Twenty-five years ago when I created the Crips youth gang with Raymond Lee Washington in South Central Los Angeles, I never imagined Crips membership would one day spread throughout California, would spread to much of the rest of the nation and to cities in South Africa, where Crips copycat gangs have formed. I also didn't expect the Crips to end up ruining the lives of so many young people, especially young black men who have hurt other young black men. Raymond was murdered in 1979. But if he were here, I believe he would be as troubled as I am by the Crips legacy.
So today I apologize to you all -- the children of America and South Africa -- who must cope every day with dangerous street gangs. I no longer participate in the so-called gangster lifestyle, and I deeply regret that I ever did.
As a contribution to the struggle to end child-on-child brutality and black-on-black brutality, I have written the Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence children's book series. My goal is to reach as many young minds as possible to warn you about the perils of a gang lifestyle.
I am no longer "dys-educated" (disease educated). I am no longer part of the problem. Thanks to the Almighty, I am no longer sleepwalking through life.
I pray that one day my apology will be accepted. I also pray that your suffering, caused by gang violence, will soon come to an end as more gang members wake up and stop hurting themselves and others.
I vow to spend the rest of my life working toward solutions.
Stanley "Tookie" Williams, Surviving Crips Co-Founder,
April 13, 1997
Note the date on this letter. It was written after a seven year period in solitary confinement, a period during which he educated himself in the silence and isolation of that experience and found personal redemption.
There is some need to recall the context in which the Crips were formed. Investigative reporter, Gary Webb, of the San Jose Mercury News wrote a sensational series on the deliberate flooding of the East L.A. and Compton -- as well as other innercity areas with cocaine that provided funds with which to finance the Contras in the not-so-secret wars in South and Central America. The Reagan administration's cabal with the players Ashcroft, North, Negroponte, Rumsfeld, et al, brought together the forces that co-created the Crips and the Bloods. A fact conveniently forgotten in subsequent recollections of the period.
Though most of the revelations brought forth in those dramatic pieces proved out, Webb was demonized, lost his position at the newspaper, and eventually 'committed suicide.' All of this runs hard and deep and has been and will continue to be largely ignored in the writing of the history of the times.
Read Tookie's apology again, and decide for yourself whether this was a man who would have submitted to the pressure to proclaim remorse for crimes that he did not commit -- even to influence the decision for clemency.
When I have the emotional stability to relate my first conversation with Barbara Becnel (yesterday) post- execution -- will do so. For the moment the feelings are simply too raw ... maybe tomorrow. It may be enough to say that the fight goes on; that she will clear his name; and that I won't accept her invitation to attend the huge memorial service being held in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Instead, I will continue to quietly work toward the goal of achieving the moratorium -- will join Paul Sawyer at the prison gates when he returns on January 10th to protest the next scheduled executions. I strongly suspect that there will be no more state killings, though 5 are scheduled over the next several months. A number of the bills now making their way through the legislative process will halt them all until we've had a closer look. Fewer of us now have the heart for this, I strongly believe, and that fact will continue to show up in the polls.
I will do this in his name.