2011-09-21 "Troy Davis - In America, innocence doesn't matter!"
In America, innocence doesn't matter! Our legal system is corrupt! Almost everyone on Death Row is poor, found guilty because they had underfunded, inexperienced and often incompetent public financed legal representation. Once found guilty, corruption by police, prosecutors and the courts is often ignored and the legal system and laws make it nearly impossible to demonstrate one’s innocence.
Outrageous! Troy Davis is scheduled for execution September 21! The Georgia Board of Pardons & Paroles denied a final clemency– a final chance to prevent Troy Davis from being executed. 7 of 9 witnesses have recanted their testimony. Witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis. 3 of the jurors have stated they no longer believe Davis is guilty.
Even more outrageous! One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester "Red" Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.
It should be a crime when law enforcement, lawyers, and court officials deliberately lie, coerce witnesses, tamper with evidence, & withhold evidence to convict others of a crime. These crimes have been justified as "He has probably done other bad things, anyway" or “We need to find someone guilty even it is not the right person” or “We need to remove a political troublemaker by framing him”.
* Is This One of America's Worst Miscarriages of Justice? [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/09/21]
* A Circle of Prayer for Troy Davis—and the Country That Would Kill Him [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/21-4]
* Tomorrow, Georgia Murders Troy Davis [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/20-11]
* The Extraordinary Movement to Save Troy Davis [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/19-9]
* Troy Davis and the Politics of Death [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/14]
* How to Help Troy Davis [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/13-9]
* The Troy Davis Case: Will America Execute Another Innocent?[http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/09-11]
2011-09-22 "Troy Davis Protestors take to the Streets: "This is what Democracy Looks like" by By Amity Paye from "Amsterdam News"
What started as a twitter post just minutes after Troy Davis' execution became a full fledged, unreported revolt in the streets of New York City today.
"Raise your hand, raise your fist, it is time to resist," they chanted.
At 5 p.m. 100-200 people gathered at Union Square for a rally in the name of Troy Davis, who was on death row for over two decades for the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail and was executed September 21 at 11:08pm in Savannah, Georgia.
In a town hall-style gathering people from all walks of life, and many different organizations voiced their reasons for supporting this battle.
Lawrence Haynes, a former death row prisoner and anti-death penalty activist said, "Troy Davis up until his death was the poster child for reasonable doubt...the whole criminal justice system is rotten to the core, and we are not talking reform we are talking abolition. We want to abolish the execution system. It is unfair, it is unjust, it is racist." To the black community in attendance Haynes said, "We got our own voice and we need to raise it up."
With goals ranging from the end of the death penalty to the end of all racism in America, protestors took the microphone, raising their voices up. One speaker remembered Sean Bell, saying his death should also be remembered in this movement, while yet another reminded people of Mumia Abu Jamal, a former member of the Black Panther Party who has been on death row since 1981.
A representative from the International Socialist Organization said, "they'd rather kill him (Troy Davis) than admit that they made a mistake, but one thing they're not counting on is our anger, our strength." The next speaker, Sean Baucom, called on the young people in the crowd to draw on that strength saying, "Instead of using social media for pointless updates, use it to organize and be aware."
And that was exactly what happened when another speaker called for everyone to march. The group began moving from Union Square towards the West Village. They marched west on 14th Street, then turned south onto 5th Avenue to pass Washington Square Park, where New York University students were literally jumping out of their first floor windows and tweeting their friends to join in on the march.
"The system is racist, they killed troy Davis," they chanted.
Along the way police continuously tried to stop the march by creating a row of motorcycles to block the way, but protestors kept finding detours around them. From there the growing crowd marched onto McDougal Street, with patrons at its bustling bars taking pictures and joining the crowd. On Spring and Thompson the crowd clashed with a much stronger police force, about 50 cops with tear gas dispensers in hand and paddy wagons. Protestors and police fought a couple of times.
One man was thrown to the ground, provoking the comment to police, "you're all Black, how can you do this to your people," from one protestor. But the frightened crowd did not stay to hear a response and ran away from each fight onto the sidewalks. After the commotion died down, protestors and police stood sizing each other up for a few minutes before the march turned back uptown and east towards Broadway.
Once it reached Broadway the crowd had grown to well over 1000 and filled the entire street, stopping traffic completely as it marched with a new goal to join the protestors at Wall Street who have been protesting for the past week against the financial system that they say favors the rich over the poor.
"The people united will never be defeated," they chanted.
Once at Wall Street there was some confusion as to what the protestors should do next, and some stayed at Zuccotti Park while others marched on to Wall and Broad Streets .
Following a procession of drummers the protest on Wall and Broad Streets took on a half party feel in the smokey streats in a way only the Y generation can enjoy social change. The war-like drums continued as protestors were cornered between police barricades and began to clash with police when they tried to break through. At least one person was arrested in this interaction before police asked everyone to leave and began blocking off groups of protestors, splitting them up and pushing them back to Zuccotti Park.
