NEW YORK — Some 100 people joined the family of Troy Davis to see a live performance Dec. 8 of “I am Troy Davis,” a theatrical protest against cop frame-ups and the death penalty. The screenplay adaption of the book I am Troy Davis was read at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and organized by Donkeysaddle Projects. The book, co-written by Davis; his sister, Martina Davis-Correia; and Jen Marlowe portrays his life and the 20-year fight against his execution.
Davis was executed by Georgia state officials in September 2011, two decades after he was framed up in the death of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. There was no physical evidence to tie Davis to the killing, and most of the witnesses the cops got to testify against him said they had lied. Davis maintained he wasn’t guilty until his last breath.
I urge readers to watch “I am Troy Davis,” a recording of which can be seen on YouTube at https://youtube/iSBjvbSM0OE. It gives a sense of history and urgency as the fight to end the death penalty continues.
The performance is an intimate account of the fight by Davis’ family and their many supporters seeking to stop his execution. It also gives an all too familiar look at the U.S. rulers’ “justice” system and how working people are the targets of its indignities.
The performers were an especially poignant aspect of the evening — including Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, killed by a New York Police Department chokehold in 2014; Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant, killed by BART police in Oakland, California, in 2009; three exonerated former death row prisoners; and many others whose lives were upended by capitalist “justice.”
On July 25, the Trump administration announced plans to resume the federal death penalty after a 16-year de facto moratorium, a move that has since been stayed by the courts. “That was the impetus for putting this event together,” Marlowe said at the beginning of the performance. The first of five executions had been set, the day after the show.
“People always say Bill Clinton was our friend; he started all this,” Sabrina Butler told the Militant, pointing to the Democratic president’s signing of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Butler, who performs in the show, was the first woman ever exonerated from death row. She had been railroaded onto Mississippi’s death row after her nine-month-old son died at home in 1989.
What the Militant wrote at the time of Davis’ execution remains true today. “This systematic, anti-working-class carnage won’t be ended by the ‘reason,’ ‘justice,’ or ‘good will’ of the courts or Democratic and Republican party politicians who serve the class interests of the propertied ruling families. That can only be won as a by-product of powerful, millions-strong struggles by the working class and oppressed, along the road to the revolutionary conquest of workers power.”