Home / Fall 2011 / VSU NAACP attempt to save a death row prisoner

VSU NAACP attempt to save a death row prisoner

The VSU NAACP is contributing to world-wide efforts to have the death sentence of prisoner Troy Davis from Savannah lifted. Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection for allegedly murdering a police officer.

Although Davis is scheduled to die on Sept. 21, the VSU NAACP along with other people across the world, are arguing that there is not enough evidence in this case to warrant ending Davis’s life.

Wednesday, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous spoke out about the organization’s case on behalf of Troy Davis.

“This is a case of the utmost importance,” Jealous said on a call with reporters.

“This case had lingered on Georgia death row for more than two decades because the case against Troy stinks.”

Georgia courts have refused to consider new evidence that many believe would free Davis.

“It has to be beyond a reasonable doubt,” Chaz Garvin, VSU NAACP treasurer said.

“We have taken this as a national agenda. We feel like his civil rights have been violated because there is too much doubt.”

Members of the VSU NAACP have organized efforts to raise awareness of the case on campus, hoping that people will sign a petition for Davis’s pardon. Several members handed out flyers on Tuesday with information about how to sign the petition or read about the case online.

There will also be a meeting tonight at 7 p.m. in the Student Union to further inform people on the case.

The murder of police officer Mark MacPhail on Aug.19, 1989, happened outside of a Burger King in Savannah, where he was shot twice in an attempt to protect a homeless person from an attacker.

Nine people later identified the attacker as Davis.

One strong piece of evidence supporting Davis’s case is that seven of the original nine witnesses recanted their testimony during a hearing at a federal district court in Savannah in the summer of 2010.

One of the two witnesses who did not recant was another suspect in the case, Sylvester “Redd” Coles. There was also no DNA to support the case against Davis, and no fingerprints found linking him to the crime.

“He’s innocent,” Dealdrick Long, the VSU NAACP president of publicity appointee, said. “No person has any say so in who lives and who dies. This is basically a grave injustice of making an innocent man die.”

The family of MacPhail and the original prosecutors in the case do not share the views of those trying to gain a pardon for Davis.

The son of MacPhail has spoken out in the media about his hopes that Davis will finally pay for the crime, after having had three delays in his execution already.

“I can’t imagine how the family must feel about losing a loved one,” Ryan Brown, the Political Action Committee Chairman of the VSU NAACP, said.

“However, every person has their own opinion about the case.”

“I feel that if there’s no burden of proof, and there are not any witness, then there is not enough reason to give this man a death sentence,” Courtney Sumpter, the education assistant for the VSU NAACP, said.

Many public figures have signed the petition in support of Davis’s pardon, including former president Jimmy Carter, former FBI head William Sessions and Pope Benedict XVI. Amnesty International has encouraged people to sign the petition.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles set a hearing for Davis’s bid for clemency for Sept. 19, which may be his last chance to save his life before his scheduled execution on Sept. 21.

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