Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Who Wanted Troy Davis Dead, And Why?

I looked up the Georgia Pardons and Paroles Board the other day and was a little surprised and disturbed by what I saw. I then looked at the U.S. Supreme Court website, and found the same thing. Members of these two bodies were Black! So much for my simple, convenient explanation that the failure, or refusal to halt Troy Davis's execution was down to these institutions being the preserve of racist white men.

How then does one explain their decision to overlook clear evidence that showed that Troy Davis DID NOT commit the murder for which he was wrongfully convicted in 1989? Why did they ignore the appeals of hundreds of thousands of people in America and all over the world, including distinguished religious and political leaders from all over the world, and human rights organisations to do what was right, and not bring international shame and disrepute on themselves and their country?

I decided to make my own enquiries. A few calls, and the answers started to emerge. It turns out that among the membership of these bodies, one or two might have had an interest in seeing Troy dead.

Here is the evidence:
According to a source known to one of my informants, one member is believed to be a director of an munitions company who sold arms to Gaddafi and other Middle East dictators. Another is rumoured to be very close to a corrupt, murdering Russian oil oligarch, and their families were once photographed holidaying together in Saudi Arabia, although those photographs were allegedly burned in a mysterious fire at a fashionable London address. A third has a name which is incredibly similar to someone who has had allegations of child sexual abuse leveled against them (a thin disguise, surely?) And the name of one prominent member was apparently once glimpsed on a list of major shareholders of a company that builds prisons in Georgia and other states, and also supplies guards to these jails. More damning, irrefutable evidence is likely to come to light, but I think I have enough already.

Now, as you can imagine, I need to protect my source, especially as his/her recovery from drug addiction is likely to be set back if he/she is exposed. Suffice it to say that (s)he tells me that his/her source heard directly from a fellow prisoner sometime around 1997, that someone passed all this information to Troy, and this information might have come out if he was freed. Indeed, that former prisoner is known in the criminal underworld to be the current or recent lover of one of the individuals in question.

Using the Davis case as a benchmark for the quality and admissibility of evidence to be relied upon at any serious trial, I am satisfied beyond doubt that these individuals are totally guilty of the charges leveled, are unfit to continue in their positions, and should be immediately dismissed. They should be tried before a jury made up of representatives of the Davis and other executed Death Row inmates' families, and summarily punished, with no recourse to legal representation.

The verdict reached shall be binding and final, and the form of punishment shall be at the discretion of the members of the jury, whose verdict will be seen as totally unbiased.

So shall justice in the land of the free be seen to be done.


PAUL ROBESON: WE CHARGE GENOCIDE
Click on link to read programme note from a recent performance of Call Mr. Robeson on the case.

Friday, 22 July 2011

PISSING ON GRANBY

“It’s a great way to share a piss” said Donald Gallagher, as we left the legendary gents’ toilets at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Pub. His appreciation of the marble “walk-in” urinals, the tiling on the walls, the craftsmanship on the wooden urinal doors was almost (dare I say it?) sexual. And when we he saw the tiling below the bar and the stained glass above it, I feared I was about to see, and hear, the, er, “climax” of his visit to Liverpool. Thankfully, he regained his composure once the first drop of local beer touched his lips.

Donald is a member of the “StopShopping Gospel Choir”, whose inspirational “service” I had just attended. They were on the “Church of Earthalujah UK tour, with powerful, comedic gospel singing and preaching about anti-consumerism, environmentalism, neighbourliness and community. It’s all so skilfully done that as happens in “real” churches, some people “testified” that they had been converted that night! Reverend Billy, the charismatic leader of the Church was even able to make the congregation shed all British inhibitions, clapping and hollering along, “Preach, Reverend, Preach!” “That’s right!” “Earthalujah!”, “Granbylujah!”

Granbylujah? Yes, earlier in the day, the choir had gone to “minister” in the Granby Triangle, that famous part of Liverpool at the centre of the Liverpool 8 uprising 30 years ago. Since then, the City Council, Housing Associations and private developers have succeeded in reducing the Triangle to a wasteland. Most of the houses have been demolished after (the residents allege) deliberate neglect of perfectly decent houses and a flawed consultation process which “found” that most residents would prefer modern houses. Not so on Cairns Street, where the last remaining residents are refusing to move, and have transformed one of the last surviving streets in the Triangle into arguably the most beautiful street-garden in the city. The occupied and bricked-up houses have been painted in bright colours, flowers of every type adorn the walls and pavements, and children from 6 to 80 “hang-out” and pass the time of day. Many people choose to walk or cycle along Cairns Street on their way to work – it’s that beautiful, and the atmosphere that warm.

At the corner of Cairns Street and Kingsley Road, the residents (and some outsiders) have this week started a picket to stop the demolition of two more houses by the council’s preferred developer. In place of those two are proposed four more “little boxes”. The residents say they should instead be refurbished, and that they know local families that would happily occupy them. The developers, who haven’t built any new houses in the Triangle for a few years now, are however intent on demolishing them anyway, because refurbishment is not an option. The fact that VAT (Value Added Tax) is now 20% means that preservation and conservation is that much more expensive than new-build, which attracts zero VAT. Just as Southern Cross found that care of the elderly is not “economically viable”, so property developers will argue that sensitive neighbourhood development is economic madness.

One could argue that the economic madness is not just the disparity of VAT on new-build versus refurb, but the billions spent on defence and war-mongering by our governments who try to persuade us that there isn’t enough money to take care for our elderly, our communities, our jobs, the environment. This was agreed by all in the Philharmonic pub last night. Donald, the white Bhuddist New Yorker; Dragonfly, the Black Texan woman; I, the Nigerian adopted scouser architect-turned-actor and Eleanor, the “grandmother from Granby” in the thick of the picket. She said a powerful thing too - that it was so inspiring that an American “Church” can take their story, sing about it, twitter and youtube it (whatever that means), and show that they understand, and care. Even if they managed to get a mention on Radio Merseyside a few days ago, and the Echo ran a story about it the following day, these Americans came and sang to them on their street, sang and preached about them, about the power of community.

Even if they lose their battle to save those houses, and they put up four little boxes that will not be worth travelling any distance to share a piss in, the memory of this day is one she will carry with her to her grave. The day when people from the other side of the world used their art as a weapon in defence of the voiceless, like, as Reverend Billy preached, the great Paul Robeson.

Amen, and Granbylujah to that!

Click here to view video of the choir at the demolition site