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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Charisse Coleman, Durham NC

Charisse Coleman’s older brother, Russell, was shot to death in 1995 during a robbery at the store where he worked in Shreveport, Louisiana. Russell’s killer is now on Death Row in Angola.

“I was against the death penalty before the murder, and nothing that happened has changed my opposition. Do I feel anger?Of course, anger and a never-ending sorrow. But my sorrow is not for Russell or myself or my family alone. It is for the upwardly spiraling frenzy of violence swirling all around us. How do we put an end to that? I just can’t justify executions when I believe they make that larger problem worse. At best, the State’s decision to kill in order to show that killing is wrong is a hypocritical, ineffective act. At worst, it inflames the very problems that led to violence in the first place. Who better than the State to say, ‘The killing stops here?'

Charisse is currently a writer and teacher living in Durham, North Carolina. She recently received a North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship to further her work on a book about the changes wrought by her brother’s murder.

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2001 North Carolina