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  • Terry McCaffrey
    Dear Death Penalty Activist, Below is a description of the celebration of the New Mexico Repeal of the Death Penalty in Rome. This is truly heady stuff. The
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 20, 2009
      Dear Death Penalty Activist,

      Below is a description of the celebration of the New Mexico Repeal of
      the Death Penalty in Rome. This is truly heady stuff. The
      transformation of Gov. Richardson is remarkable.

      If we can do it in New Mexico we can do it in California.


      Terry McCaffrey

      Tel: 408-257-4611
      Cell: 408-515-0341
      FAX: 408-257-1360

      The Colosseo Shines for New Mexico

      Posted by Elizabeth Zitrin, IOCP Coordinator on April 15th, 2009

      Illuminated Colosseum in Rome

      The Ancient Colosseum of Rome shines for the Abolition of the Death
      Penalty in New Mexico

      Whoever was in charge of the weather today in Rome did a great job. It
      could not have been more perfect - a perfect day for a conservative
      Western American state to feel the embrace of the civilized world. Now
      that's what I'm talking about! The America I believe in does not
      torture or execute people, and we are working together to restore
      America to a position of pride and admiration in the world. Today, in
      Rome, Americans were admired. We can get used to it.

      This morning, Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan escorted the New
      Mexico delegation to a position of honor at the Papal Audience,
      introduced Governor Richardson to the Pope and spoke of abolition of the
      death penalty. The voice of the church has a very broad reach, and
      when it speaks of abolition it has enormous power.

      Then back to Sant'Egidio <http://www.santegidio.org> for a very well
      attended press conference. Our World Coalition partner Mario Marazziti,
      spokesperson of the Community of Sant'Egidio, is impressario of an
      extraordinary series of events, planning everything from the grandest
      gestures to the smallest details, from the press conference to a
      birthday candle in the tiramisu for a member of the Archbishop's party.
      And of course, the drama of the Colosseo. Perhaps even the perfect weather?

      Governor Richardson is a media star here. He is naturally charismatic,
      and Italians, like many Europeans, are fascinated by American politics -
      particularly American Presidential politics - and the governor is a
      large and familiar figure. He said that his role was only the two
      seconds it took to sign the bill into law. Not quite true, of course.
      He is an intelligent and thoughtful man, and he thought and read and
      considered a great deal before changing his mind about the death
      penalty, convinced, he said, by the American record of wrongful
      convictions in capital cases - up to 131 exonerations as of today - by
      the availability in New Mexico of the awful penalty of permanent
      imprisonment, and by his growing awareness that the United States is
      being left behind by the world - left behind with human rights abusers
      like China and Saudi Arabia.

      But of course, as he acknowledged, the real heroes of New Mexico's
      journey to Abolition are State Representative Gail Chasey, who has been
      fighting this battle for over a decade in the legislature, and Viki
      Elkey, Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the
      Death Penalty. These two extraordinary women, and the thousands of
      people in New Mexico and beyond who worked with them, have accomplished
      something spectacular, and one piece of their reward tonight was the
      illumination of the ancient Coliseum of Rome in their honor, and in
      honor of their state's achievement.

      Posted in Blog
      <http://deathpenalty.org/article.php?list=class&type=22&class=20> | no
      comments <http://deathpenalty.org/article.php?id=353#comments>


      New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson in Rome

      Posted by Elizabeth Zitrin, IOCP Coordinator on April 14th, 2009


      Governor Bill Richardson and Elizabeth Zitrin

      Rome in Spring is a city in celebration of life. It is Easter season, of
      course, and Passover, the Jewish holiday of liberation from tyranny and
      slavery. All of the pale greens and the purples of new blossoms climb
      the ancient walls, and life is in renewal.

      This week, there is another message of life in The Eternal City. The
      Community of Sant'Egidio has invited New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson
      for a ceremony marking his state's repeal of the death penalty. The
      ancient Colosseo of Rome will be illuminated with the "thumbs up" symbol
      for life, from the time of the ruling emperors and the gladiators who
      fought to the death in this arena thousands of years ago. The emperor
      could save a life by signaling with his thumb.

      When lives are saved by a retreat from government execution, Sant'Egidio
      and the City of Rome light the Coliseum in celebration.

      Sant'Egidio is a partner of Death Penalty Focus in the World Coalition
      Against the Death Penalty. I am here representing both DPF and the World
      Coalition, as Chair of its USA Working Group, to celebrate, and to mark
      another step in the journey of the United States toward international
      standards of human rights, and complete abolition of the death penalty.

      On Tuesday evening, April 14, Monsignor Marco, a priest of the Community
      of Sant'Egidio, celebrated mass in the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria
      in Trastevere, the neighbor and frequent home of Sant'Egidio. The
      basilica dates to the 4th Century, with spectacular 13th Century mosaics
      in the apse. The service was highlighted with beautiful singing by a
      small Sant'Egidio choir. I was in the back of the church but was lucky
      enough to have a beautiful tenor next to me. The whole church seems to
      vibrate with the harmonies. Father Marco talked about the distinguished
      delegation from New Mexico, which included Governor Bill Richardson and
      Santa Fe Bishop Michael Sheehan, as well as Viki Elkey from the New
      Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty, and Representative Gail
      Chasey. He celebrated the saving of life, another abolition of a
      government system of death.

      Viki Elkey is animated, energetic in spite a very long journey, with the
      open, charming warmth that has helped make her such a successful
      advocate for abolition. Gail Chasey is drinking in the beautiful
      surroundings. She deserves so much of the credit for this victory.

      After Mass, we walked the few steps to the next, small, cobble-stoned
      Piazza, to the small church of Sant'Egidio, through the lovely garden
      with an incongruous banana tree -- from the time the Community conducted
      peace negotiations between the government and guerrillas in Mozambique
      -- into the old Refectory, for a celebration dinner to honor the repeal
      of the the death penalty in New Mexico.

      Gov. Richardson seems delighted to be here, and on this occasion. He is
      relaxed, attentive to everyone, eager to chat, genuinely pleased to be
      in this company -- people who are so congratulatory of his signing of
      the repeal. He smiles easily. Everyone is happy at dinner, and animated,
      Americans seated between Italian members of the Sant'Egidio Community. I
      spend a good part of dinner talking with Prof. Leonardo Palombi, a
      doctor, who directs Sant'Egidio's Dream Project which runs HIV/AIDS
      clinics in Africa.

      The New Mexicans headed back to their hotel near the Vatican and I
      walked with our host, Sant'Egidio Spokesperson Mario Marazziti, through
      his neighborhood of Trastevere. He has more energy than most teenagers,
      and has spent the day, as he often does, escorting, narrating, directing
      and always persuading. He is a great friend and a valuable partner in
      the World Coalition, and, close to midnight, he could wind down until
      the morning. I am staying in room nearby, and in a lovely cap to a very
      busy day, Mario said I'm becoming a real Trasteverina.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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