Troy Davis and The Need for (A)New Brigade

i don’t want to live in a country that does this. that is brazen and cocksure enough to kill people despite evidence of overwhelming doubt. today the state of georgia/this country will kill a man who is innocent. the case of Troy Davis is clear, the rising interest and growing tide of support amassing in the last week, represents the culmination of work from organizations like the Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP), Amnesty International, The NAACP, Troy Davis, himself, and many others, including his family, and his sister, Martina, in particular who has worked tirelessly to bring information about her brother’s case to the public eye.

and though today is about Troy Davis, this is an old story. the story of a country that since its inception has criminalized, imprisoned and executed bodies of color. today in georgia a white judge, district attorney, clemency board, state supreme court are murdering a Black man. we have a mixed white/Black president who is silent on the issue. he must be listening not to his white working class half, or his immigrant African ancestry, but to his rich and complacent whole. this is an issue of race. it is Black and Brown bodies who fill prisons in this country, who march to death dates without fair trials and any sense of justice. and this is a class issue, if Troy Davis had Oprah money or stature, if Troy Davis had Barak Obama wall st. friends, he would not be murdered at 7pm this evening.

because, this is an issue of grand, historic inequity and current injustice, it exists at the intersection of where a new movement can be born. in the radically integrated center of the working class who knows this country is run by and for the wealthy. this week alone shows us there are more of us, who are tired and overworked, who know Troy Davis could be a friend or family member, who scrape check to check, who can’t afford a lawyer or health care.

WE, the people, know these truths to be self-evident: rich, racists run america. today in 2011, when the country murders a(nother) Black man, whose guilt is at least not beyond a reasonable doubt, we must begin to look for alternatives to the status quo. we must use our resources, not capital and a paid police force, but the collectivity of our mass, our bodies that can organize together. it is all we have and all we need.

a mass of US, of the working and poor, of the fed up and under fed, US who hold firm that this life is not to be determined and deadened and dictated by the wealthy, white elite. this is OUR lifetime, together. WE can determine what will be of it. The wealthy, the white courts and congress and statehouses are not GOD, yet they over determine how we live and today and everyday they play GOD by taking away life in this country and in the countries their war planes and weaponry terrorize.

i am looking around today for a grand gesture and know the vigils that will happen this evening, hours before the execution of Troy Davis are not enough to stop the legal lynching this country continues to practice. it is hours before they come to get Emmett Till and we are unable to stop them. we need an organization, an organized force that will put our bodies to use, put our bodies on the line, use the collective body to grind the wheels of this madness to a standstill. that is all we have, this time, this body politic, the grandness of our collective body to halt the machine of criminalization, privatization, globalization, environmental desecration, incarceration and militarization. it is on us to build anew. from this day. a new brigade. a new force that says no more. not anymore from here.

last night i returned to the words Troy Davis wrote the last time he was facing death. these words came two hours before his execution (which that time was eventually stayed) he wrote:

…remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated.

There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this Unjust system city-by-city, state-by-state and country-by-country.

last night i read these words to a room full of educators at a screening of Howard Zinn’s The People Speak. I am struck courage and beauty of these words and by the audacious courage the everyday people in Howard Zinn’s film showed partaking in the dynamism of history. By acting in it, turning it with force to bend more forcefully toward justice and equity.

This morning Troy Davis’s words are reminding me of the great Jazz band leader,  Afro-futurist, aesthetic freedom-fighter, Chicagoan & inter-planetary being, Sun-Ra who said:

They say history repeats itself; but history is only his-story. You haven’ heard my story yet. My story is different from his story. My story in not part of history because history repeats itself. But my story is endless, it never repeats itself. Why should it? The sun does not repeat itself. Neither does a sunrise. Nature never repeats itself. My story is close to mystery. My story is better for man than history. Mystery is better than history. What’s your story?

what is our story, america? we must be more than we are now. more just, more humane, more fair, more inclusive, more considerate of ALL the bodies, ALL the stories. this life is a mystery, indeed. it is not the right any person or state to prohibit the living of another. but here we are america, repeating ourselves. i am down to write another story. my body on the line, my shoulder to the wheel. what is our story america? who is down to write it anew?