Wednesday, 21 September 2011

All my soul is weeping

The execution of Troy Davis has been scheduled to go ahead at 7 o'clock this evening in Jackson, Georgia, USA.  You can read up to date news here.

This despite a massive outcry against the judgement all around the world.  No murder weapon has been found or any forensic evidence linking Troy Davis to the crime.   7 of the 9 key witnesses recanted their statements.  Witnesses have said their statements were made under pressure from police.  One of the jurors originally turning in a verdict of guilty says she has since changed her mind.  Hundreds of thousands of people have signed the petitions urging the boards of justice to reconsider.  Public figures who have supported the conclusion that there is too much doubt in this case for a death sentence to be warranted include Pope Benedict, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, William Sessions (former director of the FBI) and 51 members of the US congress.  Amnesty International's US branch describe this as an 'outrageous affront to justice'.  Testimony has been heard that a different man privately confessed to the crime.  Ten people have come forward in accusation of a different man.

Troy Davis has been on Death Row for 20 years, and numerous appeals have been heard.  He has always maintained he did not commit this crime.  On Monday, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles heard three hours of testimony to the mounting evidence of doubt, but declined to grant him clemency.  

Last time his execution date was fixed, the execution was stopped 2 hours before its due time.

Unless the US Supreme Court intervenes today, Troy Davis's execution by lethal injection is expected to go ahead at 7pm local time in Jackson, Georgia.   I have put the clock at the top above this post so you can see the time in Jackson.

Whatever your thoughts and views on this case, please uphold Troy Davis in prayer today.  And please pray also for the family of the policeman whose shooting is the crime for which Troy is to be executed.  Despite all the doubts and contradictions, the family of the policeman who was killed have called for Troy Davis's execution.  Having seen a member of their own family die, they want this man dead as well.  May God have mercy on their souls.

Lord Jesus Christ, Your eyes see into the hearts of us all and your compassion is boundless.  As you died on the cross for the sins of others, may your love reach out in mercy to all involved in this execution planned for today.  May this outrage, this protest, this wound in the side of justice be the crack through which Your light may shine to illumine the world.  Have mercy, have mercy Lord!  Look upon your child Troy as he waits in his prison, compose his heart and bring him peace.  Pour your love into him, find him there, draw him close to you, be his hope, his life, his comfort.  Look on Your broken world that you meant to be so beautiful, and forgive our stupidity, our sick thirst for vengeance and our blind cruelty and violence.
Oh Lord Jesus, Son of the Living God, lift us up, take away our hearts of stone and give us the hearts of flesh you meant for us to have.  From this valley of dry bones that our civilisation has become, raise up Your troops of peace and light and love.  Shed Your tears on our world today Lord Jesus and soften our hardened hearts.  Please, Jesus, loving Jesus, take this situation into Your hands and transform it by the power of Your grace.  Amen. Amen. Amen  


Roberta said...

In an e-mail I received from the NAACP, Re: Troy Davis

"...Troy has refused to have a “last meal.” He has faith his life will be spared.
In the past, his tremendous faith has been rewarded. The last time Troy faced execution, in 2008, the warden brought in what was to be his last meal. But Troy refused to eat. Looking the prison staff in their eyes, he explained this meal would not be his last. He was vindicated when he received a last minute stay. Guards still remember this as a haunting moment, one rooted in Troy’s deep faith."
"As he has said many times 'They can take my body but not my spirit, because I have given my spirit to God.'"
"Please stand with Troy and his family. Join NAACP activists around the country in an evening of solidarity, prayer and fasting on Wednesday, September 21st."
"However you do it, please mark the 7 o’clock hour on that evening—the time of Troy’s scheduled execution—as a moment to reflect on Troy’s experience, to offer prayers for his family and that of Officer MacPhail, and to talk about what we can each do to ensure our nation never does this again."

"While moments like this test the limits of our understanding, we do know the world will remember Troy’s name, and the movement against the death penalty will grow. People who thought they supported capital punishment yesterday will realize they cannot today. Because people who thought they could stand on the sidelines will realize they no longer can."

Ember, I will be reciting your beautiful prayer for Troy, and for us all, several times today.
Thank you.

Ember said...

Thank you so much for this information, Roberta. Today God has called me to fast and pray for Troy. I think there is every likelihood that by 7pm Georgia time I will have fallen asleep, but will stay awake if I can. x

Buzzfloyd said...

