Sunday, May 17, 2009

News and Human Rights 1: Troy Davis

When it comes to the case of Troy Davis, it really is turtles all the way down.

I don't really know how to begin talking about this particular blunder by the American government. I find that once I start talking about the bullshit and the unjust calloused attitude of the state and the people, I sort of ramble on and on. I guess I'll start with the facts, and one really interesting piece of information about him: He's innocent.

Troy Davis has been sitting on death row for the past 17 years for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail outside of a Burger King in Savannah, Georgia.
Or, as I theorize, he's been sitting on death row for 17 years because he was a black man at a Burger King where an officer was shot in the South in 1992. Talk about rotten luck.
Troy Davis has never been physically linked to the crime. No blood, no DNA, no hair follicles, nothing. They didn't even find the weapon. He was convicted based on the testimony of witnesses alone. That's it, just people saying "Yeah, he did it." Except, you know, even at the time of the trial there were inconsistencies in the stories.
The real kick in the nuts is that seven of the nine people who testified against him have since recanted their testimonies. Many of these witnesses say that they were coerced by the police. One of them was actually illiterate, and was ordered by the police to sign a testimony that he could not read.
Out of the two remaining witnesses who hold to the story, only one is not suspected of the crime. Oh, that's right. Sylvester Coles, the principal alternative suspect in the case, is one of the two remaining witnesses who maintain that Troy Davis is guilty. Several of the recanted witnesses now say that it was Coles, not Davis, who committed the crime. Why didn't they originally testify against Coles? Well, some couldn't read. Some were afraid of Coles (haha, obviously, he's a murderer.) Others did suggest to the police that Coles was guilty, but the police were pretty happy with their decision to nail Troy Davis and they insisted that the original game plan be stuck to.
So to me, this all seems pretty cut and dry. In this country, we base the conviction of criminal cases on a standard of proof that is "beyond a reasonable doubt." If you ask me, Troy Davis probably shouldn't have been convicted in the first place. I would say police coercion counts as a reasonable doubt, call me crazy. Not to mention lack of physical evidence. But now the solid base of witnesses testimony that saw to this man's conviction has dwindled from nine to two (and don't forget, one of those two is probably the actual murderer.)
"So," you say to yourself, "Troy Davis has surely gotten another trial and was found not guilty for reasons of insufficient evidence, am I right?"
Of course you're not, dear reader, because I wouldn't be blogging about it if he had.
Troy Davis has been shut down by every major court system, including the Supreme Court, for a retrial. He has never, ever, had a hearing on the reliability of the witness testimony against him. He has never had a trial in which it was mentioned that seven witnesses recanted. In essence, he has never had a fair trial at all.

Troy Davis is an excellent example of one of my favorite George Carlin lines.
You have no rights, because they're not rights if someone can just take them away from you.
This is so painfully true. So it goes in Guantanamo Bay. So it goes with the Patriot Act. So it goes with Troy Davis. Rights that were stripped away for absolutely no reason, except maybe to scare the living shit out of anyone who dare cross the people who hold the power.
But the real problem isn't fear, not really. The real problem is apathy. This entire county just sort of shrugs its shoulders and murmurs agreement in the face of awful tragedy.
"People are being held without due process and tortured unconstitutionally by the US government!"
"Phones are tapped, tracking chips are being put in our IDs!"
*Shrug* "Oh well."
"A man is going to be put to death for absolutely no reason!"
*Picks nose* "He probably had it coming."

I think that recent policy has convinced this country that if someone is suspected, they are guilty. No more of that "innocent until proven guilty" dribble for us. Suspicion is conviction, that's the new slogan. If you happen to find your way onto death row, be it through police coercion of witnesses or the fact that you're black, you might as well just shut up and get what's coming to you. Listen, you wouldn't be there if you didn't deserve it. Besides, if we let one innocent man appeal, then they'll all appeal, and that would make some high ranking officials look really foolish.
What I'm really getting at is that apathy is not okay. White people are doing back flips over progressive thinking because Barack Obama is president and closing their eyes to people like Troy Davis at the same time. Well, you have to keep your eyes open when you do a backflip or you break your stupid racist neck. That's all I'm saying.
To avoid breaking your own stupid racist neck, do something positive with your life for once and try to help Troy Davis get back to whatever he was doing before he was falsely convicted and sentenced to death.
In case you don't click on the link, May 19 is Global Action Day for Troy Davis. That's Tuesday. Just keep that in mind.
Just do something.

Troy Davis Global Action Day
Write to the Georgia Governor while there is still time.
Join the Facebook Group

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