SHAUN KING: It’s Super Tuesday, but all I can think about is stopping the execution of Nate Woods

Shaun King
Mar 3, 2020 - 12:42

It’s Super Tuesday. I’ve campaigned my ass off all around the country for the past year, but all I can think about right now is stopping the execution of Nate Woods. Without a miracle, without some type of executive or judicial intervention, the State of Alabama is about to execute a completely innocent man. 

What’s wild is that even police and prosecutors openly admit that Nate didn’t kill anybody. He never fired a gun. Never had a gun. Didn’t resist or evade arrest. He wasn’t violent in any way but is about to be lynched for basically being at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

I’ve been against the death penalty for my entire life. Almost every developed nation in the world did away with it generations ago. I have a thousand reasons why I find it abhorrent, but at the center of it are all three factors that are present in the Nate Woods case. 

  1. It’s disproportionately used against Black men. Doubly so if they are convicted of killing someone white. Sound familiar? This was the bedrock of lynching in America. 
  2. People who can afford great attorneys are almost never executed. Consequently, it’s a punishment reserved almost exclusively for poor people. 
  3. Innocent people are regularly convicted and sentenced to death in this country. The possibility of executing even one innocent person is worth stopping the entire practice. 

On June 17th, 2004, something truly awful happened, but Nate Woods had absolutely nothing to do with it. When police stormed a home in Birmingham, Alabama, where several men were found using it as a spot to sell and use drugs, they pepper-sprayed Nate Woods in the face. Police and prosecutors don’t deny this. 

I’m not sure if you’ve ever even been in the room where pepper spray has been used, but it will stop anybody in their tracks. It was sprayed in Nate’s face at close range. As he went running through the house to get away from police, another man, Kerry Spencer, shot and killed a police officer. As the shots fired, Nate ran out of the house and went to a neighboring yard and sat on the front porch. He was disabled by the pepper spray and stunned by the horror of what had just happened. Kerry Spencer, claiming he feared for his life, shot and killed two more police officers. 

Nate did not participate in any of this. Kerry Spencer, who is still alive, openly states that Nate had nothing to do with the shootings, that they weren’t planned, and Nate was a victim in the entire ordeal. 

But as you can imagine, when three police officers are killed anywhere, particularly in the south, heads were gonna roll. Kerry Spencer was convicted and sentenced to death. Never once did he implicate Nate in anything that happened. 

Prosecutors offered Nate a plea deal. He’d be just a few years away from being released now had he taken it. But he was advised against it and ended up being sentenced for the murders just like Kerry Spencer – even though the two men were not at all equally responsible. A reasonable argument exists for Nate not going to jail at all. Had he been white with great attorneys, he might’ve gotten off completely, but for him to be sentenced to death, is a travesty. His lawyers were horrible. 

Even with that, the jury voted 10-2 to sentence Nate to death. In Alabama, that’s enough. Can you imagine not even having a unanimous vote and sentencing a man to die?

I am a part of the team at SaveNate.com and we hope that you will make phone calls and send letters to the Governor to stop this execution immediately. We’ve been told that nothing we can do will work. All I know is that it’s worth trying. 

I want to stop this execution. But even if we don’t, I want Nate to know that thousands of us cared and thousands more of us tried to save him. 

God help us.

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