I can hardly stand this outrage. What could possess anyone in charge of putting someone to death to give the go ahead when there was any uncertainty at all?

Ember said...

Racial prejudice?

Ganeida said...

Today is my regular fast day. I will remember Troy before the Lord.

Ember said...

Thank you, friend x

Hawthorne said...

What a beautiful prayer, Ember. Thank you for giving me words to begin my own prayers for this man and the whole situation.
In Your hands, Lord......

Ember said...

This is the most unbearable situation.

Buzzfloyd said...

Whatever happens to Troy Davis tonight, I pray that this will be a pivotal time in American culture, of stepping away from death and vengeance, and towards compassion and gentleness of heart.

Ember said...

Amen. Thank you so much for your online companionship through this desperate vigil, Buzz x

seekingmyLord said...

Ember, I am sad for both families and I don't know whether he was innocent or not, but I do know that the media painted the story quite differently than those who were close to the case. I have read three, seven, and nine witnesses recanted in the news all at the same time from different sources, but since I am in the area, I have heard the things that did not make national news from other more creditable sources. It probably was only two witnesses that recanted, which apparently was not convincing doubt to those who could have stayed the execution. After all the years and knowing the man was facing execution, people's memories can soften. I think I would lose my certainty in the same circumstance.

Regardless of what we are dealt in life, it is far more important to be right with the Lord. He had plenty of time to do that and I hope that is what he did for none are innocent before the Lord.

Ember said...

Hi seekingmyLord.

No, it was not only two witnesses who recanted, and the many sources I have read have all been entirely consistent. Documented and filmed evidence of the recanting of the witnesses and revised opinion of jurors is available to see. 7 of the 9 key witnesses recanted, leaving two key witnesses of which one was the other man in the frame for the crime.
I watched and listened what they had to say.
What they are saying is not that they were certain at the time and have now lost their certainty with the passing of years, but that their statements were made under coercion, or were lies told for fear of what the police could do in their own lives, or were misrepresentations, or in the case of one man the requirement that he sign his name to a statement he could not read because he is illiterate.
If it is the case that other creditable sources have a completely different picture to paint than the one that has emerged, which I have not found has varied significantly from one source to another, then I think it would be very helpful if instead of hinting at their existence those in possession of these undisclosed facts publicly shared them (though I appreciate that you are not in a position to do so yourself if it is someone else's story).
As to being right with the Lord - Troy was a man of devout and profound faith, and his last words bore wonderful witness to the condition of his heart and soul.

seekingmyLord said...

Ember, I understand. What you are saying, but I would suggest to you that things get misunderstood and then repeated with that slant. For instance, the first person who commented here was quoting that Troy refused to have a "last meal." I could easily understand that to mean he refused to eat but that would not be the truth; he chose not to order a special meal in favor of eating the regular meal, which was a cheeseburger.

Could you point me to the video(s) showing the seven witnesses recanting?

seekingmyLord said...

I forgot to write that the state actually had 34 witnesses, not nine as the media has also consistently reported. Three of the witnesses in the drive in lane at the Burger King were members of the Air Force and they have stood firm on their testimony. One friend of Troy Davis standing five feet away recanted saying that he was not sure he saw Troy shot the cop.

If I had not dug deeper myself, I would have been as upset as you. Honestly I would. I would have been even more upset that he ever had to spend one day in prison.

I think that it is too easy to form an opinion based on emotions when one is given just enough information to invoke an emotional response, but not ALL the facts. As I see it, this execution was emotionally kindled and fueled by a biased media.

I studied law for a time and I learned facts may be facts, but human nature is human nature. In the end, people will believe what they want to believe. With said I will not write on this subject again.

Ember said...

seekingmyLord - William Sessions, (former FBI) expressed what for me was the problem with the situation, here:

I have never read anywhere that there were only nine witnesses. The sources I read said that 7 of 9 key witnesses had recanted, implying not that there had been only none witnesses, but that other witnesses had perhaps a more subsidary role.

One clip that shows bits of people who had changed their mind verbally or on paper is this rap on YouTube (but you have to sit through the polemic of the rap to pick out the relevant bits). You have to freeze it to read the pieces of paper where relevant quotations have been typed out and highlighted, because they go through quick):

In all the stuff I've read, I've seen the

Something that has interested me very much is that Brenda Forrest (one of the jurors) has said that if the things that have since come to light had been made known to her at the time she would not have voted 'guilty' - which would be all that was needed for this execution not to have happened. But she should have had that information, because it was pertinent to the case. I have read of two other jurors who said the same.

