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As I placed in the cage I’m forced to live in I waited to hear on the radio whether my friend was murdered by Texas or whether he would be given a stay. For a long while I just walked forward 4 paces, then backward 4 paces. Over and Over. When I’m troubled, in deep thought, or feeling down this is my habit. A little after the hour I heard the news announce that my friend was now dead.

This wasn’t the first friend I’d lost since I arrived on death row over 8 years ago. Nor will he be the last I’m sure. But I continued to pace while I thought. Earlier that day I saw my friend during this last visit with his family. This was hard for me. I grew up half a block from his father’s business and saw him all the time. We knew a lot of the same people in our neighbourhood. We’d drunk homemade wine and smokes cigarettes together on the work program when death row was still on the Ellis Unit. We’d sat down together at the same table to eat. There were just so many memories, yet so few also.

But some of my best memories are of our conversations. We would sit and talk about the death penalty for hours. The brother was extremely intelligent and would get real deep on a lot of issues. These last couple years we weren’t around each other much, but did have chance every now and then at visitation to see each other and talk about what each of us were doing or trying to do in our fight against the death penalty.

I remember once, not too long ago I was telling him that I had just met a great friend who helped me put up a web-site and how I was now trying to find help in organizing a defense project. I told him of the book I was doing and about how I’d started drawing again in the hopes of finding help to raise support for my defense. And he was excited he said that it seemed things were coming together from him. He told me about a lady friend who had a lot of experience in organizing events that had just started writing to him and was already starting to help him organize a support group. It sounded like he had a real diamond.

But in the end the state still got him. As I thought about it, another thought crossed my mind… I wondered with the push of this one needle, how many soldiers would the fight lose? I recalled how after other guys we knew were murdered by the state, we would talk about them and wondered what happened to their supporters. We’d seen how all too often when the state killed one of us, that guys supporters also lost the will to fight.

My friend was a dedicated soldier in the battle to abolish the death penalty, and I know from talking to him that a lot of his supporters were also soldiers for the cause. I guess that I can only pray that those people who helped him, who fought with  him against Texas’ killing machine will become even more dedicated to the fight, and won’t let Texas win.

I hope they will re-join the battle and help someone else. I hope they won’t let the needle that took my friends life also steal their dedication.

by: Tony Medina 2004


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