Posts tagged georgia
Posts tagged georgia
[TW for racial violence]
by Kung Li. From Leaving Evidence
The Occupy Atlanta occupiers renamed their campsite Troy Davis Park yesterday in honor of what would have been Troy Davis’s 43d birthday. Today is Columbus Day. It seems a good day to know something about the little patch of grass where Occupy Atlanta is braving the rain.
A month after the end of the Civil War, a train carrying Jefferson Davis pulled into the Atlanta depot two blocks from where Occupy Atlanta has pitched its tents. The President of the Confederate States of America had been caught in South Georgia as he tried to flee. The train stopped in Atlanta to pick up coal on its way to Virginia, where he would await trial for treason.
When the Georgia Legislature convened later that year, it dutifully ratified the Thirteenth Amendment as it was required to do to reenter the Union. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, but with an enormous loophole. Neither slavery or involuntary servitude, it read, shall exist in the United States,except as punishment for crime.
The 13th Amendment ratified, the all-white Georgia Legislature turned around and passed the Black Codes, effectively reinstating slavery in Georgia. The Codes required former slaves to enter into labor contracts, with wages to be paid by the Master totaling – after deductions for food, shelter and penalties for days not worked – two cents an hour. That’s how Georgia’s antelbellum 1% had rolled before the war, and that’s how they wanted to roll after. The only industry had been cotton, so the Black Codes were written to keep freedmen working the same fields they had worked as slaves.
Many were trapped by the Black Codes, but not everyone. Atlanta was the destination for the men and women who walked off their plantations in south Georgia in defiance of the Black Codes and came to the city to live as free people. They gathered in downtown Atlanta – on the streets of what is now Woodruff Park – to look for work and to build a new life. They were confronted by a new Vagrancy Law, the enforcement of the Black Codes that made it illegal to wander or stroll about in idleness without a labor contract.
When the threat of arrest was not enough to drive Black men and women back to the plantations, the real arrests began. Joseph Brown was arrested on Decatur Street in 1868, one of hundreds. Rather than picking cotton under a labor contract, he was in Atlanta without work. The charge: vagrancy.
Mr. Brown and other freedmen who were sentenced as vagrants were not sent to prison. Georgia’s prison had been burned during the war, and there was no money to rebuild. Rather, they were leased out to plantation owners, railroad companies and coal mines. Georgia’s first lease of in 1868 was to a railroad company: $2500 bought 100 Black men, arrested for vagrancy or loitering and forced to work not as slaves but as convicts.
This was the start of the modern criminal justice system. It was started, you might say, right here where Occupy Atlanta will be sleeping tonight, in Woodruff Park, by the post-Civil War plantation owners intent on keeping the work of black men and women cheap and available.
By the time the practice of leasing people convicted of crimes out to private parties was abolished (by the Georgia Legislature, in 1908), convict leasing had turned the primary function of the South’s judicial systeminto the maintenance of white control over black labor.
…In recent weeks, leading Republicans have made plain they don’t believe in government-run health care (lo, even unto death). They don’t believe in inoculating children again HPV (lo, even unto death). They don’t believe in government-run disaster relief (ditto, re death), the minimum wage, Social Security, or the Federal Reserve. There is nothing, it seems—from protecting civil rights to safeguarding the environment—that big government bureaucracies can’t foul up.
But there is one exception: killing people. These same Republicans who are dubious of government’s ability to do anything right have an apparently bottomless faith in the capital-justice system. Everything is broken in America, they claim—except the machinery of death.
[W]hen you hear Republicans moan about the bureaucratic burdens and failures of government-run education, health care, and disaster-relief systems, doesn’t any part of you wonder why they have such boundless confidence in the capital justice system that stands poised to execute Troy Davis […] in Georgia? […] Troy Davis has a claim of actual innocence in the death of off-duty policeman Mark MacPhail. Since his conviction, more than 20 years ago, seven of the nine nonpolice witnesses against Davis have recanted their testimony, claiming they were coerced or intimidated by the police. There is no physical evidence tying Davis to the crime.
So grievous are the doubts about Davis’ guilt in this murder that William Sessions, the FBI director under Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton, wrote an editorial today arguing that Davis should not be executed next week because “serious questions about Davis’ guilt, highlighted by witness recantations, allegations of police coercion, and a lack of relevant physical evidence, continue to plague his conviction.” Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr has similarly written that “even for death penalty supporters such as myself, the level of doubt inherent in this case is troubling.”
If you believe, as do the GOP presidential frontrunners, that government bureaucracies lead inexorably to error, cover-up, and waste, then there is no better place to start looking than the capital punishment system, which sentences and executes defendants in ways that are sloppy, racist, and corrupt….
Robert Rooks, Director of Criminal Justice Department-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (via rethinkcapitalism)
I need contact with people who have been organizing in Georgia and know the prison staff and their situation. And I would need to hear from them or else this just seems foolhardy. And my head is spinning.
Reblog this shit people forreal, talk to family if you know any in the area.
this was linked in my email earlier:
I’m deeply saddened and outraged to have to report that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole refused to grant clemency for Troy Davis. Their decision clears the way for Troy to be executed on Wednesday September 21 at 7:00 PM.
It’s a major setback in our fight to save Troy, but this isn’t the end of the road. There are still three things we can do that might make a difference:
1. Sign ColorOfChange’s petition demanding that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole reconsider its decision and grant Troy clemency. It reads: “In the face of overwhelming evidence which indicates that Troy Davis may be innocent, justice demands that you immediately reconsider your decision in his case and grant Troy Davis clemency.”
2. Sign the petition to Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm and Judge Penny Freesemann, which reads: “With no other barriers between Troy Davis and the death chamber, we call on you to take all necessary steps to stop Troy Davis’ execution.”
3. Forward this email to your friends and family, and encourage them to take action.
Clicking the link below will allow you to simultaneously sign both petitions:
Taking this action will automatically send your message to Chisolm, Freesemann, and the Pardon Board, ensuring that they continue to hear the voices of Troy’s supporters for as long as we can keep up the effort.
EDITed title. i don’t know for sure whether these are new petitions. but i figure it can’t hurt to circulate them.