All Articles Tagged "death penalty"
Capital punishment opponents everywhere are celebrating the fact that former Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal, will not be executed by the state of Philadelphia.
Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a white police officer in 1982. Celebrities, particularly those in the Hip Hop community, have been very vocal about his innocence, claiming that the selection of the jury was racially biased and the evidence, including eye witness testimony, was not enough to warrant Abu-Jamal’s arrest.
You can read the full story behind the decision not to execute at Black Voices.com.
(AJC) — Sent to death row 20 years ago as a convicted cop killer, Troy Davis was celebrated as “martyr and foot soldier” Saturday by more than 1,000 people who packed the pews at his funeral and pledged to keep fighting the death penalty. Family, activists and supporters who spent years trying to persuade judges and Georgia prison officials that Davis was innocent were unable to prevent his execution Sept. 21. But the crowd that filled Savannah’s Jonesville Baptist Church on Saturday seemed less interested in pausing in remorse than showing a resolve to capitalize on the worldwide attention Davis’ case brought to capital punishment in the U.S. Benjamin Todd Jealous, national president of the NAACP, brought the crowd to its feet in a chant of “I am Troy Davis” — the slogan supporters used to paint Davis as an everyman forced to face the executioner by a faulty justice system. Jealous noted that Davis professed his innocence even in his final words.
The execution of Troy Davis in Georgia last week despite tremendous doubt about his guilt has brought the issue of capital punishment into the national spotlight. As a country that supports use of the death penalty, America is in poor company with “the world’s great dictatorships and autocracies [such as] Iran, Zimbabwe, China, North Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cuba, [and] Belarus” according to The Atlantic — while we are supposed to be the land of the free. Far above and beyond the politically nasty associations with capital punishment is of course the moral concern over accidentally putting innocent people to death. It is likely that the average American believes this is a rare occurrence worth the social value of the death penalty as a deterrent from violent crime. Unfortunately innocent people are often placed on death row. In a study of executions in 34 states between 1973 and 1995, Columbia University professor James Liebman found that: “An astonishing 82 percent of death row inmates did not deserve to receive the death penalty. One in twenty death row inmates is later found not guilty.” Most death row inmates do not have the resources or time necessary to determine their innocence before it is too late. Hopefully, Troy Davis’ case and others like his will show U.S. citizens how the death penalty destroys innocent lives. Over 1,000 people have been executed since 1976. We may never know how many went to death in error. Here are just a few who we know for sure were likely innocent — but this was discovered too late.
Griffin was executed by lethal injection in 1995 for the 1980 murder of Quenton Moss, a drug dealer in St. Louis. Griffin was convicted and received the death sentence based mainly on the testimony of a career criminal, Robert Fitzgerald, who later admitted to committing the crime himself. Fitzgerald also stated that the police pressured him into accusing Griffin. Griffin, like Troy Davis, maintained his innocence until the end.
(AJC) — The Rev. Raphael Warnock told the college students in a church outside the state prison near Jackson Wednesday night that they had joined the fight for racial justice in America with the stand against the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. The battle was bigger, he said, than saving Davis’ life. He said he talked to the condemned man this week and he asked him what he should tell the people. “He said, “Tell them I am already victorious,” said Warnock, the senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. Stan Gunter had to agree. The executive director of the Georgia Prosecuting Attorneys Council said that Davis and the mega public-relations machine behind him had managed to distort the facts of the murder case down to sound bite of “seven witnesses recanted or they backed off their testimony” which had allowed the well-funded NAACP and Amnesty International to portray Davis as an innocent man.
(AJC) — One of Atlanta’s prominent religious leaders took to the pulpit Sunday and argued that that the battle against the death penalty should not die with this week’s execution of convicted cop killer Troy Davis. The Rev. Raphael Warnock called on congregants at Ebenezer Baptist Church to live their faith through both justice and mercy. Both were absent, he said, when the state executed Davis Wednesday for the 1989 murder of police officer Mark MacPhail in Savannah.
(Atlanta Journal Constitution) — Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore is calling for an economic boycott of Georgia over this week’s execution of Troy Anthony Davis. “I encourage everyone I know to never travel to Georgia, never buy anything made in Georgia, [and] to never do business in Georgia,” Moore said on his website this week. The Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author also called on his publisher to pull his memoir, “Here Comes Trouble,” from every Georgia bookstore. If Grand Central Publishing doesn’t pull the 427-page book, Moore said he will “donate every dime of every royalty my book makes in Georgia to help defeat the racists and killers who run that state.”
(Huffington Post) — Minutes before he was put to death, Troy Davis asked his supporters to “continue to fight this fight” – but will they, and how? The Georgia inmate’s case outraged hundreds of thousands of people around the world who found the evidence against him weak, and opponents of the death penalty hope their anger provokes a backlash against capital punishment. Some activists say a fitting legacy of the case would be laws that bar death sentences for those, like Davis, whose convictions are based on eyewitness testimony. With Davis gone, however, the loose coalition of groups who pushed for his freedom may simply crumble. Much may depend not on the death penalty’s most strident opponents, but on less politically active people who were drawn into the debate by Davis’ two-decade struggle. That includes Melvin Middleton, who believes capital punishment can be appropriate. After learning more details about Davis’ case, he decided to show up at a downtown Atlanta rally opposing the execution.
- “Troy Davis is Dead; The Movement Continues” – Rashad Robinson: The Huffington Post
- “A death in Georgia” – J.F.: The Economist
- “Troy Davis’ Execution: Outrage for Opponents, But Closure for Victim’s Family?” – Nathan Thornburgh: Time
- “Watching an execution: AJC reporter was inside the death chamber” – Rhonda Cook: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Troy Davis may have died amid a storm of controversy with supporters around the world asking the state of Georgia to spare an innocent man, but yesterday, a martyr was born.
According to witnesses, Davis continued to proclaim his innocence until the very end of his life. He looked in the direction of the family of Mark MacPhail, the officer he was convicted of killing, and told them they had the wrong guy and that he’d hope they would find peace by digging deeper into the case to find the right one.
What does it say about Georgia that a man, whose conviction was supported by very little evidence, could go forth with an execution although there was enough doubt to appeal the case? What does it say about a justice system that ignores outcries from the likes of Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 51 members of Congress, and a former FBI director?
The decision to execute and to deny an appeal for Davis illustrates not only the deep-seeded racism that still plagues many Southern states but reinforces a strong doubt in Americans’ faith in the legal system – especially the faith of African-Americans who are more likely to be negatively affected by bias. The ramifications of this scenario are far and wide. Although Davis did not receive justice; it is grossly apparent that he did not die without a cause. Like he said himself in his last days, his death was for all the Troy Davises who came before and after him. Indeed, the justice system must and will change because of this fiasco. And for that, we thank Troy Davis.