Why have the Miami Heat been so silent on the injustice of Troy Davis’ pending execution?
There are few places you can go in African-American social media networks this week without hearing about the issue of Troy Davis. The state of Georgia has scheduled Davis to be killed at 7 p.m. tonight with a lethal injection for the death of a police officer in 1989, despite the existence of too much doubt regarding whether he actually did it.
If you follow the Miami Heat on Twitter, then you haven’t heard anything about this issue. Twitter has been a powerful medium in the fight to save Davis but Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade’s girlfriend, was the only person associated with a Heat player to tweet about the issue as of 9 AM on the morning Davis is scheduled to be executed.
Sent: Sep 21, 2011 8:49a
Every1 google Troy Davis & read his story! NO1 should die by lethal injection whn theres ths much doubt! Help save #TroyDavis
sent via UberSocial for BlackBerry
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/itsgabrielleu/status/116494261016465408
Sent: Sep 21, 2011 8:53a
RT @UncleRUSH: There is #TooMuchDoubt to kill #TroyDavis 2day. Here's the 411 >> http://t.co/gYUXwV1z PLEASE RT
sent via UberSocial for BlackBerry
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/itsgabrielleu/status/116495275018817536
Union promotes many causes on Twitter. Over the weekend she was promoting breast cancer awareness and her efforts to promote the fight to save Troy Davis are commendable.
Ytasha Womack, the blogger and author of Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity, said creating awareness about civil liberty issues through social networks like Twitter has become a core strategy in the 21st century and cited uprisings against dictatorships in the Middle East as a recent example of their power.
Union has just over 231,000 followers on Twitter but Wade has over 1.7 million followers. LeBron James reached 2.5 million followers this week. Chris Bosh has over 436,000 followers on Twitter and Mario Chalmers has over 415,000 followers.
Those players could have a tremendous impact on creating awareness about the fight to save Troy Davis and prevent an act of injustice from being carried out in the state of Georgia, but their Twitter timelines have not mentioned the issue. The question is, “Why?”
First, it needs to be acknowledged that they all lead busy lives. Wade is up early to get his sons ready for school, then it’s off to workouts and endorsement deals before he ends the day helping his sons with their homework or watching their basketball game.
LeBron has a similar workout schedule and also has to juggle fatherhood and endorsement deals with his charity work for the Boys and Girls Club. Chalmers is managing workouts while coping with the ailing health of his grandfather. Bosh was guest-starring in an episode of Law & Order: SVU.
The point is not to judge any of these players for how they spend their time because they’re all very busy people. The point is simply to illustrate that an important cause could use their help to save a man's life.
Second, it needs to be acknowledged that they may not be aware of the issue since Twitter removed the #toomuchdoubt and #TroyDavis trending topics just as the momentum began to build after it was announced the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Davis’s clemency request.
Without the trending topics on Twitter to bring it to the attention of players with busy lives or their friends, then who’s to say whether they even know about the issue? Union didn’t tweet about it until this morning for a reason. When I surfed my cable channels for news on Davis last night, the only coverage I found was on the Democracy Now! broadcast and I’m not sure that show is on the airwaves in South Florida.
Gil Scott-Heron told the world the revolution will not be televised and Public Enemy's Chuck D told us it would not be tweeted, either.
Third, I need to acknowledge that I didn’t become aware of this issue until last week when my brother, who lives in Savannah, GA, gave me the details and told me that he signed a petition. He and dream hampton inspired me to join the NAACP petition online, but I was so busy that I didn’t talk to my wife about Troy Davis until last night. She didn’t know any details of the story.
I also don’t know if any of the Heat players on Twitter have taken action offline to help save Davis. That could very well be the case, but as Womack stated, social networks are powerful tools to create awareness around this issue and the Heat players’ have extensive social networks that were untapped as of 9 AM this morning.
So how do we fix this?
No one is asking Wade, LeBron, Bosh, Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Dexter Pittman or Norris Cole to carry out Operation: Black Steel but it would be amazing if someone pulled off Operation: Assata.
This article from Amnesty International's Human Rights Now blog provides the following tips for those interested in saving Troy Davis from an unjust execution:
- Fax or call the Parole Board and ask them to reconsider their decision and grant Troy clemency. Fax: 404-651-8502 and 404-651-6670 (try both as they will be busy), Phone: 404-656-0693 and 404-656-5651
- Fax or call the Savannah District Attorney, Larry Chisolm, and ask him to urge the local judge to vacate the execution warrant. Fax: 912-652-7328, Phone: 912-652-7308.
- Contact the local judge, Penny Haas Freesman, and ask her to vacate the warrant. Phone: (912) 652-7252, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Call the Governor, Nathan Deal, and ask him to use his influence to encourage the board to grant clemency. Phone: 404-656-1776.
- Tweet your favorite Heat players as well as their family and friends the info they need to make a difference.
- @m33m (Miller)
- @ud_kids (Haslem)
- @PUN45 (Pittman)
- @PG30_MIA (Cole)
- Tweet your fellow Heat fans to spread the word. There's power in #teamHEAT and the #HEATnation and we need to use it.