October 2, 2013
Today is the last event of my book launch tour for I Am Troy Davis, the book about my friend Troy Davis, a man who was killed by lethal injection by the state of Georgia on September 21, 2011 despite a mountain of evidence pointing towards his innocence.
Today is also the 13-year anniversary of the killing of my friend Asel Asleh, a 17-year peace activist. Asel was one of twelve unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel killed in demonstrations by Israeli police during what became known as “Black October.” Aseel was lying face-down on the ground when he was shot point blank in the neck.
There is much that links Troy and Asel in my mind. I hope you will take a moment to read an article for World Focus that I wrote four years ago, exploring the connections between Troy and Asel’s cases and the larger connection between racial injustice in the U.S. and in Israel.
On a conference call with Amnesty International in 2009, Troy said, “We can correct all the wrongs if we just continue to stand together. And that’s what’s most important. We need to continue to stand together and educate each other and don’t give up the fight.”
In an email he titled “Peaceful Thoughts” written in 1998 to fellow peace activists, Asel wrote, “I will go on. I will make this planet a better place to live, and I will go on.”
Troy and Asel, separated by age, distance, and circumstances of injustice, manged to convey the same, deeply profound sentiment:
The struggle for justice continues. And both Troy and Asel, by how they inspired us (and continue to inspire us) to fight, remain a vital part of that struggle.
On the prison grounds in Jackson, GA, as the state of Georgia was in the midst of carrying it its scripted killing of Troy Davis, my colleague Laura Moye of Amnesty International entered the circle of supporters who were surrounding the Davis family. “It has been a privilege to stand by this family during their struggle,” she said.
She spoke for me that night, and she spoke for many. And her words captured something of the essence of why many of us do what we do.
To the Davis and Asleh families: Troy and Asel will forever be at the center of my own effort to fight for a more equitable, more just world. And, echoing Laura, knowing you and standing in solidarity with you has been an extraordinary privilege, an honor and a blessing.
To Asel and Troy: You have gone on and you always will. And this I promise to you both: we will never give up the fight.
In solidarity, and with love,
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PS–If you’re in Seattle today, hope to see you at Elliott Bay Books at 7pm!