Saturday, October 01, 2011

NOTE on REGGIE - TROY Davis' Legacy

Be sure to go to Amnesty to the Take Action section to see how to help stop a similar execution from happening in Missouri where there is ALSO TOO MUCH DOUBT. See Comments below for ongoing reports.
The top photo found at - - of a rooftop sign visible to vehicles on the Bruckner Expressway in the Bronx came to us via twitter and demonstrates the permanance and deep resonance of the case of Troy Davis. On The Huffington Post, NCADP's Executive Director reflects on how the execution of Troy Davis impacts efforts to abolish the death penalty. Find the photo with CURRENT alerts to sign on NCADP's current home page GO here

Martina Correia
In this 2nd Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008 file photo, Troy Davis supporter Jessica Peifer, left, is comforted by Davis' older sister Martina Correia, right, during an Amnesty International rally at the State Capitol in Atlanta. Correia, the older sister of Troy Davis says she's not angry following his execution of her brother Troy Davis in Georgia, but she's determined to keep fighting the death penalty in her brother's memory. (AP Photo/Jenni Girtman)

Troy Davis' Legacy: A New, Deeply Personal Movement
By Jen Marlowe and Kung Li,

01 October 11

On September 21, at 11:08 p.m., Martina Correia leaned forward in her wheelchair on the grounds of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. Though weak from battling illness, she called out to Laura Moye, Amnesty USA's death penalty abolition campaign director.

"Laura, come here. I want you to meet this young woman. She drove all the way from San Francisco to be here." Correia asked Moye to be sure to plug the young woman into the abolition work taking place in California.

Neither Correia nor Moye had any way to know that at the exact moment Correia was recruiting the young activist into the movement, her brother, Troy Davis, had just succumbed to death by lethal injection.

The young woman was one of hundreds of thousands of people recruited, directly or indirectly, by Correia to the fight against her brother's death sentence. Nearly a million wrote letters and signed petitions on behalf of Davis. In the weeks after Georgia set his execution date, thousands took to the streets and marched in Atlanta and thousands more marched around the world. On Sept. 21, over 600 made the journey to Jackson to protest the execution and stand in solidarity with Troy Davis's family. It was an uproar, utterly unprecedented.

Almost exactly 20 years earlier, on the same prison grounds in Jackson, fewer than a dozen people were on hand for the execution of Warren McCleskey, a black man sentenced to death for killing a white police officer. There was no physical evidence that McCleskey was the shooter, leaving the state's main evidence a man who testified McCleskey had confessed to him. For years, the state hid the fact that the witness was a police informant, and that the police had illegally created the testimony by placing the informant in McCleskey's jail cell.

McCleskey the man is little remembered, but one of his appeals that reached the Supreme Court changed legal history. In McCleskey v. Kemp, the US Supreme Court considered statistical evidence that Georgia's death penalty is carried out in a racially discriminatory manner. The evidence was undisputed, but the Court understood that if a death sentence could be overturned by statistics showing racial disparities, then no part of the criminal justice system would be safe from legal challenge. Racial disparities far more yawning than those surrounding the death penalty exist in arrests, detention and sentencing.

So the Supreme Court created an impossible test: McCleskey must show the racial discrimination was intentional. That is, McCleskey could only prove racial discrimination if the district attorney or trial judge stepped forward and proclaimed that they had acted on the basis of race.

With McCleskey, the Supreme Court decided it would rather tolerate a racist criminal justice system than open the floodgates to legal challenges about the system's racial disparities.

Troy Davis's case, fought as hard in the courts as McCleskey's, exposed another morally questionable judicial preference - for finality over truth. No matter how flawed the process that produces a conviction, the burden shifts to the convicted to prove claims of innocence. It is a standard designed to help the system bury its mistakes - in Troy's case, quite literally so. The judiciary would rather get it done than get it right.

For the last 30 years, the battle over the death penalty has been contained inside courtrooms and on the pages of legal briefs. The judicial system, asked to judge the foundations of its own house, papered over the problems of racial bias and doubt.

