On August 18, it will be sixteen years since North Carolina strapped Samuel Flippen to a gurney and executed him in the middle of the night. Sixteen years since protesters stood outside Central Prison, dripping candle wax on their shoes, and some even getting arrested as they stood against this awful practice.
All these years later, we are proud to say that we did stop the state-sponsored killing, but we also must not forget that the death penalty remains a clear and present threat in North Carolina. Capital trials are still a regular occurrence across the state, 136 people remain on death row, and only ongoing litigation prevents executions from resuming. NC lawmakers still have not taken the crucial step of abolishing the death penalty.
That’s why, from August 15 to 19, we are gathering for a week of in-person events to remember the 43 people executed under our current death penalty laws and to recommit to building a future without the death penalty. See all events here.
We will begin with a vigil of remembrance outside Central Prison on Monday, where we will read the names of those executed and toll a bell in their memory. Their deaths did nothing to make our society safer. They only created more violence, more suffering, and more grieving families.
We must also remember that those executed under modern laws represent just a tiny fraction of the people executed in North Carolina. The death penalty has been here since our state’s beginning, and it was used as a tool to enforce slavery and Jim Crow. This racist history remains deeply embedded in today’s death penalty.
That’s why we will host two very special screenings of Racist Roots, the Center for Death Penalty Litigation’s new film tracing the white supremacist origins of the modern death penalty. The screenings will be in Asheville and Chapel Hill.
But our movement isn’t just about mourning our losses, it’s also about building community and envisioning a better future together. That’s why we will finish the week with a community potluck and program at Pullen Park in Raleigh. There will be inspiring speakers and an opportunity to ask ourselves: If we defunded the death penalty, how could we use those resources in ways that would make our communites stronger and safer?
All of these events will raise the voices of people most proximate to the death penalty, those currently and formerly incarcerated and those who have lost loved ones to homicide and execution.
Please join us to say, Never Again!, and to help us create a new vision of justice.