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Linda Thurston (1958–2021), activist who worked to abolish the death penalty

by Linnea Crowther

Linda Thurston was an activist who served as the director of Amnesty International’s Program to Abolish the Death Penalty.

A vision of a more peaceful world

Thurston worked toward creating a more peaceful world as she tried to bring an end to war and the death penalty as well as advocating criminal justice reform and prison abolition. She was a leader at the War Resisters League, working toward the organization’s mission to “build a movement to end war and its root causes, including racism, sexism, and all other forms of human exploitation.” Thurston was Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s National Criminal Justice Program and co-founder of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal. She is remembered as a passionate activist who brought people together and inspired them to work toward justice.

Notable quote

“Some people who work on political prisoner cases have, in a general theoretical sense, the idea that prisons themselves are bad, but also that prisons are where bad folks are. If you stole something, you’re a thief. If you killed somebody, you’re a murderer. And that is what you are, that is who you are, and that is all you are. I really have a problem with that idea, maybe coming from my spirituality or maybe just my common-sense political analysis. Nobody is only one thing, and no one is only as bad as the worst thing they ever did. If that were true, we’d all be in big trouble because we’re all human. ” —from an interview with Matt Meyer for “Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of Documents from the Movements to Free U.S. Political Prisoners”

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Tributes to Linda Thurston

Full obituary: T. Carrillo Funeral Service

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