Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Innocence Project’

22
Sep

the death of justice

Troy Davis

Not the face of a murderer!

As you know, Troy Davis lost the battle against the Machine last evening.

I am mad, emotional and exhausted as a result of this terrible outcome.

It seemed certain the U.S. Supreme Court (the Supremes), would take more than four hours to consider the life of Troy Davis, human being.  But they didn’t.

When the Supremes granted the stay before 7:00 last evening, such a sense of euphoria collectively wafted around all of us standing sentinel.  The stay, however, was soon replaced with horror as barely four hours later, the Supremes rendered a devastating decision.

Our system of justice is not that at all.  It’s a system, yes, but where is the justice?  Why must we murder?  How is this civilized?  Why did the Supremes only consider Troy’s life for four hours?

I thought for sure the Supremes would do something.  It is understandable why President Obama could not get involved in this fight, it would be unprecedented and would smack of something akin to dictatorship had he stepped in.  Obama could not usurp the power of the State of Georgia.  I understand that.  What I do not understand is Georgia’s refusal to listen to their own son, President Jimmy Carter.

I am not sure if this issue was about politics, racism, or both.  In my gut I think it’s both.

The State of Georgia said the “excuses” made in defense of Troy Davis was smoke and mirrors.   I don’t want to believe the State of Georgia would lie outright….. but, something is very wrong when so many thousands of people stand up for justice only to have their pleadings fall on deaf ears.

Can all the thousands of citizens, judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officials, be under the influence of smoke and mirrors?

Clearly someone has it wrong.  I don’t have the answer, obviously.  Hopefully someone will offer a history of this case – I’d like a better understanding of the facts and of the purported smoke and mirrors.

The Color of Change

The email below is from the Color of Change organization.  I’ve included their website, too.

I hope you find some solace in their message.  I did.

I have a new sense of resolve about this issue.  It has to be our mission.   If a fight has to happen before change can happen, then I’m ready.

I don’t have any idea how change can happen, but a dialog must happen sooner rather than later.   People need to be educated about the issue of murdering human beings as retribution.

The best place to learn more about these issues is to visit and support organizations like The Color of Change, The NAACP, Amnesty International, The Innocence Project, and others.

The fight is over due. As a society we cannot continue to condone barbaric murders in the false name of justice.  No more.

Check out the Color of Change website for important messages:  http://www.colorofchange.org/

Dear Andrea,

At 11:08 pm Wednesday, the state of Georgia killed Troy Davis. Just before he was executed, Troy maintained his innocence, urged people to dig deeper into the case to find the truth, and said “For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls.” It’s a tragic day for Troy, for his family, and for equality, fairness, and justice.

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this. In this moment, and in the days and weeks before Troy’s execution, we’ve felt all kinds of things — anger, sadness, inspiration, hope and hopelessness. This is a time to mourn and remember Troy, to contemplate the profound loss we’re facing, to send love and support to Troy’s family and friends. It’s incredibly important to take the time to spiritually and emotionally care for Troy’s family and the amazing community that has arisen to support Troy — and it feels hard to muster the energy to do much more than that.

But before he died, Troy told us that this was about more than him — and he called on those of us who have fought against his execution to continue fighting for justice, even if we weren’t successful in saving his life. Now is also an important moment to take stock of what’s brought us to this point — the criminal justice system that allowed this to happen, and the movement we’ve built to fight for Troy and others facing injustice and oppression at the hands of that system.

Race, the criminal justice system, and the death penalty

At every stage of the criminal justice system, Black people and other minorities face inequality and discrimination. We all know about people who’ve been treated unfairly by police or by the courts. When the entire system treats Black people unequally, it means that the death penalty is applied unequally too. Troy Davis’ case underscores the way in which this systemic inequality can lead to a tragic miscarriage of justice.

In most cases, people who’ve been treated unfairly or wrongly convicted have some chance to correct the injustice. People who have been mistreated by the police can sue them. People who are wrongly serving time can be granted new trials, can be released from prison, and are sometimes entitled to compensation. As we all know, the safeguards that can correct abuse by the criminal justice system often fail, and rampant inequality persists. Usually, people can at least keep trying.

But there’s no way to correct a death sentence. If Troy Davis were serving a sentence of life in prison without parole, he could continue to press the legal system to grant him a fair trial — but because the death penalty exists, he will not have that opportunity.

Troy Davis’ case has sparked a national conversation about the death penalty. In the past, much of the debate around the death penalty has focused on the morality of killing people as a legal punishment — a very important question that brings out a lot of strong opinions. But even if we completely leave aside the question whether or not it can ever be right for the government to punish a murderer by killing them, there’s an entirely different debate to be had — whether or not we can have the death penalty and actually avoid the possibility of killing innocent people. In a criminal justice system that routinely misidentifies Black suspects and disproportionately punishes Black people, Black folks are more likely to be wrongfully executed.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the death penalty has been used to kill innocent people many times. Since 1973, more than 130 people have been released from death row because of evidence that they were wrongly convicted. Troy Davis is one of many people who were executed despite serious questions about their guilt, and he’s called on his supporters to continue working to end the death penalty.

