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Lawmakers inside the Oklahoma state Capitol building began their morning with the faint sound of beating drums and an Indigenous voice permeating through the air outside their offices.
A group of Oklahomans led what appeared to be an Indigenous prayer song around 7 a.m. on Tuesday outside the state Capitol building, as Governor Kevin Stitt remains two days away from killing death row detainee Julius Jones.
Maintaining his innocence for more than two decades over the 1999 murder of Edmond Businessman Paul Howell, Jones has received two recommendations for a commuted sentence to life with the possibility of parole from the state’s own Pardon and Parole Board.
Gov. Stitt remains silent on fate of Julius Jones as people head to Capitol building
Nevertheless, Governor Stitt, has remained silent. Now, the state approaches 48 hours before the scheduled execution on Thursday, November 18.
On Monday, Madeline Davis-Jones delivered a letter to the Office of the Governor with the support of Oklahoma’s Legislative Black Caucus. After waiting three hours to speak with the governor, an aid for the governor came out instead, telling the Davis-Jones there would be no meeting.
“We often hear that Julius’ death sentence is about ‘justice’ or ‘closure’. This cannot be true, however, because we know Mr. Howell’s real killer is still out there,” Davis-Jones wrote in her letter to Gov. Stitt. “Nothing is ‘just’ about executing our boy. His death will not provide closure or healing. Only the truth can do that.”
With the world watching, including the more than 6 million people around the nation who’ve signed a petition in support of Jones, supporters are calling for people to calmly and respectfully head to the Capitol from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to lobby legislators to support clemency for Julius Jones.
Julius Jones sends letter to children’s class
Brandon Kirkpatrick and his daughter received a letter from Julius Jones. In a live interview with The Black Wall Street Times reporter Nate Morris on Tuesday, Kirkpatrick said his daughter’s church organized a letter writing campaign to Julius Jones, and he responded.
“And there’s not just like four or five letters there’s probably 30 or more letters that are in here, Kirkpatrick said, standing outside the Governor’s office. “He spent time individually to reach out to those kids. And it wasn’t just like ‘hey, thanks for writing me.’ He was detailed with it and really tried to impact their lives. Because this is exactly who Julius is.”
Despite the state’s top prosecutors spending months attempting to obstruct his fair legal proceedings at the Pardon and Parole Board, Julius Jones used his last moments addressing the board to express his prayers to the Howell family and hope of becoming a mentor to at-risk youth.
“I pray for the opportunity to continue doing this as a contributing member of society and hopefully someday as a free man. Thank you to this Pardon and Parole Board. Thank you to all the people who have taken the time to fully listen to my story. It’s all those near and far who have supported me over the years. And my sincerest prayers are with the Howell family, always.” Jones said on November 1, 2021, after the Board voted 3-1 for a clemency recommendation.
Supporters: “Go to state Capitol, call your legislator”
Meanwhile, as people from around the state and nation gather at the state Capitol building, Oklahoma’s newly appointed head of the state National Guard assured Julius Jones supporters that their right to peacefully assemble would be respected.
In the hallway outside the Office of the Governor, Adjutant General Thomas H. Mancino reminded those gathered that “peaceful protest is a constitutional right” and “that right would be protected.”
For those who can’t physically make it to the Capitol, supporters are asking people to contact their legislators. To find your legislator, click here.
(TheBWSTimes reporter Nate Morris contributed to this report.)