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Witness The Evil That Men Do: The Troy Davis Case & Bowie State Murder

By 09.16.11

These past three weeks have provided a whirlwind of emotions, both personally (having a high school classmate murdered) and globally. Instead of recounting them all, focusing on two seems more fitting.

Put life in perspective for a moment. Only one set of individuals know the exact date and time they’ll die – death row inmates. Now, imagine knowing you’re innocent. I’ve racked my brain for two weeks straight and cannot think of a situation that seems more brutal, mentally and spiritually, than knowing you’ll die for a crime you never committed. Such is exactly the situation Troy Davis finds himself in. For those unfamiliar with the case, Davis was convicted of murdering Mark MacPhail, a Savannah, Georgia, police officer, in 1991 and was sentenced to death row soon after.

Since then, a great majority of witnesses of who originally helped convict Troy have recanted their stories with many of them claiming they were coerced by police into submitting false statements. The story of Davis has been in the spotlight for years and is garnering national acclaim now as it pulls at the controversial cords of the legal system and ever-spiteful race in America issue. With new information and prayerful 60-page-clemency petition, lawyers and supporters hope justice, at least in their eyes, is granted. The entire situation is beyond sad and one proving no bright side exists. The cop is dead, his family grieves. If Davis dies, then his family grieves, leaving us with two. The cloud of doubt in regards to his innocence transforms into a permanent black sky of regret. I’ve always believed there is no real winner in regards to the legal system, but there can be justice.

Putting a man to death when dozens of witnesses pinpoint another suspect, Sylvester “Redd” Coles, as the person who actually pulled the trigger just doesn’t seem to sit right, especially when there are more now than when Davis’ clemency hearing was brought to the parole board initially. If this were the movies, Matthew McConaughey would have some riveting speech to free Sam Jackson, but it’s not and the only hope is that the situation rectifies itself. Because, think about it, if we live in a country where a young woman can be on trial for the murder of her own child, have all the evidence in the world point towards her and she still skips away with her freedom – why can’t we do the same for a man with all the evidence saying it wasn’t him?

So, what are your plans for next Wednesday? If they don’t include dying, consider yourself blessed. Troy Davis can’t say that. Not yet, at least.

College is all about leaving your comfort zone, making new lifelong friends, have a few drunken nights, go to a few parties and, if time management is a skill you can grasp, graduating. What it is not about, however, is killing your roommate by stabbing him/her in the neck. Twitter blew up with this story last night. Stemming from a very heated argument, Bowie State University student Alexis D. Simpson fatally wounded her roommate Dominique T. Frazier. At this moment, the motive is still unclear as to why one girl ended up dead and the other now a murder suspect, but reasons have ranged from an unauthorized selling of an iPod to the selling of a laptop to pay for a piercing.

What sucks – and I’m just as guilty of it as the next man – is that tragedies like this force you the question the value of human life. College is where you go to start the rest of your journey, not end the beginning of it. Based off the tight-knit, family-like culture of my own HBCU, the environment of the campus will take a hit, but ultimately, resiliency will take its course. The scar never fully erases though. The dorm will always be known as the place “where the girl was murdered.” The date will always be known as “the anniversary when that girl was killed.” And Bowie State will be known as “the university where that girl was stabbed in the neck in her own dorm room.” It’s damn near impossible to remove a label once it is applied.

Now, there’s a family out there who would trade everything in the world to switch funeral costs for student loans. Or see grades drop, instead of a casket. It’s stuff like that we normally forget when talking about how sad a situation is. They’re people out there who actually need prayers to come to fruition instead of us just saying them.

The Troy Davis case and murder at Bowie State University show progress has been made over the years, but a change? That’s still a long, long way from coming.

Related: “Too Much Doubt: The Troy Davis Case” [Amnesty International]


TAGSAlexis D. SimpsonBowie State UniversityDominique T. FrazierEVERYTHING ELSESMOKE BREAKTroy Davis

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