It greatly concerns me that Wednesday night an innocent man was executed for a crime he was convicted of over 20 years ago.
In 1990, Troy Davis was convicted of the murder of an off-duty Georgia police officer. He pled not guilty and maintained that position to his last words. He claimed that another man was guilty, and there was no physical evidence to prove Davisâ€™ guilt.
Last week, I was asked to write an opinion explaining my political views, which are unique, to say the least. My beliefs line up with what is commonly referred to as anarchism. I reject that title now, due to its obvious stigma.
Since it is obviously impossible to attempt to explain an entire political philosophy in a single editorial, I decided to use the event of Davisâ€™ execution to explain why I think the way I do. If you wish to learn a bit more about anarchism, I highly suggest you stop listening to what the media has to say about it and go out and read some anarchist texts or speak with an actual anarchist.
I even found the Wikipedia article to be sufficient.
Now, if I had to give one single reason why I am an anarchist, it would be this case, and for a number of disturbing reasons. The first being the general lack of news coverage it is receiving. There are so many people that have no idea of the controversy surrounding this case, so allow me to fill you in.
This case had been going on for 20 years until Wednesday night with not a single piece of physical evidence â€“â€“ no photos, video or even a gun were presented by the prosecution.
Now in case anyone has forgotten, in the United States legal system, the burden of proof falls on the prosecutor; i.e., innocent until proven guilty.
A â€œHuffington Postâ€ article about the event summarized a quote of the judge overseeing one of Davisâ€™ trials.
â€œThe stateâ€™s case against Davis â€œmay not be ironclad â€¦ but concluded that he had not provided the court with compelling evidence of his innocence and denied the request for a retrial,â€ he said.
Even more sickening to me was the response given by the family of the cop. His widow agreed that Davis had â€œample time to prove his innocenceâ€ then proceeded to explicitly mention the entire family would be attending the execution.
I read multiple articles saying that during the decision to execute him, the judge received millions of petitions in opposition to the execution including the Pope, former President Jimmy Carter and Bob Barr, a four-term Republican congressman from Georgia and death penalty supporter, who said the trial was based on â€œskimpiest of evidence.â€
The problem with this case is that it had nothing to do with what he did, because nothing was ever proven. Remember: the burden of proof falls on the prosecutor. If you are going to accuse someone of something, you better be absolutely sure they did it.
Especially if you are advocating for their punishment by death, as the copâ€™s widow so fervently did by petitioning the pardons board asking that they deny Davis clemency.
This I see as an intrinsic flaw in the American justice system and it is a major reason I advocate radical changes. This is no way to treat other human beings, especially those we cannot prove to have committed any sort of crime.
Another interesting bit to this case is that there are plenty of people on death row in Georgia who were proven guilty, admitted to the crime and who are still alive today.
If none of the rest of this bothers you, that bit should at least make you scratch your head.
As with anything, I urge my readers to go and research the thing yourself. Donâ€™t take my word entirely for it. Iâ€™m simply here to make you question your surroundings, the things that make you uncomfortable and most importantly, unjustified authority.
Because thatâ€™s what anarchism is all about.: questioning power to be sure it does not go behind our backs and over our heads, as this case clearly did.
Davisâ€™ case was not the first like this and it will not be the last. But we need a reminder of who is in charge of this country. Is it â€œWe the Peopleâ€? Or are we merely pawns in a game?
We have a duty to keep our representatives and justice system in check. Donâ€™t allow things like this to go unquestioned and unregulated simply because we have been taught since grade school that America has such a perfect legal system.
And most of all, donâ€™t become complacent.
Justin Hill is a junior journalism major. His column appears every other Friday in the Collegian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.