Ga. cop killer's execution imminent
Lethal injection scheduled for Tuesday; 7 witnesses have recanted in murder case
This undated photo released by the Georgia Department of Corrections shows death-row inmate Troy Davis. More than 17 years after Davis was convicted of gunning down a Savannah, Ga. police officer, supporters say disturbing questions remain about his guilt. Still, unless the courts intervene, Davis is facing execution Tuesday night, September 23. (AP Photo/Georgia Department of Corrections)
The Associated Press
ATLANTA, Ga. — More than 250 anti-death penalty protesters marched Thursday in downtown Atlanta to call for a new hearing for Troy Anthony Davis, who is condemned to die tomorrow for the murder of a Savannah police officer 19 years ago. The group also held a prayer vigil at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
In addition, one protestor has taken up a vigil in a chair at Marietta and Fairlie streets to fast and protest the planned execution.
Steve Woodall said he will remain at the chair until Davis is pardoned, his sentence is commuted, or until Tuesday, when Davis is due to be killed.
“I’m not just protesting the death penalty, I’m protesting because he’s an innocent man,” Woodall said, wearing a blue and white T-shirt that reads “I am Troy Davis.”
On Thursday night, demonstrators carried signs proclaiming “Innocence Matters” as they walked 12 blocks from Woodruff Park in the heart of downtown Atlanta to new Ebenezer Baptist Church.
The church is across Auburn Avenue from the historic sanctuary where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached. Ebenezer’s pastor, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, said it was appropriate the march should end there because King opposed the death penalty.
“This is the house of God, but it is also the house of a great servant of God whose voice echoes from the crypt,” Warnock said to the crowd, swollen to about 350 by the time they assembled in the church.
Supporters of Davis, who is scheduled for lethal injection Tuesday, say he should get a new trial because several witnesses who testified against him recanted or contradicted their statements. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Davis clemency last Friday but did not give a reason.
“We’re quite shocked that the board turned him down,” said Peggy Hendrix, an anti-death penalty activist from Atlanta who took part in the march organized by Amnesty International and the NAACP. “We’re trying to get them to reconsider.”
The case has taken on racial overtones because Davis is black. The slain officer, Mark McPhail, was white.
Edward Lee, an Asian-American marcher, said it was a matter of social justice.
“Any of us could be in the same situation, with the wrong skin color or whatever,” Lee said.
Eleanor Hunter of Atlanta noted that the United States is one of the few nations with capital punishment.
“We should be following the universal human rights proscribed by the United Nations,” Hunter said. “That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be punished, but each of us has the right to live.”
The Rev. Timothy McDonald, who spoke at the park to begin the march, noted that all types of people were present, “old, young, Asian, black and white.”
“This is what justice looks like,” McDonald proclaimed as he exhorted the throng to chant “justice matters” and “innocence matters” along the way.
At the church, Davis’ older sister, Martina Davis Correia, said she was gratified by the turnout.
“Everyone is here,” Correia told a reporter. “No matter what happens on the 23rd we win. People are getting involved. They’re not standing for executing people for no reason.”
She said she would not give up even if her brother is put to death on Tuesday. Rejection of his appeals so far has been on procedural grounds, she said.
“I’m taking this fight to the White House,” Correia said. “This is about a system of injustice that we have to expose.”