PSAT for 9-13-11: Help save Troy Davis’s life

This is not my usual Public Schools Action Tuesday suggestion, but justice for one person is critical to creating justice for our children and for all people. When justice has clearly been denied, all of us have to speak out. The case of Troy Davis, who is scheduled to be executed in Georgia next Wednesday, cries out for public outrage.

Here’s what you can do.

1) Sign the petition set up by Troy Davis’s sister here.

2) If you are a teacher, join the “Teach Troy” campaign which was initiated by Chicago educators, activists and artists. They are calling on all educators to interrupt their regular teaching schedules this week to dedicate a class period to “TEACH TROY.” Educators for Troy have created an emergency “Teach Troy” curriculum on their newly launched blog. The website provides links to readings and videos about the case of Troy Davis and suggestions for student projects and assignments. The site also includes links to simple, independent actions that students can take to help save Troy’s life.

3) Write to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Many people have been writing, Tweeting, and Facebooking about Troy Davis over the past few days. Here’s an example from NAACP CEO and President Ben Jealous:

Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

It’s the foundation of our justice system, built to serve and protect the wrongly accused. But in the case of Troy Davis, it’s a principle that has been defied, ignored and trampled on.

I’m writing to you once more… because Troy’s execution is scheduled for next week, and there is simply too much doubt in his case for us to allow this to happen.

A week from today, on Monday, September 19th, Troy has his final hearing in front of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. They have the power to halt the scheduled execution and commute Troy’s sentence, permanently preventing what could be a wrongful execution.

It is now up to us to make sure the Board hears our voices loud and clear. Send a letter to the Board asking them to grant clemency for Troy Davis, and make sure it’s something from the heart:

Earlier this month I visited the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison, where Troy Davis awaits his fate.

Troy spoke to me about the pain of life on death row: his uncertain future, the isolation from his family, and the frustration that comes from being unable to tell his side of the story.

It is hard to fathom that our justice system would sentence a man to death when there is so much doubt. Consider this:

  • Seven of the nine original witnesses in Troy’s case have recanted or changed their story;
  • One eyewitness testified for the first time in 2010 that he saw his relative, not Davis, shoot Officer MacPhail; and
  • At least 10 individuals have implicated the alternative suspect as the actual perpetrator.

Right now we have two options. We can admit defeat and accept that some things are too big to change. Or we can stand behind our brother, like the NAACP has done for generations, and demand justice.

I, for one, cannot sit idly by as a justice system that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable among us imprisons and executes a man like Troy Davis. And as part of the organization that has led every major civil rights battle for generations, I know you feel the same.

Now is our chance to speak out and save Troy’s life. The members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles have the power to do this. Write to them and ask for clemency now:

Together we can save a life.


Ben Jealous
President and CEO


Here’s the letter I am sending to the Georgia Board:

Dear Friends,

In January, 2003, I had the extreme joy of watching my friend, Madison Hobley, walk out of prison after 16 years on Death Row in Illinois. Then-Governor George Ryan pardoned Madison on the basis of innocence. Madison, along with many others, had been tortured by police working under Commander Jon Burge, who has since been convicted of lying about the torture committed under his watch. I learned about the trumped-up charges that were filed against Madison (who never “confessed” despite the torture) and saw more recently how City Hall used every trick in the book to try to keep him from his rightful reparation.

Today, Madison is a productive, happily-married father of two beautiful children. It took a near-miracle to make that possible, a situation that should be unthinkable in our nation, which we think of as the fairest, most democratic and civilized nation on earth.

Grant Troy Davis clemency and allow him the fair trial that he never had.

Thank you.

Julie Woestehoff

Executive Director, Parents United for Responsible Education, Chicago IL


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.