Notes on the Execution of Troy Davis


September 24, 2011

Troy Davis is dead and I must confess that while he was alive I participated in no protests concerning his execution date, I did not write one letter to any politician in the state of Georgia or anywhere else, and to be honest I barely stayed informed about his plight. I hate to say it’s because I have given up on justice but the truth is that I believe I have.

I put everything that I could into making sure that the police officer that killed Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009 was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Johannes Mehserle killed Oscar Grant on a crowded BART platform, only to have his deplorable actions caught on a camera phone and shown on news stations around the country yet he still wound up serving about 9 months in jail. At the time of the verdict certain journalists and legal experts were claiming that we should be happy that the police officer was convicted at all. And that a police officer going to jail for such a thing as murder was unprecedented and therefore justice was served.

Unlike with the recent Troy Davis execution, during the Oscar Grant situation I did attend several protests. I did write a few articles that were published; I did engage in passionate debates, I went to town hall meetings, and I did stay informed about the trial up to the minute, but in the end there was nothing. I still haven’t recovered from the spiritual blow that was delivered by that injustice. I did not put my faith and energy into seeing that Troy Davis got a retrial because I cannot give what I don’t have.

When the officers who beat down Rodney King were acquitted we burned things, when Mark Duggan was killed we burned things, yes we riot, we fight, we are warriors, we have determination, we have heart, but we still do not have justice.

One thing I have learned to do is to choose my battles carefully. Troy Davis was put to death and that is a travesty, however, I can’t say that I feel let down. For as a black man I have come to expect this kind of thing to happen.