Tookie Williams sidewalk stencils

Spotted in San Francisco:


Tookie Williams was a mass-murdering gang member. Convicted of four gruesome homicides, Williams bragged of killing many more, including police officers. He was executed at San Quentin prison on December 13, 2005. But in the years before his execution, he became the poster child for the anti-death penalty movement in California. I documented the “Save Tookie!” frenzy outside the gates of San Quentin on the night he was executed.

What did he do that turned his public image from that of a notorious unrepentant killer to that of a glamorous victim-hero? Why, he “wrote” a series of children’s books counseling kids not to join gangs, with titles like Gangs and the Abuse of Power. All of his books were “co”-authored by his girlfriend and acolyte Barbara Becnel, but even a cursory glance at any of them reveals that Tookie obviously didn’t write them at all — she wrote them, and put his name on them. Tookie was poorly educated and borderline illiterate, but the vocabulary, sentence structure and political tonality of those (and other) books bearing his name were not the kind of thing Tookie was capable of. But no matter: based on those books, not only did he become a hero of the anti-prison movement, but he was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


These two stencils of Tookie Williams were photographed recently on the sidewalks of San Francisco, but I think they’ve been there since 2005, when there was a spate of pro-Tookie graffiti during the run-up to his execution.

47 Responses to “Tookie Williams sidewalk stencils”

  1. 1Befree on Mar 16, 2009 at 7:08 am:

    If anyone ever needs a reason for the dead penalty this human garbage is one of them!

  2. 2dm60462 on Mar 16, 2009 at 7:52 am:

    Imagine what fun you could have painting, say, little black X’s over his eyes everytime you saw one of these. The possibilities are endless!

  3. 3CattusMagnus on Mar 16, 2009 at 11:38 am:

    I didn’t used to believe Rush Limbaugh when he said that many liberals are part of a “culture of death.” But that statement is correct for those who wanted to free Tookie.

    On a seperate note . . . . . the style of this graffiti is eerily reminiscent of all those Che posters and that of a certain 2008 political campaign.

  4. 4Clutch_1956 on Mar 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm:

    “Lookie, lookie, lookie!
    They cooked Tookie!
    Tookie Pest Control!”

    jingle for Cook’s Pest Control from a few years back

  5. 5Anonymous on Mar 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm:

    SHUT UP YOU BIGOTS

  6. 6Not a mouse on Mar 16, 2009 at 3:36 pm:

    Dear Anonymous,

    How would you feel if Tookie had murdered one of your family members? You wouldn’t like it.

    Tookie, Oscar Grant, Che, etc. All have one thing in common. They represent the most vile human nature that exists.

    Under no circumstances should criminals be worshipped.

  7. 7Clutch_1956 on Mar 16, 2009 at 4:16 pm:

    Anonymous, go suck a hemorrhoid. Or Tookie. No difference. Death to all the gang-bangers! Anyhow, now that duh-masses went and elected Teleprompter Jay-sus to duh White House, ain’t no more bigots, ain’t no more racism. That meme is dead. …

  8. 8average_guy on Mar 16, 2009 at 5:56 pm:

    Zombie:
    I remember your photo report, and it seems like more than one report actually, regarding Tookie Williams. At the time there was a link to the original prosecutor’s report with the details of Mr. William’s crimes, along with some of his statements and some jailhouse correspondence, all of which illustrated quite nicely what he was actually about; there were a lot of pages but anyone here who read that report will certainly remember it – I know that I’ll not forget it.

    For the poster above, or anyone else, to call racial bigotry on this is way off base. This was a cold-blooded killer who showed no feeling nor any remorse.

    He may likely have been a product of The Great Society, I cannot say, but for whatever reason he was a danger to anyone who got in his way.

