About Laura Moye

Laura Moye is the Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director at Amnesty International USA. She has been an active voice for human rights and abolition of the death penalty since her days as a student activist. In 2009, Moye moved from AIUSA's Southern Regional Office, where she had served for 11 years. Her focus there was on building the human rights activist base in the South. She has organized scores of conferences and trainings and provided support to AI chapters and volunteer leaders and social justice coalitions in their human rights work. As part of her anti-death penalty work, Moye has worked on state legislative and clemency campaigns, including a campaign for a moratorium and study of Georgia's death penalty and to stop the execution of death row prisoner Troy Davis.
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6 Things You Can Do To Keep Troy Davis’ Legacy Alive

troy davis

At 11:08 pm, at the exact minute that Troy Davis died, Troy’s sister Martina Correia looks toward the prison while Amnesty’s Laura Moye collects the contact info of a young student who wants to get more involved. © Scott Langley

On this day one year ago, Georgia killed Troy Davis.  Join with us today to remember Troy Davis and how he and his story impacted you.  Scroll down to the comments section and share your experience.

At dinner yesterday, a friend from the NAACP passionately recounted to me and Kim Davis how she felt on September 21, 2011.  I thought about the power of collective memory and the enormous well of energy it represents.  The execution of Troy Davis was deeply personal to countless people.  Whether they were outside death row in Georgia, at the Supreme Court in Washington, marching in Harlem, gathered outside the US embassy in London or glued to the media coverage, countless people have recounted to me where they were and what they felt that night.

From the prison grounds in Jackson, Georgia, where I was that night, I remember various feelings including adrenal rushes and fatigue from our tireless campaign to prevent what was about to happen.  I also remember my anger.  How could this state that I had lived in for 16 years see neither a moral nor pragmatic reason to take death off the table for Troy?


What If Troy Davis Was Innocent?

Protest execution Troy Davis

Troy Davis was executed by the State of Georgia in 2011 despite a strong case for innocence. © Scott Langley

If Troy Davis was innocent, the justice system failed and made murderers of us all. The state of Georgia ended Troy Davis’ life on behalf of its citizens and the federal courts, on behalf of all U.S. citizens, allowed it to happen.

Of course, murder is an unlawful homicide and execution is a lawful homicide.  So, technically speaking, we are not murderers because it is lawful in the United States to execute the innocent.  In Herrera v. Collins, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to rule that it would be unconstitutional for an innocent person to be executed as long as he or she had access to the judicial process.  Legal nonsense aside, Troy Davis’ blood is on all of our hands.

It is no wonder that a million signatures were amassed on petitions calling on Georgia to halt Troy Davis’ execution and that the media was all over the story.  Nobody wanted to have to answer the question, “Was Troy Davis innocent?” after the fact.  You didn’t have to be on the ground, like I was, outside the prison or at any of the number of demonstrations around the world the night of Troy Davis’ execution, to feel the palpable shockwave of disbelief.


Determining Life or Death: Day One of the Reggie Clemons Hearing

reggie clemons hearing

Reggie Clemons at day one of the trial that will determine if he lives or dies. © Scott Langley

Day one of the Reggie Clemons hearing concluded in St Louis, Missouri yesterday.  I left with its intensity lingering in my bones.  Directly in front of me was the man himself, Reggie Clemons, sitting quietly in a suit provided to him less than an hour before the hearing was to begin.  His alert eyes followed the proceedings that will have a bearing on whether he will live or die.  To my right was Rev. Thomas, his father.  In front of him was the victims’ mother, Mrs. Kerry.  Both sat silently.  I guessed that they had a mixture of numbness and pain in the face of a 21-year legal process set in motion by the terrible events of a dark night in 1991.

Behind me was an audibly frustrated woman, who I learned was the grandmother of one of the other two African American men who, with Reggie, was sent to death row.  (His sentence has since been changed to life).  Filling in the remaining stretches of pew space in the small courthouse were mostly Reggie supporters and some journalists.


The Death Warrant

It was drizzly outside when I looked down at my Blackberry, making my usual obsessive check for new emails.  I’d left the office and saw in my inbox, “Troy Davis Warrant” in the subject line.  One of Troy’s lawyers had sent me the order signed by a Chatham County judge.  I swallowed hard.

We will never forget Troy Davis, we will not let the world forget him and we won’t let those in power off the hook.

