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17 years after last NC execution, groups seeking to end to

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been 17 years since North Carolina’s last execution.

Samuel Flippen, who was killed by lethal injection, died on August 18, 2006.

On Saturday, a large crowd gathered at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh to commemorate the anniversary of Flippen’s death and remember each of the 43 people who have died under North Carolina’s death penalty since 1984.

“These are people who lived extremely tragic lives… And they’ve never really been remembered in any way,” said Kristin Collins who is the director of public information with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. “We’re here today to show that even though we haven’t executed anyone in a long time, those executions did and still do cause a lot of harm in our state.”

Members of N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty who helped organize Saturday’s gathering, said North Carolina has the fifth largest death row in the nation at 137 people.

Organizers said they hope Gov. Roy Cooper can ensure that no more executions are carried out.

“We’re asking Governor Cooper to help because he’s he has power to take those people off of death row and commute their sentences to prison terms,” Collins said. “The death penalty is not an appropriate response to violence, carrying out more violence in response to violence…. There are many, many people in prison who committed murder. Less than 1 percent of people who commit murder get the death penalty.”

After taking a moment to name and remember the 43 executed prisoners with a brief eulogy, families marched to Central Prison with signs in hand.

Among that crowd was André Smith, who has worked in prisons teaching anger management and meditation. He said he became more committed to the cause when his son was murdered in 2007.

Smith’s son, Daniel, was 20 years old when he was stabbed and killed at a Raleigh nightclub.

“Ever since then, it’s really become very important for me to do whatever I can to end violence,” said Smith.

After facing something so tragic, Smith said it was important to forgive the person who killed his son.

“I truly believe that the only way that we’re going to heal is to be able to have forgiveness, be able to have compassion for even those people who have taken the lives of our loved ones.”

Smith added, “Without forgiveness or compassion, there can be no healing and there can be no closure.”

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