Once at the park there was a "general assembly" where the reunited group tried to determine, democratically of course, what to do next. One member of the crowd yelled out "mike check mike check," and it was repeated by all around.
"Barricades are actually for our safety," said one protestor.
"Barricades are actually for our safety," repeated the crowd.
"Mike check mike check," said a different voice from across the crowd.
"Mike check mike check."
"I'm a little confused."
"I'm a little confused."
"And I think I'm not alone."
"And I think I'm not alone."
"Mike check mike check."
"Mike check mike check."
"If you want to march."
"If you want to march."
"Lets go to the First Precinct."
"Lets go to the First Precinct."
One group decided to stay fast at the park and continue the protests they started earlier this week while the other decided to march to the First Precinct to attempt to retrieve two CUNY students, Freddy Bastonna and Augustine Castro, and two members of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM, Brandon King and Joe Jordan, who according to police, had been arrested for resisting arrest.
"Let our brothers go," they chanted.
The contingent of about 50 young people was met by police in riot gear waiting for them outside the First Precinct. Faced with this threat the group, which included members of MXGM, sat down on the pavement and began to chant even louder, attempting to send hope and support to their imprisoned friends.
The police, affronted by this peaceful gesture, announced that the protestors would be arrested for obstructing traffic. Staying peaceful, yet again, the group pressed itself against the wall of the First Precinct. "You're obstructing traffic now," said a voice in the crowd and the seemingly surprised police pressed against the wall too. An awkward man in a grey suit walked on by.
"We are men and women and they are beasts," said Kilo Vasquez among a group of friends who were leading the protest. "we are free and they (pointing to police) are slaves."
Members of the group including Domingo Estevez and Lamont Wale made impassioned speeches about solidarity and sticking by in times of need. The group chanted outside of the First Precinct for about an hour, sitting on the pavement surrounded by police, before voting to retreat back to Zuccotti Park under renewed threat of mass arrest.
"Mike check mike check,"
"Mike check mike check"
"Some people have changed their vote, we don't want to risk losing the momentum we have gained today," said Domingo Estevez, making the difficult decision to leave his close friends in jail in order to maintain support for the movement.
"This is what democracy looks like," they chanted.
Various groups have called for post-protest meetings, to continue the activism and organize collectively. The Zuccotti Park protest continues its live-in stay on Wall Street. The International Socialist Organization will be holding a meeting, "why they murdered Troy Davis, racism, capitalism and the injustice system." on Wednesday September 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Saint Mary's church in Harlem. Members of The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement said they will also be announcing meetings in the wake of these protests via their Facebook page.
"Message from Martina and Troy" by Lily Mae Hughes
Lily Mae Hughes works with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just wanted to take a moment to let people know that yesterday evening I spoke with Martina Correia, Troy’s sister and champion.
Despite being ill, Martina has been able to be with Troy over the last few days and was able to attend the clemency hearing for him. Her doctor worked closely with her to make it possible for her to leave the hospital to be with Troy and her family.
When we were talking about how her doctors were helping, I thought of the call for the medical staff at the hospital to refuse to carry out the execution. She said her doctor is against the death penalty and fully supports her – now that is what doctors should be doing!
We discussed the case and as she says – IT’S NOT OVER! They are going to the courts for a stay and will try to take it all the way to the Supreme Court. She also stressed the call to the Savannah DA – despite what he says, he can request that the judge withdraw the death warrant, and she said people should keep up the pressure on him.
We talked a little about the clemency meeting last Monday. She described how during the court ordered hearing last year, the DA from the original trial took to the stand and acted like he had amnesia – he kept saying that the case was over 20 years old and he couldn’t remember details about it. But at the clemency hearing on Monday this same DA got up and suddenly remembered all about the case again – how they had done this and that investigation and done everything right.
The family was shocked that the clemency board could deny Troy with so much evidence that that was presented showing his innocence.
We talked about what the victim’s family has been saying in the media – and she stressed that for their part, Troy’s family has always expressed sympathy to Mark MacPhail’s family and tried to show them how Troy’s family has been victimized by this ordeal.
Martina and her family visited with Troy yesterday and she said they are so heartened by the outpouring of support for Troy. Martina said that they are amazed at how people all over the world are speaking out because they are reading about the case on their own and seeing that it is a travesty of justice.
Troy told her to let people know that he hopes everyone will keep fighting. Again, IT ISN’T OVER! Troy intends to fight all the way and so should we. He also said that no matter what happens, he wants people to keep in mind that it’s not just about him – he hopes people will continue to fight until the death penalty is finally abolished.
Martina told me to please convey a thank you to the CEDP for everything we are doing. I told her that we loved her very much and to please give our love to Troy and let him know that we will be fighting for him now and always.
2011-09-21 "Troy Davis execution delayed while US supreme court considers stay; Execution of death row inmate delayed temporarily as US supreme court intervenes to consider whether to issue a stay" by Ed Pilkington from "guardian.co.uk"
The execution of Troy Davis was delayed temporarily by the US supreme court on Wednesday night in a dramatic intervention just as he was due to be put to death by lethal injection.
