Troy Davis denied clemency

September 20, 2011

The Campaign to End the Death Penalty responded with this statement to the news that Georgia death row prisoner Troy Davis has been denied clemency.

TROY ANTHONY Davis has been denied clemency by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole. This means that Troy could be executed tomorrow at 7 p.m. if the board does not reverse its decision, and if no court intervenes.

Members of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty will not idly sit by while a murder is carried out in the name of the state of Georgia. We will be holding speakouts and rallies to demand that this execution be stopped and to urge the pardons board to reverse its decision. We encourage everyone to come out if they can and continue to phone, fax and e-mail messages to the board.

Over 1 million people have signed petitions in support of clemency for Troy. More than 3,000 people marched and rallied for Troy just five days ago in Atlanta--the largest demonstration of support for any death row prisoner since the protests to stop the execution of Stan Tookie Williams in California in 2005. Global actions of solidarity were held all over the world, including Germany, Hong Kong, Belgium and Nigeria, and more than 300 actions that took place across the U.S.

What you can do

Find out more about Troy's case and keep posted on protests and actions called to halt his execution at the Campaign to End the Death Penalty website.

Send messages urging the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole to reverse its decision--you can call 404-656-5651, e-mail [email protected] and fax 404-651-8502.

Anti-death penalty organizations are encouraging supporters to call on Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm to seek to have the death warrant for Troy withdrawn.

Troy is supported by numerous civil rights leaders, including NAACP president Ben Jealous, Jesse Jackson of Rainbow Push, and Al Sharpton of the National Action Network. Other prominent supporters include President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former FBI Director William Sessions, and former federal prosecutor and death penalty supporter Bob Barr.

The question that has to be asked is: Why can't the members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles see what over a million people have?

No physical evidence connects Troy to the murder for which he was condemned to death, and seven of the nine witnesses against him at his original trial have recanted their original testimony against Troy. Brenda Davis, one of the jurors in that trial, told CNN in 2009, "If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row. The verdict would be 'not guilty.'"

Why isn't this good enough to win clemency for Troy? For that matter, why isn't it good enough to win him a new trial where the evidence of his innocence could be heard by a jury?

The answer is simple: It is good enough. People have won reversals in their cases for far less than what Troy has put forward.

SO WHY are so many politicians and state officials in Georgia determined to kill Troy?

This case is not merely a matter of guilt or innocence. Race and class have everything to do with why Troy was arrested in the first place, and why he has had such a hard time getting a hearing in the courts ever since. Troy was a Black man accused of killing a white police officer in a city of the Deep South, and he was too poor to afford good legal representation at his first trial.

Now that he does have lawyers who have been able to unravel the case against him, Troy is required under the law to prove his innocence in a court system that wants to accept the evidence as it was presented against him nearly 20 years ago. Without incontrovertible proof of innocence--like DNA testing that excludes him--it is very difficult to prove innocence in the eyes of the law.

It all comes down to this terrible truth, as Troy himself put it in an interview in the New Abolitionist: "Georgia feels it's better to kill me than admit I'm innocent."

If Georgia goes forward and executes Troy Davis, it will be very definition of a modern-day lynching.

When Blacks were lynched in this country, it was often based on a lie--that they were guilty of some crime and deserved their fate. And there was no recourse for them in the court system or wider power structure. The perpetrators of lynchings were almost never punished--only 1 percent of such cases ever went trial, and far fewer were ever convicted.

Troy Davis has been convicted and sentenced to death based on a series of lies--and he, too, has found no recourse. Because "Georgia feels it's better to kill me than admit I'm innocent."


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