“Troy Davis is my brother”

September 18, 2008

Kevin Cooper is a California death row prisoner who came within four hours of being executed in 2004. Here, he writes about the case of Troy Davis, an innocent man on Georgia's death row who is scheduled to be executed this month.

I HAVE never personally met my cultural brother Troy Davis. Yet I know him as I know myself. This kindred spirit is in a different part of this country, yet we are experiencing damn near the same things.

I have seen Mr. Davis' photograph, and he looks nothing like me, or me like him, yet he is my brother. His black skin is the only thing that makes us resemble each other, and, as far as I know, our skin is different shades of black. But in America, black skin is enough of a reason to find oneself in a fight for your very life, because in America, or certain parts of it, black skin is unforgivable!

Like Troy Davis, I was once "saved" or "spared" from being first tortured, and then murdered by a state government, if only temporarily. This happened to me on February 9, 2004, when I came within three hours and 42 minutes of being tortured and murdered by the state of California before I was granted a stay of execution.

I await the final outcome of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision on my case, which can happen any day. I do so knowing and understanding from experience the emotional stress, mental anguish and psychological torture that my brother and his family are currently going through.

This unjust criminal justice system does not care about truth or justice. It, and the people who work within it, for the most part care only about upholding the will of the status quo. These people have no right to take from us what they did not give us--our lives.

Not only do they have no moral right, despite what they claim, they have no God-given right, or any other type of right to kill people. Not even a legal one, because their law is not only arbitrary, it's sick, it's inhumane and it doesn't work, just to state a few reasons why this madness must be stopped.

My connection to and with Troy Davis and his family is not only personal, because of our circumstances. It's also historical, because there has never been a time within this country that we Black men and our families have not been more connected to each other because of our deaths at the hands of the white supremacist power structure than we have been as everyday human beings. While this is a damn shame, it's the real truth!

I am being realistic, and trying not to be pessimistic about the fact that I may be about to lose another brother, who, like many of my brothers and sisters, is innocent. Yet our innocence doesn't seem to matter to the sons and daughters of American hypocrisy.

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