Thursday, September 22, 2011

The face of Innocence?

This day started badly for me, but at least it started. That's more than I can say for Troy Davis, the 35th US citizen to be put to death this year by We The People, by a government that purports to represent our will. The People -- that would be me, or so I've been taught to believe. Mr. Davis lost his life to prison for twenty years, stuck there after having been prosecuted on flimsy evidence (no concrete evidence linked him to the crime) and found guilty of the murder of a white off-duty cop in the state of Georgia. He filed several appeals, including for clemency, always insisted on his innocence, his requests for a polygraph denied, and, just to make sure their point was made, the holding facility in which he awaited his death by lethal injection at the hands of a crowd of grateful Christians approaching "closure", denied him the comfort of a visit from his pastor in the hours before he was executed.

It's possible Mr. Davis was the only true Christian in the room at the time of his death, as the murdered policeman's family, including his two sons, witnessed the calculated, slow murder of a black man. In a final gesture of Christian kindness, Mr. Davis raised his head from the gurney to tell the dead cops' family he was "sorry for their loss" and reassure them he did not kill their father, son, husband, that he hoped they would try to find the real killer, and then proceeded to forgive his murderers (as Jesus forgave those who executed him), to bless them, before laying his head down to have what was left of his life taken from him.

All that time there was a LAWYER in the White House, a man who understood clearly how flimsy the case against this man was, a man who could have granted this man clemency at the last minute, after all appeals, including one that took the US Supreme Court an unusual four hours to finally deny, had been exhausted. The President knew there was no evidence against this man. But no, Ol' Hand-Picked, pippin' honky Obama wasn't touchin this one with a ten foot pole.

There's a scene in The West Wing in which President Bartlet asks an aide, "Why is a Kundunese [black] life worth less to me than an American one?" To which his aide (who he fully expects will exonerate him) bravely replies, "I don't know, Mr. President, but it is."

Man, Obama could use an aide like that.

“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice can­not sleep for ever.”
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

That quote requires some thought. Read it again. Jefferson's warning cautions us to administer justice fairly, that eventually we will pay for not doing so.

In the early seventies a friend of mine was arrested for throwing watermelons on the White House lawn, protesting some racist policy or other. Were I Troy Davis' mother, I'd have a few choice words for my homey in the White House. A few watermelons wouldn't even begin to express my rage.

The entire nation of Greece is on strike, clogging the streets with fury and their refusal to be forced to their knees as the bitches of the rentier bankers. The world condemns America's use of the death penalty, both here at home and via covert government and military "actions". But this is how we vent our rage at the results of our own lousy political choices. We vent it at innocents around the world, mindless acts of blaming the victim. The Nation in Denial, armed to the teeth and loaded for bear.

While in America's streets, cowardice reigns.

Except of course for the youthful few here. And right on, there.

Here's the letter Troy posted to those who tried to help him.

To All:

I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to Human Rights and Human Kindness, in the past year I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never ending faith. It is because of all of you that I am alive today, as I look at my sister Martina I am marveled by the love she has for me and of course I worry about her and her health, but as she tells me she is the eldest and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.

As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see first hand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail.

I cannot answer all of your letters but I do read them all, I cannot see you all but I can imagine your faces, I cannot hear you speak but your letters take me to the far reaches of the world, I cannot touch you physically but I feel your warmth everyday I exist.

So 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’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. 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, I will one day be announcing,


Never Stop Fighting for Justice and We will Win!

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