UPDATE @ Bottom re: Fasting.
Despite all the evidence, numerous appeals and support from around the World for his cause it now looks almost certain Troy Davis will be executed for a crime he did not commit.
On Wednesday 21 Sept. 2011 the State of Georgia will summon Troy Davis from his cell, wait till 7pm, forcibly strap him down and inject his body with a lethal cocktail of drugs and wait the unknown time it takes until he is dead. With the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles having yesterday rejected his final appeal all legal avenues for clemency have now been exhausted. It did not sway them that the majority of witnesses have for a variety of reasons pointed out in my previous story changed their minds. It did not sway them that there is no DNA or physical evidence linking Troy to the crime and it did not sway them that the real killer has confessed. The Board stated previously they would only approve the execution if there was “NO DOUBT”. There is considerable doubt, not just in the evidence but in the way previous trials and appeal have been conducted and in the way at no point has a panel of judges been united in their decision.
So much doubt that former President Jimmy Carter, Members of the European Parliament, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Tutu, Jesse Jackson, Marthin Luther King III and former FBI Director under three Presidents William S. Sessions have all called for clemency for Troy. But nothing, these factors and many many others failed to convince the Board that there was even a microcosm of doubt in the case. We know with the help of DNA evidence that many Americans have been executed when they were in fact innocent and many more spared at the last moment by the work of The Innocence Project and other groups with the same DNA methods. Best selling crime author John Grisham for the first time wrote a nonfiction book based exactly on the tales of men waiting to be murdered by the state for crimes they did not commit. The main focus of the book, The Innocent Man, is Ron Williamson a one time Minor Baseball league star who spent 11 years on Death Row for a crime he did not commit.
But because Troy’s DNA was not even present this scenario is an impossibility and he will be executed based on the word of people who have now changed their story and a system that refuses to mend its own error. This is the fourth time an execution date has been set. At the time of the most recent execution date in 2008 Troy refused to accept his “last meal” from the Warden. He would not accept that as an innocent man it would be the final meal he ate. And while I am now resigned to the fact that Troy Davis will be executed by the State of Georgia in solidarity with his courage and conviction I will not eat for what is likely the final 24 hours of his life.
I do not do this as a protest but simply as an act of solidarity with a man whose faith in his innocence is unwavering. Having been involved in the anti Death Penalty movement for a decade of my young life I know that at these final hours it is rare that any change is made. I have worked on the cases of men I knew the evidence showed their innocence but who were put to death because the machinery of the justice system could not stop itself from killing. I have been involved in the good side of the issue where innocent men have been spared the fate of death because decent human beings decided to exercise sound judgement and vindication was sweet.
I join the NAACP and supporters of Troy Davis in marking the time of his possible execution as a moment to reflect on Troy, the Death Penalty and what we must do around the World to end this most abhorrent of dark age rituals. If a man who has spent the past 20 years on death row can have such courage and conviction then the least we can do is take the time to acknowledge the greater human rights issue this world still grapples with. As an Australian I am disgusted by the silence of the media in our nation. Reprinting general press releases is not journalism! We share a very close alliance and friendship with the United States, but friends must also point out the errors of each others ways.
As Troy sleeps for the final time in this body, as he faces the Warden and guards and refuses to consume his last meal and as he allows them to take his body, but never his innocence or spirit I ask that you remember his words, commit yourself to the advocacy of ending the death penalty and say in your heart or out loud.
“I AM TROY DAVIS”
“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath.” Troy Davis
UPDATE: I have been flooded with emails of people wishing to join me “Fasting in Solidarity With Troy”
Troy Davis as he has done in the past will refuse to eat his final meal. He does not believe it should be or will be his last, as he has utter faith in his innocence. So we join with Troy fasting in solidarity with him and act as an echo to his courage and conviction. In fasting we say to the world, “I am Troy Davis” and we unite behind a man who in his suffering has united us against injustice.
