Troy Davis was executed by the state of Georgia last night at 11:08 PM, despite a worldwide movement over 1 million strong that drew attention to the glaring doubts of his guilt. With no physical evidence and a host of witness recantations, all indications are that the state of Georgia killed an innocent man.
Outside the death row facility in Jackson, Georgia, I joined Troy's friends, family, and supporters in vigil. About 200 people arrived early enough to be allowed on the prison grounds in the highly controlled roped-off area reserved for execution opponents. Hundreds, maybe thousands more people were looking on from across the street. After visiting with Troy for the final time, his family attended a service at the Towaliga County Line Baptist Church across the street before joining the protestors on the prison grounds.
Throughout the day of Troy's execution, periods of high energy and excitement alternated with long stretches of waiting. Prayer was continuous, as various clergy and other people of faith struggled with the difficulty of waiting for an execution while hoping for a reprieve. With each successive denial of Troy's final last-ditch appeal from the Superior Court and the Georgia Supreme Court, the mood grew somber and fearful.
At around 7 p.m., the crowd latched onto what turned out to be a false report of a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. The entire crowd suddenly burst with joy and celebration. People jumped in the air and fell on their knees and prayed and hugged one another. Others had confused looks, made confirmation phone calls, and had to explain that this was not a stay of execution. The Court reviewed the appeal but took no action, delaying the execution for only a few hours. The Court finally did deny the appeal after 10:00 p.m. About an hour later, Troy Davis was dead.
Amidst so much doubt, there is only one certainty: the world is watching.
The Twitter hashtags #TooMuchDoubt and #TroyDavis have exploded as people around the world watched Georgia take the life of an innocent man. Protests were sparked around the country and the world, including an impromptu protest of hundreds at the United States Supreme Court while the Court deliberated Troy's appeal. Over 1 million people signed petitions for Troy before he was executed, and millions more watched in shock as the travesty of justice unfolded.
We must ensure that Troy Davis did not die for nothing. Millions of people have now seen the danger, dysfunction, and catastrophic injustice of America's death penalty.
I tweeted what I saw and experienced in Atlanta and Jackson from @ACLU and my main point was this: The only way to avoid executing the in nocent is end the #deathpenalty. #TroyDavis.
That clear statement of fact was retweeted more than one hundred times. And the hashtag "#RIPTroyDavis" is trending not just in Atlanta, but worldwide. So while the movement to save Troy's life ended late last night, the movement to end the death penalty is stronger than ever. We must turn our anger and anguish into action.
As the ACLU's Tanya Greene wrote this morning in the wake of Davis's execution, "We must continue to fight a system that disrespects people so viciously and so finally, all the while claiming fair proceedings in the name of justice…Until we win, I, too, am Troy Davis."