Blog of Rights

Standing in Solidarity with Troy Davis

By James Clark, ACLU of Southern California at 7:00pm

Next week, the state of Georgia plans to execute Troy Davis despite lingering doubts about his guilt. Today is a Global Day of Solidarity when people all over the world stand together to proclaim that there is too much doubt to execute Troy Davis. Davis finds himself facing death for the fourth time on Wednesday, September 21.

But this execution date is different. This time, Troy has no pending appeals and nothing new to file; it's the end of the line. Only five people can stop the execution: the members of the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles. You can still urge them to act.

Yesterday, activists delivered to the Board over 650,000 signatures -- including 40,000 by local Georgians -- from petitions created all over the world, calling on the Board to stop the execution. Add to that more than 200,000 signers from Change.org and thousands of other online action alerts, emails, letters, faxes and phone calls, and nearly one million people have taken a stand for Troy Davis.

One of those million is Bob Barr, the former prosecutor, Georgia Attorney General, and congressional Representative who nicely articulated the Parole Board's dilemma. So is William Sessions, another conservative Georgia native who used to serve as Director of the FBI.

According to these pro-death penalty prosecutors, Troy was required to prove his own innocence — an impossibly high burden. In 2010, the judge acknowledged the presence of doubt in Troy's guilt and called the case "not ironclad," but said this doubt is insufficient to stop the execution — at least for the courts.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles, on the other hand, is not bound by the same legal standard. They exist as a stopgap between legal procedures and exactly this kind of grave injustice. They pledged in 2007 never to allow an execution unless they were "convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused."

Today, all over the world people will be chanting "I Am Troy Davis," the mantra that has run through the heart of the movement to save his life. "I Am Troy Davis" is a statement of solidarity, an affirmation that when one innocent man's life is taken by the state, we are all victims of injustice.

I'll arrive in Atlanta tomorrow to join the activists there doing everything possible to urge the Board of Pardons and Paroles to stop the execution. The clemency hearing is on Monday, and, if they decline to act, the execution is scheduled for Wednesday.

I'll be posting regular blogs, so check back here for my updates from Georgia and follow my live tweets of what's happening at @ACLU.

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Tags: Georgia
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