Standing up for Troy Davis

Pub date September 27, 2011

OPINION We were all standing there in different states of hegemony — some of us bought in to the lie of security and police, believing we had done wrong or fucked up and some of us not. It was Wednesday, September 21, the day of the state-sponsored legal lynching of Troy Anthony Davis, and there were easily 210 of us standing in a line snaking out of the building. We were in the Cop Store the Police Bank, the building known simply as the Hall of (In)Justice, 850 Bryant.

In the last six months since budget cuts have sliced deeper wounds in society’s collective flesh, yet more cops roam the streets issuing more tickets. The line for traffic tickets outside room 145 has begun to expand like a python ready to strike, like an unchecked levy after a storm. The people are piling up and the workers to help them diminishing.

I was there standing in that line. I was rocking my hand-made, life-size, “Yo Soy Troy Davis … I am Troy Davis” shirt/body patch. It was 11:00 am and I was tweeting, calling, petition signing, and calling again. My heart had dropped to the bottom, heavy as a boulder crashing through the window of my soul. And then I remembered, I had a voice. Maybe that’s all I had, but I had a voice and I could speak up and then….

“Excuse me, can I get everyone’s attention…..”

I had waited until the halls were clear of police and the only sound you heard was the silent tapping of fingernails on touch screens — and then I did it. I stepped outside of excepted norms of behavior, violated all those unseen, unsaid demands on speech, the rules on when it’s okay to speak up.

“They are about to execute an innocent man in Georgia in less than five hours, and you all can do something about it, right now, from right here…”

I went on to explain a little back ground about the case of brother Troy and fact that seven out of nine witnesses recanted their testimonies and how so many people, including several politricksters in power, have stood up to say this is wrong.

“I have the number on my phone that you all can call. I have the link to the petition that you can sign. Please consider it. We aren’t doing anything else for at least the next hour, right?”

And then it was over. I finished speaking and people looked away. They continued ticking on their meta-keyboards, and looking at their nails, and reading their papers, and looking at their feet. And it was if I have never said anything. Or was it?

My brother in my POOR Magazine family of poverty scholars and reporters told me he did a similar thing on the evening of the S-Comm threat of deportation his family had just had to deal with in Oakland.

“I looked around, it was a crowded BART train and no one was saying anything or doing anything. We were all just standing there. I knew no-one else would say anything so I decided to speak up. I busted out with my poem about the criminalization of immigrants.” He said that when he was finished with the piece, no one said anything — but the air was heavy with his words.

Some organizers and conscious folks talk about moving on — but at POOR Magazine, will not move on. We will continue to speak up in places we are not supposed to about things we are not supposed to mention, and we will make art and cultural work about things and people that never get art made about them and we will work daily to make sure that all silenced, removed, deported, lynched, incarcerated, criminalized, harassed and abused peoples are heard and loved and remembered — and we hope you all do the same. Even when its uncomfortable. 

Tiny, aka Lisa Gray Garcia, is an editor at POOR magazine.