Wednesday, September 21, 2011
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis has sparked protests worldwide from Savannah, where Davis was convicted of killing an off-duty police officer 20 years ago, to one planned in Paris.
After four years of legal battles, Wednesday appeared to be the last chance for his supporters and anti-death penalty advocates to rally in an effort to spare his life.
“We’re trying everything we can do, everything under the law,” said Chester Dunham, a Savannah civil rights activist and talk show host.
Davis, 42, was to die by lethal injection for the 1989 slaying of Mark MacPhail, a Savannah officer killed while working off-duty as a security guard. MacPhail was rushing to help a homeless man being attacked when he was shot twice.
Davis has insisted he’s innocent and his pending execution has been stopped three times since 2007. In the process, he’s gained thousands of supporters worldwide.
In Savannah, Dunham was among 16 Davis supporters who gathered outside the Chatham County courthouse Wednesday morning to press District Attorney Larry Chisolm to stop the execution. They delivered three boxes of petitions to the prosecutor’s office, saying they had 240,000 signatures supporting clemency for Davis.
Chisolm has said he’s powerless to override an execution order for Davis signed by a state Superior Court judge. But activists are still pressuring him, insisting he has enough influence to sway Georgia officials to back down from executing Davis.
In Jackson, home to the prison housing Georgia’s death row, the Rev. Al Sharpton planned to lead a prayer rally Wednesday afternoon.
After that, prison officials planned to allow a small group of demonstrators to gather inside the prison’s perimeter fence, just outside the walls, before the scheduled execution at 7 p.m. Eastern. A large crowd was expected to also gather outside.
In Europe, where plans to execute Davis have drawn widespread criticism, lawmakers and activists were making a last-minute appeal to Georgia officials to spare the inmate. Amnesty International and other groups planned a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Paris later Wednesday.
Renate Wohlwend of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly noted doubts raised about Davis’ conviction. She said that “to carry out this irrevocable act now would be a terrible mistake which could lead to a tragic injustice.”