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20
Sep

Troy Davis – Denied Clemency

The unthinkable is going to occur tomorrow night unless something miraculous happens.  (I have trouble thinking about this without shaking inside.)

I got word that Troy Davis was denied clemency in the middle of teaching class.  I didn’t do a very good job of hiding my feelings when I saw the text message.  My class wanted to know what was going on.  I told them, and they all knew about the case, and all but one person was very upset.  One woman in my class told us that if we’d had someone in our family die a horrendous death, as she had, we’d feel differently about the death penalty.

I wanted to argue with her, but couldn’t – I didn’t want to diminish what she went through, certainly.   And I wanted to tell her that despite this, I would never ask that someone be murdered, but I didn’t.  I just listened and felt her incredible pain.  Her beautiful fourteen year old niece was raped by five animals (I cannot call them “men” they are animals),  and then shot to death.

In this case, twenty years ago, a white police officer, Officer Mark MacPhail, was killed – shot twice in the course of duty.  The Savannah Georgia authorities were frantic to hold someone responsible and placed the gun that was never found, in the hands of Troy Davis.

Save Troy Davis Image credit: NAACP

No physical evidence of any kind was found.  No DNA, no finger prints, soiled clothes, etc.  Nothing was found other than eye witnesses.

This case was solely about eye-witness accounts – the WORST evidence in a trial.  Why is it the worst?   Because people are people and they make mistakes.   People like you and me always want to be seen in the best light; we want to be as honest as we can, and we try our best to do the right thing.  That can be problematic when Police are under enormous pressure to close a case.

The police in the Casey Anthony case were, in my opinion, the best of the best.  But, not all police are on the side of finding the truth. And, some reports I have read indicated the police were not honest.

Police can get eye witnesses to agree to anything simply by how they position a photo lay-out, or how they use their body language to suggest one suspects picture over another.

Sadly, there have been stories of police misconduct – how they will use any trick in the book to nail a suspect.  They lie, they use coercion, or use suggestions to try to close the case.   But, it’s not only because of shady police involvement in what eye witnesses say, it’s also because we humans are fickle and our memory changes as time passes.   In this case, as many as seven people recanted, saying they were mistaken when they initially identified Troy Davis as the shooter.

I don’t know one way or another what the truth is in the Troy Davis case.   BUT, I have enough faith in the people involved in this case to believe that if this execution happens tomorrow, it will be an enormous travesty of justice.  The fact that many thousands of people across this country believe there is enough doubt that Troy Davis is responsible for the murder, could give the justice system more than a black eye, in the long run.

Is our justice system breaking or broken?  The Casey Anthony case is fresh in the minds of millions of Americans.  Clearly she had culpability in the murder of her daughter, but was found not guilty.  We like to say, “The jury system worked as it should in the Anthony case.”   But, that’s not true.  If it worked as it should, Casey would be held  responsible.

I have accepted the finding of the Anthony jury.  I don’t agree with it, but I accept it.  And, frankly, I would rather she be found not guilty than die by lethal injection.  I would rather the guilty go free than the innocent punished or killed.

If Troy Davis is murdered tomorrow night, at 7 pm, there will be consequences that the justice system will have to face.  People in this country, and all over the world, will view the United States as a barbaric nation.  A statement by Amnesty International says it best:

“It is unconscionable that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied relief to Troy Davis. Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice.” – Amnesty International in a statement Tuesday about Davis being denied clemency; he’s slated to be executed Wednesday.

I wanted to find a place to go and protest tonight; I want to protest tomorrow until time is up and it happens.

I don’t understand how can we kill someone when there is doubt about their involvement in the crime.  How can we murder our citizens and still call ourselves civilized?  How?  How did we become such an ugly nation of murderers?

I can’t find the words to fully express my sadness, anger and disappointment.

Doesn’t it say something about this case when The Innocence Project, the NAACP, the ACLU, Amnesty International, President Jimmy Carter, the former head of the FBI, William Sessions,  and all the other Human Rights groups are fighting for the life of Troy Davis?

The Justice system in Georgia should be fighting, too!  Fighting for life!  How can anyone be against abortion but for the death penalty?   For political reasons maybe?  Ah, and this is a political season, after all.   Politicians must be bold and appear courageous for their constituents when an election year is on the horizon.   “Tough on crime” is the battle cry.  What about tough on truth?

This is exactly why defense attorneys are so important.

Troy Davis will refuse his last meal tomorrow night.  In solidarity with him, those of us chilled to the bone will fast tomorrow. too.

I am wearing black.

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