Troy Davis’s birthday.

Troy Davis should be turning 44 today; instead, we just marked the first anniversary of his unwarranted execution at the hands of the State of Georgia.

My friend Jen Marlowe, the filmmaker behind those powerful videos produced by Amnesty International in the fight for Troy’s life, produced the following video in his memory, calling on all of us to continue the work that Troy began from his prison cell, the work to abolish the death penalty. One way to do that is to support Amnesty in their fight against the death penalty; another way is to work for the passage of Prop 34 in California, which would abolish the death penalty in that state, and replace it with life in prison without possibility of parole.

In Troy’s own words:

We can correct all the wrongs if we just continue to stand together, and that’s what’s most important. We need to continue to stand together and educate each other, and don’t give up the fight.

We are all Troy Davis, now.

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Please help Troy Davis’s family.

Troy Davis & his family in a picture taken before the prison cut off "contact visits."

Readers of this blog will remember that I spent a few weeks this fall laser-focused on the case of Troy Davis, an innocent man on Georgia’s Death Row who, despite all evidence against him crumbling over the course of his incarceration, was executed on September 21. You can read the pieces I placed in The Atlantic online here: “Explaining the death penalty to my children” and here: “Troy Davis and the reality of doubt.”  You’ll find the post I wrote the day after Troy was murdered here.

I spent several weeks laser-focused on the Troy Davis case, but some people have spent several years, such as my friend Jen Marlowe. Working with Amnesty International, she did everything from producing a powerful series of videos telling his story, to counting signatures calling for the state of Georgia to spare his life. She came to know and love the Davis family, and her work on their behalf continues — in no small part because their tragedies didn’t end with Troy’s execution.

Indeed, the tragedies didn’t even start there. Troy’s mother Virginia died suddenly in April 2011, a death her daughter Martina was sure was a result of simple heartbreak over Troy’s failure to win a commutation of his sentence. Martina herself had been struggling with breast cancer for a decade when Troy was killed; two months after burying her brother, Martina herself died. The boy they all left behind, De’Jaun Davis-Correia, is an outstanding high school student who looked up to his uncle as a father-figure and is today hoping to attend Georgia Tech, where he wants to major in industrial engineering. It is a sign of the strength and the beauty of this family that De’Jaun is already a dedicated death penalty activist, and has been named by The Root as one of its “25 Young Futurists” for 2012. I cannot imagine how he gets up in the morning, much less makes plans.

But sorrow and loss aren’t the end of it. Three funerals in the space of seven months and years of cancer-related hospitalizations have resulted in bills that would overwhelm anyone.

For that reason, Jen (who is currently working on a book about Troy and Martina) is raising funds for the Davis family. Here’s the letter she sent out this week:

The Davis family lost three warriors for justice in the past seven months. Virginia Davis, the matriarch of the family, passed in April, just two weeks after the US Supreme Court denied Troy’s final appeal, paving the way for the state of Georgia to set a new execution date. According to Martina, her mother died of a broken heart–she couldn’t bear another execution date. Troy was executed on September 21, despite an international outcry over executing a man amid such overwhelming doubt. Troy’s sister and staunchest advocate, Martina, succumbed to her decade-long battle with cancer on December 1, exactly two months after her brother Troy’s funeral, leaving behind a teenaged son.

There are still outstanding medical and funeral bills that the Davis family must pay.

The Davis family has had to bear more tragedy and sorrow than any family should ever have to. Together, we can ensure that the financial aspect of these losses will not be a burden to them.

I have set up a simple way to contribute online to the family. I hope you will choose to help, and that you will share this information with others. All you have to do is click this link: https://www.wepay.com/donations/fund-for-troy-davis-s-family Any amount will be highly appreciated and will help them greatly!

Please circulate this information to others you think may be interested in helping.

Any questions can be directed to Jen Marlowe at donkeysaddle [at] gmail [dot] com.

In solidarity with all the Davis family has been fighting for and in sorrow for all they have had to endure,
Jen Marlowe
Troy Davis Campaign

If you are in a position to help, please do so. As Jen says, any amount will be helpful, and in the end, all the little amounts add up. Please also pass the word along to any and all who might be able to join in the effort.

Troy Davis is not here to help his family through this ordeal — those of us who fought for his life must now do so for him.

News about Troy Davis + another Georgia official who can help.

I’m thrilled to report that earlier today, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles was “swamped with Troy Davis petitions.” More than 650,000 signatures! (And I know one of the people who helped count!)