But then something extraordinary happened, as support for Troy Davis grew. These fundamental problems of doubt and racial bias moved outside the confines of the judiciary and shifted - quite abruptly - from being legal questions to personal ones.

Correia is most responsible for making things personal. People were drawn to Troy Davis's case because she insisted that people connect with her brother not as a convict or a death row inmate, but as a person. The connection between Troy and his supporters was at times literally made through his sister. In 2009, Correia patched Troy through from prison to a conference call with activists from Amnesty International.

"Everything is coming to a head and people are starting to wake up more and more," Davis said on the call. "This is just the beginning of something … we're going to win this fight, we're going to continue to open these eyes, we're going to continue to open these prison doors, we're going to continue to hold accountable all those that are in charge of these unjust systems."

As activists sought out who to hold accountable, it became clear that what Justice John Paul Stevens famously called the "machinery of death" is in fact made up of individual human beings, each with their own moral compass, and so each one morally accountable.

There is Larry Chisolm, the Chatham County district attorney, who put in the request for a death warrant. There is the Superior Court judge named Penny Freesmann who signed it. The man who set the actual date and time of execution is Brian Owens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections. Five human beings comprise the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole, three of whom voted to deny Davis clemency. A group of correctional officers walked Troy to the execution chamber. Prison nurses prepared the IV lines. Carlo Musso, a doctor, collected $18,000 for overseeing the execution. Warden Carl Humphrey ordered over 125 CERT officers to dress out in full riot gear and stand guard so that those inside the prison could carry out the killing.

But the most significant shift into the personal can be understood through the blue Amnesty USA t-shirts that Troy supporters have been wearing for years, with white letters spelling, "I Am Troy Davis."

Initially, the t-shirts were a sign of solidarity with the plight of a possibly innocent man on death row. But many are now wearing them with a sense of anger and identification that is far wider and deeper than the issue of Davis's innocence. Davis's execution, the events leading up to it and the feelings growing out of it have mobilized those who have been targeted and under attack by our criminal justice apparatus, especially (but not only) young black men, particularly in the South, and their mothers, sisters, parents and grandparents. What was once primarily a badge of solidarity is now, for many, a declaration of identity.

These young black and brown men and women are taking to heart James Baldwin's plea in "An Open Letter to My Sister, Angela Y. Davis" when she was awaiting trial: "we must fight for your life as though it were our own - which it is - and render impassable with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night."

Angela Davis was acquitted, and years later in an essay advocating the abolition of not only the death penalty but the entire prison industrial complex, wrote that "we are fighting the same battles over and over again, but in doing so in community, we are ever enlarging, ever expanding our notion of freedom."

It is a sentiment echoed by Troy Davis, who repeatedly stressed that "we need to continue to stand together and educate each other and don't give up the fight."

The fight is not metaphorical. There are people determined to end capital punishment, and there are people determined to use it. The latest battle took place September 21, 2011, in Jackson, Georgia. Inside, hundreds of people carried out their parts in the script for killing Troy Davis, while outside, hundreds more - including four busloads of students from Armstrong, Savannah State, Morehouse, Spelman and Atlanta University - stood, prayed, and raged in opposition.

One of the people in the crowd at Jackson that night was Cara McCleskey, Warren McCleskey's now adult daughter. Twenty legal appeals and a small army of lawyers did not save her father's life. The million people who rallied behind Troy did not save his. The battles against the death penalty and against the racism of our criminal justice system will, as Angela Davis predicted, continue to be fought over and over again.

But something profound has shifted. Millions have had their eyes opened due to Troy Davis. For others, he made visible what they already knew, through personal experience, about the racism embedded in the criminal justice system. Thousands of young, African American men and women in the South are declaring "I am Troy Davis" as if their lives depend on it. We are standing together in a moment of expansion, which, if seized with the love and fury that surrounded the Davis family in Jackson last week, could bring us all closer to free.

