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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Is It About Innocence or the Death Penalty?

Do a google search on "Troy Anthony Davis" and you will get thousands of hits for supporters in the call for clemency. Someone with some powerful media connections and a plethora of media savvy has put the case of the convicted cop killer in the middle of the spotlight. Interviews, news articles and blogs are calling for "justice" for the murderer on death row. But who is driving this media machine? And is it about innocence or simply another tool for the abolitionists?

Ledra Sullivan – a frequent contributer to the Letters to the Editor of the Savannah Morning News extolling the innocence of Troy Anthony Davis. According to the “official” Troy Davis website, Ledra took her family to visit Davis at the prison. Sullivan’s mother wrote about the prison visit. Mom spilled the beans about Sullivan’s close personal connection to Troy Davis…

“Ledra had been to visit him before, had been writing him for months, and they had a connection.”

Sullivan’s mother describes her daughter as “a staunch death penalty opponent”. Sullivan has participated in local Amnesty International anti-death penalty functions. She also has signed several Internet petitions calling for the release of other convicted murderers sitting on Death Row.

Ledra Sullivan provided her mother with copies of witness statements and transcipts of case proceedings prior to their prison visit. After reading Sullivan’s documents, her Mom became convinced of Davis’ innocence.

Martina Correia – Troy Anthony Davis’ sister. Correia has been a tireless advocate for her brother while fighting breast cancer. Correia joined Amnesty International when she was a teenager in the Army because “they work with the UN to help people around the world.” She is Amnesty International’s State Death Penalty Coordinator (SDPAC) and Chair of Amnesty International USA’s Program to Abolish the Death Penalty Steering Committee. Correia has called her brother’s trial “one of the most fabricated and racist trials” she had ever witnessed.

Correia spoke at a workshop hosted by Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and Equal Justice USA as part of the socialist US Social Forum in Atlanta. She said “I fight against the death penalty, not only to save my brother’s life, but also because it is morally wrong.”

She has also been quick to interject race into the case. In a July 2007 interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Correia expressed her bitterness “about the way the legal system treats a black man without money, especially when the victim was a white man and in law enforcement.” She even described the courtroom in racial undertones…

“The courtroom was set up for a lynching, divided by race, the defendant’s family (all black) on the right, the victim’s family (all white) on the left. Court-appointed sheriff’s deputies even protecting the victim’s family.”

Amnesty International – While claiming to fight against injustice, Amnesty International included the following caveat in their “special report” on Troy Davis…

“Amnesty International does not know if Troy Davis is guilty or innocent of the crime for which he is facing execution. As an abolitionist organization, it opposes his death sentence either way.”

Rep John Lewis – Testified at the clemency hearing in front of the GA Board of Pardons and Paroles. He included the following in his statement to the Board…

I do not know Troy Anthony Davis. I do not know if he is guilty of the charges of which he has been convicted. But I do know that nobody should be put to death based on the evidence we now have in this case.

Bob Wakfer – Bob Wakfer is the owner of the official Troy Anthony Davis website and domain name. His company, Computer Partners, is the hosting company. Wakfer is a Canadian abolitionist and human rights activist. He was responsible for setting up the website Stop Capital Punishment. which organized support for former Illinois Gov George Ryan’s 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Gov Ryan’s nomination was based on his commutation of 167 death penalty sentences in 2003.

Interesting to note that the letters to the Board of Pardons and Paroles from Sheila Jackson-Lee, Harry Belafonte, Bishop Desmond Tutu, etc are simply fill in the blank templates from the Amnesty International website. Some of the "celebrity" supporters tweaked their letters a little but most just simply copied the template.

So is this outpouring of support due to belief in the innocence of Troy Anthony Davis? Consider this - the Board cannot grant a pardon in this case. The best outcome for Davis would be conversion to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He would still be a convicted cop killer. Based on the most vocal supporters and their backgrounds, this is not about innocence. It's simply about abolition of the death penalty. Officer Mark Alan McPhail deserves justice. Commuting the sentence of his killer is not justice.

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