All Articles Tagged "Troy Davis"

Why President Obama Can’t Touch the Trayvon Martin Case

March 22nd, 2012 - By madamenoire
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There is no question that the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has captured the nation’s attention. The local police department’s allegedly inadequate investigation and insistence that the shooter George Zimmerman remain free, with no criminal charges, has led to an eruption in social media, the creation of numerous online petitions, and even for the Justice Department to launch an investigation into possible civil rights violations of the slain teenager. One voice has been missing from the public outcry: President Barack Obama.

As the first black president, Barack Obama is frequently called on to comment on public controversies, particularly when that controversy involve issues of race. When he commented on the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates, saying the police officer who arrested the diminutive Ivy League professor acted “stupidly” the criticism that followed was loud and swift. Since then, the president and the White House have appeared to be much more careful when wading into the waters of public debates.

That hands off policy remained throughout the case of Oscar Grant’s shooter and the execution of Troy Davis, to the angst of many who feel the black president should express the frustrations of black America when one of our own is facing such horrific injustice.

But in the case of Trayvon Martin, that desire is misguided. In fact, by making any public statements about the ongoing investigation, the White House could derail the family’s efforts to seek justice for their son.

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Over 1,000 Attend Troy Davis’ Funeral

October 3rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(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.

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On Saving The Next Troy Davises

September 29th, 2011 - By madamenoire
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By Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report

Troy Davis will be laid to rest this weekend in a public ceremony at Jonesville Baptist Church in Savannah. The public figures and civil rights honchos who gravitated to his case will have prominent front row seats. What they won’t have is an answer to why their kind of movement did not save Troy Davis, or what it will take to save the Troy Davises who will come after this one.

From the standpoint of civil rights lawyers and activists, the case of Troy Davis had everything. It had an attractive and well spoken defendant, and an almost transparently false conviction without a murder weapon or any physical evidence. Most of the eyewitnesses recanted, declaring they had perjured themselves under threats from police and prosecutors.
In the tradition of political test cases dating back to the Scottsboro Boys eight decades ago, public prayers, letter writing campaigns, op-eds, demonstrations, meetings, celebrity endorsements and exhortations proceeded around the world while Davis’s lawyers worked every available legal angle, managing to bring his case to the Supreme Court not once but twice. By last week, tens of thousands were in the streets declaring their opposition to the death penalty and nearly a million had signed petitions demanding a new trial for Troy Davis. Corporate news outlets like MSNBC even devoted several hours of breathless “coverage” at the countdown to this legal lynching.

Davis went to his death praying for his accusers and executioners, and talking about the Troy Davises that came before and will come after him. The civil rights style mobilization around his case could not and did not save this Troy Davis, and it will not save the Troy Davises who will come after this one.
It’s good that so many people marched and met and prayed and circulated and signed petitions to save Troy Davis. But until we build a movement that stands up for the human rights of ALL the imprisoned, ALL the convicted and formerly incarcerated, including those whose innocence, however you construe that word is not so obvious, and those who may in fact not even be innocent —- until we stand up for their human rights to education, to jobs and justice including the right to vote, even when behind bars, to health care and a decent chance at life by radically shrinking and ultimately ending the institution of prison, the machinery that convicts the literally innocent will retain its legitimacy and roll on, doing what it has always done.

In other words, coming out to oppose the execution of an attractive, well spoken and clearly innocent person like Troy Davis is low-hanging fruit. It’s great that so many people are willing to reach for it. But we will rarely be able to save even these until our movements take conscious, public and deliberate aim at chopping the whole rotten tree down, at de-legitimizing and ending the institution of prison as we know it.
The day we get a million signatures on a petition not just to save an innocent man’s life, but to roll back the prison state —- that will be the day we know we have a movement that can free the next wave of Troy Davises, the day we are close to welcoming them back to help heal and rebuild their own lives, our broken families and our devastated communities.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)
[This commentary originally appeared on Black Agenda Report. Republished with permission.]

Exonerated After Execution: 12 Men (And One Woman) Found Innocent After Being Put to Death

September 27th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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By Alexis Garrett Stodghill

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.


Larry Griffin

Larry Griffin

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.

Troy Davis Lost His Life, Will He Win the PR Battle

September 27th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(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.

