I was in Europe when the state of Georgia murdered Troy Davis. From there the barbarity of this act is evident and universally condemned. My friend Alice Kim captured my reaction to this horrific legal lynching.
From Alice Kim, Dancing the Dialectic, September 22, 2011. For Troy
I feel numb. I feel defeated. I don’t want to read any more stories or news reports or even any more calls to action. Then I feel ashamed. I want to be strong. I want to know what the right thing to say is at this moment for this moment.
“There is nothing to say,” Ronnie Kitchen said when we talked on the phone this morning. Ronnie was the twentieth death row prisoner to be exonerated from Illinois’ death row. We’ve known each other for fourteen years. We hung on the phone for a few moments in silence. Then we remembered our visit to Savannah. In the summer of 2009, when Ronnie walked out of Cook County Courthouse a free man, we went down to Georgia to see his mom. Since we were near Savannah, we decided to visit Martina Correia, Troy Davis’ sister.
I remember sitting in Martina’s living room with her mom and sister. They were so pleased to meet Ronnie. I think they saw Troy in him. Ronnie was living proof that Troy could be free one day. This past spring, Virginia Davis passed away just days after the Supreme Court denied Troy’s appeal. With this decision, we knew that an execution date would soon be set. Martina said she thought her mom died of a broken heart.
That day, Martina took us to the scene of the crime, the Burger King parking lot where Officer Mark MacPhail was killed. She took us to the balcony of the motel where one of the eyewitnesses had supposedly seen Troy shoot the officer. We stayed on the balcony while Martina went across the street to the parking lot. In broad daylight, we couldn’t identify Martina from where we were standing, let alone a stranger in the middle of the night.
Then Martina, a gracious host, took us to downtown Savannah where Ronnie got to taste his first pralines. They were smooth and sweet and melted in your mouth. We sampled pralines from every candy store that we walked by. Amidst the beauty of Savannah, the harbor and the cobble-stone lined streets, Martina pointed out the spot where slaves were once auctioned off.
I think fondly of that day we spent with Martina. It was a hopeful time.
Now, I hear how weak Martina’s voice sounds in an interview she gave on the day of Troy’s execution. Photographs taken of her in the protest area outside the prison show tears in her eyes. She insists that her brother’s death will not be in vein. I want to honor Troy, Martina, and their family.
I wish I had deep, profound words of wisdom to offer. What I can offer is my love. In the face of this overwhelming injustice, I ask us all to love fiercely, to refuse to look away even when it’s hard, and to never forget. In Troy’s memory, in solidarity, in struggle, and in sorrow.