Troy Anthony Davis, who maintained his innocence until his last breath, was executed by the state of Georgia Wednesday night. As the world watched to see whether Davis’s final appeal for a stay of execution would be granted by the U.S. Supreme Court, Democracy Now! was the only news outlet to continuously broadcast live from the prison grounds in Jackson, Georgia. During our six-hour special report, we spoke with Davis’s supporters and family members who held an all-day vigil, then heard from those who witnessed his death by lethal injection at 11:08 p.m. EDT.
This archived video of the broadcast includes interviews with Troy Davis’s sisters, Martina Correia and Kim Davis; Troy Davis’s nephew, De’Jaun Davis Correia; NAACP president Benjamin Jealous; president of the Georgia State NAACP, Ed DuBose; chairperson of the NAACP, Roslyn M. Brock; Rev. Raphael Warnock of the Ebenezer Baptist Church; Southern regional director for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Joe Beasley; Amnesty International USA director, Larry Cox; Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign director, Laura Moye; executive director of Southern Center for Human Rights, Sara Totonchi; Rev. Al Sharpton; hip-hop artist Big Boi; public policy associate for the Southern Center for Human Rights, Kathryn Hamoudah; and many others.
We also broadcast a report back from journalists, and Davis’s lawyers, who witnessed the execution. According to WSB Radio reporter Jon Lewis, "[Davis] said to the family [of slain police officer Mark MacPhail] that he was sorry for their loss, but also said that he did not take their son, father, brother. He said to them to dig deeper into this case, to find out the truth... And then he said to the prison staff, the ones he said 'who are going to take my life,' he said to them, 'May God have mercy on your souls.' And his last words were to them: 'May God bless your souls.'"
AMY GOODMAN: From Georgia’s death row prison in Jackson, this is a Democracy Now! special broadcast. We are just an hour from the scheduled execution of Troy Anthony Davis, an execution the whole world is watching. More than a million signatures have come in on petitions calling for clemency for Troy Davis. Among those who have questioned why the state of Georgia is executing him are the Pope; former president Jimmy Carter; the former archbishop of South Africa, Desmond Tutu; the former FBI director, William Sessions; a former Republican Congress member from right here in Georgia, Bob Barr; and, well, the hundreds of people who are here around the prison. It is unrepresentative, the passion that people feel right behind me, because it’s been severely limited, those who could come onto the grounds of what’s called Georgia’s Diagnostic Prison. About 150 people have been allowed right here in the pen. And just ahead of me is another pen for pro-death penalty supporters. There are a handful, though that would be an exaggeration: about two people who are standing in front of me for the death penalty. Across the street, hundreds more are gathered, calling for clemency for Troy Davis.
Troy Davis is not far from here. He is preparing to be executed by the state of Georgia. This is his fourth death warrant. The first in 2007 was a few days before execution. The second, a few hours. The third, he was—got a reprieve in about the last day. And this is the fourth, and we are within an hour of that scheduled moment, 7:00 p.m.
Just a few hours ago, I went down the road to the local church, where human rights leaders gathered to talk about Troy Davis and to call for clemency. His family is also gathered at the church. His older sister, Martina Correia, has become the outside face, outside the bars, of Troy Davis, as she continually proclaims, "I am Troy Davis. We are Troy Davis." In a wheelchair now, deathly ill from battling years of breast cancer, and now the medication that she has taken to deal with it—she was in a wheelchair as she spoke earlier today, but actually stood up to once again say, "I am Troy Davis," surrounded by her son, De’Jaun, who has grown up visiting his uncle in prison, her sisters and their supporters.
Standing with me right now are two people who have followed this case very closely. We are on either side of a rope. The media is only allowed on one side of the yellow rope. And the protesters, those who are deeply concerned about Troy Davis, must stay on the other. There are state troopers, there are police, there are guards everywhere on the prison grounds. But the legal battles continue to the end. And for that we’re turning to Sara Totonchi. She is with the Southern Center for Human Rights, which is based in Atlanta.
Sara, welcome to Democracy Now!
