Execution Date is Inevitable. Execution is NOT.

April 8, 2011

Back row, left to right: Richard Hughes (Keane), Troy Davis, Alistair Carmichael (MP), Kim Manning-Cooper (AI), Laura Moye (AI); Front: Virginia Davis and Martina Correia (family)

Troy  Davis has run out of appeals.  But he has not run out of hope, and neither have we.

It has been one harrowing rollercoaster ride for Troy Davis since he was implicated in the horrible murder of Officer Mark MacPhail in 1989.  Troy has faced three execution dates and he is about to face a fourth.

The question before Georgia right now is, “how will it carry out an execution?”  The seizure of its lethal injection drugs has caused a delay in the process, but that could be resolved very soon.  The next question, the more important one, will be, “will Georgia carry out an execution?”  And in Troy Davis’ case, the question is even more intense, “will it execute a person despite the fact that doubts about his guilt remain unresolved?”

Davis was tasked with proving his innocence at a special evidentiary hearing last year.  The judge ruled against him and the Supreme Court on March 28 refused to hear his appeal of the ruling.  His case exists in a weird grey zone where he’s been unable to prove his innocence to the “extraordinarily high” standard set by the courts, but it’s clear that doubts persist about his guilt.  Without the benefit of physical evidence, his conviction relies on the testimony of a group of witnesses, most of whom have recanted, and many of whom allege police pressured them into testifying falsely at the trial.

Troy’s innocence claim relies on these same witnesses, but the courts that accepted their credibility for the conviction did not buy their newer testimony.  I was at the hearing last summer.  When a witness took the stand to swear that he saw a relative of his, not Troy Davis, shoot the police officer, that was powerful testimony.  But he showed up in a prison jumpsuit and the state underscored his record to attack his credibility, and the judge didn’t believe that he had reasonable fears keeping him from speaking all these years.  What is hard to understand is why these witnesses would go to great lengths to tell a new story, risking charges of perjury, some feeling threatened either by the system or by the alternative suspect.  And not a one has gained fame, public praise or one red cent.

I have been on this journey with Troy’s family, though for only four years and not twenty-two.  I have visited him.  I have stood with his family on countless occasions.  They are fighters.  They believe deeply in their faith and they believe deeply in the power of hope to overcome injustice.  And they are sorry for the double injustice of what their loved one has experienced and the awful and endless journey Officer MacPhail’s family has experienced, too.

This is what we need you to do:

1)      Believe in the power of hope and in the power of collective action for human rights.  This case is changing things!

2)      Circulate the petition for Troy Davis widely.  Ask ten friends to ask ten friends to fill up the petition form and/or circulate the link to the online petition.   Click on the icons above to share this blog on your Facebook wall and twitter.

3)      Comb your contacts for connections to religious leaders and legal professionals and ask them to add their names the two sign-on letters.

4)      Be prepared to join us for an international day of solidarity, which will be set once an execution date is set.  We will organize actions in Georgia and want you to join us in Atlanta or organize something where you live.  Together we will say to Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Paroles, the final failsafe, “There is too much doubt in the Troy Davis case.  Grant Troy Davis clemency to prevent what could be a horrific and irreversible mistake.”