I am writing to you from the office of Moratorium USA in west Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, to introduce myself and to ask for your assistance in bringing my government into the company of nations which respect human rights and human life. I know - we've got a long, uphill battle on innumerable fronts; that's why I'm contacting you to enlist your expertise and support.
I will be coming to England on Thursday, 14 October with three Pennsylvania men who were sentenced to death and, later, found to be innocent. We have several speaking engagements arranged in the U.K., followed by stops in other parts of Europe. These individuals' stories are shocking and outrageous, and we are hoping to talk with activists in EU nations - where membership requires abolition of the death penalty - about beginning to bring international pressure to bear on our government to end the morally bankrupt system of capital punishment. We will be attending the activist conference on the weekend of the 16th & 17th; we are then planning an action for the morning of Monday, 18 October, in London, which we believe will send a strong message to the government of Pennsylvania and our governor, Ed Rendell, back in our state capital. Information about Pennsylvania's atrocious death penalty is provided at the bottom of this email message.
We have learned that the state of Pennsylvania has an office in London that deals directly with enticing foreign corporate investment in Pennsylvania and with promoting Pennsylvanian exports abroad. According to our research, Great Britain is the number one foreign investor within our state. We are hoping to publicly expose the ugliness of our criminal justice system, encourage companies that are already invested in Pennsylvania to use their economic leverage to pressure our elected officials to abandon this barbaric practice, and strongly dissuade further British investment here until Pennsylvania imposes a moratorium on executions.
On Monday, 18 October, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., we are planning to picket the Pennsylvania Foreign Investment Office, located at Suite 5, HMA House, 78 Durham Rd., London SW20OTL. Ray Krone, William Nieves, and Nicholas Yarris, who collectively spent almost 40 years under sentence of death for crimes they did not commit, will lead the protest. Our goal is to draw attention to the reality that foreign investment increases the state's revenue through various taxes and tariffs which, in turn, funds the death penalty in Pennsylvania. We want our "leaders" back home to realize the level of disgust that the death penalty elicits abroad and that there will be an increasing price to be paid for their continued use of this brutal and medieval punishment.
We are seeking your assistance in several ways:
- If possible, please join us as we raise our voices outside the office to inform the public - and particularly those entering this office to do business with Pennsylvania - about the state's disgraceful use of state-sponsored killing. The death row exonerees will be speaking about their ordeals and the complete lack of compensation and re-entry support (or even an apology) from the government that sought to end their lives. I believe you will be amazed by their courage and strength as they have each chosen to play a leading role in ending the death penalty rather than simply trying to lead a quiet, "normal" life in the aftermath of this life-altering ordeal.
- Speaking of "raising our voices", if you and others from your organisation are able to join us, we could really use a "bullhorn" or other small amplification system in order to get the message out. We have a wonderfully loud "half-mile hailer" here, but it will be impossible for us to bring it along to England.
- Can anyone help us get accurate directions to the Pennsylvania Foreign Investment Office along with suggestions for public transportation options? We know that the office is near Wimbledon, although the large number of "Durham Roads/Streets" in London is somewhat confusing. The full address is listed at the bottom of this email message. If we can confirm the location and get directions, we'd like to publicize
- Also, if you are able to attend, signs and placards bearing anti-death-penalty messages will further help to communicate the message in a visible way.
- Even if you are unable to attend, we would appreciate any insight or advice regarding policies about public protests in London (i.e. applicable laws, necessary permits, what to expect from law enforcement, etc.) While we've all been arrested in Pennsylvania for civil disobedience, we'd prefer not to get deported - at least not until we've finished this speaking tour.
- If your organisation can help us alert the media about this event, we would be extremely grateful. We want to spread the message far and wide about the involvement of British companies in financially supporting Pennsylvania's execution of its citizens.
- Finally, anything that can be done to help spread the word regarding this event would be greatly appreciated. We would like to see as large a turnout as possible to send a strong message to the government of Pennsylvania.
Any suggestions, ideas, or additional thoughts from our allies in the U.K. are greatly desired and can be emailed to me at this email address. While we have lots of experience mobilising people for protests in Pennsylvania, trying to organise something like this on the other side of the Atlantic is something new for us. It is our hope that by going after the thing that matters more to our government than human rights and justice - MONEY - we will further advance the struggle to rid Pennsylvania, indeed the entire U.S., of state-sponsored killing. We believe that it is not surprising that a nation that claims for itself the "right" to kill its own citizens is more than willing to haphazardly and wantonly kill the citizens of other countries. For proof, look no further than the current actions of the former governor of Texas, George W. Bush, who killed 152 human beings during his time in office in that state - a staggering number of killings that would put even the most ruthless serial killer to shame.
Yours in resistance,
Pennsylvania Foreign Investment Office
Suite 5, HMA House
78 Durham St.