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September 25, 2011

8

I am Troy Davis

by Andrea O'Connell

I am struggling with the murder of Troy Davis by the state of Georgia.

“I am Troy Davis,” cried the throngs of supporters who battled to turn his death sentence around.  Indeed, we are all Troy Davis – we could be charged with something in the blink of an eye simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For a black American male, the reality of “I am Troy Davis” is quadrupled.   Black men have been stopped by police because they drive a nice car.  Sadly referred to in South Florida as, “Driving while Black.”   The stereotypical scenario that an expensive car and a black man, in some areas, is a red flag.  The first suspicion?  The car was stolen.

How can a racist nation; a nation that murders people, be thought of as civilized?  It can’t.

It seems the criminal  justice systems of the deep south have three versions of criminal law – separated by the classes.   The very poor black man is guilty until proven innocent; the same is nearly true in the sluggish criminal justice system for the middle class; and there’s the rich person’s justice where fat-cats play and money is made via pay offs.

As an idealist, I am loathe to see this divide.   But when a white man is given clemency by the Georgia Parole Board the very next night as Troy Davis’ murder, there is clearly something wrong!  Read the Reuters story about Samuel David Crowe’s clemency. 

We know the original United States Constitution denied black persons the same rights as white persons.  That sacred set of rules by which we live was originally littered with racism.   There is no denying that America, at one time, judged people by the color of their skin.  Throughout history white persons were afforded privileges well above and beyond the meager allowances of black citizens.

I remember, as a little girl growing up in South Florida, there were “colored” beaches, and beaches for everyone else.  My mother has told me for years that as a child I wanted to drink from the “colored” water fountain because I thought it would be colored water, like fruit punch.  I thought “colored” people were made of primary colors.  I suppose I associated it with my colored crayons.

Fortunately, I had an advantage over other kids my age.  My father was a teacher in a black school, in the sixties, and I grew up knowing his students, and fellow teachers.  He and my mom made sure I went to segregated schools.  I never knew how racist the United States really was until I entered college.   Well, I knew about slavery before college, but had a difficult time believing it until the television mini-series “Roots,” aired and I learned how I saw the world and how it really was, were very divergent.

I wasn’t a very good student in high-school; I only cared about singing, dancing and acting.  What was on my mind back then was practicing how to write my signature when people wanted my autograph, coming up with different stage names, creating scenarios for when I met Barbra Streisand and what I’d talk to her about.  (I had pages and pages of things to talk to her about – and I’d practice the conversations, too.)    She was my obsession and I was so sure I was going to meet her as soon as I was famous.

Sorry, I was talking about Troy Davis.

I don’t know that Troy Davis was innocent.  I don’t know enough about the crime itself (yet) to really pass judgement on “innocence” though many people are making that leap of faith.  What is bothersome to me is all the doubt that people are saying existed in this case.

The murder weapon was never found and seven of the “eye” witnesses recanted their testimony.  There was no DNA, Troy Davis has denied being the trigger-man, and is insisting he is innocent.   (A lot of criminals go to their grave denying they committed the crime – look at Casey Anthony.)   Just because a defendant maintains their innocence means nothing in the big picture – criminals will lie.

In the Troy Davis case, because enough doubt has been raised over the years should have at least raised the white flag of surrender to clemency for Davis, don’t you think?

The fact that Georgia and the Supreme Court did not err on the side of life for Troy Davis makes a statement.  The statement, in my estimation, is one that informs us that Georgia is callous as it concerns race relations.   I was sure the Georgia Politicians would be sensitive about race, and therefore do the right thing – so as to not suffer the consequences of political suicide.   The fact that Georgia lawmakers and politicians did not take a stand on this issue is alarming.

The politicians must believe that the populace prefers a lynching rather than what Spike Lee called, “Doing the Right Thing.”

The cartoon by Chan Lowe was published September 23, 2011, by the Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune Company.

