Troy Davis Death Penalty Case Inspires Support From Conservatives, Liberals, International Community

Troy Davis Death Penalty Case Inspires Support From Conservatives, Liberals, International Community

The Troy Davis execution case in Georgia has inspired national and international support from the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Pope Benedict because the alleged cop killer’s witnesses have recanted their testimonies and admitted being coerced by the police.

Davis is scheduled to be put to death on Sept. 21 in Georgia after being on death row for 20 years. He is convicted of killing police officer Mark MacPhail.

“This is a case of the utmost importance,” said NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous. “In the absence of any physical evidence, the prosecution put forward nine voices, seven of whom who have recanted their stories.” The NAACP plans rallies and prayer vigils this weekend in Atlanta and Savannah, Ga.

Davis’ case has inspired international support from across the entire sociopolitical spectrum, including from former Georgia Republican Congressman Bobb Barr, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson and more than 50 members of Congress, Harvard professor Charles Ogletree, former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and Pope Benedict XVI.

Jealous told the media that the NAACP will deliver more than 60,000 signatures from an online petition demanding justice for Davis to the board of pardons on Friday, the same day the civil rights organization plans to hold the first of three public prayer vigils for Davis.

Troy Davis Death Penalty Case Inspires Support From Conservatives, Liberals, International Community
Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed in Georgia on Sept. 21

In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court demanded another trial, after seven of the nine original witnesses who testified against Davis recounted their stories. The conviction was upheld last August.

“Troy Davis was put on death row because nine so-called eyewitnesses, seven of those we now know lied, and three of those [who have] said they were coerced by the cops. Others said they were afraid of the actual killer, who many say is a man named Sylvester Cole,” Jealous said.

The main problem with Davis’ conviction in August is that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia placed a nearly impassable barrier in front of Davis by making him prove his innocence instead of making the prosecution prove Davis’ guilt in the retrial.

“The [appeals court] judge said the case against Troy was far from ironclad, but unfortunately, his lawyers did not meet the extreme bar that the court set for him,” Jealous said. “When you start with a presumption of guilt it’s a much higher bar than a presumption of innocence. But if a federal judge says the case against him is not ironclad, that should weigh on the minds of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles [in Georgia]. They said previously they would not execute someone if there is any doubt.”

The NAACP is scheduled to facilitate a prayer service for Davis on Friday at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta at 7 p.m., followed by a unity service in Savannah, GA on Saturday at St. Philips Monumental Church. On Monday morning, the organization will conduct a prayer circle near the site of the clemency hearing, starting at 7:30 a.m.

“This case is getting appropriate attention given the extreme level of injustice,” Jealous said. “We’re just hoping that the board of pardons will do the right thing.” –terry shropshire

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