SARA TOTONCHI: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the latest legal wranglings that are going on right now.
SARA TOTONCHI: Earlier today, Troy Davis’s lawyers filed an appeal in Superior Court here in Butts County. Unfortunately, they were denied, at which point they appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. We just found out 10 minutes ago that the Georgia Supreme Court has also denied, which means the only avenue we have left is the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution of Troy Davis.
AMY GOODMAN: And when do you expect to hear from the Supreme Court?
SARA TOTONCHI: We could hear from them any time in the next hour. I would imagine that we’ll probably hear before 7:00, which is the scheduled execution time.
AMY GOODMAN: Can Troy Davis be executed if the Supreme Court does not weigh in?
SARA TOTONCHI: That is not what usually happens in Georgia. When there is a delay from the U.S. Supreme Court, the prison executioners generally wait to get word from them.
AMY GOODMAN: Laura Moye, I’d like to bring you into this conversation, as well. Laura Moye is with Amnesty International. In a little while, we’ll hear from Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International USA. Amnesty and the NAACP have been at the forefront, spearheading the movement calling for clemency for Troy Davis. But if you will, in a nutshell, 1989, Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer serving as a security guard, goes to help a homeless man who’s being pistol-whipped in a parking lot. He is shot and killed. Take it from there. How was Troy Anthony Davis arrested?
LAURA MOYE: When Officer Mark MacPhail was murdered, the police didn’t have very many clues to figure out how to solve this homicide. And the first thing that happened was, about a day later, a man by the name of Sylvester "Redd" Coles came to the police with a lawyer and said, "I saw Troy Davis kill Officer MacPhail." After that point, it seems that the police had tunnel vision on Troy Davis and started to build a case against him. They interviewed witnesses who—they were able to get police statements implicating Troy Davis. But as your listeners probably know by now, seven of those nine key witnesses have since recanted or changed their trial testimony, some of them saying that the police coerced or pressured them in that process, in that investigation. There were many problems in the investigation, including the ways that the eyewitness identifications were set up. Witnesses were contaminated, essentially. There really is no physical evidence that directly links Troy Davis or anybody to the murders. They found shell casings and bullets, but they never had a gun, they didn’t have fingerprints, so they couldn’t connect them to people, a person who committed the crime. And the ballistics that they have—had found and were used in court to build their case have been discredited by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in a 2007 report.
AMY GOODMAN: Troy Anthony Davis was convicted. Jurors have come forward saying if they knew then what they knew now, they would not have convicted Troy Anthony Davis. They actually went to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and said this.
LAURA MOYE: That’s right. One of the jurors, Brenda Forrest, has been on CNN, and she has said, "If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis wouldn’t be on death row. In fact, the verdict would be 'not guilty.'" So there are jurors who have spoken out, and there are an additional set of witnesses, at least 10, who have implicated the alternative suspect, this gentleman Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who is the person who initially put the police on Troy Davis’s trail. So it’s not just that there are recantations. There’s no physical evidence, and there is another person, where there is eyewitness testimony and testimony of people who have implicated him, saying that "This man confessed to me that he did this crime."
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to share with our viewers and listeners around the world, on television, on radio, on the internet, what we were given today—let me just put down this piece of paper—what we were given by the Department of Corrections, which, by the way, is based on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Atlanta, Georgia. We were given documents about what will happen to Troy Davis today.
Troy Davis met with family from 9:00 until 3:00. They had to then clear out for him to be given a physical. At the news conference earlier, one of those who spoke, one of the leaders of the NAACP, said that they had to give him the physical to see that he was healthy enough for them to execute him.
Then he eats his last meal. He declined a special meal. And so, they said he’ll be having the regular prison meal, which is grilled cheeseburger—they lay it all out for you—grilled cheeseburger and potatoes and beans, cole slaw and a grape beverage.
