“We are the future” – Kids Against the Death Penalty
Gavin, Nick and Nathan Been (12, 13 and 15) are just like any American teenagers – teasing their mom Terri about growing taller than her and asking her to drive them around to meet up with their friends.
Except their uncle Jeffrey Wood is on Texas death row, and the meetings they go to tend to be abolitionist protests and public debates on the death penalty rather than baseball matches or birthday parties.
“I had to bribe them to play football – they spent their entire life doing this,” Terri said.
It was Gavin’s idea to start Kids Against the Death Penalty, their own abolitionist advocacy group. “I wanted to teach people about the Law of Parties. Innocent people die because of it,” he said. According to that piece of Texas legislation, people found to have helped a murderer can be sentenced to death along with the actual culprit.
Watch an extract from Gavin’s speech at the “Words of Victims” evening during the World Congress:
Campaigning started within the family. “Grandpa is for the death penalty, but we are slowly dragging him to our side,” they said. Their group soon grew more popular. “Our friends joined in,” Nick added.
However, not everyone approved of their campaign in a state where most people support the death people. “Some people screamed at us when we were protesting and tried to run us over with their truck,” Nathan said. Others insulted them or pulled out guns while walking past them.
Yet the Kids were never deterred. They formed links with “just about every abolitionist organization in Texas”. This week, they are in Geneva to tell World Congress participants about their experience – and hand over the Final Declaration of the Congress to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay.