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<nettime> Nobel Peace Prize nomination
marisa {AT} mail.concentric.net on Tue, 29 Jan 2002 11:04:50 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Nobel Peace Prize nomination


For your consideration...

Many of us are trying to nominate Stanley "Tookie" Williams for a Nobel
Peace Prize.

You may know of Mr. Williams as the man who co-founded the Crips street
gang in Los Angeles, in the early 1970s.  He has been on death row for over
20 years. There is considerable evidence that Tookie was framed for the
crimes for which he was convicted and his case is currently under appeal. 

During his time in San Quentin, Mr. Williams has undergone a remarkable
transformation. He has written a series of books aimed at deterring young
people from joining gangs, and he has launched the Internet Project for
Street Peace, which has had an international impact, including in
Switzerland and South Africa. As a result of his work, he was last year
nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by a member of the Swiss Parliament. 

There is now an effort to re-nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize, this
year (along with the non-profit agency which works closely with him). Below
is a draft of a letter to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, in Oslo, which
contains further details about Mr. Williams's accomplishments. If you would
be willing to add your name to this letter, please send your name, title,
affiliation, and country of residence to nancyz2 {AT} mindspring.com.

Obviously we have no expectation that Tookie will actually be awarded the
Peace Prize, but the publicity from simply being nominated is of
considerable value. As Tookie's case reaches a critical stage, this
publicity might play a role in not only raising awareness for his work, but
also in saving his life.

The nomination has to be submitted in one week's time, so please respond as
soon as possible if you would be willing to add your name to the nominating
letter.

Dear Distinguished Members of the Nobel Committee: 

I am pleased to nominate Stanley "Tookie" Williams for a 2002 Nobel Peace
Prize, based on his exceptional international work to end youth gang
violence and crime.  I am also nominating the Neighborhood House of North
Richmond, a nonprofit social services agency, for a 2002 Nobel Peace Prize
for that organization's support and implementation of Mr. Williams's work.  

Mr. Williams, a 48-year-old prisoner on San Quentin State Prison's death
row, is an award-winning author of nine children's books and a reformed
street gang leader from South Central Los Angeles.  Nearly 32 years ago, he
co-founded the notorious Crips youth gang.  In the spring of 1979 he was
arrested and charged with killing four people during two robberies. Despite
the fact that he has always maintained his innocence, he was found guilty
of those crimes in 1981, and was sent to San Quentin State Prison's
Condemned Row to await execution.  In 1988 he was placed in solitary
confinement after he was stabbed in the back of the head.  He spent 6
years in "The Hole" (solitary confinement) but during that period began to
educate and rehabilitate himself. This ultimately led to his work to steer
young people from joining gangs, from following in his footsteps. 

Neighborhood House of North Richmond (NHNR) is a grassroots agency that has
been providing valuable services to northern California residents since the
agency was founded nearly 48 years ago.  Some of those services include
youth conflict mediation and gang prevention/intervention instruction,
substance abuse treatment for adults, HIV/AIDS education and prevention,
free hot lunches each day for low-income elderly men and women, and for
HIV/AIDS patients in need of nourishment. NHCR's Board of Directors and
Executive Director have displayed great courage in fighting to obtain
community, governmental and political support - as well as funding - in
order to implement Mr. Williams's exemplary work. 

Mr. Williams's most recent book, Life in Prison, co-authored by Barbara
Cottman Becnel, provides a unique educational and credible voice for
readers in schools, libraries and prisons throughout the United States and
elsewhere, including Cape Town's Pollsmoor Prison in South Africa.  The
book de-romanticizes prison life for those young men who consider a stint
in prison essential to proof of their manhood.  Mr. Williams details how
dehumanizing it is to be incarcerated and discourages youth from committing
criminal acts that could lead to their imprisonment.  Life in Prison has
received two national book honors, including one from the American Library
Association.  Mr. Williams also wrote, in 1996, Tookie Speaks Out Against
Gang Violence (an eight-book series) for students from 5 to 10 years old. 

In addition to the contributions already mentioned, Mr. Williams has
conceived from his San Quentin cell a comprehensive international youth
violence prevention program called the Internet Project for Street Peace
(IPSP) to support the world's youth in rejecting, as a way of life, gangs,
violence, drugs and imprisonment. The curriculum for the IPSP is based on
his book, Life in Prison.  The program is headquartered at NHCR.  Ms.
Becnel - Mr. Williams's co-author - is the Executive Director of NHNR. 

Mr. Williams also continues to develop content for his own educational
website that serves youth at www.tookie.com.  At least 250,000 youth,
parents, teachers, librarians, law enforcement officials, gang members and
others have visited Mr. Williams's site, and more than 25,000 people have
sent emails expressing appreciation for Mr. Williams's work.  The great
majority of the youth who have emailed him have expressed how life-changing
his work has been; many say they have opted not to join gangs or have
withdrawn from gang membership as a result of reading his books. 

In addition, Mr. Williams and Ms. Becnel are working with the National
Urban Technology Center, headquartered in New York City, to develop an
online violence prevention/youth leadership development animation project,
using Mr. Williams's image and message of street peace to education youth
through an interactive Internet-based curriculum. 

Mr. Williams and NHNR are acting to reduce the level of youth street
violence in communities around the world, to promote peace and security in
neighborhoods and townships that routinely struggle with poverty,
unemployment and grassroots anarchy.  

In the wake of events since September 11 of last year, this is a perfect
moment to recognize the global reach that a single extraordinary person
aligned with a local nonprofit agency can have.  From a small northern
California community, in a suburb of San Francisco, Mr. Williams and the
Neighborhood House of North Richmond have laid the foundation for a
worldwide movement to develop a core of youth leadership which eschews gang
violence, crime and community destruction. 

I nominate Mr. Williams for a Nobel Peace Prize because of his courage in
sharing his experience with young people throughout the world so that they
can learn from his mistakes. I also nominate him because I respect him for
his willingness to be public with his stand against gangs and for peace,
though he must cope, daily, with a violent prison environment where gang
members and unfriendly prison officials surround him, many of whom do not
support his message or his work.  Moreover, I admire Mr. Williams because
of his ability to do this remarkable work for youth, despite the fact that
he is, in prison jargon, a "dead man walking," and must therefore deal with
his mortality every second of his life.  Mr. Williams is nearing the end of
his appeals process (he has two to three years left of his legal battle).
This means that if he does not receive a favorable ruling, he will be
executed by the State of California. 

I nominate the Neighborhood House of North Richmond for its willingness to
make a bold step in working with Mr. Williams, a death row inmate, to best
serve the most at-risk youth of the world's low-income communities.  

Thank you very much for this opportunity to nominate a man and an
organization, both of whom are extraordinary, for the 2002 Nobel Peace
Prize.  


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