But what they do give us is then the lethal cocktail that he will be injected with in less than an hour’s time, if all goes according to the Georgia Department of Corrections plan. Let me show you what is included in this press briefing. It’s a piece of paper with just a couple of words on it: pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride, and Ativan, a sedative. I believe Ativan is offered to the death row prisoner an hour before, just about now. It’s up to him; it’s optional.
I wanted to ask you, Sara, about these drugs. Pentobarbital, what it is for?
SARA TOTONCHI: Well, this whole process is just about giving the illusion of a humane execution. Pentobarbital is an anesthetic. It puts the person unconscious. Once the person is unconscious, they give them the pancuronium bromide, which is a paralytic. So even if the person is experiencing pain, their body can’t move. They can’t react. And the potassium chloride is what stops their heart beating. This is the poison that kills them. It is a very carefully orchestrated process to give a humane portrayal of what is a very inhumane practice, and that is the taking of a human life.
AMY GOODMAN: And let me keep going with the schedule. I took today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an interesting piece on what will happen to—what will happen to Troy Davis if the execution is followed through on. What happens is the people are brought in, the witnesses. He has declined to have family witnesses. The media will be there. And the MacPhail family—Mark MacPhail, the police officer who was killed—his son, Mark, will be there, as well as his uncle. His daughter and his wife, his widow, have decided they don’t want to be there. They will file in. They will watch the execution. Troy Anthony Davis will be given a chance to say last words, as they put the lethal needle into his arm. At 5:00, he was allowed to record a longer statement, if he so wished. Then the media witnesses will come out, and they’ll tell us what exactly happened, what were Mark—what were Troy Davis’s last words. And that’s how the evening will go. As to whether it will go to plan, we don’t know.
But right now, we want to turn to his older sister, Martina Correia. Martina has been a stalwart spokesperson for her younger brother. She has not let this case die. She has put it before the public endlessly, even as she battled breast cancer. She was honored, along with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a few years ago as stars in Washington. Her face adorns the Savannah mammogram vans, urging women, particularly poor women, to get mammograms. She has been suffering from breast cancer. And as she fights for her own life, now very weak—weak, she says, not from the cancer, but from the drugs that she has been taking, not from the cancer, from those drugs—she came to the church today, just a quarter of a mile down the road. And after human rights leaders spoke, after Big Boi of Outkast spoke—and we’re going to go to all of this—Martina Correia, surrounded by her family, in a wheelchair, wheeled by her son De’Jaun, came up to the podium and talked about seeing Troy today and who he is.
MARTINA CORREIA: My name is Martina Davis Correia. I’m the eldest sister of five brothers and sisters, including Troy Anthony Davis, who is scheduled to be executed in Georgia tonight. I would like to say that we are very disappointed by what is taking place in Georgia. And it’s like this state wants to remain defiant. The Parole Board said to us in 2007 that they would not execute when there is doubt. And every year we come upon this case, there’s more and more doubt, yet the case—the state pushes for an execution. We are saddened by this. We are very upset by this. And I want people to understand that our family is hurting, too, but we will not give up this fight.
Troy said that this fight did not begin with him, and this movement should not end with him, because if we can amass millions of people to stand up and say, "We will not stand for this," then we can end the death penalty. And that’s what we need to do, because we should not live in a state when people are being executed when there’s doubt.
A lot of people want to know, what did you say to your brother, how does he feel, what did he say to you. Well, I try to tell people that that’s something that’s very personal to our family, and I don’t feel like dissecting every comment he makes is for the media, because of the fact that his life hangs in the balance, and he knows that he’s an innocent man.
I really appreciate all the organizations and the legal people from all over the world, ambassadors. We have so many people, scholars, even police officers and agencies and organizations that you would never normally see work together, working together, because everyone is saying, "We have the facts now. It’s in black and white." When I started this, working against the death penalty and trying to save my brother’s life, everyone said, because she’s his sister, she had to be lying. So, what we had to do is show it to them in black and white. And once people saw it in black and white, they became engaged in this case, and it grew, worldwide. But sometimes, just because a movement grows and the truth comes out, we still have people that are not willing to change their old ways. And I’m here to tell you today that no matter what happens this evening, the Old South will fall.
