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THE DEATH OF TROY DAVIS September 23, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Humankind/Planet Earth, Life Experience, US Politics.

There are a number of obvious problems surrounding the execution by lethal injection in a Georgia prison of Troy Davis.

Putting aside the question of the appropriateness of the death penalty, versus other practical measures that could be used such as restricting or banning guns, include some very obvious issues. Firstly, he was executed twenty years after the crime occurred. The homeless man who was at the centre of the original incident might now be dead. Aside from the problematic nature of witness testimony, which the majority of which was later recanted, suggested that the cross examination conducted in the court proceedings was not competent. The murder weapon was apparently not presented to the court. There would appear to be questions about the rigour of the process of reasonable doubt in this case.

Whatever justice is, it is the process of identifying the right person responsible for any action, and providing proportionate and appropriated penalties or responses. When the conduct of this case is considered – I have not the details – the skin colour (as distinct from other categories such as race and ethnicity) and history have much to do with the outcome. I was very stuck by the large convoy of police vehicles that descended on the protest outside the prison. The use of threat power on this order and the underlying assumption of violence is quite revealing, and reminds me of a likely response of Israeli authorities to Palestinian protests.

Others, including Robert Scheer and Eugene Robinsion, have said that a young Troy Davis
may have shot the policeman, whose fatal mistake apparently was to assist the homeless person. I do not see any difference in shooting a policeman or any other human being, although there may be some them more determined to right the wrong in their mind.

Some of the police officer’s family claimed that the execution after twenty years would provide closure. So the question then is does vengeance provide closure, or the capacity to live constructively into the future? Perhaps understanding is a better medicine. If the murder of Officer MacPhail was intentional, was it based on anger or hatred? Could it be that we might all be able to live without guns (fear), anger and hatred? How would we do that?

It is impressive and extraordinary that Troy Davis at the moment before his death addresses the family of the victim of the crime and his executioners. He proclaimed his innocence, said he understood the pain experienced by the family, and asked for forgiveness for those who were charged with killing him.

Troy Davis’ last words:

“I’d like to address the MacPhail family. Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I’m not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight. For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls.”


At Truthdig Radio Mike Farrell and Dave Zirin express their views.

The Troy Davis case was reviewed on Law and Disorder Radio in 2007.



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