I don't think Troy Davis was innocent. I don't think he was guilty. I and no one else can say for certain. I know enough about our justice system to say that there is enough conflicting evidence that no reasonable jury could have presently convicted him with 99% certainty. Not only should that mean that a defendant doesn't get murdered, he/she should not even be convicted of the offense they were indicted for. I remember getting an update on my phone a few years ago in a Cole's in Adelaide, one of the times Troy's execution was stayed, and cheering in the middle of the grocery store giving the local Aussies one more reason to be suspicious of Americans. I thought then this mess would be over with. Now he's dead. At our hands.
Today I picked up my daughter from school at about four o'clock. When I was parking I looked at the time and made note; 'Troy's got two hours left'. I figured we could go grab pancakes at IHOP and be home for any last minute updates. So we went and Iris got a chocolate pancake with chocolate chips and a whipped cream smiley face. She got so hyped up on cocoa and sucrose that she was literally jumping out of her seat dancing to what qualifies as ambient music at IHOP - the grating song 'Life Is A Highway (I Wanna Ride It All Night Long)'... We had a pretty great time though, despite having to remind her not to yell the word 'fart' in a restaurant, and getting black chocolate pancake mush spat on me when I made her laugh mid-chew after asking, what she thought would be in Jesus' trash can (Jesus' Junk is the answer). Afterwards, death and sentences had slipped my mind, and I decided to take an alternate route home that we hadn't tried yet in the month since we've moved to Aurora hopefully to find some adventure. We wound up driving by a forest preserve and when I spotted a beautiful playground I pulled off the road and we went and played. First I had to coax Iris away from the swing set that she ran to immediately before I could lock up the car and take her down to the Fox River to show her the beautiful cranes and the incredible bike path trellised by forest. 'I could see this all from the playground' she announced annoyedly. So I let her go back, while I enjoyed it a few more minutes. Then I went back to the playground and in the meantime Iris had made friends with a little boy in rain boots. They forged a friendship that they knew would disintegrate in a matter of minutes merely by acknowledging the humanity in each other. The humanity that most adults fail to acknowledge in each other before applying their plethora of prejudices. Eventually little boy in rain boots left with his grandfather who yelled something in Spanish at him that I didn't understand even though I speak decent 'slow Spanish'. Iris then asked me to swing with her and I did. I remember hearing that Einstein had a closet full of the same outfit so that he didn't have to waste time picking out what to wear, so my closet is full of solid color button down shirts and khaki pants - not because I am anything like Einstein, I just figured if it's that hard for HIM I don't stand a chance... So for mild comic effect there I am in my semi-professional outfit with my fancy gold-laced pen in my breast pocket, trying to out-swing a six year old. But I soon lost my self-consciousness, and began to admire the shimmer that dusk lay on the slightly turning leaves of the beautiful walnut and oak trees surrounding us. Then I engaged in a contest to out-swing Iris and we both laughed and swung by the energy of the endorphins released in our brains at such delight. At the height of my highest swing, taking in the most beautiful shade of leaf I could spot, then looking over and laughing with my precious daughter about it all, I thought to myself this was one of the best moments I would ever live. I am sure it was. When I started the car after our excursion it was 6:15. I saw it on the clock on the dash. Troy was dead, I thought. And at the exact moment when I felt the most alive I may have ever felt and may ever feel, he was 'put down'. It was quite melancholy. I reckoned that any moment can be anyone's best, worst or ultimate.
When I got home and realized that Troy's execution had been stayed one last time I was elated. And confused. But not for long - he was killed just like they had planned - a few hours later. The Roberts court just wanted to torture him a few more hours before murdering him, I suppose. So, he's dead. And it's all our fault for not demanding strongly enough abolishment of the death penalty. To me it doesn't matter if he was guilty or not. As a human, he could have been specifically deterred in prison and still been allowed to appreciate another autumn sunset. It is our responsibility to practice compassion foremost, or else we have no right to demand compassion from anyone else. By not practicing compassion we are abandoning our human nature evidenced in the beautiful innocence of the interactions between six year-olds, in favor of the tired schema of weary, unquestioned prejudices that have enveloped our whole lives. Let us finally break them and at the very least end state sanctioned murder.