Twenty-two years ago an undercover Georgia police officer by the name of Mark MacPhail was shot and killed. Two years later, Troy Davis was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death row.
The conviction came with no evidence linking Davis to the crime, no murder weapon, and more reasonable doubt than evidence, yet he was sentenced to death based on the testimony of nine “eyewitnesses”, seven of which have since admitted they cannot truly tie him to the crime and were coerced by officers to convict him.
Since the conviction, his execution has been postponed three times and all appeals have been denied by the Supreme Court. (Death has been dangled in his face three times; something akin to torture really.)
Davis’s first execution date was in 2007. We are now in 2011 and the case is just now receiving rightful publicity. Today was his fourth execution date. He was supposed to die by lethal injection today at 7 p.m., and before this morning no one knew.
Before seeing it on Twitter we did not care.
I am not sure if this is a fact of which, as a journalist, I should be proud or ashamed. It makes me wonder if I would have a voice in getting cases like these the publicity they deserve. Instead of spending years focusing on Casey Anthony and months focusing on her conviction and after-plans, why was the public not informed of the Troy Davis case?
It seems the U.S alone has been keeping the details of the case under wraps. Twitter stopped “Troy Davis” and “#toomuchdoubt” from trending for fear of it being “offensive,” but that did not stop millions of people from voicing their opinions. It did not stop us from reading up on the case and becoming informed. It did not stop us from being enraged with the so-called justice system.
Supporters in the UK, Peru, Hong Kong, France, Germany and Mali have been actively involved in demonstrating for the cause. Amnesty International has pleaded for his case. Even Pope Benedict XVI and former President Jimmy Carter signed the petition for the cause, which up until September 17 had more than half a million signatures.
It is now after 10 p.m. and Troy Davis will be put to death in approximately half an hour. He has waited anxiously in the death chamber for more than three hours for the supreme court to consider one last appeal, and once again it has been denied. In half an hour a man is going to be put to death, while his family watches, for reasons that have not been proven. They are going to kill a possibly innocent man to prove to the world that killing is wrong.
There is something wrong with that picture.
How can mankind be the judge of whom should die and whom should live if mankind didn’t create each other? How can you justly destroy what you did not create? What kind of message is it sending when you ignore the pleas of a death row inmate who wants nothing more than a fair trial?
This case has corruption written all over it. An officer died so someone else needs to. It is a concept I have never been able to understand and I hope I never do. The fact is, revenge does not bring your loved one back. It never has and it never will.
So why does it make people feel better to see someone else pay for the hurt? For twenty-two years the MacPhail family sought revenge. For twenty-two years they have been trying to kill someone in the name of justice. Twenty-two years? At what point do you just accept that your loved one is gone and try to gain peace from his or her memory? At what point do you stop and say to yourself that murder for murder is not an even option?
Will the MacPhail family really sleep that much better tonight?
Today we witnessed history, as we have so many times in the past decade. The case of Troy Davis will never die. His case will live on in time and hopefully, after this, history will never ever repeat itself.