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9/22/11

I Am Troy Davis

I must admit, I had never heard the name Troy Davis before a week ago. Which is a shame, as he & his family have literally been fighting for his life for over 20 years. Last night, on September 21st (World Peace Day) at 11:08pm, EST, Troy Davis was killed by the state of Georgia after a 4 hour delay and 4 previous stays of execution. I had never heard his name before a week ago but now Troy Davis is forever burnt into the collective subconsciousness of the world.


I don't have enough information to claim that he was an innocent man. At 19 years old, Troy Davis was accused of shooting and killing Mark MacPhail on August 19, 1989 when he came to the aid of a homeless that was being assaulted. Details of the night are sketchy at best, as is evidence that points to Davis. In the original trial, there were 9 eye witnesses, but over time, 7 of them have recanted and some claimed to have been coerced into their previous statements. There murder weapon was never recovered. Perhaps Troy Davis was at the scene, assaulting a man. He may have done a whole host of terrible things that night. Who knows? But did he murder Mark MacPhail? Sadly, no one knows that either. But that overwhelming doubt didn't stop the state of Georgia from ending his life.

There had been 4 separate death warrants signed, 4 stays of execution, yet appeal after appeal was rejected. What's going on here? Last night, the Davis family, and the whole world who was watching, waiting for 4 agonizing hours to hear of his fate. The execution was originally scheduled for 7pm. Supporters saw the delay as a good sign - the state supreme court was looking over the facts. They were doubting, they were scrutinizing. Though apparently, something convinced them that the only obvious choice was the end a man's life. That night. It had to be done.
On the other side of the coin, that same night, another man was killed by his state. But it wasn't a man that anyone wanted to hold a candle for. At 6pm, CT in Texas, Lawrence Brewer was executed by the state for the slaying of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, in 1998. The hate crime was infamous for its brutality - Byrd was dragged from the back of a pick-up truck, sadly alive for the majority of the ordeal. Brewer's guilt was unwavering, and admitted. He refused a final statement. However, Byrd's son, Ross had protested this punishment, stating “You can’t fight murder with murder. Life in prison would have been fine. I know he can’t hurt my daddy anymore. I wish the state would take in mind that this isn’t what we want.”

Most people aren't sad to see a white supremacist die. In fact, most would likely celebrate. It's so easy to support Troy Davis, presumed innocent by the public, and condemn Lawrence Brewer, a man we'd all rather do without. The irony is that many people see Davis's conviction as overtly racist, whereas Brewer's crime clearly was. There several major concerns with this entire situation

  • We can't say for sure, one way or another if Davis is innocent. I'm not about to claim that he is. The point is that we don't know, and that lingering uncertainty should sit in the stomach of all Americans like a hunk of coal. The phrase "I am Troy Davis" is not just a unifying cry (albeit and effective one), but a reminder. If his case really did come down to mistaken identity...how many of us resemble someone else? How easily could the same thing happen to any one of us? The terrifying answer is: All too easily.


  • Even in the face of clear, undeniable guilt, what good does killing do? Is the world safer without Brewer? Are the MacPhails sleeping better after the death of Davis? Will anything be solved or improved? Was anything accomplished? Or did the world suddenly seem a little darker, colder and crueler? All capital punishment does is carve our mistakes in stone. If we ever were to discover that Troy Davis was innocent, through the confession of someone else or some new science, what has been done, can not be undone. We have and will always now have legally murdered Troy Davis. You can say it was the state of Georgia, that it was our inaffective criminal justice system...but by proxy it was all of us. Even our president was too cowardly to say anything on the matter, regardless of the fact that he has no power over the state. America has killed another man. 

There is no middle ground with the death penalty. There is no grey. And, within a faulty system, innocent people die. Just think of how many innocent people are incarcerated, how many have been exonerated thanks to new forensic technologies. What if those people had been killed before we could discover the truth? (Actually, some have been) Many people can feel comfortable killing a guilty person, as if murdering a murderer satisfies the universe. But if the only way we could end the lives of 10 killers is by taking one with them who did nothing to deserve it...what kind of degenerate can be ok with that? Even those that are pro capital punishment must have a hard time. It's easy to have a stance when you're talking ideology, but if I show you a photo, a video...if you shake someone's hand and I tell you "This man! This man here who is flesh and blood and love and hate and air and life. This man is who we are killing today. And his name is Troy." - how can you still feel the same?

I would like you to meet a friend of mine. His name is Troy Davis and we are going to kill him tonight.

Regardless of guilt or innocence in the eye of the courts, who are we to say who should live and who should die? It's fair to say we live in a country that has certain rules and if you break them you should be punished. Ok, fine. If punishment means being removed from the rest of society and having certain privileges revoked, that sounds like a fair price to pay. You broke the rules of society, now you are removed from it. But we are looking to remove criminals from life. Not society, but the mortal plan. Why should anyone have that right? - And yet we gave it to ourselves.

The death penalty is archaic and deranged. We are a country of progress, of change, of reason. We admire the bold and daring as well as the gentle and thoughtful. Yet the whole world was watching while we killed 2 men in the same evening. Please don't let this be the face of the United States, or of the human race. Please remind the world that we are more than this, that we are better than this. Let's please not make this mistake again.

Please take a moment to sign this pledge with Amnesty International.

Of course, I can't help but be reminded of this song:














the big day has come
the bell is sounding
i run my hands through my hair one last time
outside the prison walls 
the town is gathering
people are trading crime for crime

everyone needs to see the prisoner
they need to make it even easier
they see me as a symbol, and not a human being
that way they can kill me
say it's not murder, it's a metaphor
we are killing off our own failure 
and starting clean

standing in the gallows
everyone turned my way
i hear a voice ask me 
if i've got any last words to say
and i'm looking out over the field of familiar eyes
somewhere in a woman's arms a baby cries

i think guilt and innocence 
they are a matter of degree
what might be justice to you 
might not be justice to me
i went too far, i'm sorry
i guess now i'm going home
so let any amongst you cast the first stone
now we've got all these complicated machines
so no one person ever has to have blood on their hands
we've got complex organizations
and if everyone just does their job
no one person has to understand

you might be the wrong color
you might be too poor
justice isn't something just anyone can afford
you might not pull the trigger 
you might be out in the car
and you might get a lethal injection
'cause we take a metaphor that far

the big day has come
the bell is sounding
i run my hands through my hair one last time
outside the prison walls 
the town has gathered
people are trading crime for crime
people are trading crime for crime
people are still trading crime for crime




I had never heard his name before a week ago but now Troy Davis is forever burnt into the collective subconsciousness of the world.



Read more: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2007/02/expandable-post-summaries.html#ixzz1Ygp5vxLJ
      

1 comment:

Sociable