Troy Davis' Supporters Call for Justice for All

On Tuesday, on the eve of the hearing that is currently giving Troy Davis a chance to present evidence pointing to his innocence, about a hundred and twenty activists and supporters gathered at the New Life Apostolic Temple in Savannah for a community mass meeting. Member of Amnesty International USA from as far as Seattle and New York gathered with Troy’s family and the Savannah community to pray for justice and all those who suffer from the failures of the criminal justice system and the horror of the death penalty.

I was honored to share the podium with my colleagues Amnesty International UK and France, representatives of the NAACP, several death row exonerees, and Martina Correia, Troy’s sister and long-time Amnesty activist. Speaking to a crowd where many were wearing t-shirts printed with the words “I am Troy Davis”, Martina relayed a message from her brother who called her earlier yesterday and expressed gratitude for his supporters’ solidarity. It was moving to see her speak powerfully and optimistically of the faith and determination that is at the heart of the struggle for human rights.

What struck me most was the evening broke down the false division between those who seek to end the suffering of the Davis family and those who wish to honor the family of Marc MacPhail, the brave police officer who was murdered in 1989. Those who gathered prayed for all victims of terrible crimes as well as for a justice system that truly honors and comforts those who have lost loved ones to violence. This can never be achieved by yet another killing, especially of someone who has such compelling claims of innocence. I was reminded why this fight is so important, not only for Troy and his family, but for all of us and for “the soul of our country,” as one speaker put it.

In his remarks, the Reverend Raphael Warnock, Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church (once led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), summed up the struggle in Dr. King’s famous words that

“the arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Yesterday this fight continued in yet another critical stage at the federal district court in Savannah. But no matter what happens, it is a fight that will never end until we arrive at where the arc of the universe seeks to take us.

To all the activists around the world who took action on Tuesday, thank you for standing in solidarity with Troy and calling for justice.

Larry Cox is the Executive Director of  Amnesty International USA.

Rally Echoes Congolese Plea for Help

Amnesty International activists urge the US government to support the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC. White House, November 23 (c) Msia Clark

Amnesty International activists urge the US government to support the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC. White House, November 23 (c) Msia Clark

Rallying in front of the White House on November 23, I joined over 100 activists in expressing our concern for Congolese civilians, as armed groups turn their homes into a battlefield. Three messages continue to stand out in my mind: Protect the People! Stop Violence against Women! and No Child Soldiers!

Amnesty International USA organized this event in response to the humanitarian and human rights emergency in the Democratic Republic of Congo, calling on the United States to follow through with their support of a new UN Security Council Resolution  by delivering the needed troops and equipment. The resolution passed unanimously, showing all nations understand how crucial the success of the UN peacekeeping mission is to bringing the killings, rape and abduction of children to a halt.  Now, these countries must follow through with their commitment by providing troops and equipment.

Days before the resolution, 44 Congolese NGOs wrote a letter requesting the UN Security Council and international leaders immediately supply troop reinforcements. The message that was consistent throughout their letter was that words of concern are not enough. They exclaimed, “Diplomacy always takes time, and we understand this, but unfortunately we do not have time. The population of North Kivu is at risk now; with each day that passes, more and more people die”.

The desperation is clear on the faces captured in the photos taken by reporters in the crisis region. If the troops are not on the ground and properly equipped, the UN’s resolution will be meaningless.