genna. the city on a hill. archivist, grad student, writer, activist, curmudgeon.
I have sent my letter to urge Iranian authorities not to carry out Saeed’s execution. And you?
Click the link for more info and for e-mail addresses. I have copied and pasted my letters below - feel free to use them in your own communications:
To Prime Minister Harper
I plan to attend the Boston vigil. If anyone else is going, feel free to contact me via my ask box etc.
Let me offer one contrasting difference in approaches to the death penalty. In June 2011, Daryl Dedmon, Jr, a 19 year old white Mississippi teen, along with two truckloads of his friends, drove from his hometown of Brandon, MS into Jackson to “go fuck with some niggers.” After locating James Craig Anderson, a plant worker leaving work at 4 in the morning, the teens assaulted him, yelled racial epithets like “white power” at him, and then left him to stagger back to his truck. Dedmon, however, couldn’t leave bad enough alone, and looped back, savagely running over and killing James Anderson. He then called his friends and bragged about it. The national fervor this summer over The Help, a racially romanticized narrative of Jackson, MS, overshadowed James Anderson’s murder, a tragic modern day Jackson, MS tale that would have forced us to confront the racial realities of Black folk in this 2nd decade of the 20th century.
The supreme irony, however, is that last week James Anderson’s family sent a letter to the Hinds County district attorney asking them not to seek the death penalty in Dedmon’s case:
“Our opposition to the death penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James’ life as well,” the letter states. …”We also oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites,” the letter states. “Executing James’ killers will not help to balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment.” (source: CNN.com)
I had never heard about that. That should’ve made national news and played on repeat over and over again, more so than reviews and trailers of The fucking Help. Injustice for 1000, Alex.
Just please, for one second, compare this to what the family of Mark McPhail are saying and tell me again why white people have to be scared of black people and not vice versa. Someone explain that shit to me.
Troy Davis was denied clemency this morning. Amnesty has a petition you can sign to the Chatham County District Attorney, pleading the withdrawal of the death warrant. There is still fighting we can do, but today I just feel hopeless and defeated - not just for the life of a man who spent half his life in prison, but that I live in a country that will pursue a bloodthirsty agenda biased according to racist paradigms.
I don’t understand this revenge ideology of the MacPhail family, to be honest. I feel like Officer MacPhail might have wanted the right man to be punished for his murder and justice carried out rather than prevent a potentially innocent man from a new trial. The death penalty’s purpose is not to give the families of victims closure or revenge. I pray for all of the victims in this, especially for the strength the Davis family will need in the coming days.
Damn. So much media coverage—I love it.
STOP TROY DAVIS’ EXECUTION.
I appreciate the quote from Stephen Right at the end of the article — the world is indeed watching, Georgia.
Death brings cheers these days in America. In the most recent Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Fla., when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked, hypothetically, if a man who chose to carry no medical insurance, then was stricken with a grave illness, should be left to die, cheers of “Yeah!” filled the hall. When, in the prior debate, Gov. Rick Perry was asked about his enthusiastic use of the death penalty in Texas, the crowd erupted into sustained applause and cheers. The reaction from the audience prompted debate moderator Brian Williams of NBC News to follow up with the question, “What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?”
That “dynamic” is why challenging the death sentence to be carried out against Troy Davis by the state of Georgia on Sept. 21 is so important. Davis has been on Georgia’s death row for close to 20 years after being convicted of killing off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah. Since his conviction, seven of the nine nonpolice witnesses have recanted their testimony, alleging police coercion and intimidation in obtaining the testimony. There is no physical evidence linking Davis to the murder.
Last March, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Davis should receive an evidentiary hearing, to make his case for innocence. Several witnesses have identified one of the remaining witnesses who has not recanted, Sylvester “Redd” Coles, as the shooter. U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. refused, on a technicality, to allow the testimony of witnesses who claimed that, after Davis had been convicted, Coles admitted to shooting MacPhail. In his August court order, Moore summarized, “Mr. Davis is not innocent.”
One of the jurors, Brenda Forrest, disagrees. She told CNN in 2009, recalling the trial of Davis, “All of the witnesses—they were able to ID him as the person who actually did it.” Since the seven witnesses recanted, she says: “If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row. The verdict would be not guilty.”
Troy Davis has three major strikes against him. First, he is an African-American man. Second, he was charged with killing a white police officer. And third, he is in Georgia.
More than a century ago, the legendary muckraking journalist Ida B. Wells risked her life when she began reporting on the epidemic of lynchings in the Deep South. She published “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases” in 1892 and followed up with “The Red Record” in 1895, detailing hundreds of lynchings. She wrote: “In Brooks County, Ga., Dec. 23, while this Christian country was preparing for Christmas celebration, seven Negroes were lynched in twenty-four hours because they refused, or were unable to tell the whereabouts of a colored man named Pike, who killed a white man … Georgia heads the list of lynching states.”