The last-minute decision caused confusion outside the prison in Jackson, Georgia, where family, supporters and civil rights campaigners broke into celebration as they believed the court had granted Davis a stay of execution.
But it quickly emerged that the delay was only temporary, while the justices considered whether to issue a stay.
Until that moment it seemed almost certain that Davis would be executed, as the Georgia supreme court had rejected a last-ditch appeal by Davis's lawyers over the 1989 murder of off-duty policeman Mark MacPhail, for which Davis had been sentenced to death despite overwhelming evidence that the conviction is unreliable.
A Butts County superior court judge had also declined to stop the execution.
Davis's attorneys had filed an appeal challenging ballistics evidence linking Davis to the crime, and eyewitness testimony identifying Davis as the killer.
The White House declined to comment on the case, saying "it is not appropriate for the president of the United States to weigh in on specific cases".
At the maximum security prison in Jackson where the execution is scheduled to take place, busloads of Troy Davis supporters from his home town of Savannah came in to register their anger and despair at what they all agree is the planned judicial killing of an innocent man.
Edward Dubose, a leader of the Georgia branch of the NAACP, said it was not an execution, but a "murder".
The protest heard from Martina Correia, Davis's eldest sister, who delivered a statement from about 20 family members gathered around her. She was heavily critical of what she described as the defiance of the state of Georgia and its inability to admit that it had made a mistake.
She pointed out that the state's parole board had vowed in 2007 that no execution would take place if there was any doubt. "Every year there is more and more doubt yet still the state pushes for an execution," she said.
Correia, who has cancer, struggled to her feet in honour of her brother, just a few hours from his probable death. But she exhorted people not to give up.
"If you can get millions of people to stand up against this you can end the death penalty. We shouldn't have to live in a state that executes people when there's doubt."
Dubose gave an account of a 30-minute conversation he had with Davis on death row on Tuesday night. "Troy wanted me to let you know – keep the faith. The fight is bigger than him."
Dubose said that whether the execution went ahead or not, the fight would continue. He said Davis wants his case to set an example "that the death penalty in this country needs to end. They call it execution; we call it murder."
Hundreds of people gathered outside the prison many wearing t-shirts that said: "I am Troy Davis". The activist Al Sharpton said: "What is facing execution tonight is not just the body of Troy Davis, but the spirit of due justice in the state of Georgia."
Larry Coz, the executive director of Amnesty in the US, that has led the international campaign for clemency, said demonstrations were happening outside US embassies in France, Mali, Hong Kong, Peru, Germany and the UK.
"We will not stop fighting until we live in a world where no state thinks it can kill innocent people."
After winning three delays since 2007, Davis lost his most realistic chance at last-minute clemency this week when the Georgia pardons board denied his request despite serious doubts about his guilt.
Some witnesses who testified against Davis at trial later recanted, and others who did not testify came forward to say another man did it. But a federal judge dismissed those accounts as "largely smoke and mirrors" after a hearing Davis was granted last year to argue for a new trial, which he did not win.
Davis refused a last meal. He planned to spend his final hours meeting with friends, family and supporters.
Davis has received support from hundreds of thousands of people, including a former FBI director, former president Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI.
In Europe, where the planned execution has drawn widespread criticism, politicians and activists were making a last-minute appeal to the state of Georgia to refrain from executing Davis. Amnesty International and other groups planned a protest outside the US embassy in Paris later on Wednesday and Amnesty also called a vigil outside the embassy in London.
Parliamentarians and government ministers from the Council of Europe, the EU's human rights watchdog, called for Davis's sentence to be commuted. Renate Wohlwend of the council's parliamentary assembly said that "to carry out this irrevocable act now would be a terrible mistake which could lead to a tragic injustice".
The US supreme court gave him an unusual opportunity to prove his innocence last year, but his attorneys failed to convince a judge he didn't do it.
State and federal courts have repeatedly upheld his conviction.
Prosecutors have no doubt they charged the right person, and MacPhail's family lobbied the pardons board Monday to reject Davis's clemency appeal.
The board refused to stop the execution a day later.
"He has had ample time to prove his innocence," said MacPhail's widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris. "And he is not innocent."
Spencer Lawton, the district attorney who secured Davis's conviction in 1991, said he was embarrassed for the judicial system that the execution has taken so long.
"What we have had is a manufactured appearance of doubt which has taken on the quality of legitimate doubt itself. And all of it is exquisitely unfair," said Lawton, who retired as Chatham County's head prosecutor in 2008.
"The good news is we live in a civilized society where questions like this are decided based on fact in open and transparent courts of law, and not on street corners."
Davis supporters said they will push the pardons board to reconsider his case.
They also asked Savannah prosecutors to block the execution, although Chatham County district attorney Larry Chisolm said in a statement he was powerless to withdraw an execution order for Davis issued by a state superior court judge.
"We appreciate the outpouring of interest in this case; however, this matter is beyond our control," Chisolm said.