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Ebenezer Pastor Continues Fight Against Death Penalty

September 26th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(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.

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Michael Moore Urges Ga. Boycott Over Davis Execution

September 26th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(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.”

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Troy Davis As Evidence: Murder Is The Heritage Of The South

September 23rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"Yvette Carnell "On September 21st, Georgia murdered Troy Davis.

Although I can understand the outrage at the murder of Davis,what I can’t wrap my head around is the shock. I was born and raised in Georgia and know all too well that Georgia is a part of the south both demographically and culturally.

Georgia in 2011 is a lot like Georgia in 1963. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Georgia’s black population was kept underfoot by racist Jim Crow laws. Today, the status of blacks as an underclass is managed by draconian sentencing laws put in place by the state legislature. Little black boys and girls are, in many cases, prosecuted as adults and placed in jails with full grown men and women. Young white boys and girls are given the benefit of doubt.

I grew up hearing stories of how my grandparents were sharecroppers and how they barely made enough money to feed my mother and her siblings. The klucks in the south were a most insidious and virulent breed. And those who’ve picked up their mantle can’t be made whole, or even human, so I didn’t share anyone’s expectation that a miracle would befall Troy Davis.

You have to remember that the people who run Georgia have lynchers and cross burners as their progenitors. Back in the good ‘ol days, taking the kids out to watch a hanging, picnic basket in hand,made for a jolly good time. Murder is the heritage of the white South. Bloodlust is in their blood. And unless we mount a challenge that consists of a lot more work and a lot less prayers , the South will rise again.

There is no enduring legacy of justice and fairness in this country and what progress has been made is tainted by the South’s faithful allegiance to its traitorous heirloom – the Confederacy. The shadow of home grown terrorists dressed in white robes and cone shaped hats as well as military men fighting for the right to own other men and women,looms heavy in the south.

So I wasn’t the least bit surprised when, at 11:08pm, Georgia murdered Troy Davis. Sadly, Davis is just one in a long line. What was shocking, however, was the reaction of onlookers; those waiting, expectantly, for a miracle. Somehow, many were fooled into thinking that Atlanta’s reputation of being a safe haven for hard working black people extended to all of Georgia. It doesn’t.

You may’ve been shocked at Troy Davis’ murder, but my mother surewasn’t and neither was I. We know better. Now, hopefully, the world knows better as well.

Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, and

North Carolina Finds Two Men Innocent After Decade in Prison

September 23rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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North Caroline Frees Two Men Found InnocentBy Alexis Garrett Stodghill

North Carolina is the only state in America that has an official review board for verifying the verdicts in cases in which the defendants maintain their innocence. Called the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, this three-judge panel reviews new testimonies and grants greater access to DNA evidence as part of its process. This is part of a new trend in the court system nationwide that seeks to address growing concern with wrongful convictions. Unfortunately, there is no such panel in Georgia, which could have intervened in the case of Troy Davis and saved his life.

The good news is that the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission has already released three men from prison who were wrongfully convicted. USA Today reports on the recent release of Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxson, who served ten years for a murder they didn’t commit:

The three-judge panel made its decision after seven days of testimony in the case against Kenneth Kagonyera, 31, and Robert Wilcoxson, 32.

Wilcoxson was the first to be released. He hugged his 10-year-old daughter, Taneea, and his father as he walked out of jail hours after the hearing. He left quickly, saying only that his plans for his first night as a free man in nearly a decade were simple. “Pray,” he said.

Kagonyera left jail hours later to applause and hugs and kisses from his mother and grandmother.

“It was a blessing,” he said. Kagonyera said he had prepared himself for the panel to rule against his claim though he tried not to dwell on the prospect of going back to prison. He said his plans are to “get a job, move on and put this behind me.”

“I am just so happy I don’t know what to say,” said Charlene Holmes, Kagonyera’s mother.

The hearing came after the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission in April found enough evidence to indicate the men were not guilty, including the confession of another man and DNA testing that pointed to other suspects.

The men had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the slaying of Walter Bowman in 2000, though they repeatedly claimed they were innocent. Their attorneys at the hearing said the men admitted to the murder to avoid life sentences.

Activists to Continue the Fight in Troy Davis' Name

September 23rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(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.

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