Troy Davis Executed Amid Protests

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Protesters chant at the prison where Troy Davis was executed
Source: Grant Blankenship, New York Times (accessed Sep. 21, 2011)

After 22 years on death row and four stays of execution, Troy Davis was executed by lethal injection and pronounced dead at 11:08 pm EST on Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2011 in a Jackson, Georgia state prison.

Davis was convicted of the Aug. 19, 1989 shooting of Mark MacPhail, a 27-year-old Savannah police officer who was working a second job as a security guard. As many as 700 protestors gathered outside the prison, calling for Georgia officials to halt the execution amid doubts of his guilt.

Davis supporters in Jackson included NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Amnesty International USA Executive Director Larry Cox, and Outkast rapper Big Boi. Cox issued a statement saying, “The state of Georgia has proven that the death penalty is too great a power to give to the government”

The execution of Troy Davis drew worldwide attention after seven of nine key witnesses recanted their testimony. More than 630,000 petitions were delivered to the Georgia Pardons Board and calls for clemency have come from many high-profile figures, including former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 51 members of Congress, Pope Benedict XVI, and entertainment figures like Alec Baldwin and Cee Lo Green. Calls for clemency also came from death penalty supporters such as former FBI Director William S. Sessions and former US House Representative Bob Barr (R-GA).

Some Davis supporters have questioned if race played a role in his case. The ACLU, NAACP, and former US Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) have said in the past that a person’s race affects the likelihood of him/her receiving the death penalty.

Officer Mark MacPhail’s widow Joan MacPhail-Harris responded to the protests by saying, “We have lived this for 22 years. We know what the truth is and for someone to ludicrously say he [Davis] is a victim? We are the victims. Look at us. We have put up with this stuff for 22 years and it’s time for justice today.”

Troy Davis’s final words were, “I am sorry for your loss. I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent.” Addressing those executing him, Davis said, “may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls.”

The same evening, white supremacist Lawrence Brewer was executed in Texas and an Alabama judge signed a death warrant for Derrick O’Neal Mason to be executed on Thursday, Sep. 22, 2011. 34 states currently have the death penalty and 35 inmates have been executed in the US so far this year. In 2010, the US carried out 46 executions.

Sources:

Peggy Gargis, “US Set for Third Execution This Week, in Alabama,” www.reuters.com, Sep. 22, 2011


Richard Fausset, “Georgia Puts Convict to Death Despite Protest,” www.latimes.com, Sep. 21, 2011