Rallies Protest Impending Execution of Troy Davis
Rallies were held around the globe Thursday as part of a final push to save the life of death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis.
An hour north from where Monday's scheduled execution is to occur, roughly 200 protesters - including Davis's mother and sister - gathered at the state Capitol urging Gov. Sonny Perdue to intercede.
"The whole world is watching Georgia," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "Nowhere in the world is there a more serious violation of human rights than what Georgia is about to do to Troy Davis."
Davis, 40, was convicted of the Aug. 19, 1989 murder of 27-year-old Savannah police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.
Since his trial, seven of nine key prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony.
"If it was only one witness, that would be understandable. But seven of nine? That's a different story," said Ytunde Orumgbeni, of Atlanta. Unlike most of the protesters, Orumgbeni said she is not opposed to the death penalty.
"We have to do something," she said. "I feel they're taking an innocent life."
Davis' case has mobilized unprecedented support for groups opposed to capital punishment, said Sara Totonchi, chair of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
"I'm used to being at vigils down at the prison with 10 other people," Totonchi said. "I've never seen a turnout like this in Georgia."
Totonchi's group is holding a mock funeral procession in downtown Atlanta Friday morning and will deliver petitions signed by more than 140,000 people to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Thursday's event was organized by Amensty International, which coordinated similar rallies in 14 other American cities and across much of Europe.
The European Union issued a statement Wednesday opposing Davis' execution, saying there is great risk of miscarriage of justice with irreparable consequences."
Having already pursued a number of unsuccessful state and federal appeals, Davis' lawyers on Wednesday asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay his execution.
Despite long odds, some attending the Capitol protest said they believe Davis will be spared.
"We're going to get justice for Troy Davis," said Darryl Hunt, wrongfully convicted in North Carolina for rape and murder. He spent 19 years behind bars before DNA evidence exonerated him in 2003.
"No matter what happens, Troy Anthony Davis will get justice," said his sister, Martina Correia. As they did throughout Thursday's rally, the crowd responded in unison, "I am Troy Davis.