On Tuesday evening, the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, and the GU College Democrats presented “I am Troy Davis: The Execution of Troy Davis and the Death Penalty” to a full house in Copley Formal Lounge. Featured speakers included Davis’s sister Kimberly Davis, cofounder of the Campaign to end the Death Penalty and death row exoneree Lawrence Hayes, author, activist, an filmmaker Jen Marlowe, and director of Amnesty International’s US Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Laura Moye.
Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to death in 1991 for the 1989 murder of a man in Georgia. Since his trial, all but two of the 34 witnesses who testified against him have recanted their testimonies. Davis was scheduled for execution three times, but due to too much doubt surrounding his guilt they were delayed up to his final execution on September 21, 2011. His trial and death sparked sadness, outrage, and demonstrations around the world calling for a change in the justice system.
Kimberly Davis emphasized the human aspect of the trial and execution for her family. She shared stories of her brother’s faith, his love for his family, and how he wanted them “to continue his legacy, to continue to prove his innocence, and to show that there are flaws in the death penalty.” While the twenty years that Troy Davis spent on death row were difficult, Kimberly Davis emphasized the bond that formed because of them.
“Throughout the years our family just grew closer and closer,” she said.
Lawrence Hayes, who was awaiting execution in a prison on New York in the 1970s until Furman vs. Georgia abolished the death penalty in the state, noted that “we need to show more sense of appreciation, value, and respect for life”.
The other speakers urged Georgetown students to get involved in shaping the American judicial system and other social movements. Suggestions included joining the death penalty abolition movements in Virginia and Maryland and establishing an Amnesty International club on campus.
Photo by Max Blodgett.