Today’s guest columnist is Savannah “Sav” Miles.
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(Editor’s note: Nate Woods was executed March 5, 2020. This piece was published March 1)
For those who want Alabama to attract more talent and investment, read this.
You could also save someone’s life.
There is an eleventh hour movement afoot to save Nate Woods from wrongful execution in Alabama on March 5th—four days from now.
The opportunity to do so could also represent a needed opportunity to give Alabama the reputation it needs to thrive.
We applaud the many efforts of state and municipal officials, the business community, and the public at large to promote Alabama as an exciting place to work, especially for both startups and for nonprofits to address the many critical social wellbeing challenges in the state.
But it’s hard to overcome negative perceptions, especially if they appear well-founded. One harmful and distracting impression that needs to be torn down is that Alabama is just a poor, racist, backwards, bigoted, and corrupt state that has no promise.
I’ve heard from one business booster in Huntsville that their biggest problem attracting outside investment is Huntsville’s last name: Alabama.
But turning around one of the economically poorest states in the nation, for largely self-inflicted reasons, is not what the appeal to save Nate is all about. But it is closely related.
Despite the honorable work of law enforcement and the courts, incidents of racist and unequal justice are not just history for many in Alabama. And, sadly, the cases heroically undertaken by the Equal Justice Initiative do not include all of the many wrongful injustices that are with us today, such as the case of Nate Woods.
It is crystal clear that Woods did not kill, nor plan to kill
His situation was recently brought to the attention of a brave, volunteer lawyer, who learned that Woods, facing imminent execution, was not adequately represented by court-appointed lawyers.
The details of this case and its prosecution involve much that could be contested, but what is crystal clear is that Woods did not kill, nor plan to kill, the police officers—nor was he an accomplice to the killings, the charge that led to his current situation.
Nate was fending off police, who stormed his apartment to arrest him on a misdemeanor charge from another community, but he did not kill them; another man living in the same unit admitted to shooting the officers, and is also on death row in Alabama.
But due to apparent witness and evidence tampering, combined with the failure of court-appointed lawyers to adequately prepare Woods as a defendant, a non-unanimous jury sentenced Woods to death, which could not have happened in any other state.
Only in Alabama can a non-unanimous jury sentence death.
Take one minute to save a life
You can take action to stop the execution of Nate Woods on 5 March 2020 with virtually no effort on your part. Simply message or call Governor Kay Ivey to stop this egregious injustice.
The good people of Alabama can start here to turn around the unwarranted reputation of our state and further our goal of becoming a more inclusive and open place to live, work, play, and invest.
Such a state cares for all residents, protects them with true justice, and creates opportunities for them to thrive and enjoy life.
Executing innocent people should be an intolerable affront to the dignity of our state.
Act now, for time is of the essence.
Savannah “Sav” Miles is a fifth-generation resident of Gadsden, Alabama, and December 2018 graduate of Harvard College. A current recipient of the Priscilla Chan STRIDE Postgraduate Public Service Fellowship. Sav is now back home in Alabama directing the local Boys and Girls Club and organizing for a Savannah “Sav” Miles more equitable and sustainable community.
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org.