Honoring the boycott of Georgia following the execution of Troy Davis
Open Letter to the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival in Georgia
Dear Festival organizers:
We are honored that our film, DHS Give Us Back Our Children, was selected to screen at your film festival October 14-16. It tells the stories of mothers and others in Philadelphia PA coming together to reclaim children from the foster care industry, and the devastating impact on children who were taken because of poverty, sexism, racism or a combination of these. Film festivals like yours are one way these stories are made public and are instrumental, as your theme says, in Changing the World One Story at a Time!
Since we have pledged to honor the boycott of the state of Georgia following the execution of Troy Davis, we will not be participating in the festival. We also wholeheartedly honor the boycott of GA called earlier by immigrant rights groups in opposition to GA House Bill 87 and the boycott of Coca Cola products (headquartered in Atlanta) because of violence against trade union organizers at Coke plants in Colombia and elsewhere. We proudly follow the great tradition of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama which gave so much strength and direction to the civil rights movement.
We were profoundly and deeply shocked, saddened and horrified at the murder of an innocent man by the state of Georgia. Many of us have either been in prison or have or had children, partners, siblings, parents and other loved ones inside. We campaigned vigorously for Troy Davis and continue to campaign against miscarriages of justice, including that of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist who was framed for murder to stop his reporting the crimes of the police. Many of us have opposed the “mass incarceration” of our youth, particularly youth of color, on a personal and public level, and spent endless hours going to court or travelling to prisons to provide support and loving care. One of the reasons we have fought so hard against unjust placement of kids in foster care is because we know it is a highway to prison for our children. Like Troy Davis, we know what it feels like to be presumed guilty, and have often heard the refrain “well, they must have done something wrong.”
With that in mind, when we heard the moving plea of Wesley Boyd on Democracy Now! just after the execution saying, “Don’t come to Georgia, don’t buy Georgia peaches, don’t buy Georgia pecans, the whole world, don’t buy anything with Georgia,” we chose to honor that. We know that Michael Moore and others are also calling for and participating in a boycott. As Troy Davis’s sister said, “This fight is going to continue. We’re going to turn all of that on Georgia’s ear, and shame the state with boycotts and things like that."
We, along with at least a million others, urgently called, wrote, emailed, faxed, tweeted, petitioned and protested the murder of Troy Davis. Some of us blocked traffic in Philadelphia at 7pm on September 21st, the scheduled execution time, until policemen (and women) used their bikes to push us to the side. We know that an unprecedented national and international movement was built, and that people have vowed to continue and step up the pressure until the death penalty is abolished and there is an end to mass incarceration and racist travesties of justice. Occupy Wall St condemned the execution and we take the Remember Troy Davis, End the Death Penalty placard with us to the Occupy protests in different cities.
We request that the Urban Mediamakers Festival respect our position, withdraw our film and help publicize why. Any proceeds from Georgia sales will go to work against miscarriages of justice, the death penalty, mass incarceration of our youth, and in support of the CA prison hunger strikers and their demands, along with making the film available to those who cannot otherwise afford to pay. Thank you for your kind understanding.
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