It's with rage that I report that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis. The 42-year-old Davis is now due to be executed TODAY, Wednesday September 21, at 7 pm . For those unfamiliar with the case, let's be clear: Davis's execution is little more than a legal lynching. As the New York Times wrote this morning in a featured editorial, "The Georgia pardon and parole board's refusal to grant him clemency is appalling in light of developments after his conviction."
The facts speak for themselves. Back in 1989, nine people testified that they saw Troy Davis kill Officer Mark MacPhail. Since that time, seven have recanted their testimony. Please allow me to repeat: of the nine people who testified that Troy killed Officer Mark MacPhail, seven have recanted their testimony. Beyond the eyewitnesses, there was no physical evidence linking Troy to Officer MacPhail's murder. None. Three jurors have signed affidavits saying that if they had all the information about Troy, they would not have voted to convict. One juror even arrived in person to the Board of Pardons and Paroles to say to their faces that she would not have voted to convict if she'd had the facts. Another woman has even come forward to say that a different man on the scene that night, Sylvester "Redd" Coles, bragged afterward about doing the shooting. Of the two witnesses who still maintain that Troy was the triggerman, one is Sylvester "Redd" Coles.
From day one, Troy has maintained his innocence. But he was the wrong color, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong bank account and the wrong legal team, so he was thrown into the death house with little fanfare. Yet the tireless work of Troy's family, particularly his sister Martina, brought international attention to the case. From former President Jimmy Carter, to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher, to Pope Benedict XVI, to Reagan's former FBI Director, William Sessions, to the more than one million people who signed petitions, the call has gone out to spare Troy's life. But the Board of Pardons and Paroles didn't care. Previously the Board issued a statement that they would only allow the execution to go through, if there was "no doubt" as to his guilt. They lied.
As Brian Kammer, one of Davis's attorneys, said Tuesday after the decision was announced, "I am utterly shocked and disappointed at the failure of our justice system at all levels to correct a miscarriage of justice." He's absolutely correct. Demonstrations have been planned for today in cities around the country. I know that Washington, DC, will see people come out at 6 PM AT MT.VERNON SQUARE where the Congressional Black Caucus is meeting. I know that students are marching from Howard University to the White House at noon. I know that students at the University of Maryland are gathering in the heart of their campus at 2pm. I know there is a huge tribute to the late, great People's History of the United States historian Howard Zinn tonight at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville and I know what Howard would be doing if he was still with us. He'd be on the march.
I was there when Howard met Troy Davis's sister Martina, just a few months before Howard died, at a conference of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. Martina told Howad, "I'm going to be one of those people that you write about, Mr. Zinn. One of those people who no one saw coming that changed the world. I'm going to save my brother." Howard didn't live write about Troy but It's not too late to make Martina's words prophetic. I know that Judge Penny Freesemann still has the power to withdraw its death warrant. It's a slim option, but I also know that this isn't over until they send the poison into Troy's veins. Troy himself has refused a "last meal," choosing to fight until his last breath. We owe him nothing less.
flickr image By amnestyinternational_usa