The attached PDF was the trigger we had been waiting for with dread to kick off what would become our final appeal to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles for clemency.  Within an hour, we released a press statement and communicated with the many supporters who had joined the snowballing movement for Troy Davis over the past four years.  We asked people to organize events around the world, observing a “Global Day of Solidarity” for Troy.  We rolled out a twitter campaign proclaiming that there was #TooMuchDoubt to execute, and we started organizing a major march through downtown Atlanta.

Every week in the United States, execution warrants are signed.  Each one, a short and stiff legal document, creates a wave of terror.  An execution warrant instructs public servants to kill a human being.  It informs the prisoner of the time and date on which he or she will be killed.  It lets the prisoner’s family know when they must prepare for the calculated death of someone they love.  It promises the murder victims’ families the intangible sense of closure, but re-exposes them to the difficult spotlight of media attention on the worst moment in their lives and represents yet another step in the grueling process of the death penalty.


Paying Respect to the Kerry Sisters

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge

I have never been numb to the loss of human life in murder cases, though my work to end the death penalty has meant that I have spent most of my time trying to prevent the executions of those who are convicted of murder.  The story of the 1991 “Chain of Rocks Murder Case,” as it is known in St. Louis, is especially poignant to me not just because I am working to stop the execution of Reggie Clemons—a man convicted as an accomplice to the murders and given the death penalty—but because I also have much in common with the two young women who perished.

I am not a family member of a murder victim, and I have no real connection to Julie and Robin Kerry, the women who died twenty-one years ago.  So I am grateful to Jeanine Cummins, one of their cousins, for having written about Julie and Robin Kerry, and the terrible journey their family experienced.  Her writing has helped me build a larger picture of the meaning of this case and the people it has impacted. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Visiting Reggie Clemons on Missouri's Death Row

Reggie Clemons, U.S. Death Penalty, death row, capital punishment, death penalty abolition

Vera Clemons, Reggie Clemons' mother, and AI activist Meredith outside of Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri

On a recent Friday morning, I paid a visit to Reggie Clemons. I wanted to learn who this convicted accomplice to a double murder, condemned prisoner and human being is. I made the journey to Potosi Correctional Center with Vera, Reggie’s mother, and Meredith, a St. Louis Amnesty leader.

Outside a large concrete fortress in the middle of nowhere, prison workers stood taking a smoke break as we pulled into the parking lot. Walking toward the entrance, we passed the beginning of a long fence with endless loops of razor wire from the ground up, electrified for good measure. I stopped at the electrocution warning sign on the fence and took some moments to prepare myself for the intense, regimented environment of every death row.


The Death Penalty: What Would Dr. King Do?

martin luther king death penalty quoteDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be eighty-two years old this year had he not been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in the middle of a campaign for the human rights of sanitation workers.

Volumes have been written about his powerful life and legacy.  Innumerable awards and tributes have been paid to this giant for justice.  Many often imagine how much more he would have accomplished had he not been killed at such a young age.

I have no doubt that Dr. King, if he were alive today, would be an outspoken critic of the U.S. criminal justice system and a bold and authoritative voice for an end to the death penalty (below are ways you can act to end the death penalty too).

When Dr. King was alive, he addressed the issue directly:

Giving Thanks for a Sister and Prophet: Martina Davis Correia

Martina Davis Correia

Martina Davis Correia

Our friend and fellow warrior for human rights, Martina Davis Correia, has passed on.  She stopped breathing at about 6:28pm on December 1st in Savannah, Georgia while I stood near her hospital bed along with family and friends.  She passed in peace, though she endured a painful struggle following the failure of a liver that had taken a severe beating in the course of a decade’s worth of cancer treatments.


Troy Davis: Celebration of Life

I Am Troy DavisTomorrow is the Day of Remembrance for Troy Davis. Amnesty staff and volunteers will be present at his funeral to represent you and our executive direct Larry Cox will be speaking on our behalf.

Many of you have spent countless hours collecting signatures on petitions, organizing educational events, telling everyone you know about this remarkable case. And because of it, people are thinking about the death penalty differently. They are coming to understand the reality of this callous system that creates more victims and solves no problems.


Day of Remembrance: Troy Davis Lives

The state of Georgia shocked the world when it took Troy Davis’ life last Wednesday. But in the wake of that outrage, the movement to end the death penalty has only grown in numbers and energy.

We have heard innumerable stories of consciousness raising and transformation. People did not go home from the various protests despondent. Like us, they have committed to not forgetting what happened and are emboldened, redoubling efforts to end the callous system that has demonstrated it has no business taking human life.

On Saturday, October 1, join us for a Day of Remembrance.