ANNAPOLIS – Thirty-eight states have capital punishment, and Randall Sinner, 48, plans to visit the capitals of every one to raise awareness about the issue through his art.
This week, Sinner, a recent graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, sat outside the State House in Annapolis ripping apart Maryland’s flag and using the shreds to create a 50-foot rope, resembling a noose used in state hangings until 1955.
After making the rope, Sinner sewed the leftover shreds onto a strip of material to create what he called “a new Maryland.”
Sinner won’t say whether he’s for or against the death penalty. Instead, he wants people to examine his work, think about the issue and decide on their own.
“It’s part of the whole gig to play the ambiguity card,” said Sinner.
This frustrated some who stopped to talk to Sinner.
He wouldn’t give his opinion and he didn’t seem to know much about capital punishment, said Colin Macree, a State House contractor from Glen Burnie.
“I walked away thinking he was odd,” he said.
Macree wasn’t the only one.
Dave Wood, a printer from Davidsonville, said he didn’t think Sinner spread his message effectively. Many people talked to him and walked away without any idea of what he was doing there, he added.
“I think that’s kind of a screwball way to protest,” said Wood.
Overall, Sinner said he wasn’t as well received in Maryland as he had been in other states.
For two days several people passed his card table, which was draped in an American flag, but didn’t stop to ask what he was doing.
Sinner said people’s reluctance to approach him might have been related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or the cold weather.
Nonetheless, Sinner said it’s important for him to get his work out of the gallery and bring some attention to capital punishment.
Maryland was the eighth stop in a tour he anticipates will take four years to complete. He began in Oregon in June 2001.
Eventually, Sinner would like to make one rope for each of the 683 people executed nationwide since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty.
“To me that’s a memorial,” said Sinner, who estimates the project would cost $30,000.
Maryland has executed three men by lethal injection since 1976, the last in 1998.
During the last Maryland General Assembly session, a Senate bill placing a two-year moratorium on executions failed. The bill sought to halt executions until a University of Maryland study on racial, ethnic and economic bias was completed.
However, state executions have effectively been halted since April while the Court of Appeals entertains cases from four inmates on death row questioning the constitutionality of Maryland’s death penalty. The Legislature may have to enact a new statute depending on the outcome of these cases.
More than likely, another death penalty moratorium bill will be introduced in either the House or the Senate in the upcoming session, said Sen. Ralph Hughes, D-Baltimore.
– 30 – CNS 11-09-01