Mid-Missouri group uses Grim Reaper to protest the death penalty

Jun 17, 2014

Controversy continues to surround the death penalty around the nation since a botched execution in Oklahoma in April.

The state of Missouri is the latest to attempt to execute an inmate, which caused an unorthodox protest at the Missouri State Capitol Monday.

The Mid Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation staged a protest that featured a man dressed as the grim reaper. The group visited the offices of the governor, attorney general and the Missouri Supreme Court. The protesters presented spokespeople for the governor and attorney general with mock awards for enforcing the death penalty.

The protestors called the demonstration “street theater” to bring awareness to the upcoming execution of John Winfield. Winfield is convicted of killing two women and severely injuring another in St. Louis County in 1996.

Organizer of the protest Jeff Stack thinks Winfield should not be executed because he can still have a positive impact on society.

“Let him stay in prison the rest of his life if that’s the will of the people,” Stack said. “He can continue to give while in prison. You know he’s maybe influenced many other people from committing crimes.”

Winfield’s execution would be Missouri’s 75th execution since 1989, when the state conducted its first lethal injection. Activist Ruth Schaefer is opposed to the death penalty.

“His life should be spared because it’s a life,” Schaefer said. “We cannot correct two wrongs with another wrong, it won’t help anyone for him to die.”

A federal judge granted a stay of the execution last week, because the state may have tampered with a clemency bid from the laundry director at the prison where Winfield is housed. The state launched an investigation into the laundry director and why he was willing to write a testimony saying Winfield is a changed man. Both the attorney general’s office and the governor’s office refused to comment on the story.