The Execution of Troy Davis Provides Another "Haunting Reminder of Once Prevalent Southern Lynchings"

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The Nation

The Execution of Troy Davis Provides Another "Haunting Reminder of Once Prevalent Southern Lynchings"

"I am innocent," said Troy Davis, moments before the the state of Georgia put him to death.

The state-sanctioned slaying, which former President Jammy Carter characterized as "a grave miscarriage of justice," was completed at 11:08 p.m. EST.

Before the execution, the man whose case inspired an international outcry against not just the death penalty but a dysfunctional "justice" system told the witnesses at the Georgia Diagnostic Prison facility: "The incident that night was not my fault. I did not have a gun."

Addressing the family of, Mark MacPhail, the off-duty Savannah police officer he was accused of killing, Davis said he was sorry for their loss. Then, he said: "I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent."

To those who battled to save his life, Davis urged continued investigation, inquiry and struggle for justice.

The execution of Davis took place after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a Georgia native, led the high court in rejecting a plea that the killing be blocked. There were no dissents from the other justices on the current court.

But it is important to underline the word "current."

Former Justice John Paul Stevens, who left the high court last year, has argued in recent statements and interviews that the death penalty is "unconstitutional."

In particular, he cited the fact that African-Americans who are charged with murder (such as Troy Davis) are dramatically more likely than whites to be executed.

This fact, noted Justice Stevens,  "provides a haunting reminder of once prevalent Southern lynchings."

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