Taken from Abolish blog.
Every year, for the past fifteen years, from June 29 – July 2nd, something amazing happens in Washington, DC. Abolitionists from around the country and world come together for a four day Fast and Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty.
They set-up shop on the sidewalk of the U.S. Supreme Court and put their ideals into action. And they lose some weight.
You might wonder why hold such an event during such a hot time of the year. And if you know DC in the summer, you know that it can be brutal. Do note that the fast is optional for participants and those who fast drink plenty of liquids.
Yup, summers in DC are high tourist season and the U.S. Supreme Court is a heavily trafficked spot for tourists and DC residents. So, it’s a fantastic opportunity to engage thousands of people on the death penalty. And since many of those who participate in The Fast and Vigil year after year have such powerful stories to tell – they are death row exonorees, family members of murder victims, family members of death row inmates and other long-time abolitionists – if a passerby takes the time to stop and have a conversation with someone, that will likely be one profound conversation and experience.
But why not hold court at the court in April or May, at the beginning of DC’s tourist season and when the weather is much more moderate?
The answer is that June 29th and July 2nd are the anniversaries of two historic death penalty cases heard and decided by the very Court where this protest now takes place – the U.S. Supreme Court.
On June 29, 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Furman v. Georgia that the death penalty is arbitrary and capricious. More than 600 condemned inmates had their death sentences reduced to life. On July 2, 1976, in Gregg v. Georgia the U.S. Supreme Court upheld new state death penalty laws allowing the resumption of executions in the United States.
For more information about the Fast and Vigil and to see a schedule for this year’s event, click here.