16 September 2011
Execution Set for September 21
Stop Legal Lynching of Troy Davis!
Time is running out for Troy Davis, a 41-year-old black man facing execution despite substantial evidence of his innocence. On September 6, a Georgia Superior Court judge signed an execution warrant, and a date has been set for September 21. Davis, who faced three prior death warrants, has now exhausted all his appeals. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to even consider the evidence exonerating Davis of the 1989 killing of a white off-duty police officer. Davis has a hearing before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole two days before the scheduled execution. Davis’s supporters have called for a global day of solidarity on September 16, including a march in Atlanta. What’s needed is a mass outpouring of protest. Opponents of the racist death penalty, defenders of civil liberties, trade-union militants and fighters for black rights must demand: Stop the execution! Free Troy Davis!
The impending execution is nothing short of a racist legal lynching. In 1991, Davis was sentenced to death after a frame-up conviction based on questionable “eyewitness” identifications, dubious accounts that he confessed and testimony coerced by the cops, without a shred of physical evidence linking him to the killing. Seven of the prosecution’s nine witnesses have since recanted. The only holdouts are one man who may be the actual killer and another who initially denied being able to identify the shooter, only to pin the killing on Davis at trial two years later.
At a federal court hearing last year, some of the witnesses were finally able to tell how they were forced by the cops to falsely implicate Davis. But in upholding the conviction and death sentence, the judge sneered that this testimony was “smoke and mirrors” and declared the accounts of police/prosecution coercion—a regular feature of the capitalist justice system—were not credible because the cops said it didn’t happen that way! (See “Troy Davis Appeal Turned Down,” WV No. 965, 24 September 2010.)
The impending legal lynching of Troy Davis exemplifies that for America’s capitalist rulers the life of a black man on the bottom is worth nothing. In this decaying profit system, which was founded on black chattel slavery, the bourgeois rulers’ impulse to genocide is seen in the death penalty, mass black incarceration, the elimination of welfare and rampant cop terror in the ghettos. Troy Davis is a victim of a bourgeois “justice” system premised on protecting capitalist rule and profits through organized terror against the working class, the black masses and other minorities.
We oppose the death penalty on principle—for the guilty as well as the innocent. We do not accord the state the right to decide who shall live and who shall die. Capital punishment is a barbaric legacy of medieval torture, a system of legal murder that reinforces the brutalization of society in all respects. And in racist America, black people are overwhelmingly the victims of state terror, whether this system is administered by the Republican or Democratic parties of capital. Davis was tried in a courtroom flying the Georgia state flag, which at the time included the battle flag of the slaveholding Confederacy. The lynching of black men—by racist mobs and by the august courts—is deeply embedded in this country’s history, particularly but by no means exclusively in Southern states like Troy Davis’s Georgia. Over 40 percent of those on death row in this country are black. Abolish the racist death penalty!
Through petitions and public statements, hundreds of thousands have opposed Davis’s execution, including former president Jimmy Carter, former FBI director William Sessions, South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Pope. While this may have given Georgia’s rulers some pause, it was only so they could gather additional judicial sanction to kill Davis. To put a final halt to the grisly workings of the U.S. rulers’ machinery of death requires sweeping away the racist capitalist system through proletarian revolution.
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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 986, 16 September 2011)
Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.