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Troy Davis and Jamey Rodemeyer: By A Jury Of Our Peers



Troy Anthony Davis is dead, executed by the state of Georgia, September 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm. Ten days later, now that other stories have caught the media’s eye, Davis may seem forgotten. But in Harlem, where I live, his face stares out from orange posters plastered to lampposts along my street, announcing an emergency rally organized to save his life.

It feels like a bad dream, the kind you can’t shake for days: the final countdown to his death by the protests around the country, the supporters from all over the world, including politicians, celebrities and religious figures, asking that his life be spared so that questions about the fairness of his trial could be answered. That day, riding on the subway at seven o’clock, the original time set for his execution, I assumed Troy Davis was gone, only to arrive home and find out that he’d had another reprieve: the U.S. Supreme Court was considering his case; there was hope. Hours later, his appeal rejected, Davis was dead by lethal injection.

I didn’t know Troy Davis, and I don’t know whether he committed the crime he was convicted of or not. But I know that with Troy Davis dead, there won’t be another appeal for him, no new trial. There will be many more conversations about Troy Davis in the years to come, but the critical one, the one that might have saved his life, is over.

Execution is a curious kind of death. Some deaths are natural, others accidental, or premeditated; some people are killed out of jealousy, taken in the passion in the moment. But execution is death you can set your watch to.  Knowing that at a specific time, at a specific hour, someone is going to be killed, creates a strange psychological predicament for all involved. Regardless of whether you believe the person is guilty or not, the instinct to preserve life is suppressed; you know they are going to be murdered and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Trying to make sense of the incomprehensible, we live out the mundane aspects of our lives against the backdrop of “justice being served”: I have to go pick up the kids from school (Troy Davis will be dead in four hours), What are we having for dinner? (Troy Davis will be dead in two hours), I forgot to pick up the dry-cleaning, will you get it tomorrow? (Troy Davis will be dead an hour from now.)

The morning after Troy Davis’ execution, I kept seeing him everywhere I looked, the almost serene look on his face, the round glasses, the hint of challenge. On the posters, Davis doesn’t look like a cold-blooded killer, but like a graduate student. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t have killed that officer. But it’s easier to deal with the horror of Troy Davis’ execution if you think to yourself, despite the number of “witnesses” who recanted their testimonies after his trial, “Maybe he did do it.” And if he didn’t do it, he probably did something else. Because life can’t be this unfair, God can’t be this unfair. An innocent person can’t be executed; he must have done it.

Underneath Davis’ picture was the slogan that became part of the campaign to save his life: “I am Troy Davis.”  My mother’s maiden name was Davis, and he actually looks like a cousin of mine. When I look at those posters I want to protect Troy — many of us felt that way. But if our system chose not to protect him, why didn’t it protect justice? Justice – what we teach our 4th grade kids about in history, what our country is supposedly built on.

Just when I start feeling self-righteous about the unfairness of the death penalty, I read that Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in Texas for the murder of James Byrd, Jr., the same day Davis was put to death. Good ol’ Texas, where at times it seems they are so eager to execute, you can practically get the death penalty for having your credit card declined. According to the Los Angeles Times, Rick Perry, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, was asked during a GOP debate about Texas’ 234 executions during his nearly 11 years as governor. He said he “never struggled” with the issue because “the state of Texas has a very thoughtful, very clear process in place.”

If there was ever a death penalty case where the person seemed to deserve it it’s Brewer’s. An avowed white supremacist, with an accomplice still on death row, Brewer beat Byrd severely, urinated on him, and then chained him, still conscious, to the back of his truck, dragging him three miles to his death. Part of me wants Brewer hurt in unimaginable ways, slowly brutalized. But more than revenge, I want him alive, so that we can question him, so that he can be studied. I want his brain to be examined before and after his death so that we can understand what circumstances in our culture, or biologically, created someone capable of this kind of evil; so that we can figure out what to do before the next white supremacist comes off the assembly line.