Michael Henry and other protesters gather on the steps of the Georgia Capitol building in Atlanta on September 20, 2011, the day before the state killed Troy Davis. (photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Jen Marlowe is a human rights activist, author and filmmaker. Her most recent book is "The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian's Journey from Prisoner to Peacemaker" (Nation Books, 2011). Kung Li is the former executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta.


connie nash said...

In Troy's Name: A Message from Stephen Dear

Tomorrow (when this comment posted Saturday)
I will be an honorary pallbearer at Troy Davis's funeral in Savannah, Ga. Troy empowered millions of people and that is how I will remember him.

He asked everyone to pledge to work to end the death penalty and that is what I am writing to you about today.A few minutes before Troy was scheduled to be poisoned to death in Jackson, Ga. last week I made the sign of the cross, took a deep breath, and with my friend Kurt calmly crossed the street into a phalanx of heavily armed police and SWAT officers at the gates of the Georgia Diagnostic Prison.

We were surrounded."I am here to stop the execution of Troy Davis," I said.They screamed at me to leave.At that moment, with a thousand people standing behind us watching and cheering, I knew things would never be the same in our movement. There were too many new faces in the crowd. I am writing you now on Troy's behalf to ask you to pledge to take another step with me, to pray and act to expand the circle of abolitionists. Please sign People of Faith Against the Death Penalty's Pledge for Abolition.


connie nash said...

Here is the 2nd half of a report from Steve Dear who's been the visionary & sustainer for years of The PFADP and who was a leader in collecting signatures from faith leaders in an heroic attempt to halt Troy Davis' execution. This is after the nonviolent protest the night of the xecution took place - in police reaction to a strong statement of disapproval by Steve and others...

"...They screamed at my face and grabbed me.

"We are nonviolent. We are unarmed. We mean you no harm, officers."

'We were handcuffed tightly behind our backs, and yelled at again. (More than a week later, my wrists are still bruised, and I still cannot feel my left thumb from the heavy plastic ties left on for one hour.) We were placed in a police van with three young men, fellow nonviolent protesters. Two more new friends, a father and son from a Georgia church, would join us.

'We did not know Troy's fate until we were released in the morning. That same night Lawrence Brewer was executed in Texas.

'I was sure that the most appropriate place for me to be that night was sharing a small cell with four other men, two of us having to lie on the floor at the Butts County Jail. One of the guards taunted and insulted some of my friends as if to provoke them into an angry reaction.

'Charged with disorderly conduct, we go to court on November 17.

'I could not not take that action to stop the execution.

'I am asking you now to discern where you stand and what you are willing to do to help make sure executions are stopped forever in our country.

'I had been in Georgia the week before to deliver the letter organized by People of Faith Against the Death Penalty and signed by more than 3,500 religious leaders from across the country and beyond. CNN and other media reported our finding that no such letter in modern history was thought to have as many endorsements from religious leaders. More than 1 million people signed petitions for Troy.

'In light of the massive mobilization that you helped bring about, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles did more than seal Troy's fate with their failure to grant clemency.

'They triggered a new wave of the abolition movement.

'They have challenged the consciences of clergy and laity to become involved in new ways.

'Thanks to you our movement will never be the same.

'Please sign PFADP's Pledge for Abolition and forward it to your family, your friends, your colleagues, your pastoral leaders, your mayor, and even your district attorney, police chief and sheriff.

'As Troy is soon laid to rest, let us take this sad moment and transform it from despair into hope and action.

'Let us pledge to rise up and unbind our souls, our country, and our world from the death penalty.

'Stand with me and say, "I am here to stop the execution of the next Troy Davis – and every single person living on death row."

Join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty
110 W. Main St., Suite 2-G, Carrboro NC 27510
(919) 933-7567

connie nash said...

From Troy Davis:

“Thank you and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’…. We need to dismantle this unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country. I can’t wait to stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form.”

CN said...

Yesterday Troy Davis was laid to rest.

