Killing Troy Davis

A sentence is ringing in my head tonight.  It is a group of words that have long walked around in my mind, intimidating my other thoughts, humbling the notions I attempt to construct about the behaviors of our world. When I used to pray in the pews of my dad's church, I would often roll these words between folded palms, startled by their simple weight and all but crushed by the implications of their uttering.

"They know not what they do."
It is the coming eve of another execution that evokes Christ's meditations from his own.  On the question of punative killings we are saddled with a terrible weight; we know that our minds are simultaneously drunken with flaw and a need for vengeance and for this duality it is likely that human kind will kill Troy Davis in 10 days.

Troy's story has become celebrity.  He was convicted in 1991 of a 1989 murder but since the trial, all but the death sentence itself has fallen apart under the weight of continued scrutiny.  Accordingly, Amnesty International has led a campaign to stop the killing of Troy Davis and for more on the histroy of his story I would direct you there (see bottom link) or to send me questions.

In 10 days, the state of Georgia, presumably under the power vested in it by God, will fix a final cocktail to turn circles in Troy's veins until it doesn't.  And then its justice, purportedly, will be had.  Is that the best we can do?  Atop other crosses it has read definitive proclamations about the prisoner in question, things like 'king of the jews.' But on Troy's chest the best we can scribble while we inject him with death is a disturbing and elementary confession, "maybe he did it."  I learned tonight that one of the drugs likely to be used in the syrum that ends Troy Davis is a drug I will use as a paramedic, if nothing else a more tangible manifestation of the intangible ways I feel connected to the man strapped to one of the only gourneys in the world whose purpose is not to save life.

Since Troy was sentenced, 90 other prisoners similary convicted "beyond a reasonable doubt" and laden with a death sentence were freed on the basis of likely innocence.  If we execute Troy and we were right about him being a killer, the forward gait of humanity is still dealt a crippling blow because our rightness will have been an accident.  It will not be logic nor due process awaiting Troy in a Georgia death chamber on September 21st.  It will be all of us waiting there for him.  We will be holding syringes and our doubts, in the same hands we hold our rosaries, our children, our lovers, our conceptions of justice.  With one hand hidden behind our backs we will hold the radical memory of revolutionaries who have imprinted upon inumerable generations true notions of what is just and good for human communities.  With our mouths we may offer our condolences to Troy's sister and family.  And from both of those, we will hide the pitiful summit of our meditation on justice as it enters Troy, sedates him, paralyzes him, and arrests his heart forever.  I can't possibly expect that he'd also ask for our forgiveness with words like, 'they know not what they do.'  But maybe.

A great many capable people read requests for action like this one, and do nothing.  I hope none of them find this letter.
a petition to free Troy:
We have very little time.  This is the 4th time in 4 years that Troy's execution has been scheduled and nearly all avenues have been exhausted.  The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is truly the only viable option for Troy's life.  Calls to positions of authority are the best now and demonstrations of any kind are needed.  This is not a small group of resistance, there are hundreds of thousands worldwide paying attention to this case.  Network.  Do good work.
- e

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