Four words became the rally cry for a worldwide movement to free Troy Anthony Davis. Today those same four words, “I am Troy Davis” took on new life at Davis’ funeral in Savannah, Georgia.
Many may have thought a 20 year battle to clear Davis name in the 1989 murder of Savannah Police Officer Mark MacPhail ended with Davis execution on September 21, but Davis supporters warn anyone quick to draw that conclusion. “After we grieve…after we shout…we need to move to action,” said Edward DuBose, Regional President of The NAACP.
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Move to action according to DuBose means to not forget all the men and women sitting on death row who are innocent. He added now is the time to put the right men and women into elected office. Other friends and advocates pointed out that each of the four times that Davis faced execution he maintained his innocence. Davis’ last words on the night he died were that he was sorry for the family of police officer Mark MacPhail but that he was innocent.
“We’re going to keep on fighting until his name is finally cleared and Georgia admits what it has done,” said NAACP National President Benjamin Jealous. “We’re going to keep on fighting until the death penalty is abolished and this can never be done to anyone else.”
Human rights activists say Troy Davis’ death is a spring board of sorts to open the eyes of people who may not have considered the cracks in the justice system. Activists Dick Gregory is urging supporters to join him in a fast to end the death penalty. He says from midnight until next September he will undergo his own fast, but wants others to pray at noon every day until the death penalty is abolished.
“Many have spoken of Troy Davis as a symbol. He wasn’t a symbol. He was the soul of something more profound,” said Attorney Jason Ewart. “How many more Troy Davis’ are there sitting on death row today, he also added. Ewart was one of Davis’ attorneys and called the execution “the most unjust execution of mankind”
The MacPhail family, on the other hand ,said last week justice was served. They say they lived in agony as legal proceedings dragged over the years. MacPhail was shot on August 19, 1989, only a few miles from the church were Davis funeral was held. Since his 1991 conviction, Davis, his family and supporters fought for clemency and said there was too much doubt in the case since several witnesses say they were coerced to implicate Davis.
“There is no doubt in mind (that) Georgia, the state that I love murdered an innocent man,” said DuBose.
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Despite strong feelings Dubose and others were quick to say that now is not the time to point fingers. They say they want Davis to be remembered as a man that fought for his innocence, loved his fellow man and realized the answer to the world’s problems lies within our youth.”People tell me you are a little version of your uncle. I say yes I am because he taught me everything I know,” said Davis’ nephew De’Jaun Davis-Correia
The funeral was open to the public, but only the family was allowed at the gravesite.
However, moments before the sanctuary cleared a final recorded message from Troy Davis was played: “Everything we do today will clear the way for a better tomorrow,” Davis said. “We can correct all the wrongs if we band together. Don’t give up the fight.”