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Showing up for Co-Victims: A Call for Justice in Missouri

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

In a time when the death penalty is gradually losing support across the country, a few states still persist in carrying out state-sanctioned executions. Missouri stands as one of them, having executed four individuals in 2023, with two more execution requests pending. Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty (MADP) is tirelessly advocating for abolition, seeking to end the cycle of violence and uplifting all co-victims of capital punishment. Recently, the state executed Johnny Johnson for the 2002 murder of 6-year-old Cassandra Williamson, highlighting the irreparable harm inflicted on all those involved in these tragic cases. In the face of these challenges, the MADP community is stepping up, raising awareness, and calling for an end to the death penalty.

Outside the Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Center (ERDCC), a solemn gathering was held to oppose the execution of Johnny Johnson. Fifty-one people united to recognize Johnny's shared humanity. The Archdiocese demonstrated its support by sending a bus with over 30 people to participate in the event, emphasizing the significance of solidarity in the fight for abolition.

MADP recognizes that advocating to end the death penalty is not only about seeking justice for those facing execution but also about breaking the cycles of violence that perpetuate trauma for the co-victims. Outside the prison, a handful of friends and family of Cassandra Williamson, the young victim of Johnny Johnson's crime, expressed their pain and grief in support of the execution. Emotions ran high. In response, we extended compassion and prayers, hoping they find the healing and closure they have not been afforded in the pursuit of a death sentence.

MADP draws strength from the unwavering support of a dedicated community that consistently shows up to call for an end to capital punishment. They acknowledge that this fight cannot be won without the generous backing of supporters.

As Missouri remains among the few states actively executing individuals, MADP continues to show up for abolition and all co-victims of murder. The recent execution of Johnny Johnson serves as a powerful reminder of the need to break the cycles of violence and advocate for healing and justice for all those impacted by these cases. Together, we can make a difference and stand against the unjust and irreversible practice of state murder.

Photo credits: Phillip Deitch

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