Category Archives: Protest

All-Night by Candlelight: University of Texas students hold a vigil for Rodney Reed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

UT Students Hold All-Night Vigil to Keep Attention on Rodney Reed Case

Supporters of Rodney Reed Say The Fight is Far From Over

February 25, Austin, Texas: Members of the UT Student Coordinating Committee to Free Rodney Reed will hold an all-night, candlelit vigil in front of the UT Tower on the Main Mall to raise awareness about Rodney’s case and other prisoners being held on Texas’ Death Row. Senior Collin Poirot, an organizer for the event, says, “This vigil is intended as a way to show solidarity with Rodney, his family, and his community. We will begin the evening with comments from community members who have been involved with Rodney’s case since the beginning, and will be holding other events over the course of the vigil.” The vigil will last from 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM.

Although Governor Abbott and the Board of Pardons and Paroles remained silent with regard to Reed’s case, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) decided on Monday February 22nd to grant Mr. Reed a temporary stay until a further evidenciary hearing could be conducted. This decision by the CCA comes in response to an appeal by Rodney’s attorneys, submitted on February 13th, wherein the attorneys present three new affidavits by highly esteemed medical examiners, each testifying that the medical evidence in the case wholly contradicts the timeline provided by the prosecution in Rodney’s initial sentencing.

Students have argued that, although this temporary stay is a victory in the fight to free Rodney Reed, it falls far short of the new trial and full DNA testing that Rodney’s advocates are requesting. “The fight to win justice for Rodney Reed isn’t over until he is home safe with his family,” says Collin Poirot, “We appreciate the court’s decision to hold further evidenciary hearings, but we also stress the importance of sustained community activism and involvement. There is no guarantee that this new hearing will be enough to get Rodney out of prison. What we have asked for from the very beginning is a brand new trial, wherein all of the evidence can be examined and witnesses that were not called in the initial trial can finally testify on Rodney’s behalf. This vigil is a way for us to keep all eyes on Rodney.”

Although initially silent with regard to the case, Gov. Abbott finally spoke about Rodney’s situation in a press conference following the CCA decision. The all-night vigil is  partly a response to Gov. Abbott’s statement, insofar as the governor has yet to acknowledge that, even if Rodney is eventually exonerated, he will still have spent 18 years on death row. Rodney’s family deserves reparations from the state, along with a public apology and an official acknowledgment that the Texas criminal justice system stole 18 years of this innocent man’s life. The fact that Rodney was judged by an all-white jury is further evidence that the criminal justice system in Texas is deeply flawed and prone to horrific miscarriages of justice. The first step in making this right for Rodney and his family is give him a speedy and transparent trial. That is what participants in this vigil are asking for, and they will accept nothing less.

The candlelight vigil follows in the wake of a series of awareness-raising events held on the UT campus and around Austin over the past month. On Friday February 6th, students held a phone banking event and organized a community-wide call-in to Gov. Abbott’s “Opinion Hotline” and the offices of various members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. On Monday February 16th, students organized an educational flash mob to raise awareness among students. There have also been multiple screenings of the documentary “State vs. Reed” on campus and around Austin, and there have been two large-scale public demonstrations regarding Rodney’s case, first on Valentine’s Day and then again on Saturday February 21st. The latter rally attracted more than two hundred people from all over the state, who came to show solidarity with the Reed family and demand a full review of Rodney’s case, additional DNA testing, and a new trial.

For more information contact: Collin Poirot, 214-392-2281, cpoirot@utexas.edu www.justice4rodneyreed.org

vigil

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BREAKING NEWS: Rodney Reed granted a stay of execution by CCA

We have just learned that the execution of Rodney Reed has been stayed for now, by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). The fight isn’t over until a new trial is granted, but this is great news!!

Says KVUE: “The ruling from the appeals court states Reed and his lawyers believe there is newly discovered evidence in Reed’s case that supports his claim that he is innocent.

The court placed a stay on Reed’s execution, scheduled for March 5, “pending further order of this Court.”

Reed’s lawyer, Bruce Benjet, released the following statement Monday:

We’re extremely relieved that the court has stayed Mr. Reed’s execution so there will be proper consideration of the powerful new evidence of his innocence. We are also optimistic that this will give us the opportunity to finally conduct DNA testing that could prove who actually committed the crime.”

You can read the full ruling from the CCA here.

Thanks to everyone who helped shine a light on this injustice. Public pressure and the work of Rodney’s attorneys is truly making a difference for Rodney and his family! 

Check back to this site for updates on this case and planned events as information comes in.

Gov. Abbott: Have a Heart! Stop the Execution of Rodney Reed!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Giant valentine delivered to Abbott asks “Have a Heart. Stop the Execution”

Supporters of death row prisoner Rodney Reed ask for clemency

February 14, Austin, Texas:  This Valentine’s Day, supporters of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed will deliver a valentine to Gov. Greg Abbott asking him to stop Rodney’s execution, scheduled for March 5, 2015. Members of the Austin community, including Rev. Tom VandeStadt, will deliver a giant valentine to the Governor’s Mansion at 1:00PM reading “Have a Heart. Stop the Execution”.

Supporters will ‘spread the love’ by surrounding the mansion with smaller valentines collected from Rodney’s friends around Texas, the US, and the world. Each one represents a plea for Gov. Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency to Rodney, stop the execution, and allow DNA testing of crucial crime scene items– including the murder weapon—for the first time. In an appeal directly to Gov. Abbott, Rodney’s mother, Sandra Reed, said, “We just want the DNA tested. We want the truth. That’s all we’re asking.”

