Now that the Eleventh Circuit Court had denied the appeal in a 2-1 decision, I didn’t know what to do. Who had the power to save Troy, and the courage? I could think of only one person: Barack Obama. Yes, Barack Obama! The man whose speeches electrified the nation. The man who proved that race and a foreign name were no obstacle to greatness. The man whose brutally authentic memoir showed that a thoughtful, reflecting intellectual now resided in the White House. If anyone could save Troy Davis, if anyone would save Troy Davis, it would be him.
April 29, 2009
To President Barack Obama
Executive Office of the President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Dear President Obama,
Throughout your historic campaign, you promised change; a change from the partisan politics of the past; a change from an administration dedicated to secrecy and corruption; a change for a better America. In the area of human rights, you have made remarkable progress in your first one hundred days as President. You revealed the abuses made by the CIA during their interrogations of suspected terrorists. You promised to end America’s shameful treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and close down the prison once and for all. You showed the world that America is not afraid to admit that it made mistakes, but that it is ready to look to the a brighter and better future. Yet we often forget that there are still human rights issues within our own nations that need to be addressed.
I write to you on behalf of Troy Davis. As you may already know, Troy Davis has been part of a recent high profile death penalty case. In 1989, police officer Mark Macphail was shot and killed while attempting to break up a fight, and in 1991 Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for Macphail’s killing. Yet Davis was not convicted on DNA or physical evidence, but solely on the testimony of nine witnesses. Yet seven of those nine witnesses have now recanted their testimonies, some saying that they were intimidated or threatened by the police into fingering Davis as the man who pulled the trigger. Of the other two witnesses, one of them is the primary alternative suspect, and the other changed their story, first saying Davis wasn’t the killer and then saying he was. In addition to raising serious questions about police misconduct, it brings into Davis’s guilt into serious doubt.
After receiving a stay of execution, Davis was to be executed by lethal injection on September 23, 2008, despite the fact that on September 27th, his case was to be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had an emergency meeting and issued a stay of execution ninety minutes before Davis’s scheduled execution. However, after declining to intervene, Davis was to be executed in October until, three days before his execution, the U.S. 11th Circuit District Court issued another stay of execution. However, they declined to intervene as well, and the stay is set to expire on May 15th, 2009.
I ask of you, as the President of the United States, to use your power to stop Davis’s education and ask for a new trial. The recantations have never been heard in a court of law, and it is unjust and immoral to execute a man when such serious doubt to his guilt remains. Davis has received the support of many notable people and organizations, such as Amnesty International, President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Jimmy Carter, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Desmond Tutu, Reverend Al Sharpton, the European Union, Representative Bob Barr, Representative John Lewis, and thousands of people across the globe.
I am a fifteen year old student from a suburb of Atlanta, and I have no exterior motive to ask for a new trial for Davis. I merely request this out of my sense of civic duty as a citizen of the United States of America, where each and every person is guaranteed liberty and due process, and I request this as a human being seeking to right a major wrong occurring before my very eyes. I request this because I know that we must stand up for what we believe in, and I request this because I know it is the right thing to do.
If there is any person who has the moral character and humanistic passion to stop this injustice, it is you President Obama. During your campaign, you promised a government more open to the people and more accountable for its actions. I implore you not to let a potentially innocent man die. For many people in their lifetimes, it is rare to have an opportunity to save a person’s life, to truly stop the flame that is life from being extinguished, and you have that opportunity President Obama. Please do not let it pass you by.
Most sincerely yours,
Gautam R. Narula