Nothing New Under the Sun

The lump in my throat that had been there since the execution of Troy Davis on September 21 had just about dissolved when I looked on my Facebook page and saw a piece written by Reuters News Service that said the parole board in Georgia had spared the life of a convicted killer hours before his scheduled execution.

Samuel David Crowe, 47, was to be executed on Thursday, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole.

Crowe has been convicted of murder and armed robbery. He admitted the same.

And he is white.

The story said that Crowe admitted killing a lumber store manager, shooting him three times and beating him.

The story said that Crowe “takes full responsibility of his crime and has shown …remorse.” His sentence was commuted, apparently, because of his remorse and because he has been a good “model prisoner.” His attorneys argued that when he committed his crime, he was suffering from symptoms caused by cocaine withdrawal.

The lump in my throat has come back. Now it’s not a “sad” lump. It is an “anger” lump. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Race continues to matter, and matter big time, in this country.

Why, how could the Georgia parole board be so able to grant clemency to this white man, in a case where there is, apparently, no doubt about his guilt, and yet refuse to grant clemency for Troy Davis in a case in which there was substantial doubt?

Something is terribly wrong.

There is nothing new under the sun. In the Bible, “The Preacher” in the Book of Ecclesiastes proclaims the same. “The Preacher” was distressed. So am I.

This candid observation gives me goosebumps. And it makes me really angry.

4 thoughts on “Nothing New Under the Sun

  1. I agree with your observation and it makes me angry as well. How long do we have to wait for justice to prevail.

    1. Thank you for your input. This whole thing has bothered me more than I thought it would. It’s really time for us to address the problems in and with the justice system.
      Thank you again for sharing.

  2. It was neither a raised question nor even an unanswered question about guilt or innocence the resulted in the execution of Troy Davis. Neither should one falsely misconstrue that forgiveness or remorse led the Georgia parole board to free Samuel Crowe, less than a day later. Painfully, it was, what it has continued to be despite the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, the waged wars against Jim Crow, Civil Rights marches, Civil Rights legislation, segregation, pseudo-desegregation, and on, and on, and on. The sad and plain truth was simply the measure of the man. He, his life, combined with the color of his skin, ancestral origin reaching back to African immigrants via chattel slavery in the U.S., was NOT deemed valuable. He was not counted as worthy and therefore not worth the additional effort to validate or disprove the glaring disparities in the seven witnesses recanting their original testimonies and lack of physical evidence connecting him to the crime. It isn’t that Samuel Crowe shouldn’t have a right to live because he is White. But the glaring and embarrassing true truth, is that Troy Davis didn’t deserve to die because he was Black.
    Additionally, it became the urgency of many to NOT interrupt this process; because it would somehow equivocate that Mark MacPhail, the Savannah Georgia off duty police officer, did not die. It is clear to his wife, children, siblings, and extended family that their loved one died. He not only died, but it occurred suddenly. Their loss is enhanced by the lack of ability to prepare for his death and the always stinging reminders of unfinished conversations, activities, and a life together. Because Troy Davis was given due process through the criminal justice system and found guilty, he became the Rx for this family, to medicate the empty place at their table, family gatherings, and lives. Justice and innocence skewed murky and muddy waters. Death by lethal injection was symbolized to mean justice. It is not. Conversely, the millions of people worldwide fervently calling for justice, another review of the evidence, a possible new trial threatened the removal of their prescription. The expectation of his death by execution, didn’t treat, soothe, or really provide relief, yet it was all they had, all they were offered, and probably more accurately, all they were willing to have a capacity. The pain, absence and loss of a loved one removed suddenly by some act of violence is not remediated by the death penalty. The break through pain this family, and a host of others experience, doesn’t and didn’t subside at 11 p.m. on Tuesday evening. It, their pain, will continue and grow exponentially, particularly if the concrete evidence deemed necessary to give value and worth to Troy Davis’s life yet emerges. They may attempt to justify his wrongful death with other deeds in his life, but their justification will be a vacuous act, and their own pain engorged.
    Here’s what I believe: there were eyes that chose to look in another direction, voices that chose to be silent, hands that closed, arms that folded and feet that walked swiftly away. I cannot demonize the MacPhail family. Similarly I won’t deify either Mark MacPhail because he was a police officer or Troy Davis because his life was taken unjustly—shadows of unreasonable doubt were clearly cast about his guilt. I heard some news media casually say he had exhausted his legal options. Many are looking at the number of times over the last two decades that information has been brought before the courts to examine again on his behalf, and comfortably say enough has been done; he has had enough attempts. Their gaze is in the wrong direction. Who can answer and conclude how many times God presented Troy Davis’s case in full view of many that became missed opportunities and elective silence?
    Perhaps your stirred anger is a call to action to break the complacency of silence. Injustice is a global disease that has evolved but no one yet labels it pandemic, yet it is. In 1954 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. compared and contrasted conformists and nonconformist to thermometers and thermostats, along with an anvil and a hammer, respectively. He said conformist follow the lead of the majority, while it is the nonconformist minority that has made the greatest changes in our society. Dr. King said the job of thermometers is single fold—it reports the temperature it measures. The thermostat changes the temperature. He added that the anvil is always shaped by the hammer. He lifted up his voice and called for the “transformed nonconformist”—transformed by the renewing of their minds via Jesus the Christ. More than fifty years later, more now than ever before, we need the hands, feet, voices, eyes, and spirits of all who dare to leap by faith to become local, national, and global transformed nonconformists. Let your anger break the silence.

    1. You have given me much food for thought. My hope is that more people will feel something about the injustice that occurred this week, but even if nobody else does, I feel the push to do something, say something, shake someone – so that we realize what being complacent has allowed racism and injustice to go on its merry way, unfettered.
      Thank you for your deep and insightful comment.

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