Troy Davis was scheduled to be executed on Monday, October 27th, 2008, but today received a stay of execution by the Federal Appeals Court in Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution states that: “Davis, 40, sits on death row for the Aug. 19, 1989, murder of 27-year-old Savannah police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Since Davis’ trial, seven of nine key prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony.” There is no physical evidence in this case implicating Davis. No gun, no bullet, no nothing, just “witness” testimony, the majority of which have since recanted said testimony, saying they were pressured to implicate Davis by the police and others.
For anyone who has been keeping up with this case, it has been a rollercoaster ride, with Davis being granted stays of execution sometimes mere minutes before he is scheduled to die.
I stood out with hundreds of other people last night at a rally for Davis organized by Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP) on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol. In freezing cold weather, we were fired up by chants of “I am Troy Davis!” It was thus great news that we were greeted with this morning, upon hearing of the Court’s decision. The fight for Troy’s life is not over by any means, but the stay has given Troy more days to live, and has given us more time to strategize, fight and hope.
Sadly, Troy’s story is not unique. He is one of 3,300 people on Death Row in the United States. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund states that of that 3,300:
“…Over 41 percent are African-American—more than three times their representation in the general population. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, since 1973 there have been 130 people exonerated—people wrongly sentenced to death—in 26 different states, including five exonerated on death row in Georgia. Evidence even suggests that at least four innocent people have been executed in recent years.”
This is not an equal system of justice. The Death Penalty is a system that overwhelmingly kills poor people of color, many of whom are found to be innocent of the crimes they are accused of. And with that reality, in the midst of a Presidential election in 2008 America that has constantly thrust race in the spotlight, the two mainstream candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, have both pledged their support to continue this barbaric, disgustingly racist system.
Troy Davis has not escaped being executed by the State due to the significant evidence casting doubt on his guilty conviction alone. Decision makers have had to rethink their rulings in regard to him because of the hundreds and thousands of people who have been taking to the streets and demanding that if there is but one inkling of evidence suggesting his innocence, the man at the very least deserves another trial.
No matter who we choose to vote for in the upcoming election, a vote alone does not bring about progressive social change. It takes organizing our communities to take collective action in demanding the justice that we deserve. It takes educating and informing ourselves and our communities about what’s really going on. It takes passing on to our children and communities lessons that value the lives of human beings, and not violent vengeance.
We will not let the State kill another innocent human being in our names, with our tax dollars. We will not let the State continue to profit off of killing innocent human beings in our names, with our tax dollars. We are Troy Davis. I am Troy Davis.
Please check the GFADP website regularly for updates on the Troy Davis campaign and for info on how you can take action.