Revolution #246, September 25, 2011
Clemency Denied for Troy Davis—Execution Scheduled for Tonight
The Whole Damn System is Guilty!
Revolution newspaper encourages people all over the US and the world to join in protests against this horrible and unjust outrage. Send reports and photos to email@example.com.
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Revolution received the following report from Atlanta on Wednesday morning:
At 9 AM Tuesday morning, Sept. 20th, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a terse statement denying clemency for Troy Davis, whose execution is scheduled for 7 PM Wednesday, Sept. 21st. This outrageous decision, from a Board made up of ex-prison officials and prosecutors, is the latest in a series of rulings by the judicial system going all the way up to the US Supreme Court, hell bent on executing Troy Davis for the killing of a cop in 1989—despite the lack of physical evidence, the recantation of 7 of the 9 witnesses at the trial, including some who have now stated that their original testimony was coerced by the police, and 3 of the original jurors who have publicly stated that they would not have voted for conviction if they knew then what they know now.
As we write this Wednesday morning, there is a last ditch effort to stop the execution through appeals to the Board to reverse its decision and to the district attorney in Savannah where the case was tried. The number of people worldwide who have signed the petition to stop the execution has now topped 1 million, and there have been outpourings of anger and resistance in different cities.
In the streets of Atlanta Tuesday night—24 hours before the scheduled execution—several hundred people gathered in Woodruff Park, in the heart of downtown for an impassioned speak-out organized by the FTP movement. The crowd then marched loudly thru the streets of Atlanta to join a gathering of over 1,000 people at the State Capitol, organized by Georgians for Alternative to the Death Penalty, Amnesty International, and the NAACP. After the rally at the Capitol, a contingent of mainly youth took to the streets for a spirited march throughout downtown. Today, people are preparing to travel to Jackson, Georgia, the site of the planned execution.
The slogan “I am Troy Davis” seen on t-shirts and signs throughout the protests speaks to the felt impact and widespread sweep of the massive incarceration of Black people. “Not In My Name” was another main slogan—with people wanting to make a clear moral stand that the government’s actions do not have their support and do not rest on a popular mandate.
The speeches at the rally at the Capitol represented a range of different views. There was sharp exposure of the injustice and the need for there to be mass resistance, mixed with calls to rely on “a higher power” and reassurances that whatever happens will be “God’s will.” The most enthusiastic responses from the crowd were when any of the speakers called for stepped up resistance and continuing the struggle. One speaker did a moving challenge to those who will be involved in the execution process to “not follow orders.” Another speaker called out those who have not taken a public stand on this case, emphasizing “your first Black president.”
The pushing forward to execute Troy Davis, despite the lack of real evidence of his guilt, is an extreme move and some ruling class forces have felt it necessary to oppose it. This case has become a focal point of the battle around the death penalty in the US—around which there are divisions among the rulers of this country. This week the liberal pro-imperialist New York Times has editorialized against the death penalty and the execution of Troy Davis. Today’s New York Times’s editorial says: “The Davis case in Georgia is further proof of the barbarity of the death penalty.” Jimmy Carter, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI, and former head of the FBI William Sessions have all spoken out against the execution of Troy Davis. Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry was cheered at a recent Republican candidate debate for championing an unapologetic commitment to the death penalty even if some innocent people are executed.
The family of the police officer that was killed has been all over the mainstream media, demanding “justice,” “closure,” and saying that “they know Troy Davis is guilty.” “Victim’s rights” are being presented as equal to or trumping the rights of the defendant. The importance of physical evidence has been dismissed, with unreliable and coerced witness testimony deemed more than sufficient to prove guilt. And perhaps most significantly, the “burden of proof” and “innocent until proven guilty” has been totally reversed. The arguments supporting the denial of clemency have reversed the principle of innocent until proven guilty, saying things like “Troy Davis has failed to prove his innocence,” or “overwhelming doubt has not been established.”
Revolution distributors talked with a cross-section of people downtown to find out what they thought about the Troy Davis case. We talked with Black and white people, young and old, a mix of proletarians, professionals and students. Here are some of the responses:
- Atlanta public school teacher, middle-aged woman, member of Ebenezer Church: "It's a very simple reason why they want to execute Troy Davis here in the state of Georgia: it's racism! You got a lot of Black people here who are upwardly mobile, but if the police can get you on one minor charge, usually drugs, it ends up being a felony. Then the young man loses his grant, he has to drop out of college, and if his mother lives in subsidized housing, she'll either have to move or he can't live with her. 6 million people around the world incarcerated and 2 million, mostly Black, here. They want to get this man (Troy Davis) with no evidence. I feel it's an injustice. I feel like they are the ones committing a crime.
