"Troy Davis and the Arms Bazaar: A Witness," by Art Laffin
Last night, September 21st, the final night of the Air Force Association "Arms Bazaar", a group of 13 of us from Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Pax Christi and other peace groups held a nonviolent witness across the street from the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center during the AFA/Lockheed Martin-sponsored $330 per plate banquet that was attended by some 150 weapons contractors. We were closely observed by at least six Prince George County police and several Gaylord security personnel. At 7 p.m. we paused to pray for a miracle that Troy Davis would not be executed in Georgia.
As we listened to a live broadcast on Pacifica Radio by Amy Goodman from outside the death-house in Jackson, GA, we learned that Davis received a temporary reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court. However, it would take only four more hours for the state of Georgia to finally murder Troy. As it began to rain, we pondered the connection between a government that possesses omnicidal weapons of mass destruction and that murders people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as a routine part of its foreign policy, and how it also sanctions the murder of a wrongfully convicted African-American named Troy Davis in Jackson, Georgia.
Troy endured 20 years
on death row and three previous execution dates without ever having
the opportunity to have a fair trial and present new evidence to a judge and
jury to prove his innocence of killing off-duty police
officer Mark MacPhail. How is it possible
that Troy was not allowed, at the very least, to have a new trial after
seven out of nine eye-witnesses recanted their testimony and nine witnesses
signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles as the gunman. Moreover, there was never any physical evidence presented
tying Troy to the murder. We continued to pray and witness--praying for
God's intercession on behalf of all those being murdered throughout the world
by US warmaking. And we continued
to pray for Troy and his executioners, awaiting his murder by
the the state of Georgia. We also prayed for the MacPhail and
Davis families. Despite appeals for Davis' clemency from
people like the Pope, Archbishop Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, former
FBI director William Sessions, and groups like Amnesty International, the NAACP
and countless others worldwide, what we witnessed in Georgia over the last week
was a slow motion legalized lynching! God forgive us!
According to several people who witnessed Troy's execution, he told the MacPhail family that he did not commit the murder and he encouraged everyone not to give up hope. He called on people to recommit themselves to working even harder to abolish the death penalty so that what happened to him will never happen to anyone else. Troy did not die in vain. His spirit lives on! Troy Davis--Presente! The quote we offered from Dan Berrigan during our witness sums up well the challenge before us: "Our plight is very primitive from a Christian point of view. We are back where we started. Thou shalt not kill; we are not allowed to kill. Everything today comes down to that--everything." We continue to keep our eyes on the prize and hold on!!!