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Manny Babbitt (NightReport No. 4 - 05.05.1999)

Vor genau 10 Jahren war ich für ein Praktikum an der Stanford University bei Stephen LaBerge. Während der vier Monate verbrachte ich einige Nächte im Schlaflabor. Um mir die Zeit zu vertreiben, habe ich ab und an einen NightReport verfasst und an alle geschickt, die in meinem E-Mail-Verteiler waren. Nun will ich das 10-jährige Jubiläum nutzen, um die alten Reports in meinem Blog erneut zu veröffentlichen. Hier nun der vierte NightReport:


……Yesterday was a wonderful night to die….

Yesterday I had a somehow different night shift. I was standing in front of the gates of the San Quentin State Prison, California. I was not alone about one hundred people have been there. They all waited for a miracle.

Death penalty, execution, death row… expressions I only knew from TV or cinema. “Dead Man Walking”… I didn’t know that almost every week a man is walking to his immortality. I didn’t know that women are walking too. I didn’t know that the majority of the states still have death penalty. I didn’t know that sometimes there isn’t any justice and that there are people on death row because they couldn’t afford a good layer. Probably I did know, but I never was that close.

In the beginning I felt like in a boring movie. Everything seemed artificial. The cops, who guarded the prison gate. The people praying, talking, screaming, and singing for someone I don’t even know. The TV teams on the little roof. It was a kind of festival without candies and popcorn. But when the time went by there was no doubt: Somebody will die tonight.

And when there where only five minutes to go and the crowd calmed down and there was nothing left then silence - I couldn’t believe how wrong this felt. Finally they donated him another half an hour… for a last review of the file Babbitt in Washington.

Then silence again and I sent this man my prayers, they were clear in my mind even I never memorized them. I send them up to the heaven to a place with an entity I never believed in. I could fell the warm salt water flowing down my cheek. I could see his spirit rising up the prison, maybe it was the glitter of a TV camera. I saw his ghost dancing on the sea, dancing hand in hand with the moonlight. Free and happy, sad and beautiful. He waved me and wished me luck for the rest of my life. He faded away under the sky and dived into the night to a place somewhere we all have to go, sooner or later, naturally or per purpose, murdered.

He killed, we made him to kill, they made him to kill, now they killed him. “First he killed for his country, now his country kills him”, one of the signs said. I heard the people talking who were close to him. I heard them telling tales from a man: healthy, friendly, aware…

There is no doubt of his crime, but is there only revenge on the other side? I was an observer, a witness of this wonderful night. Not more, not less… and this thoughts from my little different night shift that last night….

….. that wonderful night to die…

….. that wonderful night to be alive…

Newspaper article from the San Francisco Chronicle 05/06/1999
“Vietnam Vet Babbitt Executed: Ex-Marine dies at San Quentin …”

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