Jan 1997 v.p. – DEATH PENALTY: Witness at the Condition of the State Address p. 4

Jan 1997 v.p. – DEATH PENALTY:  Witness at the Condition of the State Address p. 4


Cordaro, VP, Vol. 21, No. 1, 1997, Death Penalty, Witness at Condition of State Address

DEATH PENALTY:  Witness at the Condition of the State Address

Compiled by Frank Cordaro and Joanne Kennedy

Catholic Workers from Iowa draped a banner which read “Death Penalty Is Murder” over the spectator’s balcony at the State Capitol Building during Governor Terry Branstad’s State of the State Address on Tuesday, January 14, 1997.  When Governor Branstad mentioned his intentions to reinstate the death penalty, Frank Cordaro, Brian Terrell, Joanne Kennedy and Ed Bloomer silently stood up and unfurled the banner over the balcony railing.  The banner was exposed for the assembly to see for but a few seconds before two state troopers apprehended it.

One state trooper warned, “Let go of the banner or you’ll be arrested”.  They continued to hold the banner and reassured the officer that they intended no harm or injury to him.  Then, a second state trooper waded through the crowded seats and snatched the banner by grabbing the bottom half of the hand painted sheet.

At that point, Frank Cordaro liberated a handful of leaflets over the balcony railing.  The leaflets fluttered down to the main floor of the chamber, gently delivering their message onto the heads of press representatives and legislators.  He was quickly escorted out of the assembly and taken to the Polk County Jail.  Frank was booked on a misdemeanor charge of “Willful Disturbance” and bail was set at $650.  Norman Searah took out his Salvation Army Christmas bell-ringing earnings to cover the bulk of the bail amount as Frank had only anticipated a $150 bail.  Thank God for good friends!

The text of the “offending” leaflet is as follows:

The Death Penalty Is Murder

“We are here today to protest Governor Branstad’s intention to reestablish the Death Penalty in Iowa.  We believe it is never right to take a human life.  To this there are no exceptions.  We urge our Catholic Governor to truly be consistent in his defense of life.

Governor Branstad, stop using the death penalty as part of a political strategy designed for winning votes.  Truly be the Pro Life Governor you proclaim to be.  The death penalty is murder.”


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