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JASPER - Longtime civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory held a prayer vigil in Jasper Tuesday night in protest of Lawrence Brewer s execution, according to KFDM.com. Brewer was sentenced to death and is scheduled to die Wednesday for his role in the dragging death of James Byrd Junior in 1998.

Gregory, a strong opponent of capital punishment, will conduct an 18 hour fast and vigil at the Walls Unit in Huntsville.

When do the State qualify to kill somebody and the government qualify to kill somebody and it s all right ? said Gregrory. It s never all right to kill somebody intentionally. There are people who kill people. They are not the State. They are not the government. I don t pay taxes to them.

Gregory s visit to Jasper came on the eve of the scheduled execution of Brewer but also during a time when tensions are high over the selection of Jasper Police Chief Rodney Pearson.

A group known as the League of Concerned Citizens, who are mostly white, wants to recall three black city council members for hiring Chief Pearson. The group says there were more qualified candidates. Council members stand by their selection of Chief Pearson.

Gregory urged the citizens of Jasper to maintain peace.

We overcome odds bigger then this. We took on the mightiest nation in the world without guns and hatred in the greatness movement of planet Earth, our civil right movement, said Gregory.

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