    AG

  9. 9Anonymous on Mar 17, 2009 at 7:05 pm:

    You are being bigots. This blog is full of hate, after I type this message I will not be back ( its not worth reading). I have read everything that has been written about Mr. Williams and for the prosecutor’s website I have seen how they can be equal when it comes to black americans (The rodney king verdict just to name one) Mr. Williams may have been guilty of alot of things, but I do believe that what he was convicted of was false. In regards to him writing childrens books I think that was great and we are very blessed to have those books around today. I also say bigot because the MAN has paid a price for the crime (a crime he didn’t commit) and people just manage to bring him up and throw his name around like trash when there are still others in prison and/or on death row who actually did there crimes and are trying to do nothing to correct what they did such as Charles Mason, just to name one, and nothing is ever said about him or the other ones. Mr. Williams paid the price nothing else should be said about him. God Bless

  10. 10Joe on Mar 17, 2009 at 8:25 pm:

    It blows my mind that liberals protest the execution of convicted killers yet are perfectly okay with the killing of innocent unborn babies. Not that I’m anti-abortion, just sayin’…

  11. 11GWB on Mar 18, 2009 at 3:19 pm:

    #9

    I know I type this in vain (seeing as you won’t be back), but Tookie didn’t write those books.

  12. 12Teleprompter Messiah on Mar 19, 2009 at 2:34 am:

    Joe on Mar 17, 2009 at 8:25 pm:

    It blows my mind that liberals protest the execution of convicted killers yet are perfectly okay with the killing of innocent unborn babies. Not that I’m anti-abortion, just sayin’…

    Yeah, rather weird. But, liberals are quite the weird bunch.

  13. 13Skip Smith on Mar 19, 2009 at 8:41 pm:

    How do you know that Tookie was illiterate? We know he was illiterate when he went into prison, but he had plenty of time on his hands once he got there. Maybe he did write those books after all.

  14. 14average_guy on Mar 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm:

    It is no surprise that one is called a bigot when one believes that the guilty criminal should have paid for their crimes, as anyone who disagrees with the current POTUS is also labeled a bigot as well. It is this line of reasoning that is allowing the USA to become a completely socialist government without the merits and shortcomings of socialism being debated. In both cases the real issue is masked by another, more emotional tangent; should the actual issue in either case be able to stand on its own merits, no smokescreen would be necessary.

    The anonymous above who will no longer visit this blog simply brushed off the prosecutor’s report (I can’t recall where I had seen the original link). In any case, this is the url of the report that I had referenced in my earlier post: http://da.co.la.ca.us/pdf/swilliams.pdf ( I ended up googling “tookie williams investigator report” and it was a first-page result of that search)

    As I said, it is a lot to read. I would challenge anyone to read the whole thing, as I did when I first saw it linked.

  15. 15average_guy on Mar 20, 2009 at 1:58 pm:

    The above is a PDF and does have several pictures as well, although some of the pictures have been redacted since I first read the report. This is actually a response by the LA County DA in regard to Tookie’s petition for executive clemency. Page 4 and 5 have a table of contents for the report.

  16. 16Bakunin on Mar 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm:

    Tookie was a terrible person, and he does not deserve to be honored like this. But state sanctioned murder does nothing to make him pay for his crimes. It makes us all murderers like him.

    An Eye for an Eye makes the whole world blind.

  17. 17yochanan ben avrohom on Mar 22, 2009 at 4:49 pm:

    FRY MUMIA!!

  18. 18Joe on Mar 22, 2009 at 10:42 pm:

    Bakunin: What nonsense and platitudes.

  19. 19GWB on Mar 23, 2009 at 6:18 am:

    #12

    Yeah. By their logic, murder is fine as long as you write a book afterwords

  20. 20Bakunin on Mar 23, 2009 at 5:53 pm:

    18Joe on Mar 22, 2009 at 10:42 pm:

    How so, Joe? I feel, based on my conservative quacker background, that the death penalty is morally wrong (you know, that whole “Thou shall not kill” thing). Most Christian churches support this view. It is not because I am a bleeding heart liberal, but because I do not want my taxes going towards the death of another human being.

    Heres Penn and Teller, conservative/libertarian, on the death penalty.
    http://video.aol.com/video-detail/penn-and-teller-the-death-penalty-clip/93396599

  21. 21Joe on Mar 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm:

    capital punishment != murder. Period.