We must ask where this violence comes from, specifically in men: what are we teaching our boys? How can anyone be capable of the cruelty shown recently in Fullerton, California, where six police officers beat and tasered 37-year-old Kelly Thomas to death? Bystanders watched as Thomas screamed for help, calling out, “Dad! Dad!” as police beat him beyond recognition, as Thomas no longer resisted. When you look at the picture of Thomas released to the media before his beating, you will see an “All-American” white man, and you can’t help but think this isn’t the face the police usually vent their rage on. But if you compare it to the photograph taken after his murder, you realize this isn’t the face the police saw that day. Kelly Thomas was schizophrenic and homeless. With a long red beard, and unkempt tangled hair, he wasn’t the boy next door anymore. He was the homeless, mentally ill nuisance on the street corner – someone killable because mental illness pushed him outside the familiar circles. We no longer recognized him as someone who deserved to be saved, and so he didn’t belong to us anymore.

Maybe it is enough, for some, that Troy Davis had to pay for the crime of killing off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail, whether he did it or not, because the person who did it was probably black, and as long as a black person pays, any black person, then that’s enough. Which makes Troy Davis’ execution a lynching. Perhaps Troy Davis was just another black man in America whose life was worth something only as a consumer – not worth enough to protect, not worth enough to save.


Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old boy from Buffalo, New York, is dead. Bullied by children at his school, Jamey asked for help, but at some point it clearly became too much for him and he took his own life on September 18, 2011.

Jamey acknowledged before his death that he was teased, in part, because most of his friends were girls. ABC News reported that Jamey received messages from his peers that said, “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND [sic] UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” Another read, “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it. It would make everyone WAY more happier!”

Jamey’s death particularly stings because he had resources. He had “come out” as a bisexual, and knew where to get some help and support, at least online. He was a fan of Lady Gaga, and her song, “Born This Way” inspired him. He knew about Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” Project, and had even recorded a video to encourage other gay and bisexual people to have hope.  Jamey had some help, but in the end it wasn’t the help he needed.  It simply wasn’t enough.

The loss of Jamey Rodemeyer recalls the suicides last year of 14-year-old Kameron Jacobsen, bullied on Facebook by other students in Orange County, New York because of his perceived sexual orientation, of 18-year-old Rutgers student Tyler Clemente who, after being video-streamed kissing another man by his roommate without his knowledge, and rejected by his mother after coming out, jumped off the George Washington Bridge; and Joseph Jefferson, a 26-year-old black gay-rights activist based in Brooklyn, New York. Jefferson, who had been a graduate from Harvey Milk High School and belonged to several gay organizations, wrote before his death:

“Belonging is one of the basic human needs; when people feel isolated and excluded from a sense of communion with others, they suffer. I have been an advocate for my peers and most importantly youth because most have never had a deep emotional attachment to anyone. They don’t know how to love and be loved in return. The need to be loved can sometimes translate to the need to belong to someone or something. Driven by that need….most will do anything to belong.”


Please continue to Part II.

Max Gordon is a writer and activist. He has been published in the anthologies Inside Separate Worlds: Life Stories of Young Blacks, Jews and Latinos (University of Michigan Press, 1991), Go the Way Your Blood Beats: An Anthology of African-American Lesbian and Gay Fiction (Henry Holt, 1996) and Mixed Messages: An Anthology of Literature to Benefit Hospice and Cancer Causes. His work has also appeared on openDemocracy, Democratic Underground and Truthout, in Z Magazine, Gay Times, Sapience, and other progressive on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally.

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Watch: Expert Blasts Ginni Thomas for Being ‘In League’ With People Whose ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Contributed to J6 Riots



A court reform expert and progressive political activist is blasting both the U.S. Supreme Court and the spouse of one of its justices after a bombshell Washington Post article revealed how Ginni Thomas headed a secretive right-wing organization funded through a web of dark money with the goal of waging a culture war against the left.

Thomas, a Washington insider for decades, a well-known right-wing lobbyist and conspiracy theorist who had unprecedented access to the Trump White House and Oval Office, just happens to be the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Demand Justice founder Brian Fallon warned the Roberts Supreme Court has a reputation of “behaving unethically,” handing down “questionable” decisions, being “overtaken with scandal,” and “riddled with ethical conflicts and influence peddling.”

