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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 73/No. 21      June 1, 2009


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(lead article)
Free Troy Davis!
Stop the execution!
Worldwide actions protest frame-up
Militant/Eddie Beck
Kimberly Davis leads chant at May 19 rally at Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta demanding freedom for her brother, Troy Davis, who was framed up and sentenced to death in 1991 in killing of Savannah, Georgia, cop. U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide if it will hear his appeal.

ATLANTA, May 19—Spearheading a global day of action to stop the execution of Troy Davis, nearly 500 rallied in a spirited protest today outside the Georgia State Capitol.

Amnesty International USA Southern Regional Director Jared Feuer reported that actions took place in 28 countries.

Davis, who is Black, was arrested in 1989 and convicted in 1991 for the killing of Mark MacPhail, a white police officer in Savannah, Georgia. Rallies, protests, and an international campaign on his behalf have resulted in Davis’s three previous execution dates being postponed.

On April 16 the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal for a new trial. Davis’s attorneys are asking Chatham County’s district attorney to hold off issuing a death warrant in order to allow Davis to exhaust an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Martina Correia, a sister of Davis and a leader of the defense campaign, urged his supporters to continue the fight. “The Troy Davis case opens a window into the ‘old’ South,” she said in thanking those in attendance. “We’re not weak, we’re not silent! Keep standing, talking, fighting!”

Troy Davis called in by phone to thank his supporters and to urge them to keep up the fight.

The size and prominent participants in the rally reflected the growing support for Davis’s fight. The rally was chaired by Lorraine Jacques White, a popular local radio host. Rev. Charles White, national field director of the NAACP, and Edward Dubose, Georgia State NAACP Conference president, were among the speakers.

Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, spoke, demanding that Georgia governor Sonny Perdue use his influence to stop the injustice against Davis.

Sara Totonchi, chair of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, pointed out that of the 100 people on death row in Georgia, 7 have been exonerated based on faulty eyewitness testimony.

Seven of the nine prosecution witnesses who claimed to have seen Davis shoot MacPhail have since recanted or contradicted their stories, with several saying they were pressured by the cops to finger Davis. No weapon was found nor any physical evidence produced connecting Davis to the shooting.

Juan Melendez, originally from Puerto Rico, spent 18 years on Florida’s death row before being exonerated. “An innocent man can never be released from the grave,” Melendez said, speaking at the rally. He urged that Troy Davis be given the opportunity to prove his innocence.

People of all ages participated in the rally. GSU sophomore Bethany Wright said she was “appalled by the appeals court denial of Davis’s right to fight for his life.”

Kimberly Hicks said she joined in the rally to support Davis because of “the inept representation at his trial and new information that might exonerate him. I think that the state has an obligation to hear new evidence. If they’re not willing to do that, who’s next?”

Others participating in the rally program included Georgia state senators Vincent Fort and Nan Orrock.

Rachele Fruit contributed to this article.


NEW YORK—More than 300 people rallied in Union Square May 19 to demand freedom for Troy Davis. “We’re here to say we’re going to fight to save his life,” Thenjiwe McHarris, an organizer for Amnesty International, told the crowd.

Lawrence Hayes, a former death row prisoner who was paroled in 1991, demanded that Davis be “granted clemency or given a pardon.”

There were also speakers from the NAACP, National Conference of Black Lawyers, National Lawyers Guild, and National Action Network.

Yusef Salaam, falsely convicted of rape in the 1989 Central Park jogger case when he was a teenager, spoke, demanding Davis be freed. The convictions of Salaam and four others were overturned in 2002.

Eunice Kim, a 16-year-old high school student from Long Island, came to the rally with a classmate. “This case is not just about Troy Davis, it’s about human rights,” she said. “Our own rights are only guaranteed when everyone’s rights are guaranteed.”

“There’s a lot of e-mail campaigns for Troy going on and that’s OK,” she said. “But what’s really important is to come out and protest with other people.”

Zack Moh, 18, a student at LaGuardia College, learned about Troy Davis for the first time at the rally. “I’ve never been a big fan of the police,” Moh said, “and then to hear how the witnesses were pressured by the cops to testify against Troy Davis, that’s crazy. His case deserves to be heard by the Supreme Court.”


WASHINGTON—“At our founding 100 years ago, the NAACP began in the struggle against legal lynching, where a Black man could be taken out of his jail cell, hung from a tree, and people would stand around and take pictures with his body,” Hilary Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau director, told a spirited rally of more than 100 here.

“Today, a young man faces the same situation, and there are others on death row like him. That’s why we must commit to the fight to end the death penalty,” Shelton said.

Students from area campuses, political activists, and others filled the meeting room at the All Souls Unitarian Church. Other speakers included exonerated death row prisoner Shujaa Graham, U.S. representative Hank Johnson of Georgia, and Amnesty International executive director Larry Cox.

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