I found this long article on Wikipedia helpful in summarising events, and to me it makes clear the grave flaws (and resulting doubts about the outcome) in the judicial process in this case. It does not, to me, seem to give 'just enough information to evoke an emotional response', but a concise yet thorough recounting of unfolding events.

I know you said that you wished to discuss this no further, but in asking me to dig deeper, I wonder if you would be kind enough to take the time to list for me the 34 witnesses at the trial and point me in the direction of the resources that you would regard as digging deeper than my own researches? I'd be so grateful.

As to the number of witnesses at the trial, I can imagine that there must have been numerous witnesses - eg the police officers making the arrest will presumably have been called to the witness stand. The nine key witnesses consistently mentioned are the eye-witnesses to the crime, and it is seven (not three or nine)of those nine who have since recanted their evidence, leaving only two eye-witness accounts standing, one of those being the account of Sylvester Coles who later merged as an alternative suspect.

As to the 'last meal', in the sources I read, the concept of a 'last meal' was clearly explained along with the reasons that Troy had refused it. But I'm interested that you know what he had for his supper/lunch. How did you find that out? And if you know that, perhaps you can tell me if it is true what I have read elsewhere - that Troy was kept strapped to the gurney who whole time the Supreme Court was deliberating on the night of his death. I had assumed that he would be taken back to his cell but now I've read they kept him on the gurney. Do you know?

I hear and respect your wish not to discuss this, and I wish to make it clear that I'm not meaning to be at all aggressive in pushing this, but it would help if instead of hinting that if I knew what you knew I'd think differently, and suggesting that my conclusions are reaching through emotional manipulation by the media, you would tell me what it is that is so compelling as to turn this long accumulation of new evidence and doubts over this case on its head. If you have things to say you don't want made public, you can reply to me in a comment starting DO NOT PUBLISH and it will reach me by email but I will not publish it here.

More to add in a subsequent comment (makes it too long to add here)

Ember said...

(to seekingmyLord, continued)

And I'd like to ask you one question: reading through the course of events from Davis's original arrest to his execution, if it had happened to you, if you had been the person on death row, is this the judicial procedure you would want for yourself?

Finally (sorry this is so long!) I have been really grateful and appreciative that you are willing to discuss this. I find it very frustrating when people simply divide into two separate camps for the purpose of agreeing with each other, never permitting their established views to be challenged.

Ember said...

Sorry, me again!

In the first of those two long comments I see I left and unfinished sentence: 'In all the stuff I've read, I've seen the...'

I was referring to the rap video clip that just gives glimpses of the witness who recanted and Brenda Forrest the juror - somewhere I have seen longer clips of those filmed conversations, and I was searching for where I'd seen those films and (any others I may have seen and forgotten) before conceding defeat in all the plethora of stuff accumulating online. I forgot I'd started the sentence and left it unfinished!

I will keep looking though - the sites I trusted best were NAACP and Amnesty.

Ember said...

Oh! This may be of help! It's not a film, but it's taken straight from the affidavits.

seekingmyLord said...

As I said, I will not address the Troy Davis case. What is done, is done.

I will say, because I also have studied a bit of law, that I think it is so important to understand legal terms and procedures that I often suggest to fellow homeschoolers to add some law study in their curriculum. Understanding my viewpoint on law itself, it is a point of law for me that an affidavit is not a quote, it is a written statement dated, signed with witnesses, and usually made a public record filed with the clerk of courts and submitted as evidence. If any affidavits *in entirety* would have proven innocence of a person about to be executed, I think the courts would have taken them into consideration stopped the execution...and being a matter of public record they could have also been posted such affidavits *in entirety* on the Internet also.

My thoughts on getting credible information is to read public records, the court case itself, not opinions that have been retold in just the right way to recreate the desired response--a rap song video with a fuzzy handwritten paper flashed for a moment and the mother of the convicted and one juror thinking that there is new evidence that would change her verdict (both which are opinions irrelevant to the case) was a very good example.

As for the AJC as being a creditable source, you if lived here you would know that the AJC is very well-known for skewing facts. In fact, I have personal experience with this--a long story from a few years ago. Let me just say that many people in the area do not subscribe to the AJC because of this.

Public opnions can be made too easily with ommisions and misquotes or even quotes taken out of context.

Ember said...

Thank you for these thoughts, friend.