On Friday, a rally at the Bell Tower sought to raise awareness about the execution of a man who was convicted of murder 20 years ago.
On Friday, Sept. 16, a group of students gathered at the Bell Tower to stand up for the rights of a man convicted of murder and sentenced to death 20 years ago.
The students marched, chanted and signed a petition to garner support against the execution of Troy Davis, who has been on death row since August 1991, when he was convicted of the murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail.
MacPhail was shot and killed when acting as a security guard at a bus station in Savannah, in 1989.
Davis is expected to be executed by lethal injection tomorrow, Sept. 21.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles recently received petitions with 663,000 names urging it to put a stop to the execution, states a report by the International Business Times.
The board released a statement yesterday indicating it would not yet release a decision on whether or not it would grant him clemency.
His conviction was based upon the testimony of nine witnesses, seven of who have since retracted their statements and one who was a suspect for the murder. Many of the original witnesses have since claimed they have been coerced by police.
Davis, now 42, was convicted despite the fact that no physical evidence links him to the crime and no murder weapon was found.
Davis has survived three execution dates thus far, in part due to protests and public pressure. Most recently, he was granted a stay of execution by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 just two hours before his planned execution, according to CNN.
Davis filed for an appeal, which was denied by the Supreme Court in March.
“I think a lot of southern states make this mistake and many black men end up on death row because of it,” Lauren Daniels, a junior public health major, said.
“If we can save one man, we could eventually save more,” Daniels said, adding that sometimes the justice system is not as thorough as it should be.
“I can understand how the death penalty can be racist,” said Xander Fraun, a senior anthropology major. “It wouldn’t be the first time an innocent person is killed by the justice system.”
Diane Isser, a senior political science and sociology major, said that not only is the criminal justice system flawed, but it’s “inherently racist, like a new Jim Crow.”
Isser also said the justice system serves to keep the black community oppressed.
The rally, one of many across the country in recent weeks, lasted two hours and eventually moved to City Hall. Many prominent figures and human rights organizations have spoken out on Davis’ behalf, requesting a new trial for the case.
Kelsey Silvagni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.