Troy Davis: Victim of Jim Crow Mentality

Troy Davis, an African American man in jail for the past couple decades, convicted of killing a police officer, is now scheduled to be executed today,

This execution in Georgia comes despite condemnation from a former president, and a former pope. And, more important, it comes despite what appears to be overwhelming reasonable doubt that he committed the crime at all. He has maintained his innocence for the entire time of his imprisonment. I know that this alone doesn’t mean much, because the prisons are quoted as being full of innocent men, but given the other circumstances, I am beginning to wonder if that is in fact true. Seven of nine ‘witness’ testimonies were recanted and accompanied by allegations that they were coerced into those testimonies by the police. And there was never any physical evidence, circumstantial or otherwise linking this man to the crime. Amnesty International has taken up this cause. While many activism organizations are plagued with internal problems, in my experience, Amnesty does not take cases like this lightly. If they are paying attention, there is usually something worth paying attention to.

I was a juror once on an assault case. And just one of circumstances alone, the lack of evidence  or the recanted testimonies and allegations of coercion, would have been enough for me to pass on a guilty verdict. But this blatant disregard for reasonable doubt makes me cynical of the justice system of state of Georgia, and the impartiality or even sanity of any citizen who would convict this man and condemn him to the death penalty.

Normally, I don’t jump on the bandwagon of believing that racial bias fuels most decisions, but in this case, I would have to agree when the ACLU cries discrimination. I haven’t seen a more public and frank display of racism since the Jim Crow laws themselves.  And the lack of any question in continuing with execution in the face of so much public doubt, and no consideration or even discussion of clemency makes be actively believe in the claims of forced testimony. In fact it leads me right to notions of corruption in Georgia’s ‘thin blue line’, to claim a scapegoat for the murder from the most convenient victim available to them. And there would be no chance that this corruption would be limited to a couple officers. Such a decision at this point in the justice system is not made by a only few low-ranking officers.

I hope that the authorities reconsider their decision to accept ‘expediency before justice’ as they said in Babylon 5, before Wednesday. And if not, then I hope that something can be done for the Davis family, since it is unlikely they will find justice themselves. Social media is a great tool. I’ll be looking on the internet for sites donating condolences to the family in the event of their loss. I imagine, with the popular response, that there will be many such sites.

Here is the address of Amnesty International, in case you read this and believe that he should not be executed. They have a petition to stop the execution.

I never prayed much, except at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is ironic that those high holy days begin slightly over one week after his execution date. Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Jewish year, and the first of the days of atonement ending in Yom Kippur. It is a time for people in the Jewish culture to start over, and to reflect on our sins of the past year. Though Troy Davis is not Jewish, and probably neither are most of the other people involved in this case, for me, it is no small tragedy that the biggest sin that could possibly be committed will be within days of our new year, for what seems likely to be a false accusation. I think I’ll pray a little more this year and the theme will be truth.

I’m not into praying for other people. I don’t mind when someone religious who genuinely believes in their faith and has good will says ‘I’ll pray for you…’ to me. Even though it’s not my bag, I feel honored and appreciate the gesture. But I get irritated when someone who is sanctimonious and judgmental says that to me, “I’ll pray for you,” as some parting shot to win an argument, as if they have a direct line to God and are gracing me as a godless heathen with their prayers. Blech. So I won’t pray for these people making the execution decisions, because I won’t pretend good will that I don’t feel toward them. Maybe I should atone for that too, if I were a God-filled person who believed that everyone should be forgiven for everything. But I’m not. So instead, I will take a close look at my own beliefs in the past year and identify if I’ve made judgments about people, or worse, decisions about people that were not based on logic, but on emotionally-based assumptions.


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