103 today – one dollar for each person executed by the State of Florida.