Camping Out for IPhones? Can We Camp Out for Justice? – The First Anniversary of the Execution of Troy Davis
September 21, 2012
So many people lined up for the IPhone 5. According to reports, there were 2 million pre-orders for the phone. Those individuals pursuing the quest for more profits truly understand marketing and how to get millions of people to line up for a material item. Individuals pursuing the quest for justice have to be more proactive as well. This is the 1 year anniversary of the execution of Troy Davis, an individual many believe was an innocent man on death row. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if we heavily promoted the idea that we should line up (peaceably) in front of the offices of district attorneys around the country as wrongful convictions often begin with prosecutors. Just as people camped out for IPhones, we should have had a camp out for justice. District Attorneys not only often sanction wrongful convictions, but once subsequent district attorneys find out about a wrongful conviction, rather than seriously address it, they double down to ensure that the mistake is not corrected. They are sworn to uphold the law and to pursue justice, but when it comes to wrongful convictions, they double down. Why? Because NO ONE HOLDS THEM ACCOUNTABLE and with the recent Supreme Court Thompson v Connick case, the Supreme Court even gave prosecutors a legal excuse to keep doing what they are doing (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/opinion/10thompson.html?pagewanted=all). The Bar Associations do not hold them accountable. Local politicians and officials do not hold them accountable. The Department of Justice does not hold them accountable. The media do no hold them accountable. In short, they are not held accountable. District Attorneys running for office will talk about the integrity of the conviction and about how they would not accept any prosecutorial misconduct, past and present, but once they are sworn in, the mentality reverts back to “we are going to uphold all convictions, regardless of innocence.” But the voters, if they wanted to, could hold district attorneys accountable. Imagine if we were to camp out for justice. Next September 21st?
Last year, NAACP President Ben Jealous sent a message the day after the October 1 Memorial Service for Troy Davis that called for the end to capital punishment, telling district attorneys and candidates for the Office of District Attorney that they will not receive our votes if they send people to death row, and calling on people to vote (from an email dated October 2, 2011). Did the NAACP hold any marches or camp-out since then? Today? I know the NAACP has been to Georgia in recent weeks on behalf of John McNeil, who is in prison for protecting his son at his home (http://www.naacp.org/news/entry/president-jealous-and-naacp-leaders-visit-john-mcneil) but what about the marches to hold district attorneys accountable because these cases begin at that level. Did anyone attending the Congressional Black Caucus weekend panels camp out beforehand for justice? I mean was it just about taking advantage of the media coverage surrounding Troy Davis, or are we serious about activism surrounding the death penalty and/or wrongful convictions? Troy Davis has been executed and his sister, Martina Correia who fought so hard for brother died soon after his execution. Rodney K. Stanberry is in his 16th year of a wrongful conviction. He is sitting in a prison in Alabama. His mother will be buried tomorrow. He won’t be at the funeral (http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/2012/09/11/rodneys-mother-may-she-rest-in-peace/). No amount of apologies will bring these individual back to see justice pursued, but an increased amount of activism will go a long way. Again, I applaud these efforts by the NAACP, but unless we get a handle on the causes of wrongful convictions, even without the death penalty, prosecutors can engage in the same tactics to get a conviction that will lead to an individual spending 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 years and even life in prison for crimes he or she did not commit. Troy Davis spent 20 years on death row.(from a blog from last year http://freerodneystanberry.com/blog/2011/10/04/beyond-the-death-penalty-the-troy-davis-case-and-the-travesty-of-eyewitness-misidentification/)
In a statement by Troy Davis dated September 10, 2011, he wrote in part:
“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. “(http://redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/to-all-a-message-from-troy-anthony-davis/)
Let’s roll up our sleeves, take off our bedroom slippers and put on our marching shoes (As President Obama said during the Congressional Black Caucus’s Annual Legislative Conference last year), and tell District Attorneys and State Legislatures that we can be a society of law and order while also working to prevent wrongful convictions.
PS I just want to acknowledge that today is International Peace Day.