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Rep. Espaillat urging action on death penalty with letter to AG nominee Garland

Progressive legislators are pressing Biden's AG-to-be Merrick Garland on the death penalty—including a Black Catholic with an active abolition bill in the House.

New York’s Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D), one of two Black Catholics in Congress, is continuing his crusade against the death penalty.

Having authored a bill on the first day of Congress to abolish capital punishment, Espaillat today joined Ayanna Pressley (D-MN) and 43 other lawmakers to press Biden’s attorney general nominee Merrick Garland to ensure the outdated penalty itself perishes.

Espaillat and Pressley led the group and both have anti-death penalty bills active in the House.

Garland, one-time nominee to the Supreme Court under Obama, is to follow Trump’s AG Bill Barr, a Catholic who infamously restarted use of the federal death penalty after over 17 years of dormancy.

The Trump administration went on to kill a baker’s dozen of God’s children—including 6 Black men between September 24th and January 16th.

They also killed a mentally disabled woman on January 13th.

Garland himself masterminded a notable death penalty sentence in 1997, for Timothy McVeigh (of Oklahoma City bombing infamy), and as recently as 2016 was labeled a “moderate” and a likely death penalty supporter.

And while Biden has changed his own neoliberal tune from earlier years and come out against capital punishment, his campaign's verbiage suggested that a nationwide abolition order is not on the table.

There are currently no federal executions scheduled, but Texas and Alabama plan to kill one Black man apiece next month.


Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder of Black Catholic Messenger, a priesthood applicant with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).


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