Stanley Tookie Williams, who helped to found the notorious Crips street gang, was executed by the state of California in 2005. His plea for clemency made him a national celebrity and turned his case into a talking point for discussions on the death penalty and race relations. Williams and fellow teen Raymond Washington helped found the Los Angeles street gang known as the Crips in the late 1960s. The Crips grew in power throughout the 1970s and became known as one of America's most violent street gangs. Williams was convicted and sentenced to death in 1981 for four murders committed during two separate robberies in 1979. His bad behavior in prison led to more than six years of solitary confinement, during which, Williams said, he realized the error of his ways and pledged to warn others about the perils of the gangster lifestyle. He wrote several books while in prison, including the Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence
book series for children, and a 2005 memoir, Blue Rage, Black Redemption
. After years of claiming prosecutorial misconduct and racial discrimination, he lost his final appeal for a new trial in October 2005 and was scheduled for execution in December. Desite the public protests of celebrities like Jesse Jackson
and movie star Jamie Foxx
, the courts rejected Williams's further appeals, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
refused to grant clemency. Williams was executed by lethal injection in San Quentin State Penitentiary shortly after midnight on 13 December 2005.