Posted September 21, 2011
Hundreds of people gathered on short notice beneath the gold dome of the Georgia capitol in the final hours before Troy Davis was executed. Davis was killed on September 21 at 11:08 PM, charged with killing a Savannah police officer twenty years ago. His case was a symbol of the inherent injustice of the death penalty and galvanized the outrage of thousands. Read more here and here.
Although Davis has been killed, the movement continues. Check Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Amnesty International, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the NAACP for information about future actions.
The capitol grounds are decorated with monuments to the state’s racist legacy. Behind this person is a statue of Richard Russell, a white supremacist Governor and US Senator from Georgia, who led congressional opposition to Civil Rights legislation for decades.
The demonstration lined the streets as and filled the air with the sound of chanting and drumming.
Organizing groups included Amnesty International, Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the NAACP, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, FTP Movement, and others.
Tonight’s rally and vigil followed almost daily actions since a death warrant was issued for Davis on September 7. Activists collected petitions (and dramatically delivered 660,000 to the Georgia Board of Pardons a week ago), organized buses from around the state to a mass march last Friday, and held a 24-hour rally on the weekend.
The night of Troy Davis’ murder, Georgians held vigils in at least 11 cities across the state.
The slogan “I AM TROY DAVIS” spread around the world, reflecting the deep personal impact that the case had on thousands of people. In the words of his sister Martina Correia, “Troy Davis has impacted the world. They say, `I am Troy Davis,’ in languages he can’t speak.”
Many protesters connected Troy Davis’ case to the long history of mass incarceration of people of color, particularly political prisoners and exiles like Mumia Abu-Jamal and Assata Shakur. Though Troy Davis was not a political prisoner, his steadfastness and courage in the face of such an inhumane system inspired many thousands to political action.
Martina Correia, Troy’s sister, had been a tireless advocate for her brother’s cause long before it became an international sensation.
Many student demonstrators have lived their entire lives during Troy Davis’ twenty years on death row.
Throughout its history, the death penalty has been disproportionately used against men of color–recalling the history of lynch mob terror that enforced social and political inequality in the Jim Crow South.
Musicians and other artists have lent their talents in the campaign to exonerate Troy Davis.
Some stayed at the capitol late into the night, sharing updates from their phones about the Supreme Court stay and news from friends in Jackson, Georgia.