Marching for justice for Troy Davis
IT'S DIFFICULT to mark the one-year anniversary of the execution of
Troy Anthony Davis by the state of Georgia on September 21. Difficult
for so many reasons.
It's difficult to be reminded that he was executed despite
overwhelming proof of his innocence. That he was executed even though
nearly all of the witnesses who testified against him at his original
trial came forward to say their testimony hadn't been true. These
witnesses were the overwhelming reason for Troy's conviction in the
first place, since no physical evidence ever linked him to the crime.
But all that had no bearing on his conviction or sentence, as far as the
court system was concerned.
It's difficult to remember just how unresponsive the state was to the
cries for justice. Martina Correia, Troy's incredible sister, who
fought nonstop for his freedom, would often say that the system doesn't
care whether Troy is innocent or not, just whether legal procedures were
followed correctly. That's just sick--that the law can be about
following procedure at the expense of justice.
Troy knew this all too well as he fought from inside the belly of the
beast for 20 long years. "Georgia would rather kill me, an innocent
man, that admit they made a mistake," he once wrote.
It's difficult to think that Troy never did win his freedom. Never
got to be a free man, never got to spend time with his mom, who died
shortly before Troy was executed. Never got to help take care of
Martina, who was dying of cancer as she fought her determined struggle
for Troy. He wasn't able to be with her, or to help raise Martina's only
son DeJaun, after Martina succumbed to the cancer, only a month and a
half after Troy's execution.
The Campaign to End the Death Penalty will hold its annual convention on November 2-4 in Austin, Texas. Find out more
at the CEDP website.
If you would like to support the Campaign, contribute to the Costella Cannon Fund
, which helps bring former prisoners family members and murder victims' family members to the convention
It's difficult to be reminded that struggle didn't win that ending--that despite all our efforts, we lost.
But--and here's the big but--it wasn't all for naught. Because of the
struggle for Troy, built up over years and years of small meetings and
small efforts, this injustice that took place against a poor Black man
in Georgia took on enormous proportions.
Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world were horrified to
see Troy executed. They were horrified to see President Barack Obama
and Attorney General Eric Holder--also African American, both of
them--stand by and do nothing in the face of this injustice.
Our efforts fell short. We weren't quite powerful enough to stop the
machinery of death from moving forward. We weren't powerful enough to
make those who said they couldn't do anything recognize that they could
and should. But we came close. And we did more to expose the realities
of the death penalty system than years of quiet work within in the
As Troy was strapped to the execution gurney for hours, waiting on
the Supreme Court to make its final decision in his case, I hope he was
picturing all of the actions taking place for him around the world.
I do know that he and his sister would both be so proud of the people
who have kept Troy's name alive. Abolitionists all over the U.S. and
the world will remember Troy on September 21--remember that the fight
goes on. They would be heartened to know that activists were bringing
the injustice that Troy suffered into the movements struggling for
something better--like the woman at an Occupy Wall Street encampment who
said, when asked her name, that she was "Troy Davis."
That is the best way to press on--to let the injustice we mark on
this day fuel our determination to stay the course and keep up the
fight. We got you, Troy and Martina. We'll keep holding you up.