Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rather than post my father's obituary, here is the link to it.

He was a loving man who will be missed by family, friends, and people who knew of him.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail at a Burger King in Savannah, Georgia; a murder he maintains he did not commit. There was no physical evidence against him and the weapon used in the crime was never found. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state's non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits (below) that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

Restrictions on Federal appeals have prevented Troy Anthony Davis from having a hearing in federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used against him, despite the fact that most of the witnesses have since recanted, many alleging they were pressured or coerced by police. Troy Davis remains on Georgia death row, and may be scheduled for execution in the near future.

One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester "Red" Coles – the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

There are many cases of possibly innocent people on death rows across this nation. This case is so ridicules that it is a wonder it has gotten this far. He is still on death row because of a legal technicality. I am asking each of you to do what you can to save this probably innocent man's life. Write President Obama. Go to and click on Take Action Now. Forward this email or write your own.

Besides the obvious moral issue involved, the world is watching this case. Are we a savage nation?
Affidavits Recanting Testimony or Statements Given in the Troy Davis Case
(From: Amnesty International, ‘Where is the justice for me?’)

Kevin McQueen
“The truth is that Troy never confessed to me or talked to me about the shooting of the police officer. I made up the confession from information I had heard on T.V. and from other inmates about the crimes. Troy did not tell me any of this… I have now realized what I did to Troy so I have decided to tell the truth… I need to set the record straight.”

Monty Holmes
“I told them I didn’t know anything about who shot the officer, but they kept questioning me. I was real young at that time and here they were questioning me about the murder of a police officer like I was in trouble or something. I was scared… [I]t seemed like they wouldn’t stop questioning me until I told them what they wanted to hear. So I did. I signed a statement saying that Troy told me that he shot the cop.”

Jeffrey Sapp
“I got tired of them harassing me, and they made it clear that the only way they would leave me alone is if I told them what they wanted to hear. I told them that Troy told me he did it, but it wasn’t true. Troy never said that or anything like it. When it came time for Troy’s trial, the police made it clear to me that I needed to stick to my original statement; that is, what they wanted me to say. I didn’t want to have any more problems with the cops, so I testified against Troy.”

Dorothy Ferrell
“From the way the officer was talking, he gave me the impression that I should say that Troy Davis was the one who shot the officer like the other witness [sic] had… I felt like I was just following the rest of the witnesses. I also felt like I had to cooperate with the officer because of my being on parole…I told the detective that Troy Davis was the shooter, even though the truth was that I didn’t see who shot the officer.”

Darrell "D.D." Collins
“After a couple of hours of the detectives yelling at me and threatening me, I finally broke down and told them what they wanted to hear. They would tell me things that they said had happened and I would repeat whatever they said. … It is time that I told the truth about what happened that night, and what is written here is the truth. I am not proud for lying at Troy’s trial, but the police had me so messed up that I felt that’s all I could do or else I would go to jail.”

Larry Young
“I couldn’t honestly remember what anyone looked like or what different people were wearing. Plus, I had been drinking that day, so I just couldn’t tell who did what. The cops didn’t want to hear that and kept pressing me to give them answers. They made it clear that we weren’t leaving until I told them what they wanted to hear. They suggested answers and I would give them what they wanted. They put typed papers in my face and told me to sign them. I did sign them without reading them.”

Antoine Williams
“They asked me to describe the shooter and what he looked like and what he was wearing. I kept telling them that I didn’t know. It was dark, my windows were tinted, and I was scared. It all happened so fast. Even today, I know that I could not honestly identify with any certainty who shot the officer that night. I couldn’t then either. After the officers talked to me, they gave me a statement and told me to sign it. I signed it. I did not read it because I cannot read.”

Robert Grizzard
“I have reviewed the transcript of my testimony from the trial of Troy Davis… During my testimony I said that the person who shot the officer was wearing a light colored shirt. The truth is that I don’t recall now and I didn’t recall then what the shooter was wearing, as I said in my initial statement …”

Michael Cooper
“I have had a chance to review a statement which I supposedly gave to police officers on June 25, 1991. I remember that they asked a lot of questions and typed up a statement which they told me to sign. I did not read the statement before I signed. In fact, I have not seen it before today. … What is written in that statement is a lie.”

Benjamin Gordon
“I just kept telling them that I didn’t do anything, but they weren’t hearing that. After four or five hours, they told me to sign some papers. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I didn’t read what they told me to sign and they didn’t ask me to.”

