We launched the 90 Million Strong Campaign at a Kick-off event at the home of Reverend Barry and Dr. Joanne Lynne. The theme of the event was to celebrate the victory in Maryland and lay the groundwork for our future success. We honored Governor Martin O’Malley, Senator Jamie Raskin, Senator Lisa Gladden, Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, and Delegate Salima Marriott for their long-term leadership leading to repeal the death penalty in Maryland. Jane Henderson, Executive Director of Communities United and former Executive Director of Maryland Citizens Against State Executions (CASE) introduced each of the honorees and shared stories and insights from the work in Maryland. We were honored to be joined by so many people who played a critical role in the effort to end the death penalty in Maryland, among them State Senator Richard Madaleno; Bonita Spikes, Vicki and Sylvester Schieber and Abe Bonowitz, former staff member of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Campaign Strategy and Tactics Consultant.
Lea Gilmore, an award winning vocalist, activist and educator, opened and closed the event bringing people to their feet clapping and stomping their agreement to move forward to build the campaign and “let our light shine”. Everyone left with a real sense of purpose and momentum and the campaign continues to pick up speed.
We held the first of a series of teleconferences for affiliate leaders, core supporters and activists. These teleconferences with opinion leaders will provide the growing grassroots network with up-to-date insights into the debate and information about overall progress ending the death penalty.
The first call featured Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Linda Greenhouse and Principal, David Mermin of Lake Research Partners. Linda Greenhouse shared her observations and analysis of the Supreme Court’s treatment of the death penalty and her view that the public must lead on this issue.
David Mermin shared groundbreaking public opinion research on the attitudes and great potential for mobilizing the base of public support for ending the death penalty.
Also as part of the 90 Million Strong Campaign’s efforts to raise public awareness, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has partnered with Coloradans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (COADP) in support of their effort to address the problem of discrimination against survivors of homicide because of their opposition to capital punishment. The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty sponsored a petition on change.org to garner support for Bob and Lola Autobee who are speaking out against the death penalty as a possible punishment for the man who murdered their son, Eric. The District Attorney prosecuting the case has taken legal steps to prevent Bob Autobee from speaking his mind about the death penalty in court. And the problem extends beyond the Autobee’s case to other families in Colorado and across the nation as well. In developing the petition and looking for ways of addressing the concern the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty was able to turn to individuals and experts in the broader victim’s rights community for their insights and guidance or how best to help COADP shape their support of the Autobee family.
The petition calls on the CO District Attorneys Council to meet with victims’ family members to discuss and agree on common set of principles for treating all victims regardless of whether they oppose or support capital punishment, with dignity and respect. We have quickly garnered nearly 10,000 signatures and encourage you to join this important effort. We need to demonstrate that a serious level of concern exists about the way in which the death penalty operates in Colorado and the need for change.
The 90 Million Strong Campaign is changing the way we think about and use our collective power to end the death penalty. Make sure you are a part of it. Add your story to our tumblr page today! Stay connected through Facebook and Twitter. Share with your friends and family—grow the voice of opposition to capital punishment until they hear us roar!