We cannot sit idly by and watch children be plummeted into prisons and jails, not including my brother, but children of all races and colors, based on socioeconomics. What we need to do is we need to let politicians know that you will not be elected if you do not do something about these atrocities that are happening in our states and in the prison and jail system. we will not sit by while you idly put our children of school age in prisons and jails. We will not sit by and watch you deter movements of change and live in a state, a city, that housed Dr. Martin Luther King, and can go to his celebrations every year and still say that they support civil rights and change. Obviously—obviously, people don’t understand the difference between human rights and civil rights and how they interact. But we look at our state, that we’ve had death row exonerees from and also other types of exonerees, and we look at our state of Georgia, who’s still not willing to accept that they make mistakes. And we have to point out those mistakes. We cannot go back idly, no matter what happens tonight, and say, "Well, we marched down the street, we wore 'I am Troy Davis' shirts, and that is it." We have to be the catalyst for the change that we want to see.
I want people to know that, yes, our family suffers, and we want to thank you for being a part of our family, extended family, but we will never give up. When we started, someone asked me, can I use the logo "I am Troy Davis"? I was very shocked, because I think when they saw that we had five or six young black teenagers with "I am Troy Davis" written in black marker, people saw that that meant something. And people wanted to do something. But we still had people that were in places of position, that could have made changes, that are afraid, that are scared, that hide behind things. And they teach us to stand up, they teach us to pray. Well, faith without work is dead. And I’m hear to tell you that we will continue to fight for Troy Davis.
When I walk in the airports in Europe, in London, in the Council of Europe, and I see people walk past me with the "I am Troy Davis" [T-shirt], and the first thing they say is "That’s the sister." And I said one day, I’m going to get me a shirt that says "That is his sister." But it’s not because I’m some great, wonderful sister. It’s because families should stick together. And when you have the truth on your side, you should never give up.
AMY GOODMAN: Martina Correia, the older sister of Troy Davis. The case of her brother, together with fighting for her own life, has been the cause of her life over this last—well, it’s now been almost two decades, Troy Anthony Davis on death row. And in about 45 minutes, the scheduled time of his execution has been set. Whether that happens—the Supreme Court has not held forth yet, has not made a decision—we will let you know as soon as that happens.
We want to turn right now to the press conference that took place in the church, just about a quarter of a mile down the road, as people behind me, about 150 anti-death-penalty activists—and people who don’t call themselves activists, just felt so moved to come out today—are here. At the church, people gathered to hear the human rights leaders. It was introduced by Joi Ridley of the NAACP.
JOI RIDLEY: Thank you for joining us. My name is Joi Ridley. I’m a communications associate with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. We’d like to introduce you, first and foremost, to a band of civil rights, religious and social leaders who are here today to take their stance on what could be one of the largest and most egregious miscarriages of justice in our time. We’ll begin this conference with remarks from a panel of hope, of celebrated activists, starting first and foremost with Mr. Edward O. DuBose, president of the NAACP Georgia State Conference and also a member of the NAACP board of directors.
EDWARD DUBOSE: Let me, most importantly, thank the people in the audience who are here today. You being here show that you believe that there is a God, and even until the last moment, God is able to do what nobody else can do. We thank the media for being present today. I’m so glad our chairman of the board, Chairman Roslyn Brock, has joined us on this occasion; the Reverend Al Sharpton, who, when he come up, won’t need no introduction; Larry Cox from Amnesty International; and Dr. Carol A. Baltimore, the president of the National Baptist Convention.
I want to use my time to share the fact that I visited with Troy on death row on yester-evening. For about 30 minutes, we had an opportunity to talk. And Troy wanted me to let all of you know, in his words, "Keep the faith." Troy said that this fight is bigger than him. Troy wanted me to let the audience know that, whether they execute him or whether he is freed, the fight must go on. Let this case be a crossroad. Let this case be an example that the death penalty in this country, not only just this state, but in this country, needs to be abandoned. It needs to be—it needs to end.
