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Jewish organization fighting to ban lethal gas as execution method

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BATON ROUGE - Members of Jews Against Gassing stood alongside Senator Katrina Jackson-Andrews on the Capitol steps Tuesday afternoon to protest a recently passed bill which legalized lethal gas as an execution method.

House Bill 6, authored by Representative Nicholas Muscarello and signed by Governor Jeff Landry, approved the use of lethal gas for death-row executions. The new precedent is set to begin in July.

Louisiana became the eighth state in the country to recognize lethal gas as an execution method. So far, the method has only been used once in the state of Alabama.

Jews Against Gassing members say this decision is a step in the wrong direction and reminds Jews of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. 

"We do not want our state to do something that we have such a gut-wrenching reaction about," group member Jacquelyn Stern said.

Jackson-Andrews introduced a bill on Tuesday that would overturn this decision. The bill passed and is set to be voted on next week.

"We all know that death by suffocation via gas is a trigger of trauma for Jews and those who are still living and dealing with what happened during the Holocaust. I was excited to join them in passing this bill to eliminate gas as a method of killing," Jackson-Andrews said.

Representatives from both sides of the argument were present at the rally but those in support of the gas-execution were in the minority. 

"Of course we recognize the gassing of innocent victims in the Holocaust is quite different from executing a convicted criminal, but for Jewish people and really anybody with a knowledge of the Holocaust the historical association with this execution method is chilling and undeniable. A visual response that invokes not justice... but genocide," Naomi Yavneh-Klos, a professor at Loyola, said.

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