100 signatures reached
To: District Attorney Jason Williams/ Gov. John Bel Edwards
EXONERATE AUGUST "GERTTOWN" WILLIAMS
Fully exonerate August Williams of the crime of rape that he was charged for at the of 15 years old.
In January of 1968, during Jim and Jane Crow South, a 15-year-old Black child, August Williams, was arrested for a crime he was nowhere in the vicinity of. A few months later, although there was concrete evidence of his innocence given by 2 medical doctors that was dismissed, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to the electric chair by an all-white adult jury.
In 1972, Furman v. Georgia instituted a moratorium across the United States on juvenile executions, sparing August's life, but giving him a mandatory adult life sentence which was unconstitutional because he 1) didn't get another trial as a now adult and 2) was initially convicted as a juvenile and not an adult.
So from 1973 until October of 2018, August Williams spent his time in Angola Penitentiary for a crime he didn't commit and because the system failed him again.
In that time he would lose his mother, who would visit him faithfully, four older siblings, and a host of nephews and nieces, including some to the penal system.
Current District Attorney Jason Williams was so impressed by Mr. Williams' knowledge and vigor to fight against the ills of the penal system that they engaged in conversation and when he learned Mr. Williams' story, looked him in his eyes and promised to prioritize his case immediately only to go back on his word which is unfortunate.
Why is this important?
There are people coming home in Louisiana now because of the Unanimous Jury Law that was passed in 2020 but because it wasn't retroactive, alot of people aren't coming home, unfortunately, unless they fall under Orleans Parish and that's because of the new District Attorney, thankfully. But even that's taking it's "precious picks and chooses" time.
Then there are those who are being told to complete 930.10s but even that's a waiting game. Then there's the truly heartbreaking, yet about-time situation of the 10/6 lifers (who are now elders) that would've gotten the death penalty during Jim and Jane Crow South had they not pleaded guilty and agreed to the terms of 10 years and 6 months, only to be lied to and forgotten; literally left for dead. They are recently being released, some having been there for over 50 years.
But what about Gerttown? He was there during that time? He didn't cop to a plea because, as he says, "my daddy told me don't ever admit to something that you didn't do. So I didn't." Even at 15 years old he stood in his conviction. At 16 years old when they offered him a plea he said no because he didn't do it. What about his Freedom? What about his story?
Mr. Williams is an elder, nearly 73 years old, on a fixed income. He lives with family because he can't afford to live alone. Yet he's not looking for a handout. Only an opportunity to share his story, set the record straight, clear his name, secure his FREEDOM, and receive his just due. He's owed that much after 50 years.
He can't get his parents back. He can't get his siblings back. The child he lost. He can't get back all of those birthdays. He can't get back those 50 years and there isn't an amount of money that can account for the 50 years they took from him or the ones they continue to take from him having him on parole for the rest of his life, however, he is owed reparations so we can have peace of mind.
Not one time did he ask DA Jason Williams for anything. Not even his FREEDOM. Jason offered. Jason promised. Gerttown never reached out. We did after a year. And Jason said he couldn't do it.
In the words of Chairman Fred Hampton Sr. of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party, "Everything Is Political." So that couldn't only means that he's refusing to and we want to know WHY.
He is extremely witty and knowledgeable and has a story to tell. His stories outlive the Angolite because he was there prior to it. He knows Angola prior to the Burl Cain's. His story is the story that you hear others tell.
He is revered in his truth and testimony and still as an elder, he stands convicted in his innocence and we ask you to stand with him.
How it will be delivered
We would like for Color of Change to stand with us publicly in ensuring that the sitting governor gets this petition immediately before he leaves office as this is a gubernatorial election year. We plan to send it by certified mail to the Governor of Louisiana's office.
We also plan to send it by certified mail as well as walk it into the New Orleans District Attorney's office for review.
Once delivered, we will schedule a press conference to take place toward the end of that same week.