TRENTON TO TEXAS
Posted on Mon, Mar 31, 2008
Ex-con rapper walks from Trenton to Texas to protest capital punishment
By SULAIMAN ABDUR-RAHMAN, Staff Writer
TRENTON — How far would you go to protest against the death penalty? For Andre Latallade, he’ll walk 1,700 miles to advocate abolishing capital punishment. Latallade, a Newark native who raps under the stage name Capital-“X,” will start his “Walk 4 Life” journey about 5:30 this morning at the statehouse.
Over 54 days, Latallade will head south toward the nation’s capital then cut westward until he ends up at the governor’s mansion in Austin, Texas — the highest executing state in America.
“Being an ex-prisoner and being an ex-prisoner that changed,” Latallade said last week, “I just believe that prisoners can change. I think that we are incredible beings, and I think we should focus more on trying to preserve life instead of taking it away.”
Latallade served two stints in the slammer, the first time on drug charges and the second for resisting arrest. He said being in prison “is no joke” and that life imprisonment without parole is a sufficient replacement for the death penalty.
“Just being taken away from your existence, from your family, it’s just really tough,” Latallade said. “When you walk by and you see the prisoners playing checkers it looks like, ‘Oh, that’s nothing. They’re coddling the prisoners.’ But it’s an inner torment that these guys ain’t gonna show you out in the open.”
As Capital-“X,” Latallade kicks rhymes advocating changes to the American criminal justice system. He’ll be joined by an entourage that includes a diverse group of people. “I have families of murder victims walking with me also,” he said.
Latallade has researched capital punishment extensively over the years, even visiting several of the 27 European Union nations — the EU bloc has long prohibited capital punishment.
“I made numerous trips to Italy, Germany, Austria,” he said. “I went into the prisons there. They value life so much over there, and their communities are so much closer.”
Latallade said it’s unacceptable for the United States to have capital punishment on the books when most advanced democracies have already abolished it. “All of these other countries have abolished the death penalty, and they do just fine,” Latallade said. Latallade will travel through roadways in 10 states during his 54-day walking journey. There could be some delays, he admitted, but he said he hopes to make it to Austin, Texas, before the U.S. Supreme Court makes its ruling on the constitutionality of lethal injection.
“I just want to kind of do my part to stop the killing,” the prison rights activist said. “I want to let people know that these are human beings in there.”
Go to www.myspace.com/capitalxaka305375 for updates on Latallade’s anti-death-penalty walking tour and to listen to his music.