Joseph Washington
“I saw Sylvester Coles – I know him by the name Red – shoot the police officer. I am positive that it was Red who shot the police officer…”

Tonya Johnson
Red then took both guns next door to an empty house and put them inside the screen door and shut the door … he threatened me after this happened. He told me that he wanted to make sure that I did not tell the police about the guns he hid in the screen door that morning. This is why I did not testify about the guns at Troy’s trial because I was afraid of what Red would do to me if I did. I have not told anyone about this until now because I was still scared… But I have decided that I must tell the truth."

Anthony Hargrove
“I know a guy named Red, from Savannah. His real name is Sylvester Coles. I’ve known Red for years and we used to hang out together. Red once told me that he shot a police officer and that a guy named Davis took the fall for it. He told me this about a year or so after the officer was killed…”

Gary Hargrove
“I am sure that Red was facing in the officer’s direction when I heard the shooting. … I was never talked to by the police or any attorneys or investigators representing Troy Davis before his trial. I didn’t go up to talk to the police that night because I was on parole at the time and was out past my curfew so I didn’t want my parole officer to find out about that.”

Shirley Riley
“People on the streets were talking about Sylvester Coles being involved with killing the police officer so one day I asked him if he was involved… Sylvester told me he did shoot the officer …”

Darold Taylor
“I remember reading in the paper once about how a guy named Troy Davis got sentenced to the electric chair… One day when I was in the parking lot of Yamacraw drinking beers with Red. I told him about how I’d heard that he was the one who killed the officer. Red told me to stay out of his business. I asked him again if he killed the officer and Red admitted to me that he was the one who killed the officer, but then Red told me again to stay out of his business.”

April Hester Hutchinson
“Red turned to me and asked me if I would walk with him up to the Burger King so ‘they won’t think that I had nothing to do with it’. That’s exactly what he said… I told [the police] that I saw Red talking to my cousin Tonya and that Red was real nervous. I did not tell them about what Red had said to me because I was scared he would hurt me. I was thinking that if he did that to a police officer, what would he do to me? I didn’t want to die like that officer, so I kept my mouth shut.”

Anita Saddler
“When I saw Red and Terry, they were jumpy and couldn’t stand still. Their eyes were shifting around and they were looking everywhere. They walked up to us and Red asked us to go up to Burger King and see what happened. Like I said, they were real nervous and fidgety. Red had a gun which was stuck into his shorts. I saw the outline of his gun through his white shirt. I had seen him with a gun many times before.”

Peggie Grant (mother of April Hester Hutchinson)
“A few hours later, April called me on the phone. She told me that she had had a conversation with Red where he asked her to walk up with him to where the officer was shot so that the police would think that he was with her and not think he did anything.”

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why I have this blog

As I was writing this I learned of my father's fall and hospitalization. I completely rewrote it because of that event.

I have been political since I was in Junior High School. I campaigned for Johnson without even telling my parents. I protested the Vietnam war, often volunteering to be a monitor. When the Berkeley Police and the National Guard started attacking demonstrations, I volunteered to staff first aid stations.

This all stopped because of drug use. I stayed somewhat political until I stopped drugs, and put my energy into getting my life back together. I got married, raised a family, got a divorce, and got married again. I ended up with a loving wife and 5 kids in my blended family.

In the back of my head I knew I was not doing enough for society. Then 9/11 happened. It was not the attack that woke me up, but our response. As I saw our liberties taken away, and innocent people dying, I knew I had to do more. One thing I started to do was to write about politics and post it on a blog. It was my wife's and my blog, and what I was writing reflected my ideas and beliefs. I understood that what I wrote on that blog could affect her. One time I asked her if she was OK with what I was thinking of posting. She said no. That planted the seed that has led to this blog.

I want to restate: This blog is my blog. It does not reflect the opinions of any one else, including my wife.

Once I decided I would create this blog I wanted certain people to know about it, including my parents. I know they were proud of me when I campaigned for Johnson. I know they were proud of me when I protested. They were both in my mind when I made the decision to create this blog. I don't think he will ever get to know about this blog.

My signature is sds. S.D.S. are my initials. S.D.S. are also the initials of Students for a Democratic Society, an organization that did a lot of good at the end of the 1960s.

I will end with an important issue that time will not allow to wait. It is likely that an innocent man is close to being executed. Seven of the nine prosecution witnesses in the case against Troy Davis have recanted their testimony. The Supreme Court has refused to intervene. Former President Carter, former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr and Pope Benedict XVI are just 3 of the people calling for the parole board to reduce the sentence to life in prison. Yet his time is running out. Please do what you can to save this man's life.