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sep 26 2011

    The murder weapon was never found … There was no DNA, Troy Davis has denied being the trigger-man, and is insisting he is innocent.
    This was 20 years ago-he should never have been given the DP in the first place despite the eyewitnesses. The evidence did not back them up. I do believe that the justice system gets careless where blacks and poor people are concerned more times than not.

    In the Troy Davis case, because enough doubt has been raised over the years should have at least raised the white flag of surrender to clemency for Davis, don’t you think?

    Yeah… 😦

    Reply
    • Sep 27 2011

      Absolutely, Sherry dear. Ditto to that…

      Reply
  2. colleen
    Sep 26 2011

    When I first joined Amnesty International, someone asked me why I had joined. I explained I had joined to fight against the death penalty. The director said no one in their chapter wanted to handle the death penalty cases, so I volunteered. Now I know why people didn’t want to handle these cases. It is very tough emotionally.

    Reply
    • Sep 27 2011

      Colleen,
      Bravo to you for being active in Amnesty International! What a wonderful way to give back in such a positive and forward thinking way! I can’t decide if I want to become active in the NAACP, or the Anti Defamation League, Amnesty International, or the ACLU….Well, if there were more than 24 hours in a day, maybe I could participate in all of them. They always need funding, too…. if all else fails, that’s the best way for me to help…..:)

      Reply
  3. Sep 26 2011

    Our Criminal Justice system is not the best in the World, it is flawed, just like the People who enforce it.
    Our Criminal System needs to be thoroughly looked at and Changes need to be made as needed.
    I believe Injustice has been done in the Troy Davis Case.
    There were too many Doubts to warrant the DP, contrary to the Anthony Case. There was enough Evidence for her to be convicted on any of the major Charges.
    Injustice has been done in both Cases.
    I believe like in the Anthony Case if the Defense can just make up a story which has nothing to do with the Truth and smear some ones Character because of it, just to establish reasonable doubt, something is very wrong!

    Reply
    • dee
      Sep 27 2011

      I agree.

      Reply
    • Sep 27 2011

      Hello dearest Hilde! Your comments are on the money, but I do think our system of justice is the best in the world. However, like you say, the people who enforce the rule of law cannot always be trusted to make just decisions, especially as it concerns race relations.
      The defense should not be allowed to lie outright – they take an oath to always follow the law, which means they must be honest. Obviously, there are bad apple lawyers as we witnessed in the Casey Anthony case. That the criminal justice system was put in such a bad light as a result of the Anthony case, is incredibly disheartening. The case was an aberration, that’s for sure. .

      Reply
  4. Sep 27 2011

    I may be changing my mind on the Death Penalty…
    It matters greatly to me that i please God in the matter of His Word and He established the severe penalty in Genesis 9:6 due to the sanctity of life He wanted respected. One of my online Bible teachers has this to say:

    In Genesis 9:5-6 the concept of capital punishment was introduced. But I don’t believe it was ever intended for a godless government to administer it. Originally it was the victim’s next of kin who exacted the penalty with an an appeal process to prevent abuse.

    Georgia showed themselves God-less when they executed Troy Davis. Plus, our nation is not a theocracy even though its laws are premised on Judeo-Christian principles. The door is opened to all beliefs in government offices. The more God-less our nation becomes as a people the less we can trust the sanctity of the human life in the hands of the government who interprets the laws garanteeing certain inalienable rights given by the Creator.

    Today in the US, whether a person accused of a capital crime is executed or not depends more on his wealth than his guilt or innocence. An innocent poor person is much more likely to be executed than a wealthy guilty one.

    http://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/question-on-capital-punishment/

    Just wanted you to be the first to know, Andrea, since you got me to look further into it in a way. It just happened that i received this in my mailing tonight. With Troy Davis’ execution, it shook me to the core-our nation showed itself irresponsible once again. There’s no equity at all. Sorry for the long post~

    Reply

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