The planned execution of Davis will not be at the hands of an unruly mob, but in the sterile, fluorescently lit confines of Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Butts County, near the town of Jackson.
The state doesn’t intend to hang Troy Davis from a tree with a rope or a chain, to hang, as Billie Holiday sang, like a strange fruit: “Southern trees bear a strange fruit/Blood on the leaves and blood at the root/Black body swinging in the Southern breeze/Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.” The state of Georgia, unless its Board of Pardons and Paroles intervenes, will administer a lethal dose of pentobarbital. Georgia is using this new execution drug because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration seized its supply of sodium thiopental last March, accusing the state of illegally importing the poison.
“This is our justice system at its very worst,” said Ben Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Amnesty International has called on the State Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Davis’ sentence. “The Board stayed Davis’ execution in 2007, stating that capital punishment was not an option when doubts about guilt remained,” said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Since then two more execution dates have come and gone, and there is still little clarity, much less proof, that Davis committed any crime. Amnesty International respectfully asks the Board to commute Davis’ sentence to life and prevent Georgia from making a catastrophic mistake.”
But it’s not just the human rights groups the parole board should listen to. Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel Peace Prize laureates President Jimmy Carter and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, among others, also have called for clemency. Or the board can listen to mobs who cheer for death.
William S. Sessions, FBI chief under Reagan and Bush I, has also called for clemency in this case. You can read about that, and more about the case, here.
7 of 9 Witnesses say my Brother is Innocent. Stop Troy Davis’ Execution on September 21st.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT
My brother, Troy Davis, has been on Georgia’s death row for 20 years despite strong evidence of his innocence. His execution date is now scheduled for Wed, Sept 21. He has a hearing in front of the GA Board of Pardons & Parole two days beforehand.We need to tell the Board strongly and clearly: There’s too much doubt to execute Troy Davis!
The case against my brother Troy consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, seven out of nine witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony.
Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis. Here is what one had to say:
“I got tired of them harassing me, and they made it clear that the only way they would leave me alone is if I told them what they wanted to hear. I told them that Troy told me he did it, but it wasn’t true.”
We need to tell the Board strongly and clearly: There’s too much doubt to execute Troy Davis!
I didn’t discuss this in my earlier post because I just wanted to report the facts and make a plea for everyone to reach out to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. But I think it is worth mentioning that Troy Davis is a black man, and Mark MacPhail was a white police officer. I don’t think you can ignore this fact in considering Davis’ case. MacPhail’s family believe without a doubt that Davis killed the officer, and want to see him dead. Davis turned himself in because he said he had nothing to hide; no murder weapon was ever found; no physical evidence links him to the murder; he has maintained his innocence for two decades.
As a side note to this race discussion, I don’t think the purpose of capital punishment is to provide victims with closure. In fact, I don’t agree with the death penalty at all. I think it is barbaric. Yes, often the people convicted of heinous crimes and sentenced to death are worse than barbaric and committed acts that render them subhuman - but I don’t think we can fight murder with murder.
Anyway. It is also worth mentioning that several of the non-police eyewitnesses have signed affidavits saying that they caved to police pressure in accusing Davis of the murder. The subtext of this event is that the police wanted someone prosecuted for this, and perhaps the investigation became more about revenge than getting the right person. Convicting a black man as a cop killer — and a white cop, no less — was an open-and-shut case, right? But that is extrapolation. Regardless, one of the witnesses who has not recanted, Sylvester “Red” Coles, was another likely suspect. And from what I have heard from people more familiar with the case than I am, he is white.
Executing someone regardless of the evidence does not provide closure or somehow avenge the death of Mark MacPhail. It is a gross miscarriage of justice to execute someone without appropriate evidence, and sets a dangerous legal precedence for sloppy capital cases in the future. I really don’t think we can ignore the racial issues influencing the conviction and sentencing.
For a more detailed narrative of the past twenty years in this case, go here.
Troy Davis was accused of murdering off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail 20 years ago and was sentenced to death by the state of Georgia. No physical evidence against him exists, and seven of the nine non-police eyewitnesses have recanted their testimonies, saying that they caved to police pressure. One of the two eyewitnesses who did not recant was the other prime suspect in the case.
Amnesty International — not to mention activists like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter — has championed Davis’ cause for years, and I first became involved with this campaign three years ago. Davis has had four execution dates, and come within 90 minutes of execution before being granted a stay. His new execution date is September 21, but his death is not imminent; the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will hold a final clemency hearing.
Please visit the link above (and please reblog), learn about the case, and take action for man who may die for a crime he likely did not commit. There are too many questions, too much doubt, for the justice system to proceed with capital punishment. We need to bring about justice for Troy Davis — and for Officer Mark MacPhail.