  22. 22Adam on Mar 26, 2009 at 3:27 pm:

    Anon, you illustrate the blatant ignorance of the far left.
    How can you honestly say with a straight face that Tookie was innocent? Do you have even the slightest clue of how much evidence they had against him? Numerous eyewitness testimonies put him at the scene of the Albert Owens murder at the time it took place, ballistics evidence confirms that his shotgun was the murder weapon used to kill the three Koreans at the motel murder, even his own words condemned him (i.e. after murdering the three Koreans, he bragged about it to his friends, and in a display of his racial tolerance and sensitivity, referred to his three victims as “Buddhaheads,” and when being interrogated by police on the motel murder, he mysteriously knew EXACTLY how many shots were fired during the incident)!
    Furthermore, it was confirmed that during the trial, Tookie had come up with a detailed jail escape plan which included blowing up a prison bus and murdering the prosecution’s star witness against him! Plus, when the ‘Guilty’ verdict was announced, Tookie turned to the jury and mouthed the words “I’m going to get every one of you motherf^^kers.” Do either of those things sound like something that an innocent man would do?
    Add to that the fact that the defense’s arguments were at best piss- poor. They mainly relied on three tactics:
    1. Getting a couple witnesses who claim they saw Tookie at a club at the time of the Albert Owens murder, yet their accounts of when they saw him or if they saw him at all were contradictory to each other, and they couldn’t even keep their stories straight as the trial went on (i.e. in later testimonies, their accounts of how events allegedly happened varied greatly from their accounts of the same events given earlier in the trial).
    2. Attempting to damage the credibility of the major witnesses for the prosecution, even though their testimonies were all corroborated either by other witnesses or by material evidence (i.e. the prosecution’s star witness’s testimony of Tookie murdering Owens was corroborated by several other independent witnesses).
    3. The time- honored liberal tactic of accusing everyone involved with the prosecution of being racists.
    As for his making children’s books, even if he did write them, I understand that they all sold abysmally, so they didn’t exactly do much to keep kids out of the gang lifestyle.
    I have little doubt that Stanley “Tookie” Williams is currently burning in Hell. Or, if his eternal punishment down there is a reflection of his sins in life, he’s probably spending an eternity being riddled with bullets and shotgun shells.

  23. 23Chris on May 15, 2009 at 1:37 am:

    # 20 Bakunin

    Here’s hoping you check back. You say you’re a Quaker? Believe the Bible? Thou Shalt Not Kill is one of the 10 commandments. So you believe that capital punishment is bad? Don’t be an idiot. Read the rest of the Bible. Stoning was the punishment for murder. Capital Punishment.

    But no whingers saying we should be nice to the rtards who murder. It’s funny.. You Americans go on and on about the “right to bear arms to defend yourself”. But you scream when someone is put on Death Row.

  24. 24CapitalistTool on May 18, 2009 at 1:14 pm:

    #23 Chris: “You Americans go on and on about the “right to bear arms to defend yourself”. But you scream when someone is put on Death Row.”

    These tend to be different sides politically in the United States. Granted there is some overlap, but a person who supports “right to bear arms” will also tend to support the death penalty, and someone who supports gun control will also be against the death penalty.

  25. 25Peter on May 25, 2009 at 8:46 pm:

    TOOKIE……..still dead.
    TUPAC………still dead.
    BIGGIE………still dead.
    MUMIA………still jailed.

  26. 26Banksy on Nov 8, 2009 at 4:19 pm:

    I think that you are all a bunch of brainwashed Americans who haven’t been fortunate enough to read a Noam Chomsky interview, listen to an Immortal Technique album, go to sleep to the sweet sounds of a parent reading from a copy of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (which was written by an addict), cross the ocean (using wacky arabic concepts such as navigation) or for the firm completion of a point – ‘… do you still believe that is oxygen that you are breathing?’. You are all ignorant as hell and should do yourselves a favor and either pick up the pace or get the hell away from the flock because we are no longer interested in any of your lies. Please pick up a book instead of drooling to the pacifying effects of MK Ultra. Pitiful, really. LONG LIVE THOSE LIKE TOOKIE, TUPAC, BIGGIE, MUMIA!!! Oh, by the way I hope that hell isn’t kind to Michael Jackson. Sorry if I offended any of his life long fans here. You bunch of low IQ GQ AT-AT’s.

