Sharon Borthwick writes on the race and class prejudice behind the US death penalty, in the aftermath of the state killing of Troy Davis
At the South Carolina State Penitentiary on 16th June, 1944, 14 year old, George Junius Stinney, was strapped to the electric chair. Securing him to the frame holding the electrodes proved difficult as the child was so slightly built and merely 5’1”, a reason to suspect it wasn’t he who had wielded the huge railroad spike, the weapon used in the killing of two white girls. In a locked room with only white officers bearing witness, Stinney confessed within an hour of his arrest. The court-appointed defence lawyer, did not call any witnesses and as the Stinney family were moneyless, an appeal could not be raised.
Another harrowing and messy murder took place towards the end of World War II, when 24 year-old Eddie Slovik was strapped to a post and shot by firing squad, eleven bullets entering his body, but not immediately killing him. The appointed executioners were reloading their weapons when Slovik finally died: “They’re not shooting me for deserting the United States Army, thousands of guys have done that. They just need to make an example out of somebody and I’m it because I’m an ex-con. I used to steal things when I was a kid, and that’s what they are shooting me for, they’re shooting me for the bread and chewing gum I stole when I was 12 years old”, Slovik had told them. Stinney was black and Slovik white. They had in common their poverty and thus their utter powerlessness, as simultaneously, the allies allegedly fought for freedom. Continue reading “the land of the free”