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Saturday, December 14, 2019
Marchers travel from Lawton Park to Freimann Square on Friday to Protest capital Punishment

Marchers Decry ‘Hatred of Death Penalty
Death Penalty Protest

By Suzette Hackney

Hoosiers need to realize death is not the answer – even for those who are convicted of violent rimes, Samuel Reese Sheppard believes.
He joined about 100 other marchers as the Journey of Hope swept through Fort Wayne on Friday. The event, sponsored by Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, was part of a 16-Day tour through the Midwest to protest the death penalty.
Sheppard is the son of Dr. Samuel H. Sheppard, who was convicted of the murder of his wife, Marilyn, in 1955.
Sheppard, now 46, said the pain he felt as a boy when his mother was murdered and his father was convicted is something he will never forget. Sheppard’s father was sentenced to execution (sic life in prison) in Ohio and spent more than nine years in a maximum-security prison before the U.S Supreme Court overturned the conviction. Samuel Sheppard died in 1970.
“I am here to change the stereotype that has been used wrongfully – there are many victims’ family members who are highly offended by the death penalty,” Sheppard said. “We are being forced to remember our loved ones through this violence and hatred.”
The group told of pain and suffering through song and chants as they marched along Clinton Street from Lawton Park to Freimann Square.
Passers-by stopped as the crowd yelled, “Hey, hey, ho, ho – the death penalty has got to go,” “Abolition: yes; death penalty: no,” and “One, two, three, four, what are we walking for: justice, abolition, freedom.”
Fort Wayne resident Blossie Williams said she joined the marchers to support their cause.
“If one person kills another person, is it going to help to turn around and kill that person?” Williams asked.
Participants stopped in front of the Allen Country Jail to reflect on the additions being made to the structure.
The Rev. Vernon Graham, one local organizer of the events, said the additions portray a negative image to the people of Fort Wayne.
“The jail for us is a graveyard of broken dreams.” Graham said. “There are better ways to bring reconciliation than the death penalty.
Graham is head of Associated Churches, a group of 97 congregations representing 18 denominations.