Another lynching may be rapidly approaching in my State of Georgia --and this time one carried out by the State itself! Nearly one hundred years ago, in August of 1915, a group of leading Georgians lynched an innocent man, Leo Max Frank, for a crime he never committed, after the governor of the state had commuted his sentence. Leo Frank had been a Jewish businessman in Atlanta, when a young woman employee was raped and murdered. The actual killer was a janitor at Frank's firm, but Frank was Jewish and there was no slightest doubt that anti-semitism played a major role first in his false conviction, and then in his lynching. He was exonerated and fully pardoned long after his death.
Now, in only a few days, Troy Davis, a Black man wrongfully convicted of killing a White Law Enforcement Officer many years ago, is scheduled to be executed in Georgia. Nearly all of the witnesses against Troy Davis recanted their testimony, many admitted they had lied under police pressure to find "the cop killer," and at least one witness has since incriminated a different man. But none of that seems to matter, the State of Georgia seems determined to carry out another lynching, this time of a Black man rather than a Jewish man, and this time one sanctioned by the State. If anything, that makes it even worse.
Why is Georgia so determined to execute an innocent man? Well, cop killers are indeed despicable, among the worst of the worst, and cop killings which go unsolved make the Georgia authorities look very bad. Having once served in law enforcment myself, I know that it is often viewed as necessary to "get somebody" even if it is the wrong somebody. In the heat of the moment, it might be understandable that an innocent man gets railroaded.
But isn't it enough that Troy Davis has served decades in prison for a crime he never committed? Isn't it enough that his conviction was fatally flawed? Isn't it enough that there is more than sufficent reasonable doubt, the required legal standard, to rescind his death sentence and give him a new trial? Isn't it enough that the honor of the State of Georgia was impugned by the Leo Frank lynching nearly a century ago? Isn't it high time to prove that the State of Georgia has learned something since then? Troy Davis deserves real justice, long overdue, and the citizens of Georgia deserve no less than that either.