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Tue, 12.29.1953

‘Tookie’ Williams, Street Gang Leader born

Stanley 'Tookie' Williams

Stanley 'Tookie' Williams was born on this date in 1953. He was a Black gang leader, author, and community organizer.

He was born in Louisiana, and in the early 1960s, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles.  His first childhood encounter in his new LA neighborhood led to a fight. This experience, Williams, said, convinced him that being bigger, tougher, and stronger than the next guy were the keys to his survival.  He and his friend Raymond Washington founded the Crips, a Street Gang or in their description, a LA youth protection organization.

After Williams' incarceration and Washington's murder, this group became one of America’s most widely known and notorious street gangs.  In 1979, Williams murdered Albert Owen, Thsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang, and Yee Chen Lin during two separate robberies.  All four were shot execution-style by close-range shotgun blasts.

Williams refused to provide police investigations with any information against his gang and was implicated in attacks on guards and women and multiple escape plots.

In 1993, Williams began changing his behavior and became an anti-gang activist on Death Row in California.  Although he continued to refuse to assist police in their gang investigations, he renounced his gang affiliation.  He apologized for the Crips' founding while never admitting to the crimes for which he was convicted. Williams had denounced his life and his role as a gang leader, and he wrote from prison about the harmful effects of gang life.

He recorded public service announcements urging young people not to join gangs. Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Williams continued to deny his guilt in the four murders. A California Department of Corrections spokesman said that Williams never renounced his gang membership and continued to associate with Crips members in prison.  He wrote nine children's books and an autobiography that had been popular worldwide for their anti-violence message, and he helped broker a truce between the Bloods and the Crips.

In 2004, a television movie about him, Redemption: The Stan Tookie Williams Story, was released, starring Jamie Foxx as Williams. Supporters claim that Williams has deterred over 150,000 individuals from joining gangs; however, when the co-author of Williams' books was challenged on this point in a telephone interview, she refused to provide the evidence and hung up on the hosts. Williams was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2001.

On November 18, 2005, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declared that Williams was a "cold-blooded killer" who had "left his mark forever on our society by co-founding one of the most vicious, brutal gangs in existence, the Crips."

Several individuals and groups mounted a campaign to halt Williams' execution.  This included Rapper and former Crips member Calvin Broadus (Snoop Dogg).  On December 1, 2005, the NAACP in four California cities started to attempt to stop the execution.

Despite this support, a clemency decision by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was denied. He was executed by lethal injection on December 13, 2005.

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