Thursday, February 15, 2007

Jeffrey Deskovic and Other Exonerees Appear at Anti-Death Penalty Seminar in Harlem

Last Tuesday evening The Guardian attended a seminar in New York City at Fifth Avenue and 125 Street, in Harlem, at which Jeffrey Deskovic, and two other well known exonerees, spoke before a group of more than one hundred individuals rallying against the reinstatement of the Death Penalty.

Sponsored by The Campaign To End The Death Penalty, accompanying Deskovic were Alan Newton, who
served 22 years of a 40-Year sentence for Rape, Assault, and Attempted Murder that he was totally innocent of, and Yusef Salaam, who served more than six years in prison as one of the falsely accused, and convicted, attackers in the so-called Central Park Jogger case.

Mr. Deskovic opened his remarks declaring, “I am here tonight because the Criminal Justice System in New York State is broken. In the past thirteen months there have been eight New York exonerees.”

He then quoted Roy Brown, “The wheels of Justice are flat.” Deskovic, falsely accused, and convicted, at 16, of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old Peekskill High schoolmate, walked out of prison as the result of the untiring efforts of the now famous Innocence Project, a little more than four months ago.

He has been frequently speaking at colleges, and before civic organizations, and attending Mercy College in New
York City as well as Dobbs Ferry in an effort to obtain the bachelor’s degree he nearly completed before Governor Pataki withdrew schooling from the state’s correctional facilities, replacing it with the Death Penalty.

Deskovic declared, “We need statements to police video-taped.” He then reminded those assembled, “In 1999, when my appeals ran out, I would have been executed if there was a Death Penalty. It should be enough con-
cern to everyone that it could happen to anyone.

”His delivery was clear and his argument compelling, and well thought out, without a trace of bitterness or vindictiveness. The audience, many accustomed to prison horror stories, was nevertheless transfixed by his account. His colleagues Newton, and Salaam also delivered thought-provoking testimony, likewise free of bitterness for the ordeal they had also been through.

Two weeks ago The Guardian called for the ring of Peekskill Police Chief Eugene Tumolo by Mayor John
Testa. We promised that we would not relent until the Mayor did the right thing by the People of Peekskill.

Once again, we call upon Mayor Testa to place the interests and the well-being of all Peekskill residents
above his personal and political concerns. Mr. Tumolo’s conduct with regard to Jeffrey Deskovic demands his
ring. And, if the Mayor fails to perform his sworn duty to the People, the People will take matters into their own hands come Election Day.


Jeffrey Deskovic is available for speaking engagements.

His slogan is, “Have message, will travel.”

Darren Wilkins is his manager and contact person, and can be reached at (914) 356-1999

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