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Why Was It So Important To Kill Troy Davis?

Troy Davis was executed last week on my birthday. He maintained his innocence until the moment he was given his lethal injection. While his death was a tragic and shameful crime by the state of Georgia, it’s important to remember why he was executed, and indeed, why there is still a death penalty for poor people in the United States–and that’s exactly what it is–a death penalty for poor people.

The reason the machinery of the ruling class state is deployed against poor and minority convicts is to keep the working class in a state of fear and intimidation. It’s not for justice, it’s not for deterrence, it’s not even to provide closure for the victims’ families, who gain no closure from such acts.

No, the reason the U.S. wants to keep executing criminals is that such a brazen display of power over life and death, as far as the ruling class sees it, is the most effective reminder of that power itself, and all it suggests, politically and socially.

And that’s why the fight against the death penalty is ultimately so important. It’s one link in the chain held over ordinary working people…poor people…people of color…those without our hands on the levers of power. Because of this, and many other reasons, we must keep fighting to end it.

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About Matt J. Stannard

Policy Director for Commonomics USA, longtime writer, speaker, and legal & policy consultant on economic justice and public deliberation.