by Gloria Rubac
Tonight the state of Texas murdered a man who was my friend and a friend to so many all over the country and the world. Cleve "Sarge" Foster was a son to Mary, a father to Michael, a grandfather to Yuri, a father-in-law to Rowan and brother to Susie and a number of siblings. He was innocent but was convicted under Texas' horrible Law of Parties. Texas is the only state who executes a person they know did not kill anyone. He was tried with Sheldon Ward who admitted that sarge had nothing to do with the murder.
Tonight Gov. Rick Perry put another notch on his belt of executions -- number 247 --more than any governor in the history of the United States. And this State of Texas is now responsible for 486 executions, with 11 more already scheduled.
At the Hospitality House, a place in Huntsville run by a bunch of very un-Christian Christians, Sarge's family and friends gathered before the execution. They were talking with Sarge when Joanne and I arrived around 4:30.
Sarge was on the speakerphone and was talking with everyone. He was especially having fun talking to his little grandson Yuri. When I told him hello, he asked what I was up to. I told him I was fixing to raise holy hell outside the Walls Unit. He laughed and asked if I had my sound system with me and I told him I sure did. He said to tell everyone he thanks them for all their love and support and to keep up the fight and never give up. He said he had just finished eating his last meal and the fried chicken was really good!
Sarge's attorney was Maurie Levin from UT in Austin and she is one of the best ones you could have. She was tearfully coming out of the Hospitality House when we drove up and I saw a look of utter horror on her face so I asked what was up. She said the Supreme Court had just denied Sarge's appeal. Later she told us that all six of the men on the Supreme Court voted against Sarge but all three women voted for him. We decided that sends a strong message that men are generally inferior and we need more women on the Court. While Yuri's parents, Rowan and Michael, were talking with Sarge, Maurie took baby duty and was so comforting that Yuri actually slept for a few minutes! He's a very active baby and never slept again during the execution and during the time we were with sarge's body at the church, some 3 or 4 hours later!
Maurie has represented death sentenced inmates in state and federal court since 1993. In addition to co-directing the Capital Punishment Clinic at University of Texas, she works with the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, consulting with attorneys representing inmates, including Mexican Nationals, on Texas' death row. In 2008 Maurie was recognized by Texas Lawyer as one of thirty "Extraordinary Woman in Texas Law".
So the best for the best. Too bad the courts aren't the best.
At 5 o'clock it was time for those witnessing the execution to go to the prison administration building, which is right across the street from the death house. Before leaving, a man says a prayer for Sarge. Sarge's spiritual advisor (in the white shirt on the right) is Cathy Cox, a minister with the Salvation Army in Dallas and an incredible, extraordinary woman. She has been visiting men on death row for 30 years and has been with probably over a hundred of them as they were murdered. The men love her and she loves them. She visits men who never see another visitor for years and is such a comfort to them. Every Thursday and Friday, like clockwork, you can count on Cathy Cox being in the visiting room at death row, ministering and visiting with her friends.
DaLisa and Stacey holding signs in front of Karl Rodenberg from Germany and Ward Larkin with the long Santa Claus beard. The brother with the white cap does a prison radio show on a religious station in Houston.
Sarge's good friends Joy and Danielle at the protest.
TEAM SARGE is on duty outside the death house.
Nadine Broxton is here from Paris to visit her loved one on death row, Eugene Broxton, and to be with us to protest the murder of Sarge.
Sarge's son Michael and Sarge's sister Susie from Kentucky give Sarge a last bit of love and tell him goodbye. Joy now has baby duty and is entertaining little Yuri. Rowan has taken Sarge's mom out in a wheel chair and folks are getting ready to leave.
As Joanne and I drive back to Houston, Michael and the other Fosters go back to their motel in Livingston. When Michael got to the motel, he posted this photo on Face Book of him in his dad's shirt. They had gone through Sarge's property and I guess this shirt turned up. Not only does Michael have big shoes to fill, but now a big shirt! Sarge was a big man in so many ways--he was physically large but with a large heart and a large personality and a large smile for the world. AND A LARGE CLAIM OF INNOCENCE THAT NO COURT EVER HEARD.
Tomorrow some of the Fosters will drive back to Kentucky. Michael and Rowan and little Yuri will drive back to Montana.
Cathy Cox will visit another man on death row in the morning and tomorrow afternoon I will go visit Anthony Pierce down at the Harris County Jail, a man who spent 35 years on death row and just got his sentence changed to life and is now up for parole. He was barely 18 when arrested and is now 53 years old. And he is innocent. Harris county has stolen his whole life. But that's another story of injustice for another day.
In just two weeks, the Abolition Movement will be back in Huntsville for the execution of Jonathan Green, an African American man from Montgomery County who suffers from mental illness.
Y la lucha sigue!
And the struggle continues!
TEXAS SAYS "DEATH ROW,"
WE SAY "HELL NO!"