Most people can safely go without food for 24 hours, but there are a few people who shouldn’t try it — including kids under 12, the elderly, pregnant or nursing women, and people with certain medical conditions.
If you have any concerns about fasting, be sure to check with a doctor first.
A day before he is set to die by lethal injection in the state of Georgia, Troy Davis has issued this statement.
“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath.”
Stop the execution of Troy Davis! Gov. Nathan Deal: phone (404) 651-1776, fax (404) 657-7332, email firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1991 Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in a parking lot. Nearly 20 years later, Troy remains shackled on death row — even though the case against him has fallen apart. On Wednesday the State of Georgia will strap him down, inject a lethal cocktail of drugs and after minutes of harrowing pain, he will be dead! By Martin Hodgson
In 2001 I opened my Hotmail account to find an email from the NAACP, Davis had filed a habeas corpus writ in the United States District Court and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were urging its members to lobby their congressmen to support the case. Being an Australian citizen there wasn’t much I could do, but I’d grown up with a long-standing interest in the death penalty system in the USA. As a teenager in 1995 I’d seen the film “Dead Man Walking” based on the advocacy work of Sister Helen Prejean who supported a prisoner, guilty, who would later be executed. Based on a true story I knew at the time I was never comfortable with execution even of a guilty man, by the time the email arrived in 2001 I had a well-rounded belief to oppose all capital punishment. I’d spend the next decade of my life studying the death penalty, becoming the Anti Death Penalty Coordinator for FPSS and working on many Death Penalty cases. But I am still Troy Davis…
In 1989 a Police Officer, Mark MacPhail, working as a security guard was brutally shot to death when he intervened in an argument in a restaurant parking lot. A man at the scene, Sylvester “Redd” Coles went to the police and gave them a statement to the effect that Troy had been the killer. Davis was arrested a few days later and was put on trial for the murder of MacPhail. The prosecution relied heavily on witness testimony, many claimed they had seen Davis pull the trigger, while others testified Davis had also confessed to the murder. There was no physical evidence or DNA linking Davis to the murder and no weapon ever found. But the evidence of the witnesses was deemed so strong that in 1991 he was found guilty and sentenced to die. During the trial Davis maintain his innocence, something that has not changed for 20 years.
As anyone familiar with the US death penalty system can attest, appeals are many and varied, the process drags on for years and just as with the execution itself the road to the end is long and painful. There has been State appeals and Federal appeals, hearings by the United States Supreme Court and three previous execution dates set. Complex legal battles have been waged and the judges across all the hearings have never been united in their rulings. The system has evolved to mean that no man or woman alone shoulders the responsibility of an execution. Each and every step allows those who would prevent the execution of an innocent man to pass the buck, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. But if so many testified to the guilt of Davis, how do we know he is innocent and what has left courts struggling to agree on his fate?
While legal complexities only allow certain courts to decide certain aspects of the case the facts themselves do not change. The man who reported Davis to the police was the previously mentioned “Redd” Coles. He had been hanging out with Davis in the parking lot and had started the argument that resulted in Officer MacPhail intervening. Redd had demanded Beer from a homeless man in the car park, Larry Young. Young refused Redd and as he walked off was pistol whipped from behind, in responding the Young’s calls for help MacPhail was shot dead. Immediately anyone with an ounce of common sense would point the finger at the man who had argued with and assault Young, Redd Coles. But it was Redd who would beat all to the punch informing the police it was Davis who had in fact murdered the officer. Redd was never treated as a suspect in the case and acted as a witness in the trial against Davis.
Fast Forward to today and since the initial trial every witness apart from two have gone on the record to say that they had either lied under oath, been compelled to give evidence against Davis or actually believed that Coles was the shooter. The only two people to maintain Davis was guilty is a witness who told police at the time of the murder ” I wouldn’t know the shooter again if I saw him” and was only able to identify Davis in court when he was pointed out. The other to maintain their story that it was Davis and not Redd who had killed MacPhail, Redd Coles.