“Research that my group has done, we’ve noticed that part of what is animating this downward shift in opinion of the court is not just the highly unpopular, substantive rulings that are coming out of the court – and that’s saying something because they’re pretty unpopular,” Fallon, the former Clinton campaign national press secretary and former DOJ director of public affairs, told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, “but it’s also this idea that the court is behaving unethically, and that it’s become overtaken with scandal.”

READ MORE: ‘This Is About One Client – Donald Trump’: Eric Swalwell Destroys Jim Jordan and His ‘Insurrection LLC’ Committee (Video)

“There’s a feeling that not only is it reaching decisions that are questionable and unpopular, but it’s also reaching them through illicit means – that the majority that Republicans have now on the Supreme Court, that 6 to 3 majority, was gained through illicit means, and that the way it’s going about its business of hearing cases is just sort of riddled with ethical conflicts and influence peddling.”

Fallon warned that The Washington Post’s report on Ginni Thomas, “I think, would just further that narrative in the public’s mind.”

Wallace, pointing to The Post’s reporting, blasted Thomas’ “demented approach to ethics and transparency.”

“The piece about funding is so stunning to me, because it, you know, over here on Earth One, you would do the opposite, right?” Wallace posited. “If there were a nonprofit that involved the spouse of a Supreme Court justice, you would take the path that would bring about more disclosure, more transparency. Ginni Thomas does the opposite. She basically buries and hides the funding through a workaround that may or may not be legal, it certainly isn’t ethical or transparent.”

After criticizing Ginni Thomas for lobbying on issues Clarence Thomas could or does make decisions on, Fallon criticized her for the secretive organization she was heading, which she said was going after the left’s “cultural Marxism.”

Calling Thomas a “fringe figure,” Fallon observed, “the people that she brought together for this nonprofit that received $600,000 was a rogue’s gallery of people that do not belong in polite society in Washington, D.C.”

READ MORE: Watch: House Dem Mocks Republicans by Thanking Them for Taking Time Away From ‘Trump’s Memorial Service to David Koresh’

“You have the head of Project Veritas who’s been criminally prosecuted for the shady activities of that group,” Fallon alleged.

He also pointed to the right wing pro-Trump group Turning Point USA’s founder, Charlie Kirk.

“These are people that say outrageous things that help provoke conspiracy theories that contributed to the riots to try to overturn the government. And Ginni Thomas is in league with all of them.”

“This should be shocking and appalling to your average Member of Congress on both sides of the aisle, and we don’t see any movement from Republicans in the House to do anything in terms of an ethics bill, but it should be 100% uncontroversial at this point, to impose a mandatory code of ethics on the Supreme Court so that Clarence Thomas has to account for his wife’s activities more so than he does have to right now.”

Watch Fallon below or at this link:

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‘This Is About One Client – Donald Trump’: Eric Swalwell Destroys Jim Jordan and His ‘Insurrection LLC’ Committee (Video)



U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) unleashed massive criticism of Jim Jordan Wednesday afternoon, accusing the House Judiciary Committee Chairman of working solely for Donald Trump.

In his opening remarks of a Judiciary subcommittee hearing Swalwell, the Ranking Member, slammed Jordan for refusing to comply with a legal subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, and criticized the subcommittee for holding a hearing – not on gun violence and mass shootings – but on what the California Democrat said was issues to help the ex-president.

Congressman Swalwell blasted Jordan and his “Committee to Obstruct Justice” on a wide range of issues, including obstructing justice, ordering a district attorney to commit a felony, and lying that Attorney General Merrick Garland labeled parents “domestic terrorists.”

“Well, here we are. Another partners’ meeting of Insurrection, LLC,” Swalwell said as he began his remarks. “That’s what this is. This is the newly formed largest law firm in Washington, D.C. Only has one client, maybe a second client that we’re going to learn about today, but that client is former president Donald Trump.”

“Their job,” he said, referring to Jordan’s Judiciary Committee, subcommittees, and his controversial Subcommittee of the Weaponization of the Federal Government, “is to litigate every one of [Trump’s] petty, petty, petty grievances.”

