Behind the scenes with those who support Foster
Kenneth Foster’s execution was scheduled for August 30, at 6 pm. But only a few hours before, Texas Governor Rick Perry made an unusual announcement: the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. For once, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that a life be spared, and the Governor followed its advice.
The decision happened after unprecedented mobilisation in favour of Kenneth Foster. During the 48 hours preceding the scheduled execution, Texas’s abolitionist organisations held nearly continuous demonstrations from Livingston prison to Huntsville execution centre and the Governor’s Mansion in Austin.
Activists there said that the prison administration decided to move Kenneth Foster from Linvongston to Huntsville 24 hours earlier than expected because of the scale of protests, including inside the prison.
Abroad, Rome city council said they would illuminate the Colosseum in support of the condemned man, while French abolitionists gathered near the US embassy.
“The Internet helped us an awful lot”
In Paris, Fatou is one of the four women in their twenties who led the campaign within an organisation called Lutte pour la justice. “As soon as we heard about the decision last May, we stood up and began to work”, she said.
The four campaigners, who write to Kenneth Foster regularly, shared out the workload: contacts with journalists, politicians… They sent numerous letters, faxes and e-mails – without much success for a long time. Only one journalist from Le Monde newspaper visited Kenneth Foster earlier in August.
“The Internet helped us an awful lot”, she said. “I came across sites that mentioned Kenneth, and I got in touch with the writer Claude Ribes through one of them.” He then published an open letter to French president Nicolas Sarkozy about the case.
“However, most people only woke up in the past few days”, regretted Fatou. Jack Lang, a well-know left-wing politician, published an opinion piece in the French papers last Wednesday. Junior minister for human rights Rama Yade’s chief of staff met activists on the day of the scheduled execution, but disappointed them when she refused to support Kenneth Foster publicly.
Since then, Fatou has left the frustrations of the campaign aside and concentrated on what is really important: she wrote to Kenneth Foster and expects news from him “very soon”.