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Commentary :: Human Rights
Georgia Board of Pardons Affirms State-Sponsored Murder
21 Sep 2011
Troy Anthony Davis
Georgia Board of Pardons Affirms State-Sponsored Murder - by Stephen Lendman

At issue is saving Troy Anthony Davis. On September 21, he'll die by lethal injection, despite clear evidence he's innocent.

On September 20, Georgia's Board of Pardons denied him clemency.

Because Georgia's governor can't stay executions, Davis lost his last hope, barring an unexpected 11th hour reprieve.

Georgia State University Law Professor Anne Emanuel reviewed his case. She found no justification for capital punishment. At this stage, however, she said:

"I don't see any avenues to the Supreme Court," no matter how grave the injustice.

In fact, there's nothing just about state-sponsored murder, especially against falsely accused victims.

In America, they're mostly poor Blacks or Latinos denied due process and judicial fairness by a corrupted prosecutorial system rigged to convict even known innocent defendants like Troy Anthony Davis.

Author Michelle Alexander calls America's mass incarceration "The New Jim Crow." Murdering innocent Black victims highlights it.

Colorblind America never existed. Certainly not in Georgia, a state once infamous for chain gangs.

The 1932 film, "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang," was based on Robert Elliott Burns' autobiography titled, "I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang."

Their brutality helped turn public opinion against a system that included keeping prisoners in rolling cages to hold them close to work sites. Inmates were also flogged on roadsides, bound head to toe in chains.

New prison repression replaced old Georgia practices. State-sponsored murder existed earlier and today, notably against poor Blacks. Innocence is of no consequence. Only guilt by accusation matters.

Davis was wrongfully charged for killing off-duty Savanah, GA policeman Mark MacPhail. Arrested on August 23, 1989, he was indicted in mid-November despite no evidence proving his guilt.

In August 1991, he was convicted and sentenced to death. Subsequent appeals were denied.

On March 17, 2008, Georgia Supreme Court rejected his request for a hearing, voting 4 to 3 against him.

On September 23, 2008, within two hours of his scheduled execution, the US Supreme Court granted him a stay.

On October 14, 2008, the High Court declined to hear his case.

On August 17, 2009, it ordered a federal judge to hear evidence in it.

In August 2010, he rejected clear exculpating evidence.

On January 21, 2011, a US Supreme Court appeal was filed.

On March 28, 2011, the Court, without explanation, denied the appeal. It cleared the way for his execution, despite Justices Breyer and Ginsburg citing "a substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death."

In May, Amnesty International (AI) urged one million "Tweets for Troy," to avert execution "even though the case against him has fallen apart."

From his arrest to this day, no physical evidence linked him to the crime. Moreover, his conviction relied solely on witness testimonies. Most later recanted. Many, in fact, said police pressured them to testify falsely at his trial.

In America, it's common practice to railroad innocent victims, especially Blacks and Latinos. Courts go along with a deeply corrupted system. It wrongfully sentenced Troy Anthony Davis to die.

According to Laura Moye, AI's International USA Death Penalty Abolition Campaign director:

His "case is emblematic of a broken and unjust death penalty system. His story speaks volumes about a criminal justice system that is riddled with bias and error and is fixated on procedure more than....fairness."

"The case against Davis has unraveled, yet he still faces execution." He's up against "a system that would rather hold onto a decision a jury made twenty years ago than admit that some fundamentally wrong things have happened."

Moreover, Davis is Black. Officer McPhail was white and a cop. Georgia's law enforcement establishment wants revenge. As a result, anyone poor and Black or Latino is vulnerable anywhere in America.

It's the cross they bear for their race, ethnicity, and economic status in a nation long known for racism.

It's as virulent now as ever. What clearer proof than Anthony's scheduled state-sponsored murder.

It didn't matter that over one million supporters petitioned for clemency. In mid-September, thousands marched for him in Atlanta.

Moreover, over 300 similar events were held across America as well as global ones in Germany, Hong Kong, Belgium, Nigeria and elsewhere.

In addition, noted figures support Davis, including Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jesse Jackson, NAACP president Ben Jealous, Al Sharpton, former FBI Director William Sessions, former congressman and federal prosecutor Bob Barr, and 51 current congressional members.

In 2009, former juror Brenda David told CNN:

"If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row. The verdict would be 'not guilty.' "

Other former jurors also know he's innocent. So do state prosecutors, judges, Georgia's entire five member Board of Pardons and Paroles, Governor Nathan Deal, and Obama who's been shamelessly silent.

Why not for a man criminally responsible for murdering hundreds of thousands across North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and elsewhere.

Yet he and others in his administration and past ones remain unindicted for crimes of war and against humanity ongoing daily.

It's cruel irony that today Troy Anthony Davis dies.

He and others like him symbolize a corrupt system too broken to fix.

They also highlight the shame of state-sponsored murder, whether on death row or from missiles, bombs, shells, or assassinations.

It's America's favorite pastime, killing for imperial conquest, vengeance, sport, or on death row by administering lethal injections either manually or by pushing buttons.

The result's always the same. People deserving to live, in fact, die.

State-sponsored murder never achieves justice.

It's always cruel and barbaric punishment.

AI calls it "the ultimate denial of human the name of justice" always denied.

Doing so mocks the notion of innocent unless proved guilty "beyond all reasonable doubt."

In America, poor people of color like Davis are denied it disgracefully.

Never forgive! Never forget! Never accept less than what's right!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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