READ MORE: Watch: House Dem Mocks Republicans by Thanking Them for Taking Time Away From ‘Trump’s Memorial Service to David Koresh’

“It’s now 321 days since this subpoena was sent to Jim Jordan, that he did not comply with,” Swalwell said, pointing to a large blown-up copy of the subpoena, with the word “subpoena” enlarged exponentially.

“So it’s comical that we are here today, under Jim Jordan’s leadership, asking people why they don’t want to comply with subpoenas. The guy won’t comply with the one that was sent to him 321 days ago, witness to a crime, the crime that has led to more arrests than any investigation in America,” Swalwell observed, referring to the January 6 prosecutions.

“He’s a witness being asked to do his patriotic duty and respond to a subpoena 321 days later, refuses. Also, since the last hearing of this Committee to Obstruct Justice, Chairman Jordan is now in interfering in an independent criminal prosecution. There’s an investigation in Manhattan, also in Atlanta, also at the Department of Justice, into the former president and Jim Jordan has sent a letter to the independently elected District Attorney Alvin Bragg of Manhattan. He is asking Alvin Bragg to commit a felony.”

“Why is he asking Alvin Bragg to commit a felony? To help Donald Trump. Why is it a felony? Because if Alvin Bragg were to turn over what Jim Jordan is asking of him, Bragg would be violating New York law that says you cannot turn over grand jury proceedings, but that’s what they’re asking them to do. Again, the law doesn’t matter if your client is Donald Trump. ”

“The other day Jim Jordan was asked, ‘Well, what do you think of the former president who put out on Truth Social the other day, essentially an another call to action? A January 6-like post when the former president said this posting, Jim Jordan was presented with this post by the former president that calls for ‘death and destruction.’ And Mr. Jordan said that he would ‘need his classes.’ He was looking the other way. Jim Jordan looking the other way.”

READ MORE: Here’s How Five Republicans in Congress Are Responding to the Mass Shooting of 3 Children and 3 Adults in Nashville (Video)

“Well, we have blown up on the screen and we’ve put it right here and I’ll leave it for Jim Jordan. This is what Donald Trump said, Mr. Jordan,” Swalwell said, reading the e-president’s social media post:

“‘What kind of person can charge another person? In this case it former president of the United States who got more votes than any sitting president in history and leading candidate by far for the Republican Party nomination with the crime when it is known by all that? No crime has been committed and also known that potential death and destruction and such a false charge can be catastrophic for our country. Why and who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truly hates the USA?'”

“Again, I’m gonna leave this up here in probably 200 font. So Mr. Jordan doesn’t need his glasses to read it,” Swalwell added, referring to news that Jordan recently refused to comment on a Trump social media post claiming he first hadn’t read it, then when a reporter showed it to him, Jordan said he couldn’t read it because he didn’t have his glasses.

“The same individual who posted this also posted this photo. There you go, Donald. Trump. Real tough guy holding a baseball bat, next to a picture of that independent prosecutor that Jim Jordan wants to commit a felony, Alvin Bragg.”

“But you won’t hear from this Committee to Obstruct Justice, any condemnation of what Donald Trump posted. They can’t condemn him. They can’t. So in their silence, they condone it. And in these posts from Donald Trump, he incites more and more Americans to commit violence like a woman who was arrested yesterday, near Times Square with a knife seeking to carry out an act of violence in Donald Trump’s name.”

Swalwell blasted Chairman Jordan for repeatedly falsely claiming that Attorney General Merrick Garland had labeled parents speaking at school board meetings “domestic terrorists,” a lie made by many Republicans and conservatives.

READ MORE: New WSJ Poll Is Devastating for DeSantis and His ‘Anti-Woke’ Policies

“No parent has a right to threaten a school board volunteer. If a threat is brought to the FBI, it’s their duty to investigate those threats. We’ve also learned from all the document production from DOJ and the FBI in the Department of Education, that there is not one instance where the Department of Justice called any parent or a group of parents, ‘domestic terrorists,’ as has been claimed by Jim Jordan.”

And he criticized House Republicans, who, under Jim Jordan, had posted a tweet in support of Donald Trump, Elon Musk, and Kanye West.

