We Will NOT Be Silent: Troy Davis – the travesty of our justice system

Troy Davis was found guilty of murdering a police officer 19 years ago, based upon the testimony of 9 witnesses. Today, 7 of those 9 have recanted their testimony entirely, and enormous complications have emerged with the testimony of the remaining 2 witness’ accounts. Furthermore, there is NO EVIDENCE which links Troy Davis to the crime. The murder weapon was never found and there wasn’t any DNA to test. Troy Davis however, remains scheduled to die by lethal injection on September 21, 2011.

DISPLAY YOUR OUTRAGE FOR OUR INJUSTICE SYSTEM & MARCH WITH THOUSANDS IN CITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY FOR TROY DAVIS !

 TOMORROW AT 6 PM – HARLEM STATE OFFICE BUILDING – CORNER OF 125th ST. & ADAM CLAYTON POWELL BLVD.

Hunter College meet-up 5:35pm Thomas Hunter 305B to leave/arrive together.

MARCH TO ST. MARY’S CHURCH will follow: 521 WEST 126th STREET (btw. Broadway & Amsterdam)

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KEEP THE PRESSURE ON – CALL THE DA AND JUDGE WHO OBTAINED THE DEATH WARRANT – TELL THEM TO WITHDRAW IT IMMEDIATELY!

Don’t let them murder Troy Davis

The drive to kill an innocent man proves the justice system isn’t about justice at all.

September 21, 2011

Supporters demand justice for Troy Davis in Atlanta

THE STATE of Georgia is planning the murder of an innocent man at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21.

For nearly two decades, Troy Anthony Davis has been trying to prove that he was the victim of a terrible injustice–convicted and sent to death row for a crime he did not commit.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have heard his voice and showed their support for him. Even figures at the center of the U.S. political and criminal justice establishment, such as former FBI Director William Sessions, have said that Troy should not be executed.

But within the system of so-called justice in this country, he has been betrayed time and time again. On Tuesday, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles announced that it, too, would turn its back on Troy’s plea for clemency, and prison officials began preparing in earnest for a state-sponsored killing.

If Troy Davis is put to death as planned tonight, it will expose the truth, and not for the first time, about the American injustice system and the whole state apparatus that supports it–its obscene use of violence, its racism and discrimination, its lack of democracy and contempt for human rights.

In the last hours before Troy’s scheduled execution, we must act.

Troy has faced three previous execution dates that were halted, one a few hours before it was set to take place. Though Troy’s formal legal appeals are exhausted, the U.S. Supreme Court could issue a stay of execution. The pardons board could reverse its decision. The Chatham County district attorney who requested Troy’s death warrant, Larry Chisolm, could ask the judge to withdraw it.

Troy’s supporters around the U.S. and the world will take action today to demand that his execution be stopped by any means–the climax of a campaign that has been building for weeks. After the pardons board announced its decision, Tuesday became another day of protest for Troy, with actions organized on a few hours’ notice in numerous cities. More demonstrations will take place today, as defenders of justice raise their voice for Troy.

Their message must ring out loud and clear: We will not be silent while an innocent man’s life hangs in the balance.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

TROY HAS always insisted that the struggle isn’t only about him, but all the other victims of the injustice system. Indeed, so many of the wrongs in Troy’s case are commonplace.

Troy was convicted of the murder of a white police officer in Savannah, Ga., Mark MacPhail, who was off duty and working as a security guard.

As Marlene Martin of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty wrote in the International Socialist Review, police and prosecutors were intent on finding an African American man to accuse as soon as possible:

In short order [after the killing], 25 fellow officers were assigned to the case and began to scour the neighborhood for the perpetrator. The media sensationalized the case of a 27-year-old white father of two shot in the line of duty. One officer told a reporter, “There is a desire among the police to have the suspect locked away before McPhail is buried.”

The race to accuse and incarcerate African Americans can be seen more broadly in the criminal justice system.

Black men are far and away the largest portion of the prison population in the U.S., which leads the world in incarcerating its citizens. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the chances of a young Black male born in 2001 going to jail at some point in his life is 32 percent–or one in every three–compared to 17 percent for Latino males and 6 percent for white males. Thus, African American male youth are over five times more likely to go to jail than white male youth.