And so, as we concluded with Troy, because they needed to take a physical, so that they could make sure he’s physically fit, so that they can strap him down, so that they could put the murder juice in his arm. Make no mistakes: they call it an execution; we call it murder. And my mother always told me to call things what they are. This is a murder. But we still believe in God, that all the way down to the last hour, the last minute, the last second, if He chooses to do so, He will intervene.
So that you know, our president, Benjamin Todd Jealous, won’t be joining us at this press conference. Even at this hour, they’re still communicating with the lawyers, communicating with the Justice Department, communicating with the Parole Board, at this last moment, to make sure, to find a way—even the judge, Judge Penny, who, I’m told, also has the power to end this. And so, when you don’t see the president here, know that our president and the national staff is doing everything to make this happen.
So as I step away, I want to bring up to the mike our chairwoman of the board, the youngest chairperson to ever hold that position—while that would be a great occasion right now, but she has come here to support us, Georgia, to support us, Amnesty International, to support us in this cause to save Troy’s life. Madame Chairwoman Roslyn McCallister Brock.
ROSLYN McCALLISTER BROCK: Thank you, Mr. DuBose. I’ve come at this hour, at this grave hour, to say to the nation and to the people of Georgia that we have committed a travesty. The parole board has committed a travesty. The NAACP deplores the decision to uphold the death sentence of Troy Davis, despite overwhelming evidence pointing to his innocence. With so much doubt surrounding this case, it’s appalling that the board would allow this execution to proceed. It is because of the potential for grave miscarriages of justice, like the one that is scheduled for tonight, that the NAACP stands firmly in opposition to the death penalty, because the death penalty undermines trust, integrity and hope in the criminal justice system. We know, as a race of people, that we only make up 13 percent of the American population, but over 50 percent of those who sit on federal death row. Something is wrong in America when we can so easily commit state-inflicted murder.
My colleagues told me last night, as Mr. DuBose has said to you, that Troy Davis sends a word not only to the NAACP and Amnesty International, the National Action Network, and all those who have come and pleaded on his behalf. I’m told that he said this — and I quote — "I will serve God until my last breath. And you young people are the future. You can either decide to lay down or get up and fight." He was in good spirits last night, but his faith in God was ever-most at the top of his mind. Troy’s words are the words that must take us from this place. It won’t end tonight. He’s given us the charge. We must continue to get up and fight in opposition to the death penalty. Let me be clear: this will not end tonight, because we know that we serve a God who is able. We serve a God, what? Who is able to do all things, exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can even imagine or think. And I’m so glad that we still have some believers right here in this community and across this world who still believe in the innocence of Troy Davis. The work is not done. Our work is not finished. Troy has left us the charge: we must get up and continue to fight.
JOI RIDLEY: We will now be joined by the Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network.
REV. AL SHARPTON: Thank you. Three-and-a-half years ago, National Action Network and I met with Troy Davis’s family. We felt then, and we feel today, that there is no justification at all for being in this place again, several hours away from executing a man that has not been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on anything other than some inflexible and insensitive people in a criminal justice system that will not listen to reason and right.
Fact of the matter is that Troy Davis was not convicted by any physical evidence, DNA evidence. He was convicted based on nine witnesses, seven of whom recanted. What is facing execution tonight is not just the body of Troy Davis, but the spirit of due process in the state of Georgia. Any time a juror who was in the original jury that convicted Troy Davis can go before the Board of Pardon and Parole and say, "Had I known the ballistics didn’t match, I would not have voted guilty," which would have hung the jury—just one vote, there are three, but just one would have hung the jury—then why are you going to execute him or try to execute him tonight? Any time the witnesses say, "We were coerced," or "We lied," then why are we looking at death row tonight? Troy Davis has already proven reasonable doubt. The question is whether the state proves that it is any different than the long, ugly history of men and women like Davis in the past.