“It’s also about a tweet that Jim Jordan posted back in the fall. ‘Kanye. Elon. Trump.’ Now after that tweet was posted, Kanye said he’s going to declare ‘DEF CON three on the Jews.’ The tweet stayed up for months. Everyone was like, ‘Hey guys, turns out your hero Kanye West hates the Jews. We all stand with Israel. Please take down the tweet.’ They didn’t take down the tweet. They kept the tweet up. Day after day. Jewish community they’re hurting, they say, ‘Please don’t take, please don’t put this tweet up.’ It stays up.”

He also blasted the GOP for holding hearings with witnesses they invited who are anti-police, despite their motto of “backing the blue.”

“Last week, we had a hearing where you could call anyone in America when you have the majority, the power of a subpoena. We had a hearing about the ATF. These guys brought a witness who had just recently tweeted, ‘fuck cops.’ Cops. That’s what this guy tweeted. Anyone on Earth could have come to that hearing and they brought someone that said, ‘fuck cops.’ Then one of their colleagues, this is what she’s selling on her social media: ‘defund the FBI.’ So we went from backing the blue to backing the coup.”

Swalwell concluded his remarks by slamming the committee for doing nothing to reduce gun violence in the wake of Monday’s school mass shooting.

“So we’ll waste our time today on this exercise on behalf of Donald Trump and perhaps Elon Musk, but everyone on their side is going to have to go home this weekend to their constituents and their constituents are going to ask them one question: Three little babies died this week in a school in Nashville. No other committee in Congress has jurisdiction to do something about that except this committee. So you’re on the Judiciary Committee. Three kids are dead. They’re gonna be buried this week. What did you do about it? Did you show up to the Judiciary Committee and fight for those kids? Or did you show up and fight for Donald Trump? They showed up to the first hearing after Nashville and they’re fighting for Donald Trump.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.



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Watch: House Dem Mocks Republicans by Thanking Them for Taking Time Away From ‘Trump’s Memorial Service to David Koresh’



U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) mocked the entire GOP Wednesday afternoon by sardonically thanking his Republican colleagues for taking time away from Donald Trump’s “memorial service to David Koresh,” referring to the ex-president’s rally Saturday in Waco, Texas during the 30th anniversary of that deadly siege.

“I want to thank the majority for finding the time to fit this hearing in between attending former President Trump’s memorial service to David Koresh, just last week, who was a real advocate for young girls in this country.”

Congressman Moskowitz was referring to the Branch Davidian religious cult leader who allegedly was a polygamist and child sex abuser. In 1993, the ATF’s attempt to serve a warrant on Koresh for “unlawful possession of fully automatic machine guns and destructive devices” turned into a 51-day siege of his Waco compound, which ended with the deaths of 86 people. Experts point to that event as fueling the rise of right-wing domestic terrorism, including by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

READ MORE: Here’s How Five Republicans in Congress Are Responding to the Mass Shooting of 3 Children and 3 Adults in Nashville (Video)

Wednesday’s hearing of a House Oversight Committee subcommittee focused on Washington, D.C. also offered Rep. Moskowitz the opportunity to pose this question related to Monday’s Nashville school mass shooting: “Do you think parents, putting their young kids into pajamas at night, and tucking them into bed, do you think they’re worried about public urination in Washington, D.C. or do you think they’re worried about sending their kid to school and their kid not coming home?”

Moskowitz wasn’t done blasting Republicans for refusing to do anything to address mass shootings after Monday’s school massacre in Nashville.

“You know, speaking of crime, Republican on Republican crime, former President Donald Trump held a rally in Waco, Texas with his ‘Rasputin’ Ted Nugent. He said the number one national security threat to this great nation isn’t Russia or China or DC crime. But is an 81-year old slip and fall survivor in Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I’m just wondering if we’re gonna find time in between, you know, some folks here attending the next rally to celebrating Timothy McVeigh, if we’re gonna find time to hold a hearing on mass murder in schools? When are we holding that hearing?”

Watch there videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Troubling Questions’: Experts Slam Ginni Thomas’ Group That Waged Cultural War Against the Left via Web of Dark Money Orgs

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