In Troy’s case, no murder weapon was ever found, and there’s no material evidence linking him to the crime. He was convicted on the basis of testimony from nine supposed witnesses to the shooting. But of those nine, seven have recanted their testimony, with several saying that they were pressured by police to identify Troy.

As SocialistWorker.org reported:

Of the two witnesses who haven’t changed their story, one identified the shooter as left-handed, and Troy is right-handed–and the other, Sylvester Coles, was considered by police to be the prime suspect in the case until he came forward to claim to that Troy was guilty. Three people who weren’t called to testify at Troy’s trial say they heard Coles admit he committed the killing.

None of this evidence of Troy’s innocence has been heard by a jury, and the chief reason is that he is poor and Black.

Troy and his family were unable to afford an experienced lawyer, and so his representation at the original trial was inadequate. During the last two decades of appeals, he has been stymied at every turn by restrictions on introducing new evidence, even if it came to light after the original trial was over.

This is a direct product of laws put in place during the “tough-on-crime” frenzy of the last several decades–not only by Republicans, like the ones who control the Georgia state establishment today, but by Democrats. It was Democratic President Bill Clinton who was responsible for the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which sharply reduced the ability of death row prisoners to appeal their convictions and sentences.

Whether or not someone gets the death penalty has everything to do with race and class. As the saying goes in the abolitionist movement, those without the capital get the punishment.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

TROY’S PLEAS for justice have not gone unheard.

His family and friends have spent nearly two decades helping him to tell his story. Anti-death penalty groups and activists have devoted long years of organizing to expose the injustices in his case. Numerous public figures oppose his execution–both principled opponents of the death penalty and ardent supporters of it, like right-wing Republican former Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia.

Many thousands of people have demonstrated for Troy around the world. With the clock ticking on the latest execution date, more than 3,000 people gathered in Atlanta only a few days ago for a dramatic march and rally, along with dozens and hundreds in some 200 cities around the world. More than 1 million people have put their names to petitions and statements demanding justice for Troy.

But the justice system at every level has refused to hear these voices. As Troy himself put it in an interview for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, “Georgia feels it’s better to kill me than admit I’m innocent.”

This is the ugly truth about the justice system in this country–it isn’t about justice at all. It is a tool of social and political repression, used almost entirely against the working class and the poor. Yet the most terrible crimes in society–from imperialist wars launched on the basis of lies to the looting of the economy by the bankers–aren’t even illegal.

Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed today to satisfy police and prosecutors who were determined to find a Black man to accuse, regardless of the evidence of his innocence. By the same token, the hundreds of thousands of men and women–overwhelmingly Black or Latino–who languish in prison for nonviolent drug offenses are there to bolster the law-and-order credentials of politicians and to serve as scapegoats to deflect attention from pressing social problems.

Such injustices are ever more glaring in U.S. society and the source of increasing discontent–expressed both in determined shows of support for victims of the system like Troy, and also in displays of anger bursting out with atrocities like the one the state of Georgia is planning today.

That anger is entirely justified. And it must be turned into action–into a struggle that challenges racism and discrimination against the poor, that abolishes the barbaric capital punishment system, and that confronts a prison system filled to the bursting point with the poor and working class, especially minorities.

At the heart of that anger lie deeper questions, too: What kind of system would carry out the murder of a man whose conviction had everything to do with the color of his skin? What kind of system would resist his every attempt to show he was innocent? What kind of system would ignore masses of people in the U.S. and around the world who want Troy Davis to be saved from death?

It is a system that must be changed.

Those who take a stand for Troy Davis today need to be a part of making that wider change–and establishing a different kind of society that never again tolerates the injustices that Troy has suffered, nor the racism and bigotry that drives the execution machine.

Our calls to save Troy Davis’ life today must become part of a wider movement to create a society built on justice, solidarity and freedom.

The state of Georgia plans to execute an innocent man tomorrow. We will not be silent in the face of this gross injustice – Troy Davis continues to resist –  and so shall we.

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