It’s not too late to add your name to the list (click here), and even if your name is already in the Board of Pardon’s offices, I have another petition for you to sign: This one is via Change.org and Mr. Davis’s younger sister Kimberly, and directed to Chatham Count DA Larry Chisholm. As District Attorney, Chisholm is in a position to request that the court withdraw the death warrant against Mr. Davis, which would of course be a very good thing. So far the petition has very few signatures (it was just put up this afternoon) — please swell those numbers, by signing (click here) and asking others to do the same.

Another quick Troy Davis update.

ColorOfChange is one of the many organizations that’s been advocating for Troy Davis, and they’re fundraising to place ads in Georgia media, to spread the word about the hearing and execution date. If you’d like to help, click here (they’re on Facebook here). (h/t asiangrrlMN)

And of course Amnesty has been doing a hell of a job on Mr. Davis’s behalf, for years. A donation to Amnesty would not go awry, either – click here for that. (For more background, details, petitions and sign-on letters, click here). It’s not too late to make a real difference!

Troy Davis given execution date.

Troy Davis in the Chatham County Superior Court during his trail in the shooting death of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. (AP Photo/Savannah Morning News)

UPDATE: Many thanks to Glenn Greenwald, at Salon.com, for linking to this post in his piece “Cheering for state-imposed death.” The number of click-throughs to the various Amnesty petitions and sign-on letters has jumped exponentially since he linked, and it is my sincere hope that these additional names will serve to help Troy Davis win clemency.

***

Troy Davis, the death row inmate about whom I wrote last week, has been given an execution date of September 21.

I repeat: Mr. Davis is almost certainly innocent of the crime for which the state of Georgia wants to kill him.

There is no physical evidence connecting him to the crime, seven out of the nine eyewitnesses have recanted, stating that they had been pressured, coerced or frightened into testifying, and jury members have said flat out: “If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row.”

The police officer that Mr. Davis was convicted of murdering deserves that justice be done — but killing a man who had nothing to do with Officer MacPhail’s death will only compound the injustice horribly.

Please, please:

  1. If you haven’t signed the Amnesty petition yet, please do so by clicking here.
  2. If you are a member of the legal profession or clergy, please join the sign-on letters being circulated in support of Mr. Davis’s request for clemency. Legal professionals click here; clergy, click here.
  3. Write a letter to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles (address and sample letter below): Here again, it is important to focus on the holes in the case — the fact that anything less than an ironclad verdict cannot be the basis for the death penalty.
  4. Watch the following video, regarding clemency for Troy, and pass it on– “The State of Georgia does not have to execute Troy Davis and it should not execute Troy Davis,” in the words of Prof Russell Covey, Criminal Law Expert, Georgia State University. “There is one fail-safe built into the system that still exists, and that’s the clemency process.”
  5. ASK OTHERS TO DO LIKEWISE, particularly citizens of Georgia. Send a link to this post, or to any of the above information, and ask your friends and loved ones to take action. Twitter and Facebook are great ways to spread news far and wide — if you are on either, please use them in support of Troy.

There is no other way to put this: There is a very real possibility that Troy Davis will be dead before the month is out, killed for a crime that he didn’t commit. Please do whatever you can to save his life.

******************

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Please note that as of today (9/14/11) snailmail will likely take too long to reach the board. Commenter AndyHall provides this email address for forwarding letters to the board: Clemency_Information@pap.state.ga.us (and suggests that, if you can, attach it as a .pdf as well, with a signature), and this site for more contact information: http://www.pap.state.ga.us/opencms/opencms/

Sample letter to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles (if you are a member of the legal profession or clergy, please say so in your letter):

Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909.

To the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles,

In the interest of justice, I appeal to you to grant clemency to Troy Davis, who is currently scheduled to be executed on September 21.  He was sentenced to death in 1991 for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail.

I am deeply concerned that Mr. Davis may be executed despite serious doubts regarding his guilt, and the fact that the case against him has steadily unraveled over the years. There is no physical evidence linking Mr. Davis to the crime, seven out of nine eyewitnesses have recanted, and many witnesses have implicated another man all together, someone reported to have boasted of the crime to friends — one of the original witnesses. There are scores of unresolved questions about what happened the night of the murder, and only one thing is clear: There is overwhelming doubt.

The murder of Officer MacPhail was tragic, and I in no way seek to deny or diminish the pain and suffering the MacPhail family has endured, but executing Troy Davis will not bring them justice. Please act quickly to grant Mr. Davis clemency.

Sincerely

Name
Address

****************

UPDATE: Edited to remove an action step that has since been deemed counter-productive.

Two quick things: Israel’s social protests & Troy Davis.

