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Julius Jones clemency hearing: Justice for Julius supporters rally at prayer vigil as hearing begins

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Roughly 200 demonstrators marched in Oklahoma City on the morning of Nov. 1 as Julius Jones' clemency hearing began.

Supporters of Julius Jones, a former OU student and death row inmate, led a rally and prayer vigil ahead of his clemency hearing Monday morning. 

Around 200 participants marched from Tabernacle Baptist Church to Evangelistic Baptist Church of Christ, a church directly across from the Hillside Community Corrections Center where the clemency hearing is being held. During the march, participants were led in chants by community leaders. The chants included "No justice, no peace" and "Free Julius Jones." The crowd was energized despite cold windy weather and threats of rain. Many supporters carried signs that read, “I oppose the death penalty, don’t kill for me!” and “What if we got it wrong?”

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board commuted Jones's sentence on Sept 13, but Gov. Kevin Stitt decided to delay his decision on the commutation until after a clemency hearing could be held. Jones has been on death row since 2002 for the murder of Paul Howell in 1999, and he was the first death row inmate to receive a commutation from the board.

The prayer vigil began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 8:30 a.m. The Rev. Cece Jones-Davis, the  Justice for Julius campaign director and creator of a petition with over 6 million signatures for Jones' innocence, spoke on the difficulties of running a campaign like Jones' in Oklahoma. 

"It is hard to change people's thoughts or ideas or opinions in particular places, and my experience is that Oklahoma happens to be one of those places," Jones-Davis said. "The people are good; we just need to have more information. The people are good; we just need to have better education." 

Jones-Davis thanked those in attendance for being present and willing to listen and learn about Jones' life and his trial. 

"It's knowing that something went terribly wrong in the state of Oklahoma 22 years ago. And we have an opportunity — not just an opportunity, but a responsibility — to change it," Jones-Davis said. "We can't fix that it happened, but we can do the right thing right now." 

Pastor Larry T. Crudup, a Justice for Julius campaign prayer leader, led the vigil participants in prayer before the march began.  

"It does not take much to take down a system," Crudup said. "(Only) the willingness to stand in front of it and say ‘No more.’" 

Crudup related the struggle of the campaign and Jones himself to David and Goliath. 

"So each one of you today are David, and remember, we're fighting against Goliath, but Goliath does fall," Crudup said. "Remember, we've got our stones with us; justice, truth and tenacity, use them all if you have too." 

Jones' clemency hearing began 9 a.m. Monday, and it is unknown when the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board will reach a final decision. Both the Jones and Howell family will be given opportunities to speak today.

junior news reporter

Mikaela DeLeon is a journalism junior and junior news reporter at The Daily.

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