Further compounding the errors jurors in the initial trial of Troy Davis say if they knew the evidence that is now available to all they would have found him not guilty. Over the years many law experts and Internationally known individuals have called for Clemency for Troy. Former President Jimmy Carter, Members of the European Parliament, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Congressmen/Women, Multiple District Attorneys, Martin Luther King III and Former Director of the FBI under three Presidents William S. Sessions. Over the years hundreds of thousands of individuals have petitioned the State of Georgia to grant Davis clemency, with one petition alone having the names of 600,000 individuals. The support for Davis is unprecedented since Capital Punishment was reinstated in the US in 1976 after it had been abandoned for four years from 1972 after significant controversies.
Now the life of Troy Davis rests in the hands of the Board of Pardons and Paroles who set out a standard for clemency: “[The Board] will not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused.” They will make that decision today and it is hard to see based on the evidence that there is not serious doubt. No murder weapon, no physical or DNA evidence and only the testimony of two people, one the probable killer. But the morality of life and death has been so lost in the complex maze of courts and higher courts, the buck passing from one official to another and the sheer strength of the US Prison Industrial Complex so overpowering that I am not confident of the outcome.
In a decade of studying the death penalty and working on endless cases I have never been so sure that an innocent man could be himself killed for a murder he did not commit. I have seen both innocent and guilty executed not because of the crime they committed but because of the colour of their skin, the failings of their lawyers and the inability of a system to overturn wrong decisions. I have studied the execution reports of Angel Diaz who took an hour to die from lethal injection, a man convicted on the evidence of a jailhouse snitch looking to cut a deal. I have heard Winnie Mandela, Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg appeal for clemency over the highly controversial execution of Stanley “Tookie” Williams only to be denied by Governor Schwarzenegger. And I have seen innocent men walk free, one after another, having served 20 or more years on death row only to be saved at the last moment by DNA evidence.
But nothing will be so gut wrenching as to see Troy Davis slowly and painfully executed for a crime the people and the powers know he did not commit. A system so unjust that its rules prevent it from making the wrong decision right and where only those without the capital get the punishment. Not much more can be done, the last papers are being filed and everyone, especially Troy and his family will hold their breath. For a decade I have been Troy Davis, a man, any man in a parking lot. But if they kill him on Wednesday, he, that part of me and of us, is dead! I am Troy Davis!
UPDATE:- Having heard evidence from both sides the Georgia Parole Board has delayed their decision until today (20/09/2011)
If you are in the USA please call the GEORGIA BOARD OF PARDONS & PAROLE
TODAY Between 8:15am – 4:30pm. and DEMAND CLEMENCY FOR TROY DAVIS! (404-656-5651, #0 then #5)
Nearly six years after the hanging execution of Australian Van Nguyen in Changi prison, Singapore, Australia is faced yet again with the prospect of the execution of two of its citizens.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have exhausted all their legal avenues and have about 12 months to plead for presidential clemency.
If Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono does not grant clemency, the pair will face the firing squad.
The debate raged during the time Van awaited execution, it was never easy to gauge exactly where Australian’s stood on the issue. Some, like myself, oppose the death penalty in all cases and called on the Australian Government to do everything it can to spare his life. Others while oppose to the practice believed in Singapore’s right to carry out the punishment how they saw fit. While another percentage of the population both support the death penalty and support the execution of Van.
What was clear in the whole debate was that very few people, the majority of the population and even many politicians know very little about the death penalty and how it works. Execution in any form is never quick and almost always messy. While most US states that carry out the death penalty use the lethal injection, it too is slow and painful. The last prisoner executed took an agonising 11 minutes to die.
If we are to confront this most serious of issues, we need to do so with all the facts. If you can’t bring yourself to learn and understand the mechanism of death, should you really be supporting it? The other issue is that of the drug mule and how they find themselves in this position. Again there is a great deal of material on the issue, but for an easier way of understanding one story, try watching the movie. “Maria Full of Grace”