We are clear. We’re not asking for any favors here. If there was no juror that had come forward, if there had been no recanting, this would be about just the death penalty. This is not even just the death penalty. Former Congressman Bob Barr was on my show the other night. He’s for the death penalty. He said Troy Davis shouldn’t be executed. William Sessions, former head of the FBI, one of our Republicans, said he shouldn’t be. All over the world, people are watching. They’re watching because people cannot believe that in the 21st century a man could be killed by the state when there is no evidence left and jurors said, "I would have voted differently, had I had the true evidence in front of me." That’s why we’re here.
When we pulled in several buses from Atlanta National Action Network this afternoon, at noon, it reminded me, in 2008, I stood in that same courtyard of the prison. We had a vigil then. I stood holding Troy’s mother’s hand. His mother has died since then. We were preparing ourselves, Mr. Chairman, for his execution then. Ninety minutes before the execution, it was stayed. I will never forget his mother squeezing my hand and showing me—she said, "Look." And we saw the hearse come down the lane, empty. We hope that that hearse comes down the lane tonight empty. We are still praying for a miracle, but no matter what happens tonight, we promised Troy that we were going to fight to change this for those Troy Davises that remain on death row and those that are facing this in the future.
On this Friday, we’ll be in Washington at the Justice Department. There must be federal laws that prohibit states from prosecuting people only on eyewitness statement. Even if we cannot outlaw the death penalty—and I agree with Madame Brock that we should—the least we can do is have laws where you must at least have physical evidence to reach the bar of even having it as a death case. You cannot, whether you’re pro-death penalty or anti-death penalty, have a civilized society, with the scientific breakthroughs we have, that says, based on all the data that shows the weakness of eyewitnesses, that anyone could ever go to death row again based only on eyewitness claims. So National Action Network and I will be there Friday. I’ve told Amnesty International, NAACP—we partner in many things—we will join in in trying to create a new law, named after Troy Davis, and it must be federal.
This cannot happen again, because what we’re really saying is that we have in this country the capacity of growth, but also the capacity of going backwards. We can put an African American in the White House, an African American over the Justice Department, but we still can’t take a man with recanted testimony off death row in Georgia. There’s something wrong with it. We cannot do anything but appeal to law. We’re not asking the judge. We’re not asking the Board of Pardon and Parole. We’re not asking those authorities for a favor. For justice, go by the law. Reasonable doubt. But eyewitness testimony, especially recanted, is not reasonable doubt. It is unreasonable inflexibility. It is institutional violence. It is a new way of punishing people who couldn’t afford to defend themselves in the first place. There is class in this. There is race in this. And we’re going to fight to turn this around.
Whatever the outcome of the night, Friday morning we’ll be in Washington. You have awakened us that we will never be vulnerable like this again, where people can be told to say something, and people can lose their lives, when science says that is not beyond reasonable doubt. You do not have that right. And we’re going to make it federal law. So we come to promise Troy’s family that we promise to be here all the way, but all the way is not what happens with an execution. It’s what happens with new law to stop executions in the first place. The state tonight may be in charge of a crucifixion, but we’re in charge of a resurrection.
JOI RIDLEY: Wow, OK. Briefly, we’re just going to segue just a bit. We are fortunate to have a host of leaders and activists, but we also have our very own son of Georgia, Big Boi, who is also in support of the Troy Davis case. Unfortunately, Troy was unable to—I’m sorry, Big Boi was unable to stay with us, but he is here tonight. He is rallying. And listen, he’s also saying at this point that he wants to speak out. We’ve got tons of celebrities. He won’t be able to stay for the entire event, everything that’s going on until the end tonight. But we wanted to make sure that he was able to say something at this time. We now have Big Boi of OutKast.
UNIDENTIFIED: Big Boi!
BIG BOI: All right. Well, Troy Davis, first of all, is from my hometown of Savannah, Georgia. I think he went to high school with my auntie. But I was familiar with the case, and a couple weeks ago, I saw a petition, so I started passing it around. So, early last week, I got a call from Amnesty International. It was like, you know, Troy wants me to speak out on his behalf and try to bring awareness to the young people. So I said, "Why not?" You know. But my whole thing—I’m going to keep it short and sweet—is there’s too much doubt. You know, I’m not here to say who’s innocent or who’s guilty, but if you’re going to execute a man, you’ve got to make sure that he’s 100 percent guilty before you do that. Then you can commute the sentence to life or whatever you have to do. But my prayers go out to both sides, both families. And I’m just here to show my support. And to everybody that’s out here, you know, just peace and love. "Thou shall not kill." That goes for us as a people and the government. Thank you.
