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.