Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Troy Davis: Are you a bandwagon activist?

Tonight Troy Anthony Davis was declared dead at 11:08 p.m. As expected, many are outraged citing a faulty judicial system as the reason for such injustice. I am one of these people, but I am also a bit perturbed about how and why some elected to protest Davis' execution. Over the past week I have witnessed a significant amount of rallying by thousands of people who believed there was "too much doubt" in Davis' case for him to be executed.

Of those thousands of people, I wonder how many actually researched the case. I wonder how many knew the details of what he was arrested for before sending tweets and signing petitions. I'd estimate that nearly half of the people posting about Davis' pending execution had the slightest clue about all of the components involved. This brings me to the mention of bandwagon activists, individuals that unite for a cause only because they see others doing it; society is filled with plenty of these people.
While his claims of innocence drew worldwide support this week, Davis' case has been ongoing for 22 years. His execution had been stopped three times since 2007. Did we really expect justice to be rendered on a case of this magnitude after 48 hours of Facebook statuses, retweets and blog posts? Are we that naive? Yes, social networking is powerful but this is the Supreme Court we're talking about here, not Beyonce's baby bump.

I wonder how many of us thought about Mark MacPhail. If you aren't aware of who I'm referring to, please include yourself in the above mentioned 50%. Whether you choose to believe it or not, justice has been served for MacPhail and his family tonight for they believed that Davis was guilty. Imagine if it was your relative that was killed, would you be against the accused murderer's execution then?

I truly believe it's important to be informed and consider all sides of a story before taking a stance. If you were one of the people rallying, what were you doing it for? Were you protesting the death penalty or injustice on a Black man? Don't just campaign for a cause that you know nothing about, do some research so that you'll know exactly what you're fighting for. Don't call a man innocent when you really don't know because you were not there.

Please don't get me wrong, I too am saddened by what happened to Troy Davis just hours ago. Do I believe he was innocent? Yes, but I'm not a judge in a court of law. Neither are most of the people that posted tweets and signed petitions. Deep down I wish that the rallying and protests would have produced a much different outcome. There is no question about it, our judicial system is flawed. I wonder how many of us will spend future hours trying to change it.

I honestly can't believe that I'm witnessing this type of history in 2011. It's all very reminiscent of the Jim Crow laws when things were outrageously slanted against the interests of African Americans. How can a case with seven of nine witnesses recanting or disputing all or parts of their testimony repeatedly be denied a new trial? How can a man be indicted and executed with no existing physical evidence? I have tons of questions, but do they really matter at this point? After all, Troy Davis is dead and "justice was served" according to several state and federal judges.

Please feel free to answer any of the questions I posed above, comment below or post links to articles or posts that you think will be interesting for me to see about the topic.

Thanks for reading,

Alexandria B.


  1. details of the case once you read the accounts of that night you see that he was involved somehow and on the run in the beginning for a reason. Yea the issues were splashed together in this situation. Death penalty vs pro life racial injustice economic disparity and the legal system state vs federal court all in all the blame has to be shared by society and all parties involved for the death of that police officer and Troy Davis. Many don't consider placing emphasis on why 7 witnesses gave "false accounts" in a trial that they knew could determine the life or death of the defendant or why it took 22 years for this sentence to be carried out. How would you feel if you were the victims family and you traveled to see and execution that was postponed and postponed? Wouldnt you be determined to see "justice served". The takeaway from this case is that we do need to examine the facts and take the jury system seriously if we are ever involved in it. Justice is in our hands to has citizens of the US it does not all fall on the lawyers and judges.

  2. Bandwagon Activist - It’s unfair to consider so many (50%) of Troy Davis’ supporters as bandwagon activist. It’s hard to feel a need to further research the case than what has already been presented by credible, internationally recognized news sources.
    I was informed about the Troy Davis case when a friend posted a link on Facebook to sign the NAACP’s petition to his execution about 2 weeks ago. The plea provided on the link was convincing enough for me to sign the petition to the Board of Pardons. It wasn’t really until the day before his execution that I really began to find out more. The NAACP failed to mention key details to the case, such as the fact that shell casings at the murder site were linked to an earlier shooting Davis was convicted of.

    Of course, there was uproar on the social networking sites but the real activist were the nearly 700,000 people who signed his petition and the participants in protest/demonstrations held throughout the world. Although Facebook and Twitter played no part in the decision to not grant him clemency, social media helped bring awareness on the case to an international level. Whether people decided to take action or simply express their opinions are two different stories but one would think the global spotlight would influence our judicial system to act appropriately.

    The Verdict -I must admit I was drawn to the Troy Davis story because it involved injustice to a black man. However, I passionately followed the case backed by the belief that no matter what race a man is, to take away their life without 100% certainty is unjustified. I’m sure the MacPhail family feels “justice was served” but at what expense? Are they absolutely sure Troy Davis was the murderer?
    I never thought I would witness another high profile case of injustice driven by race such as this on my clock.

    Thanks for writing, Alexandria.

  3. Many great points here, but there is something missing. First of all I think a lot of people have a misconception of "bandwagon". I have been involved in discussions. For instance, I have been reading into the case for a while and studied the entire system and prison history but still relatively new in comparison. Despite that, when I felt I had enough information, I contacted the people who I felt had righteous authority. Does that make my activism any less than someone who has been studying the case since before I could talk? No.

    According to you, not being there means there are no actually facts outside of what is seen with the human eye. The GA board of paroles nor the judge was there either and with NO evidence still, how did they decide that he was the person guilty of such a crime? Why did they concur that a polygraph test wasn't efficient? Why did they deny original appeals and more than 1 presentation of evidence that he was indeed innocent? If you took a look at all the court appeals throughout that time, justice was irrelevant.

    If it were my family member, and this is honest opinion, I wouldn't want anyone else's family to go through that, therefore I would want to be ensured that it was the right person. Otherwise I would just walk downtown, chose a random person and tell the police 'This is the man I want dead. My love died , so someone else should die too' which makes no sense whatsover.

    What about the Caucasian man by the name of Samuel Crowe 3 years ago who brutally murdered an indian storekeeper. Physical evidence of 3 weapons, eye witnesses, as well as a camera. However, HIS execution was postponed hours prior, granted a stay, and the sentence was changed to life without parole. Different twist, you see? Now what about that man's family?

    I think the problem within the black community is always the need to compete. Your approach may be totally different than someone else's. you may think it's wrong on a racial level. Another person might just be against death penalty. Either way, it a pursuit of justice. Stuff like this has been happening for years and I think it's beautifu when people unite to at least try to make a change. By the way, social media and technology are the leading mechanisms in which politicians and citizens communicate, campaign, and inform. So a small voice is better than silence.