Rodney Reed has been on Texas death row since 1998. He was convicted of the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop, TX. In the years since, evidence has been uncovered that points to Stacey’s fiancée, Jimmy Fennell, Jr. as the true killer. At the time of Stacey’s murder, Fennell was a police officer in Giddings. In 2008, after his transfer to the Georgetown Police Department, Fennell was sentenced to ten years in prison for “kidnapping and improper sexual contact with a person in custody” when he sexually assaulted a woman in his custody at gunpoint.

There is no DNA evidence linking Rodney to the murder besides semen inside Stacey’s body, evidence of the affair the two were having. Reed’s supporters are asking for the Texas courts to allow DNA testing of crucial items found at the crime scene, including the belt used to strangle Stacey. Although in police custody for the past 15 years, these pieces have never been tested. “Frankly, what we’re asking for is, I think, a pretty conservative thing,” says Bryce Benjet, Rodney’s attorney with The Innocence Project. “To do DNA testing of evidence before you execute someone.”

If conducted, these tests could very well prove Rodney’s innocence. New laws expanding access to DNA testing in Texas were passed 2011 and 2013, addressing the importance of both pre- and post-conviction DNA testing. Notable recent exonerations due to DNA testing include Michael Morton and Anthony Graves.

In 2013, Abbott, who was then Attorney General, supported a bill for pre-conviction DNA testing, saying, “Texans may disagree about the death penalty, but one thing all Texans can and should agree upon is that no innocent person should be executed in Texas.” Says Lily Hughes, Austin resident and National Director of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, “We want Gov. Abbott to stand by those words. He should show compassion and make sure another innocent person isn’t executed in Texas. All the evidence must be heard and tested”

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Protest for Rodney Reed in Berlin

Supporters of Rodney Reed have organized a protest in Berlin! On Sunday, March 1, take a stand for Rodney at the US Embassy in Pariser Platz at 15:00. The German language announcement can be read in full here. As the organizers say:

No state has the right to kill people , not by the military, the police nor thedeath penalty! That is why we say : #dontshoot #wecantbreathe and do away with the death penalty !

A German translation of  Jordan Smith’s excellent article “Is Texas Getting Ready to Execute an Innocent Man?”  is available here  from Indymedia.

Organizing Conference Call to Join Rodney Activists across the World

 

Evidence Matters banner

Monday, January 26, 2015 at 7:00PM CST, Worldwide

BLACK LIVES MATTER — RODNEY’S LIFE MATTERS

Please JOIN US for a conference call to discuss national and international organizing strategies for supporters outside of the Austin area. We need everyone to come on board now to help with efforts to STOP the upcoming execution of Rodney Reed. He is scheduled to be executed in Texas on March 5th.

Recently the courts have denied Rodney’s request to have DNA testing done on the belt used to strangle Stacey and other evidence that has never been tested. Rodney, his family, and activists have been fighting for 17 years to win him justice.

Now we need everyone to join with us, raise their voice and stop this execution from going forward!
https://www.facebook.com/events/446167022200376/


CALL in #1-712-432-0460
ACCESS CODE 152872#

(Please email marlene at nodeathpenalty.org if you plan to be on the call, and indicate what state you are from and what organization you are affiliated with if any, thanks!)

We need all justice loving people to come on board!
Help spread the word by inviting your friends!

 

Gov. Greg Abbott welcomed by protests for Rodney Reed

On January 20, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was sworn in as the 48th Governor of Texas. He inherited Rick Perry’s bloody legacy of 278 executions, with three executions scheduled for January. Amid the parade and free BBQ, Gov. Abbott was also greeted by supporters of Rodney Reed at 11:00 AM during the inauguration and again at 5:30 PM. The Texas Observer reports:

At the protest yesterday, supporters chanted and held signs that read “Governor Abbott don’t kill an innocent man” and “Drop the Date! Test the DNA,” while cars driving by blew their horns in support.

Supporters hold signs as Greg Abbott is sworn in as 48th governor of Texas Picture by Austin American Statesman

Supporters hold signs in the crowd as Greg Abbott is sworn in as 48th governor of Texas
Picture by Austin American Statesman

After Gov. Greg Abbott was sworn in as 48th governor of Texas, supporters rallied outside the capitol to demand justice

After the swearing in, supporters rallied outside the capitol to demand justice

Following the inauguration of Gov. Abbott

Following the inauguration of Gov. Abbott

Following the inauguration of Gov. Abbott

Outside the Capitol

Other local coverage can be found here:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20150120-abbott-shows-he-values-lessons-of-mrs.-nickel.ece

http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/01/supporters-protestors-gather-on-capitol-lawn.html/

http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/27897432/group-stages-rodney-reed-protest-at-the-state-capitol

 

Free Rodney Reed joins in MLK Day parades in Houston and Austin

Activists in both Houston and Austin joined the parade festivities celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, Jan. 19. We collected petition signatures and added some beautiful faces to our #Justice4Rodney Instagram pics. You can add your own solidarity photo by following #Justice4Rodney and tagging your picture! Honor the legacy of Dr. King by joining the fight for Rodney’s life!

Supporters march in the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Austin. January 2015

Supporters march in the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Austin. January 2015

MLK Day March in Austin, January 2015

MLK Day March in Austin, January 2015

Supporter holds a sign reading "Stop the Execution of Rodney Reed" in a crowd gathered around the Martin Luther King, Jr statue at the University of Texas at Austin. Picture by Hooman Hedayati

Supporter holds a sign reading “Stop the Execution of Rodney Reed” in a crowd gathered around the Martin Luther King, Jr statue at the University of Texas at Austin.
Photo by Hooman Hedayati

Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement truck in the Houston MLK Day parade. January 2015. Photo by Gloria Rubac

Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement truck in the Houston MLK Day parade. January 2015.
Photo by Gloria Rubac