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L.A. Activists Protest And Pray For Troy Davis

Aaron Schrank |
September 21, 2011 | 2:26 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Photo by Aaron Schrank
Photo by Aaron Schrank
Los Angeles civil rights organizations rallied today in Leimert Park to protest the scheduled execution of Troy Davis, set for 4 p.m. PDT today, calling for an emergency stay of execution to review the evidence in his case. 

The gathering—part rally, part vigil—is one of many events worldwide today in a campaign to spare the death row inmate’s life that has garnered support from hundreds of thousands, including Jimmy CarterPope Benedict XVI and, particularly in recent hours, social media users.

South Los Angeles community activists said that Davis’ execution under the current circumstances would be a barbaric violation of human rights. 

“If he’s executed, it’ll be a tremendous setback for human rights,” said Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic HOPE. “As American citizens, if we kill Troy Davis today, a piece of all of us dies today.”

Davis, convicted of killing an off-duty police officer in 1989, was denied a last-ditch appeal for clemency by a Georgia parole board Tuesday, losing his last realistic attempt at avoiding death by lethal injection. 

Public outcry stems from post-trial revelations that raise questions about Davis’ guilt. There was no physical evidence, such as DNA or a murder weapon, linking him to the crime. Since the trial, seven of nine main prosecution witnesses have recanted their original testimony and new testimony suggested another man was guilty of the crime.

This morning, prison officials denied Davis’ request to take a polygraph test before his scheduled execution.  As his execution nears, Los Angeles supporters remain prayerful, holding signs that read, “I am Troy Davis” and “Stop the execution, vowing to support Davis on the streets today until 4 p.m.”

“We’ll be here all day,” said Ali. “We want Atlanta to know that Los Angeles is with them.”

Davis and his lawyers have had several chances to prove his innocence and prevent his execution, but state and federal courts upheld Davis’ conviction. While supporters hope for a last-minute legal maneuver to save Davis’ life, legal experts say Davis is out of options.

Prosecutors and the murdered officer’s family members say they have no question about Davis’ guilt and have been working to execute Davis for years.  

The debate surrounding Davis’ case is part of a larger conversation in the country about the morality of the death penalty. Community activists in Los Angeles spoke out against the death penalty and the politicians that support it.

“We cannot kill people to teach other people that it is wrong to kill,” Ali said. “The death penalty is wrong, it is racist, and it disproportionately affects people of color." 

Steve Willis read the names of men who’ve sat on death row and later been found innocent, including several who’d been executed.

“They’re as dead as King Tut, and we have blood on our hands, as Americans,” Willis said. “Governor Perry that’s running for President now has killed people and there’s nothing he can do to bring them back.”

Those who support Davis today do not declare his innocence, but protest the lack of certainty in his case.

“I don’t know whether or not this man is guilty of murder, but I do know that there is too much doubt,” Ali said. “Seven of nine witnesses recanted, that’s enough for me to ask for a stay of execution.”



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