A group of NAACP organizers went to visit Troy in prison yesterday, and NAACP’s Robert Rooks said this about the visit:

For someone that was facing death the very next day, he was just full of life and wanted to spend time talking to the younger staff, the interns, giving them direction and hope and asking them to hold onto God. And he challenged them. He challenged them by saying, “You have a choice. You can either fold up your bags after tomorrow and go home, or you can stand and continue this fight.” He said it doesn’t—it didn’t begin with Troy Davis, and this won’t end if he is executed today. He just asked us all just to continue to fight to end the death penalty, if in fact he’s executed.

A powerful movement

For years, ColorOfChange members have been an important part of a growing movement to stop Troy Davis’ execution. Hundreds of phone calls from ColorOfChange members to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole helped delay Davis’ execution twice. Over the past year, there’s been a huge outpouring of support for Davis from ColorOfChange members — more than 100,000 of us have signed petitions, and we raised more than $30,000 to run radio ads in Georgia calling for justice for Troy.

And we’ve been part of an even bigger movement — NAACP, Amnesty International, National Action Network, Change.org, and others have all been a major part of the fight for Troy Davis, and there are now over close to a million petition signatures overall. Prominent people from all across the political spectrum have spoken out: members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI Director William Sessions, former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr, and former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher.

This movement couldn’t stop Davis’ execution — but it’s a movement that won’t die with Troy Davis. There’s no better way to honor Troy’s memory than to keep fighting for justice.

Thanks and Peace,

— Rashad, James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
September 21st, 2011

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.

17
Sep

STOP the MURDER of Troy Davis

The Troy Davis story is yet another reason to rage against the death penalty. 

Save Troy Davis Image credit: NAACP

It is inconceivable to me that a single person should die for a crime they did not commit, or could not have committed due to evidence corruption.

When there are countless executions of the wrong perpetrator, shouldn’t that tell us something?  Shouldn’t that be reason enough to STOP this practice of killing people?

The possible execution of Troy Davis is yet another travesty resulting from the clearly arcane Death Penalty sentence.

Despite no physical evidence, and countless “eye witnesses” recanting their original testimony that Mr. Davis committed the murder, he is nonetheless scheduled to die on Georgia’s Death Row on September 21, 2001 for the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail.

When a police officer dies, it is a horribly tragic event, there is no denying this truth.  Likewise, if there are countless witnesses saying they were wrong about Mr. Davis being the killer, and name another subject as the killer, it is also wrong.  Sadly, this is the scenario with the Troy Davis case.

The fact is, no physical evidence connected Davis to the murder. Seven of the original nine witnesses have recanted, with many saying their testimony was a result of law enforcement pressure. Of the remaining witnesses, one is highly suspect and the other could be the actual culprit in the officer’s murder.

Now, despite these and other facts, the state of Georgia has taken the final steps toward Davis’ execution — and only the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole stands between Davis and the lethal injection chamber. ~The Color of Change.org

Troy Davis, was at the scene of the crime, and is an accessory to the murder – but too many new witnesses have come forward and implicated the person Troy was with, Sylvester Coles, as the shooter.  EVERY witness BUT Sylvestor Coles now puts the murder weapon in Coles’ hands.  Not surprisingly, Coles is the only witness who has not changed his story.

This is a case in which the meaning of Reasonable Doubt is turned on its proverbial head to mean any doubt will do. 

The application of Reasonable Doubt is the cornerstone or our criminal justice system, but when it goes awry and innocent people die because of it, there is nothing more heinous. 

This dangerous game of Russian Roulette with the life of a fellow human being should never happen.  But it is happening.  It is wrong, wrong, wrong in every sense of the word.

This is the Huffington Post story I read this morning that got my blood boiling hot: The Execution of Troy Davis – – A Mother’s Story, by Martina Davis-Correia, as told to Jen Marlowe and Monifa Bandele.

Ever since  reading about the fight for Troy’s life by his sister and nephew, I have tried to do what I can to get the word out about this case.

If you have a moment, I hope you will, too.

Feel free to reblog, tweet or share this post on Facebook, or MySpace, etc.

Better yet, go to the multiple sites (listed below) who are bringing attention and support to Troy Davis.

Visit these sites for further direction on how you may take action:

The uncertain fate of Georgia Death Row inmate, Troy Davis, is plain wrong.   Please help to educate your friends and family regarding this case, and the Death Penalty.

%d bloggers like this: