After a number delays, and a groundswell of support which included celebrities and national civil rights organizations, Troy Davis was executed in Georgia. Author Demone Carter wonders about future of the movement which called for his freedom, one that was widely built through social media. — Post submission by Demone Carter
Troy Davis is dead and unfortunately the passion and energy of his supporters may die with him.
In the days leading up to his execution, Troy Davis’ story became impossible to ignore. Davis, a former Canadian football player, was sentenced to death for the murder of Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail in 1991. Despite receiving little to no mainstream media attention, Davis’ supporters numbered in the thousands and included a diverse array of public figures and celebrities (from the Pope to Rapper Big Boi).Those who sought to stay Davis’ execution pointed to recanted witness testimonies and a racial biased jury selection process as grounds to halt the execution. Social Media networks like Twitter and Facebook where skillfully used to quickly build awareness about Davis’ plight and inspire a massive phone call campaign.
In the end their efforts to keep him alive were unsuccessful. While I’m saddened that a potentially innocent man lost his life tonight I’m more disheartened that the groundswell of support he received will soon dissipate and the flawed system that executed him will remain intact.
Capital punishment is an expensive, racially biased, and horribly flawed institution. A quick look at the facts:
-According to an LA Times study It costs California tax payers approximately $90,000 more a year to house an inmate on death row, than in the general prison population.
-African-Americans make up only 10% of the US population they represent 40% of death row inmates nationally.
-The murder rate in the United States is six times higher than that of countries like the UK and Australia who don’t have the death penalty.
The arguments against the Death Penalty are strong, and the effort to stop Troy Davis’ execution proved there are many ordinary people who can be moved to action. What I fear will happen now is that people will fold up their righteous indignation and go home, and be less likely to participate in a long term battle to end capital punishment. This is the double edged sword of social media inspired activism. It’s easier to inspire people to fight the symptoms of a sick institution than it is to enlist them to find a cure.