Troy Davis sat on death row for roughly 20 years. Many people nationwide believed that Troy Davis was innocent. He was executed on Sept. 21.
On Aug. 19, 1989, police officer Mark MacPail was murdered in Savannah, Georgia while trying to defend a man’s life at a Burger King where he was working security.
Seven witnesses testified that they saw Troy Davis kill Officer MacPail. Two others testified that Troy Davis confessed to the murder. The murder weapon was not recovered, but ballistic evidence linked to the bullets recovered at the scene of the shooting of Michael Cooper earlier that night that Davis was also charged for. He was convicted of murder and other charges, and was sentenced to death in August 1991.
Around one million people have signed petitions pushing for the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency. Seven out of the nine witnesses were recanted or changed their testimonies. Some claimed that they were coerced by the police.
Pro Troy Davis groups claim that there was never any physical evidence linking Davis to the crimes. New witnesses have surfaced, bringing to light a new suspect.
“I feel like it’s just another example of how the American justice system is flawed,” said Ryan Kelly, a philosophy major and participant in the Troy Davis rally on Wednesday night.
“And how a lot of the individual courts in a lot of the southern states tend to have a lot of esoteric tendencies and a lot of really draconian policies. I mean if you go into the details of it, it just shows how corrupt the system is. I mean if you can’t find who did the murder, then why not blame it on the black guy? That’s just like the epitome of the flaws in our justice system,” Kelly said.
Execution dates were scheduled for July 2007, September 2008, and October 2008, but were stayed right before it was about to take place. When the word got out that the Troy Davis execution was scheduled for Sept. 21, 2011, protests formed all around the country, including Philadelphia.
Approximately one hundred protesters came together between City Hall and Temple University Center City Campus to raise awareness and possibly prevent the execution of Troy Davis, which at the time was only hours away. Prior to this, there was a rally at the Bell Tower on Main Campus on Sept. 16. One individual involved in the demonstration was sociology professor Sahar Sadeghi, who invited all of her students, though only two showed up.
“I think it got a lot of people angry, and a lot of people saw how unjust the justice system is, and how bad the death penalty is,” said Charles Cannon, Latin American Studies student, protester, and member of Temple Socialists Society.
“I think it went beyond the Troy Davis case, it was just a statement against the death penalty as well,” Cannon said. “We really showed people that for people who don’t come from families with means, people who aren’t of proper color, they don’t tend to be treated well by our justice system. That’s what happened to Troy Davis.”
There was a temporary stay on the execution, but the last minute appeal was denied by the United States Supreme Court and Troy Davis was executed the night of Sept. 21, 2011.
The role that the outcome of this case will play in society is still unknown, and depends on the beliefs of American citizens as to whether or not Troy Davis was or was not guilty. Despite his execution, there are still several different viewpoints present.
Bob Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.