Troy Davis and Life's Fleeting Emotions


"The Message of Justice Weeps in Solitude." -- Tagore

Troy Davis is now dead. In my layman’s language, the mighty, glorified American justice system refused to revoke his death penalty, and last night around eleven, in an American prison, he was straddled on a chair and given a lethal injection. Troy died ten minutes later.
Just before his death, from his death bed, he gave a final statement proclaiming his innocence once again. He said he did not commit the crime. He implored us to “look deeper” into it.
Even though I did not know Troy, a black man in Georgia who was convicted of killing a police officer in 1989, only four years after I came to America as a foreign graduate student, over the years I’ve heard about him and the alleged flay of justice he went through for twenty years, and wondered about the mighty and glorified American justice system. I read about the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King when I was in India. I remember I read in our Bangla newspaper about his assassination in Memphis when I was in elementary school. I heard about the assassination of John and Bobby Kennedy. I read about slavery in America, and how black men and women were subjected to racism, bigotry, exploitation and violent repression. Much later, I read about Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.
I sort of always wanted to believe that America had changed for the better. I sort of wanted to believe the U.S. justice system was actually mighty and worth glorifying.
"They call in marcenaries, and scream, 'kill, kill, kill.'" - Tagore

Since yesterday, I put a status update on my Facebook page, and changed it three times. I did not know of any other way to show my fleeting emotions. First, when I came to know that he was likely to die in a matter of a few hours, I wrote:
“Abolish the Death Penalty Today! It’s barbaric and primitive. Want proof? U.S. India, China and Saudi Arabia still have it. The entire Europe, South America, Australia and Canada banned it.”
I posted a number of links to prove my point: (1) U.S. India, China and Saudi Arabia still have it. The entire Europe, South America, Australia and Canada banned it (why was it banned?); (2) how fanatics and fundamentalists across religions use similar logic to support the death penalty; (3) in a high number of cases, how DNA fingerprinting exonerated convicted, death-row inmates. I put link to a TV news story I did about ten years ago for ABC TV.
At 6 P.M., when it was all news that they were going to kill Troy at 7 P.M., I updated my status:
“At 7 P.M., America will execute Troy Davis. I’ll observe a moment of silence.”
I was feeling very tired just by imagining what Troy was going through at that time. I was internalizing the feeling of sadness, hoplessness, frustration about the mighty, glorified U.S. justice system, and a bone-chilling feeling of death — as if Lord Yama the god of death was knocking at his doorstep, to fetch him. I could not take it anymore. I went to sleep.
At 8 P.M., I woke up and realized that he was still alive; I read that they had delayed the execution because of an appeal to a superior court. But because I never believed in miracles…my life has been so mundanely lacking miracles…deep inside I knew the end of Troy Davis’ life was near. But I was hoping to believe in miracles, only for his sake and for the sake of his family.
But I was feeling very tired and exhausted again just to think about the roller coaster emotions they were all going through. I was imagining the pounding hearts of the hundreds of thousands of supporters and activists who were rallying in Georgia, in Washington, D.C., and in other parts of America; in fact, people against the primitive and barbaric death penalty were rallying and protesting all across the world. In the name of Troy Davis, a black Amercan man in Deep South, the world’s conscience was coming together.
It was too much for my emotional, impractical, old-fashioned heart to beat normally. I went to sleep again.
I woke up at 6 A.M. this morning. I knew it was all over.
I did a final update on my Facebook status:
“A primitive, barbaric system put Troy Davis to death. I hang my head in shame. This is a dark day for America.” 
Repeat statement: Troy Davis is now dead. In my layman’s language, an American court refused to revoke his death penalty, and last night around eleven, in an American prison, he was straddled on a chair and given a lethal injection. Troy died ten minutes later.
I just gave you a synopsis of my fleeting emotions surrounding Troy’s death. My fleeting emotions will not let me remember for too long this alleged flay of justice by the mighty, glorified American justice system.
But right now, as of this moment, this is my life’s status update. This is my life’s raw, real emotion. My life spoke for a poor victim of a primitive, barbaric system — in real, raw terms.
For you, Brother Troy.
Sincerely Writing,
Brooklyn, New York


  1. Partha, I felt the same way. I had a moment of silence at 7 pm, but then I found out from a person on twitter, who was from the New York Times, that he was still alive! I watched the live streaming of Democracy Now which was from the grounds of the prison. I was SO hopeful that the Supreme Court would stop the execution, but I also felt deep down that they wouldn’t. I was SO tired and emotionally spent that I went to bed. When I woke up this morning, the first thing I asked my husband was what happened to Troy Davis. When he told me I felt numb and sad, and he also felt the same way. What a tragedy! What an injustice!