Thousands joined in to celebrate his life at the Jonesville Baptist Church, and tens of thousands more joined online through the webstream. The power of our global community—united to honor, to stand on convictions and to show respect–was palpable inside the church.

There was little talk of sadness, little mention of grief. The Davis family, compelled by their deep faith, chose to celebrate Troy’s spirit, to honor his life, and to continue to move his mission to abolish the death penalty.

Their strength mirrors Troy’s own. Half of his life was spent behind bars, a captive of a system designed to crush even the mightiest of spirits. But Troy never lost hope. He never lost his faith in God or in his higher purpose.

In the execution room, Troy used his last words to proclaim his innocence one final time. He then made a call for his movement—all of our movement—to bring about to end of the death penalty for good. And then, in his final breath, he asked God’s mercy upon those about to kill him.

Even in his darkest hour Troy Davis saw light. In the face of death he showed compassion, resolution and conviction—a bravery that will forever be remembered.

So together, we will honor Troy’s memory and work to end the terror of state sponsored execution. It was a goal of Fredrick Douglass, Ida B Wells, and Thurgood Marshall. And it is a goal that the NAACP will carry forward in the weeks and months ahead.

A punishment reserved almost exclusively for poor people of all colors, and especially for those like Troy who are of color, is not a punishment. It’s the most irreversible and violent act of discrimination, and the ultimate violation of human rights.

The way that each of us can ensure the end of capital punishment comes as soon as possible is to shift from rallies where we shout the slogan I am Troy Davis, to a sustained campaign where we practice the faith of Troy Davis. If our movement is going to be successful, then we must focus on three types of action:

First, we must target the death penalty for elimination in ten more states.

Second, we must approach every sitting District Attorney and candidate for District Attorney and let them know that they will no longer get our votes unless they stop sending people to death row.

Finally, we all must vote. We are more powerful than those who would do wrong in this world. But only through our collective voice will we achieve our goal.

The time has come for us all to come together and finish what our foremothers and forefathers started. We will end the death penalty, and we will do it in honor of Troy Davis.



Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO

PS: If you have not yet signed the petition to end the death penalty of the United States, please do so now, and ask your friends and colleagues to do the same.

CN said...

The state of Georgia shocked the world when it ended Troy Davis' life on September 21, 2011. In the face of significant doubts, Georgia proceeded with the execution of someone who may well have been innocent.

But in the midst of this horrible tragedy, we have seen an unprecedented surge of energy to end the death penalty. Troy Davis put a face on the death penalty in the U.S. -- making it painfully clear why this flawed and horrific system must be abolished at once.

It was Troy's final wish for us to keep fighting for all of the other Troy Davises on death row. And on Monday, October 10 -- World Day against the Death Penalty -- we'll use our renewed energy and passion to take aim at doing just that.

We believe the next Troy Davis could be Reggie Clemons in Missouri.

Elements of Reggie's case may sound familiar:

No physical evidence linking Clemons to the crime
Two highly questionable witnesses - both of whom were suspects in the crime
Alleged police coercion
Racial bias - evidenced by the jury selection where blacks were disproportionately dismissed
But the biggest similarity between the cases of Troy Davis and Reggie Clemons -- overwhelming doubt! .

Call on Missouri to stop the execution of Reggie Clemons now!

Supporters worldwide will mark World Day against the Death Penalty by holding events, teach-ins, rallies, demonstrations and taking other powerful actions to call attention to the case of Reggie Clemons and advance the ever-growing movement against the death penalty. You can also bring the fight to end the death penalty home to your community by hosting a teach-in on the death penalty through the lens of the Davis and Clemons cases. Download our teach-in kit for valuable information and organizing tips.

The state of Georgia may have taken the life of Troy Davis, but it did not stop our struggle to create a country and world where human dignity and human life are respected.

Thank you for being part of this movement for human rights!

In Solidarity,

Laura Moye
Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director
Amnesty International USA

Plz go to Amnesty I-USA "Take Action" page for more info