- Web designer, in her 30s, from the Dominican Republic: "I heard the witnesses against this young man recanted their statements. And I look at the legal system in this country - they want to put him down like a dog! He's been there 20 years...where's his civil rights? It's time to let him go. He's a human being. I think he's innocent.
- Veterinarian, 40 yr old Black man: "It's a nightmare. It's gotten to the point where it doesn't matter who did what, you just gotta take someone's life. Like it's eeny meeny miney moe, and it's tragic that Troy Davis ends up being the "moe" in this situation. I know how the police can just run up on a Black man in this city, it's happened to me twice on Peachtree St. You're supposed to look like somebody, but when I asked them what I did wrong, they said get the hell out of here or I'll tell you on the way to jail.
- Older Black proletarian man: “Even Jimmy Carter spoke out on this, but Obama has been silent. That tells you something.”
- 22 year old Black female proletarian: “All the things being fair, with no evidence against him, how can they execute an innocent man.”
- 49 year old Black female proletarian: “I figured they were going to do that. The way the system is with the family looking to end this whole thing. They have the evidence to see that he is innocent, but they don’t want to use it.”
- 23 year old Black male proletarian: “They can change the laws however they best feel to be suited to the person who committed the crime based on race, nationality, and background.”
- Professor of religion, 40’s white man: “Shows perpetuation of long history of racial legal injustice, sadly not resolved in the 21st century.”
- Middle aged professional woman white: “Disappointed in GA. The belief based on innocent until proven guilty. With the witnesses recanting, the machinery is in place to see it thru even with the doubts. To satisfy the machinery they will execute whether guilty or not.”
- 48 years old, Black electronic student, male: “Seven out of nine no longer saying he did it. How can you say he should get the death penalty? Could be his race and victim is white.”
- 51 year old Black street vendor, male: “Believe he is innocent, obviously clear beyond a shadow of a doubt. I am not surprised this country and it’s double standard of politics of justice and injustice. The justice system is unjust to Black people.”
- 20 year old white psychology student, female: “It’s shameful, we can ignore the evidence in favor of perpetuation of the legal system that has the divine right in the face of all this.”
- 77 year old Black woman, retired Atlanta music teacher: “That is a shame, I am so disgusted right now. Lord, make us an instrument of thy peace. Thou shall not kill.”
- 50ish white Medicaid director, female: “It’s inhuman. I’ve been very sad about this all day.”
- Black man in his 70s: “It’s terrible. It’s not right, it’s a shame. They wouldn’t let him talk, that’s a reflection of snuffing justice out. It’s going to hurt America’s image nationwide.”
- 20 year old woman, Ethiopian architecture student: “I don’t believe in the death sentence, its more punishment to be in prison. Everybody I talked to is against it. They don’t have the evidence.”
Below are quotes from the demonstration:
- Black musician in his 50s: “Illogic everywhere is a threat to logic everywhere.”
- Black male DJ on local radio station WRFG: “Learn about the anti-terrorism effective death penalty act. They used this retroactively against Troy Davis.”
- White male in his 20s, philosophy student: “Another victim of a system that is corrupt and not responsive to reason or evidence.”
- Black homeless woman: “It’s supposed to be always innocent until proven guilty but it doesn’t work that way if you’ve got a past.”
- Black woman on way home from office job: “I think the American Justice system is flawed all the way.”
- Black man in early 40’s who lived downtown: “You got doubt. All those witnesses that recanted, they never found the murder weapon, you don’t need to kill him. They should look at it. Something is wrong. The judicial system in our country has been wrong before and killed innocent men.”
- Middle aged Black woman, administrator in state job: “If there’s reasonable doubt there should be a stay. You can’t go back with a life and say ‘opps, I made a mistake’. Isn’t that our justice system?”
- Black professional, forensic psychologist who works for the justice system evaluating people who have been put in prison who are mentally ill, against the death penalty, thinks this will reflect very badly on the U.S. judicial system: “They haven’t considered all the evidence—or taken stronger consideration. Witnesses recanting should have been enough for a stay... It seems there is a rush—by executing him and getting it out of the way.”
- Man who is a cousin of Troy Davis: “I think it’s because, number one, its been almost 20 years he’s been in prison and, number two, they’d have to pay out for this injustice and admit they were wrong. That’s why they won’t do it [grant clemency].”
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