March 31, 2005 Friday night vigil spreads the word By Sarah Shemkus/ Special To The Advocate Hoping to add momentum to what some see as a national movement away from capital punishment, more than two dozen people gathered in Reading center Friday afternoon for an anti-death penalty vigil. "What we do in Massachusetts has reverberations more broadly," said Lisa Carusone, who traveled from Weston to participate in the demonstration. The event, which takes place annually on Good Friday, was organized by several activist groups including the Boston North Chapter of Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty, and Amnesty International. "It's an appropriate time to think about the death penalty-how its used and how state power is abused," explained Charlie Wilton of Woburn, the group's spokesperson. The death penalty has been in the national spotlight recently, with strong declarations against capital punishment coming from both the Supreme Court and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in the past month. On March 21, the bishops announced a renewed intention to fight the death penalty, and earlier in the month the Supreme Court found executing juvenile offenders to be unconstitutional. "Something that has galvanized us is the Supreme Court decision on the juvenile death penalty," said Carusone. "There's some momentum." Vigil participants surrounded the grass square at the intersection of Main, Woburn, and Lowell streets, displaying signs with such slogans as "Execute Justice, Not People," and "Don't Kill In My Name," to the rush hour traffic. "This is the first time I have my own sign," said Wilton's son Ethan, 6, who proudly held a yellow poster urging "No DP in MA." Many of the demonstrators remained largely silent throughout the 45-minute vigil, responding to the honks and waves of passing drivers with only a slight nod, in order, one participant explained, to show respect for the gravity of the issue. Though Massachusetts is currently one of only 12 states without capital punishment, Governor Mitt Romney has declared plans to introduce a bill reinstating the death penalty with regulations and safeguards that will make the system nearly infallible. The vigil participants, however, believe that an error-proof process is not sufficient. "It's impossible to have a perfect system," said Carusone. "There are ways to safeguard the public without resorting to the death penalty." The potential for new death penalty legislation makes it especially important to organize events like the vigil, said Wilton. "Our legislature is very likely going to be voting on it quite soon," said Wilton. "It's something people need to be aware of."