  27. 27Wanksy on Nov 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm:

    26 Banksy

    I really feel sorry for you. We’re brainwashed? Listen to yourself. Parroting every idiotic PC lie that’s ever been promulgated, totally unaware of your own ignorance. Reveling in stereotypes about people you’ve never met and about whom you know nothing.

    First of all, I’ve endured getting a master’s degree from an American university, and as a result I’ve been subjected to not just one Noam Chomsky interview, but been forced in class assignments to read six of his books and dozens of his essays, plus watch innumerable interviews. The guy is possibly the biggest hypocrite ever to have walked the face of the earth. If he actually believed his anarcho-syndicalisgt crap for half a second, he’d forgo his $200,000+/year salary, refuse all book advances and royalties, and live true to the principles he wants to enforce on everyone else. But nooooooo, he gets to live in the coddled lap of academic luxury, bathing in accolades and the money earned by capitalist alumnni and then donated by them back to the university’s endowment to support leeches like himself. Noam Chomsky is scum.

    Oh, and his linguistic theories are now known to be 100% wrong too. Who could have guessed?

    As for Lewis Carroll earning street cred as a counter-culture hero by retro-actively assigning him the cool label “addict” == you’re talking out of your ass. There’s no real evidence he was an addict of anything. He was just a weird dude. And even if he was an addict (which he wasn’t), that doesn’t mean that “Team Hipster” gets to claim him as one of their own, stealing him away from “Team Victorian.” Your conceits are transparent and pathetic.

    Oh, and apparently you were brainwashed by our modern educational system (sounds like British, from the curriculum they’ve been feeding the kids in recent decades) that the Arabs “invented navigation.” Gee, tell that to the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Polynesians, Vikings, Phoenicians and dozens of other cultures that were navigating the oceans centuries before the Arabs ever got the idea. Are you thinking of the magnetic compass? Sorry, that idea was perfected by the Chinese, from whom the Persians and the Arabs stole the idea. Did the Arabs make a few incremental improvements on other cultures’ earlier inventions — improvements which were themselves further refined by later cultures? Sure. But that’s a far cry from the Arabs “inventing the concept of navigation.” As with the vast majority of inventions falsely attributed to the Arabs by the PC-addled British educational system, navigation and just about everyhting else was first invented by someone else, then borrowed and stolen by the Arabs, who may or may not have made minor improvements, and then passed the invention along to the next ascendent culture.

    I see also you are one of those demented MKULTRA conspiracy theorists. No further comment necessary. A self-parody.

    “LONG LIVE THOSE LIKE TOOKIE, TUPAC, BIGGIE, MUMIA!!!” Yes, brilliant. Let’s populate the globe with murderers and half=assed rappers who do little but whine about their oppression while swimming in bling and ho’s.

    You are a carbuncle on the face of humanity. Hopefully one day you’ll wake up from your self-imposed idiocy and poseur affectations. Until then, I hope you get your wish and you get to spend a few days trapped on an island with a hundred people exactly like Tookie Williams. Oh what joy that will be.

  28. 28Banksy on Nov 9, 2009 at 11:50 am:

    You know from what I’ve seen living on the streets with these crazy violent repeat offenders. What I have learned is that they often have more heart than a bunch of book addicted cerebral rationalizations. ‘Whom bomb’, you ever read it? Well anyways, that is what your heartless brain reads like as it is spewed free of your fingers. What you seem to read like is a prodigal epileptic tap dancer – tis true. You nazi milk shake. Generation after generation of a family being kept warm deep in the folds of a library. And all that it has produced is one child that has never lived in a shelter with those s/he would so easily condemn with those such as the evil success stories such as Noam Chomsky. Please, you are nothing but a narcissist kid. Transparent! Go eat a twinky then hold your breath indefinately.

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