I don’t post on Shabbat, and may not be around at all until after Labor Day, so quickly, before I take off:

  1. If you’re looking for information on Israel’s J14 social movement and the Million Person March slated for Saturday night, some good resources are: +972 Magazine, HaAretz, and Twitter — note: even if you’re not “on Twitter,” you can click through on these links to see what these folks are saying, and get to the sources to which they’re linking: @972mag, @j14ENG (an English-language aggregator/translator of many and varied j14 sources), @ibnezra, @DidiRemez, @myaguarnieri, @gershonbaskin, and (possibly) @acarvin.
  2. Please don’t forget Troy Davis. It is entirely likely that the State of Georgia will give Mr. Davis his execution date once the Labor Day holiday is behind us, and I repeat: Mr. Davis is almost certainly innocent of the crime for which the State of Georgia wants to kill him. Please, if you haven’t signed the Amnesty petition yet (click here), or are a member of the clergy or legal profession and haven’t yet joined the sign-on letters (click here) — please do so. A man’s life very literally hangs in the balance. It’s especially important to get the involvement of people in Georgia — please pass the word on!

UPDATE: Calling legal professionals and clergy for Troy Davis.

Yesterday I wrote about Troy Davis and the fact that he has been sentenced to death for a murder that he almost certainly did not commit. Despite copious evidence pointing to Mr. Davis’s innocence, the state of Georgia will likely give him an execution date in September.

In that post, I asked that you watch a video and sign the Amnesty petition, but Jen Marlowe pointed out that if you are a legal professional or member of the clergy, you can take an extra, crucial step: Joining a sign-on letter to demonstrate that those most familiar with the law, and those most intimately attuned to this nation’s spiritual and ethical standards, support Mr. Davis in his request for clemency. Legal professionals can sign the appropriate letter by clicking here; members of the clergy can add their names by clicking here.

This cannot be stated baldly enough: Troy Davis may soon be put to death for a crime he almost certainly did not commit.

Please ask someone you know to join you in taking a stand.

“A verdict that is not ironclad is not good enough to support the death penalty.”

UPDATE: If you are a legal professional or member of the clergy, please click here to read an important update.

Let me get this out of the way: I am opposed to the death penalty under any circumstances. I think that Adolf Eichmann should have been allowed to rot in prison. I don’t think that killing people helps society in any way, if it’s not absolutely necessary for reasons of defense, and I don’t believe that the death penalty acts as any kind of deterrent.

And yet, I do understand the impulse behind the death penalty. Some people really have done monstrous things, and I can understand the desperate feeling that such monsters produce in our hearts, the horror, the sense that monsters do not deserve to live.

But at the very least, should we not be absolutely certain that the person about to be executed is, in fact, a monster? Did, in fact, do what we’re killing that person for doing?

Twenty years ago, Troy Davis was convicted of murdering Mark MacPhail, a police officer in Savannah, Georgia. There is no physical evidence tying Mr. Davis to Officer MacPhail’s murder, and seven of the nine non-law enforcement witnesses have recanted, saying, time and again, that they were frightened and coerced by police, and that moreover, they were terrified by the man they believe to have actually committed the crime. Mr. Davis has himself always maintained his innocence, and jurors have said, flat out: “If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row.”

In spite of all of this, and much more, Mr. Davis remains on death row. He has already lived through execution dates (once coming within an hour or so of death — stop and imagine that for a minute) only to win a stay each time — but a stay of execution is procedural. Mr. Davis is still in danger of being killed for a crime that, at the very least, it is entirely possibly that he did not commit — and he will likely be given a new execution date in September.

If you have 73 seconds to spare, please watch the following video, made by my friend Jen Marlowe, who has done holy work in bringing Mr. Davis’s case to the public eye for years (if you have a bit more time, you can watch the series of four videos in which the shorter clip’s themes are fleshed out and more details provided). Please, please: Sign the Amnesty petition — Amnesty has wisely taken no stand on Mr. Davis’s guilt or innocence, maintaining only that in a case this riddled with doubt, no one should be put to death.

There is one chance remaining for Mr. Davis: The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles. The Parole Board can consider information that the court system cannot, and exercise clemency. In the words of Prof. Anne Emanuel, a death penalty expert at Georgia State University:

Because I find this conviction and this sentence so troubling, what I would like to see the Parole Board do is not only exercise the power of clemency to set aside the death penalty — I think that is an absolute moral and legal necessity in this case, if for no other reason than it is so terribly unfair to the jurors themselves who allowed this death penalty to proceed when the evidence on which they relied has now been disproved and some of it withdrawn by the state itself…. A verdict that is not ironclad is not good enough to support the death penalty.

Please do these two small things — watch the following video, and click here to sign the petition — and then do one more thing: Tell someone else.

Simply put, there is nothing on earth that justifies putting Troy Davis to death. Please do what you can to save his life.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.