This morning I read this New Yorker Magazine article “Trial By Fire,” on my cell phone, as I was taking my dogs out for their first walk of the day, and my teeth are still clenched. I feel like there’s this vice-grip-like anger pounding in my neck. It’s like this astonished and futile anger and I would just like to spit. And curse – really loud.
But, see? Cursing is completely pointless. So is spitting for that matter.
And then, after reading this insanely sad article, I realize it was written in 2009!
Where the hell have I been? Todd Willingham was murdered by the state of Texas in 2010!
Another innocent man murdered by the death penalty – murdered by our own US government. This is the greatest country on earth, we’re so often told, and we do this? We murder our citizens is what we do.
I sat for a while on my couch, after reading the article, with my dogs on my lap, drinking my coffee, the sun pouring in from the window behind me, and I imagine being hauled away – accused of a crime I didn’t commit. Dudes with guns coming into my home, throwing my dogs aside and tackling me in my pajamas because they knocked on the wrong door.
And then…What if I had to go to trial with a court appointed hack as a lawyer, in a paltry town in Texas, knowing my lawyer didn’t give a rat’s ass about me because his D.U.I. cases pay his bills? What if?
And I think – forget what if – that could be me. I could be Todd Willingham. It could happen to ANYONE (well, except for the very rich – they buy themselves out of those kinds of outrages).
Our justice system isn’t. Our children are being scooped up – young black children, in particular. Yes, children, scooped up in a system that isn’t even a system anymore because it only knows quotas and profits because criminal justice is a business now. It’s become its own criminal enterprise.
See the movie “Kids For Cash” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll understand.
Thinking about the death penalty in this country and thinking about how criminal justice is itself, criminal, is very depressing.“The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit.” Cameron Todd Willingham
I get so frustrated. I want to work on this cause (to abolish the death penalty) with my whole body and soul and make it the single most important pursuit of my life. Except I have a life with bills to pay and a mortgage that I can’t really afford because I live in Florida and got sucked into the mortgage mess.
I want to do something real. But what? Well, for now I can share what I read this morning – this insanely well written story in the New Yorker Magazine, by author David Grann,
Sharing the outrage. It’s the least I can do.
The New Yorker Magazine article tells the story of how one woman, Elizabeth Gilbert, teacher and playwright, befriended Todd Willingham, while he was on Death Row, learned about his story, and fought to save his life. She would have succeeded, too, if Rick Perry hadn’t intervened by ignoring the appeals and the new exculpatory evidence in the case (evidence which would have exonerated Todd Willingham).
Instead, Texas Governor, Rick Perry, had him killed.
Bastard. Shit-head. Fucking Lunatic.
Excuse me while I go spit.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s website:
A Movie about the case:
A CNN clip
Racism. It is a horrible reality in our country. I know we don’t like to discuss it, but it’s there, it’s pervasive, it’s sickening.
What is racism anyway? If we break it down, what does it imply at its heart? I think it boils down to two things: Superiority and skin color.
My skin is pale white and I have freckles that I hate, they cover my arms, legs and chest. The skin on my face is also pale, not pasty, just pale with some freckles. Growing up near the beach in South Florida, I loved the ocean and the sun. I’m paying for my sun-worshiping days now. No skin cancer – yet – but the way I baked my skin when I was young, doctors always have an eye on my freckles.
I’ve always loved dark skin. And the darker the better. (I’d like all my freckles to merge into a rich mahogany color.)
Unfortunately, we can’t pick our skin color, it’s a gift we’re born with. If Troy Davis’ skin was a pale color would he have gotten clemency, too?
The man pictured below, is the color of his skin dictate how deserving he is of pardon? Yes, says the Parole Board of Georgia.
The man below is a murderer but was not murdered last night. Before Troy’s casket was sealed, the Parole Board of the State of Georgia gave this man clemency.
Wouldn’t you think that the death penalty in Troy Davis’ case would give people pause, or prompt them to consider the consequences of killing an innocent? There was too much doubt to kill Troy Davis! But he was black….. Guilty of being black in Georgia.
Georgia murders more black men on death row than white.
There are Southerners and Skin Heads who hate a person’s skin color with such a passion. it must be something that’s inbred – inherited from childhood, I think.
When I read that just last night this white man was given clemency in Georgia the night after Troy was murdered, it proved to me that the application of murder in Troy’s case was racially motivated. Why else would they put him to death and save this man?
They put him to death because good ole boys and girls in Georgia are not expected to have a conscious when it comes to a black person, particularly a black man who is believed to have murdered a white cop.
Troy Davis’ murder was, in my opinion, as much of a hate crime as the recently murdered Texas man who hitched a black man to his truck and dragged him to his death.
Troy Davis is guilty of being black in Georgia.
Supporters of Troy Davis, who was scheduled for execution this evening at 7:00pm, erupted in joy at the news that a stay had been granted at the eleventh hour for Troy.
Unfortunately, it is a temporary stay so the Supreme Court has an opportunity to review additional issues brought forth by Troy Davis’ defense attorneys
The “warrant” for Troy’s death is still valid until September 28, 2011. Until then, there is still hope.
The torture of waiting to die
All in all, Troy has gotten a total of 4 stays since being on Death Row. Three times before, Troy has had to ready himself emotionally and psychologically, to die.
Ed Pilkington, writing for The Guardian, reflects upon what this “torture” does to a person in his article for The Guardian. The article lists 10 reasons why Troy should not be executed, below is reason number ten:
Even if you set aside the issue of Davis’s innocence or guilt, the manner of his execution tonight is cruel and unnatural. If the execution goes ahead as expected, it would be the fourth scheduled execution date for this prisoner. In 2008 he was given a stay just 90 minutes before he was set to die. Experts in death row say such multiple experiences with imminent death is tantamount to torture.
Texas kills – again
Tonight, Texas murdered another prisoner. It happened at 6:21 Texas time. Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44, was on death row for the racially charged murder of James Byrd, Jr.
The murder of Mr. Byrd is so heinous that I don’t wish to discuss it.
Suffice it to say that someone like Lawrence Russell Brewer is no better than an animal – no, most animals behave better. This murderer is the worst of the worst, but not worthy of state sponsored murder.
No one should be willfully executed – ever. It is barbaric and the United States is, or should be, better than this.
Civil societies do not murder their people, therefore the US states that sponsor the death penalty are uncivilized, barbaric and clearly mad.
A comment left today by Colleen on another of my posts about the death penalty, reminded me that in order to put the practice of the death penalty into focus, you should consider this: There are four other countries that impose the death penalty on its people: Iran, Yeman, North Korea, and the United States. That’s the company we keep. Update: there are quite a few other countries that allow the death penalty. According to Amnesty International, this list reflects areas where the death penalty is in place: See http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html
Those of us who want to act and change how laws are applied in this country need to speak out about it. Protest. Get involved. Stop the death penalty! It has proved over and over again that it is NOT a deterrent for criminal behavior, and it costs millions of dollars to impose. The costs are much extensive than keeping a prisoner locked up for life.
I joined the NAACP and Amnesty International because I am sick of allowing state governments to trample on our basic human rights. I think now is the time to speak loud about the death penalty.
With every execution that is allowed to occur in our country, we chip away at the civil rights that others fought or died for. Individuals such as Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Rosa Parks, The Little Rock Nine, Thurgood Marshall, and the example of the famous case, Brown v. The Board of Education, must not be forgotten. We are doomed to repeat history if the lessons from it are forgotten.
For those who cannot appreciate the struggle for equality that some groups face, I would say: Who will stop that hate-train when your rights are trampled on? Trouble for one is trouble for all when it comes to freedom, equality and choice.