There is an entire group of citizens in the United States who are largely ignored by liberals and conservatives alike. They are the people on Death Row whose guilt contains "reasonable doubt." For better or for worse, Mr. Troy Anthony Davis is their poster child.
Mr. Davis' case is well known -- accused of killing a police officer based solely on nine eyewitness accounts where seven have recanted (unprompted), conviction within four days, and no DNA or any physical evidence found at all. His case has brought together the unlikely, both proponents and opponents of the death penalty, and inspired a NAACP-sponsored campaign, IamTroy.com, that includes National Days for Troy Davis around the world. But who is Troy Davis? Who is this man, who has stirred many to action, yet is unable to speak to directly to the media himself? And how can all of us come to see his plight as our own?
I could use the many adjectives one does when describing someone special such as kind, faithful, friendly, etc. ... yet this would hardly be enough. The best way to introduce you to Mr. Davis is by recounting the time my sister and I visited him in a Jackson, Georgia prison. My sister and I are staunch advocates against the death penalty and his case exemplifies why. Through written correspondence, we realized that we wanted to meet the man who had inspired us and our family members to go to rallies and vigils on his behalf.
Meeting Troy was like seeing your child run out of the front door of school on their first-ever day there. Even between the two sets of locked bars, we could see his smile light up the room and his eyes say "Thank you for visiting." We saw the staff and other inmates interact with him almost as if he were family, and it was evident that they all liked him.
What was most remarkable about the visitation was its lack of being "remarkable." There were no awkward silences, no uncomfortable moments of "What do I say? What do I do?" It was like meeting a childhood friend; reconnecting as if time had stood still. Never did we feel as though we were visiting Death Row. Never did we feel that we were in the company of a man who was accused of killing someone or who had faced--and avoided--execution three times. There were others in the same room who we could not say the same, but Mr. Davis, he was different.
We spoke for hours on matters of his case and about our family, husbands, and employment. He was far more interested in finding out about our lives than in discussing his own situation. Oddly enough, he had such a serenity about his circumstances, trusting in our legal system, his supporters and his God.
He expressed sorrow for the officer's death, felt no malice towards those who wished him dead and questioned the toll it was all taking on his family. When we asked him how he was feeling, he said, "I am often surprised by the fact that I am not depressed or have never lost faith in my being set free. I have never felt imprisoned in my mind and because of that, I always remain hopeful. God has gotten me this far, He will carry me through, regardless of the outcome." It was here that I saw true faith: not found in prison, but a faith rooted in childhood. He lived it daily. He walks it out as opposed to speaking it out. His soft-spoken manner would have it no other way.
Mr. Davis humbly carries the torch for those in similar circumstances. He is mindful of his behavior and because of this, the only time he expressed any displeasure was when he spoke of being misrepresented: on execution days, Mr. Davis does not "refuse a meal," instead he is fasting.
I ask you to join me in speaking out on behalf of Troy Davis, and to pass the message along to your friends. We will ask the justice system to reopen his case to prove his innocence, or disprove it. Right now, too many questions still remain. Please join the I am Troy Davis campaign so that one day we can ensure that no one is sentenced to die when their guilt is uncertain. It is a legacy our children deserve. I am Troy Davis. I am Troy Davis.