Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Press Release: Death Penalty Opponents to Rally Outside Federal Courthouse

June 28, 2005

For Immediate Release

Contact: Nancy Welch, 802-862-1686; Joseph Gainza, 802-228-2340

Death Penalty Opponents to Rally Outside Federal Courthouse

Burlington--As Vermont’s first death penalty case in decades moves into the penalty phase, opponents of capital punishment will hold a rally and protest outside the US Federal Building where the trial is taking place.

The rally will take place this Wednesday, June 29, at 5:30 pm.

“It’s time to make our voices heard,” explained Rachel Lawler, a student at St. Michael’s College and a member of Vermonters Against the Death Penalty, sponsors of the rally.

Nancy Welch, also a rally organizer, agreed. “In the first phase of the trial, we held a silent vigil,” Welch said. “But now we must speak up – and speak loudly – to keep the death penalty out of Vermont.”

The rally follows last week’s “Keep Vermont Death-Penalty Free” panel that brought more than 100 people, including former Governor Madeleine Kunin, to Burlington’s Contois Auditorium. In addition, Vermotners Against the Death Penalty have collected more than 2,000 signatures from Vermonters via both paper and online petitions against any return of the death penalty to Vermont.

Vermont effectively abolished its death penalty more than 30 years ago. However, at the urging of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, the U.S. Justice Department used a 1994 federal law to bring a capital case against Donald Fell, who has been convicted of kidnapping and murdering Tressa King of North Clarendon in 2000.

“The Bush administration chose to go after the death penalty in this and 11 other cases at the precise moment when Illinois and Maryland had declared moratoriums against the death penalty, and nationwide people were seriously considering getting rid of capital punishment completely,” noted David Buckingham, a member of Vermonters Against the Death Penalty and employee of Burlington’s City Market.

The rally is sponsored by Vermonters Against the Death Penalty, a coalition whose members include the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, the International Socialist Organization, Pax Christi Burlington, the Peace and Justice Center, the United Church of Christ Just Peace Advocates, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.


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