Posted September 23, 2008
Call and response chants of “I am: Troy Davis! We are: Troy Davis” and “Innocence: Matters! Justice: Matters!” echoed through the streets of downtown Atlanta last Thursday, a week after the state of Georgia denied clemency for Troy Davis. A multiracial crowd of over three hundred demonstrators were mobilized by several organizations – chiefly Amnesty International, which has helped rally global awareness about the Davis case. Just one week before, a crowd that I’m told was twice as large (I was out of the state) gathered at the state Capitol to assert his innocence.
Despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence, Troy Davis has been on Death Row for nearly twenty years. In 1991 he was charged with the murder of Mark McPhail, a white Savannah police officer, in 1989. The single thread of truth in Davis’ sentencing was his (admitted) presence at the fast food restaurant where McPhail was killed. In a chilling reminder that Jim Crow justice lives on, the prosecution was marked by speedy accusations intimidation of witnesses by police and prosecutors. Seven of nine key witnesses have taken back their testimony, citing intimidation. One of the other two pieces of testimony does not even match Troy Davis (the killer was left-handed, Troy favors his right hand) – and the other comes from a Sylvester Coles, who was himself a suspect in the killing prior to his testimony.
Last July, Davis was saved from execution hours before the state was scheduled to murder him. Activists hoped that the righteousness of Davis’ case and broad support (not just from below, but also ruling class figures like the Pope, ‘Peanut President’ Jimmy Carter – and, according to Davis’ sister, a personal phone call from right-wing French President Nicolas Sarkozy) can once again intervene to preserve the life of this innocent man. There is a demonstration scheduled for tonight. Hopefully, it will be a celebration that his 7pm execution has been halted. It may be a solemn vigil commemorating the 43rd human being killed by the state of Georgia since 1977.
If you are in Atlanta, show up at the State Capitol tonight at 6pm. In other parts of the US (or world?) check the web for demonstrations in your area. Abolish the death penalty!
Photos and video from the September 18 march