Sunday, June 15, 2008

Report from the Texas Democratic Convention

by Barbara Acuna

The last two days have been a roller coaster ride for everyone at the TX State Democratic Convention with the Resolution to Abolish the Death Penalty in Texas.
Sitting in the Resolutions Committee meeting, the anticipation of what was about to happen had us on the edge of our seats. Would we be elated with the passing of the resolution or knocked to the floor with a decision not to adopt the resolution to abolish the death penalty in Texas. The committee members began to voice their opinions, which ranged from....The Death Penalty is wrong and must be abolished, to the neatly suited gentleman with ivory his opinion Texas needs the death penalty because some crimes deserve it. Even some of the people opposing the Death Penalty, opposed the résolutions because of it's strong words, and would support a rewording to make it more acceptable to opponents, like we would stop executing the innocent.

The tension was building and the debate was going strong, when news of a vote on the floor came in and a 1 hour break was called. It was time we used to get more information from the TCDAP booth to pass out and to rally more people and return to the room to pass out the information, and work on a strategy. By the time they started back up, the Death Penalty Opponents filled all the chairs on one wall of the room.

The strategy could have been to water down the resolution to be more paletable or to take a hard line stand and either they adopt the resolution or not. Sherry's words convinced me we stick with the hard line, as we headed back up to the room. She asked me "When was the right time to end slavery?". It was clear to me that you can't wait till the right time to do the right thing. The time is now!
A resolution committee member and the most recent convert to the Anti-DP movement, gave Lee Greenwood his time to speak. She shared her experience with the DP, and as always, she taught the group the realities of the Texas Criminal Justice system. As the debate continued on the issue, the tides changed. The vote on the resolution to abolish the death penalty in Texas passed overwhelmingly. I believe only the ivory skin gentleman dissented stating some crimes deserve the death penalty.

We were elated and shocked as we went to take photos at the booths. Did this really happen? We relished the moment and relived the events through each others was a great moment!

The resolution still had to make it on the floor of the convention....and although the 2008 Democratic Convention is over....this resolution has not been discussed. For hours and hours and hours we waited. It became clear the Chair of the Resolution Committee would rather do nothing than bring this resolution to the floor. I talked to him back stage on a break and asked him when he was going to discuss the "Abolish the Death Penalty" resolution and he said it's in the stack somewhere, and abruptly ended our conversation.

At one point, the Resolution Chair left the stage. The convention chair said he had more resolutions but he had to go get them. I don't know where he went, but with hours left in the convention, and much time with no activity on the stage, he never returned. Instead, at midnight, the convention chair announced they would send all the resolutions to the future State Democratic Executive Committee's meetings. Lucky for us, the meetings are public meetings, so lets all attend!
Sherry.....I think you should ask this committee 2 questions to ponder when they are considering the resolution.....When was the right time to end slaver? When is the right time to end the Death Penalty?

Great things did happen at this convention....
The platform has some great stuff in there on the Criminal Justice System and the DP. It was adopted and should be posted on soon.

Cudos to everyone who worked so hard on this.....great things are happening!


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