Last Friday, I had a surprise run-in with someone who can be categorized as one of Donald Trump’s ‘deplorables.’
"The state doesn't have the right to kill people!" determined activist/conscious comedian Dick Gregory at the Savannah, Ga., memorial service for the recently executed Troy Davis. "If I kill someone and they give me life, that's punishment-if they kill me, that's revenge. That's altogether different. Somewhere it has to stop!"
The recent outrage sparked by Davis' ordeal-who some are saying became a homicide victim of the Georgia authorities on Sept. 21-has made him a household name and a prominent face for the movement to end the death penalty. It has also put racism in America and the inhumanity of "state sanctioned murder" under intense public scrutiny while many of his heartbroken supporters call for its ban.
"They don't want to open up Troy's case because it opens up a Pandora's box of what's wrong with the death penalty," stated Martina Correia, Davis' older sister. "I know we will be able to abolish the death penalty. Everyone is asking the question: 'Why kill when there is so much doubt?' We are no longer going to accept that!"
Questions regarding "morality" in capital punishment cases often arise, as do whether an individual's economic class, ethnicity and social status play a major role in whether they are convicted and how they are sentenced-to life in prison or execution.
Millions of people attracted to Davis' situation have now been exposed to what is already common knowledge for many African-Americans residing in the "Land of the Free." The injustices that Black, financially deprived, legally misrepresented and many times wrongfully convicted individuals endure have temporarily been brought to the forefront.
Supporters designated Saturday, Oct. 1 as a day of remembrance for Davis, when they acknowledged the flagrant injustices committed by the judicial system upon others. A vigil was conducted at Harlem's Riverside Church, and other gatherings simultaneously assembled nationwide as the former prisoner of war was returned to the essence in his native Savannah.
A nationwide economic boycott was called upon to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Troy's birth on Oct. 9, but due to the date falling on Sunday followed by the Columbus Day holiday, the boycott was acknowledged on Tuesday instead. A ban on all Georgia products and sports teams is also being suggested.
"People are starting to wake up more and more," Davis optimistically commented during a 2009 conference call with Amnesty International. "This is just the beginning of something-we're going to win this fight, we're going to continue to open these eyes, we're going to continue to open these prison doors, we're going to continue to hold accountable all those who are in charge of these unjust systems."
Judicial and prosecutorial misconduct is also coming to light as many present-day local officials vie for prominent future positions, using certain cases as expendable political pawns. "How many careers have been built off of Davis' case over the past 20 years?" asked one observer.
Over the last three and a half decades since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court, it has been a major topic of discussion.