  2. Aaaarghhhhh….when I started reading about this and the way in which “justice system” had dealt with Troy Davis, I have felt as if something deep down within me has been given a “lethal injection” and is dying. Justice, in the system of delivery of justice, unfortunately, all over the world, is mainly a bye-product – the real product is money, power, prejudices and so many other evils we live with as societies. I am a lawyer generally opposed to the death penalty – unless it involves some gory pre-meditated crimes such as sex/violence against hapless by persons in trust and power or the mass killings of innocent by people like Ajmal Kasab or that Norwegian madcap … I believe that in individual cases like that of Troy Davis’ case, justice cannot be served by death penalty. Shame on that DA who said that “justice is finally done” – barbaric, uncivilised and a piece of shamefulness in the modern day society.

    • Yes, true. Death penalty is primitive, barbaric, and unscientific. It doesn’t deter crime. It’s also more expensive than putting convicted criminals behind bars for the rest of their lives without parole. Death penalty is also supported by fanatics, bigots and ultrapatriotic people across religions and nations; common people fall for it because they don’t know all the sides of the issue. In my blog, I’ve used some links for additional information. Thanks for your comments, Himanshu Trivedi. Please keep in touch.

  3. The “American” system of justice is really 51 systems of justices: one is federal and 50 are states. While most are similar (since they are based on English Common Law, except for Louisiana who’s system is based on the Napoleonic Code), they vary in key details of philosophy, attitude, quality and professionalism of the investigative/arresting branch, quality and professionalism of the prosecuting and defending wings, and quality and professionalism of the judicial branch, which has a major wild card in the jury system. The bottom line is that it brings with it so many imperfections that it is amazing it is not wrong more often.
    The innocence project found that 1 of 7 inmates on death row in just one state, Illinois, did not belong there. They have been able to get a number of those inmates freed or sentences commuted in that and many other states. I suspect that blood-lust states like Texas and Florida have a much higher percentage of innocent or undeserving inmates on death row. The problem with the jury system is that the television and Hollywood media enrage them with thoughts of innocents being preyed upon, guilty being let go, but violent and suddent justice by killing the perpetrators is the feel-good solution, all being wrapped up in 60-90 minutes. Biased, unprofessional citizens decide an accused’s fate in time to get home to dinner, in many cases.
    Many police departments are wracked with budget cuts, poor training, biased policemen, and public pressure “to arrest someone,” when a horrendous crime occurs. When a suspect who looks promising is arrested, the public loses interest, until the trial, at which they expect nothing else but a guilty verdict and maximum punishment. The rehabilitation goal gives way to public revenge. The public is led to believe that high powered labs are available for all jurisdictions, and they can find guilt or innocence in a hair in an hour. Wrong. Most places have no access to good labs, most have to wait weeks or months for test results from a reasonably good lab, if the jurisdiction can afford to send evidence there, and, in the meanwhile, the public is clamoring for an arrest and conviction. Elected prosecutors are more interested in the next election than in justice (they are interested in justice, but votes are more important). Police and prosecutors focus on the most promising of the early arrests, and often get target blindness, trying to hammer a rectangular peg into a square hole, ignoring other leads. After getting a conviction, it is a rare prosecutor’s office that will ever admit a mistake, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.
    So we are left with incompetence, lack of training, haste, lack of resources, impatience, pandering to the media-driven lowest desires of the public, racism, and professional arrogance. The weaknesses of any such system, coupled with the evidence of how often it makes a mistake, and the lack of uniformity of the 50 states, should lead anyone with a conscience to demand a moratorium on the death penalty. But this same media-corrupted public will not allow it.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Bill. Much appreciated. The same logic could be applied to the two-party system and perpetually voting for the so-called lesser evil. How can we get out of this mess, if ever? What are we going to leave behind for our children and their children?


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