JOI RIDLEY: Thank you. We are now joined by Larry Cox, the U.S.A. executive director of Amnesty International.
LARRY COX: Thank you, and thank you, Big Boi.
Amnesty International is a movement of more than three million people around the world who spend their time working to stop human rights violations. And the reason we’re here today in the state of Georgia is because we’re trying to stop one of the most horrific human rights violations that is being planned to be carried out by the state of Georgia. That’s why we’re here. Every killing is horrible. That includes the killing of Officer MacPhail. But there is no killing more horrible than the deliberate killing of a person who is already being held prisoner, who cannot fight back, except for the killing of a prisoner who also may be an innocent man.
And that’s why, as we stand here today, the eyes of the world are watching what happens in Jackson, Georgia. All over the world, people have been mobilizing. Right now, as I speak, there are people in front of U.S. embassies in France, in Mali, in Hong Kong, in Peru, in Germany, in the United Kingdom. There are millions of people who have taken action to sign petitions that have gone to the board.
Why? Not because they don’t want justice for the MacPhail family, but because they do. They want genuine justice. And it’s not because they don’t know the facts, as some people have suggested, like the former district attorney; it’s because they do know the facts, because they have looked at the carefully documented reports by Amnesty International, an organization that won the Nobel Prize for its documentation. They have looked at those facts.
And they remember that the Board of Pardon and Parole said, "If there is any doubt, if there is any doubt, then we should not execute Troy Davis." And that’s right, because if you’re going to kill a human being, then you better be certain, absolutely certain, that that human being is guilty of a crime. And the only certain thing in this case is that it is not certain at all. There is so much doubt, too much doubt. Too much doubt. There is nothing but doubt. We know that.
And that’s why millions of people from all walks of life have mobilized on behalf of Troy Davis, people that are very far away, people that are right here in Savannah or right here in Jackson, right here in Savannah, right here in Georgia, people who know Troy, and people who have never heard of Troy until this case came to their attention. They’re all mobilizing because they care about human rights, and they want to live in a world where no innocent people are killed anymore. And they know that there is only one way to guarantee that no innocent person will be executed in this world, and that’s to get rid of the death penalty once and for all and forever.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. We’re broadcasting live from the death row prison in Georgia, Jackson, where all death row prisoners are brought. Troy Anthony Davis is scheduled to die in 17 minutes. No word yet from the Supreme Court. And a lot is happening here on the grounds of the Georgia Diagnostic Prison, as it’s called. You’re hearing people behind me right now. They’re singing, and they’re also honoring the family of Troy Davis, who has just come in, in two cars. They have just slowly driven up. And people first formed a circle, a kind of prayer circle. As the Davises are getting out of the car, people are gathering around them.
Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz is with me right now. Renée is describing what is taking place. We saw first the family coming in, we thought, but it was actually a line of state troopers. Renée, then what happened then, as they were coming into these prison grounds? A helicopter is overhead, by the way.
RENÉE FELTZ: We have a helicopter hovering overhead. It’s unclear if it’s security or media, but it’s very loud. It’s been here.
There was a dramatic scene just a few minutes ago, where state police, in riot gear, essentially, suited up, all in black, were hanging out near the entrance of the prison facility, and all of a sudden rushed in a flank, in a line, to guard the entrance, not allowing anyone in. Across the street, we have more than, I would estimate, a thousand protesters, maybe more. Two of them were arrested on the other side of the street by police there, not clear what the charges or what the reason were. The tension is high, as we’re getting close to 7:00, and people are wondering what’s the Supreme Court going to do.
Now, there was a press conference earlier. People were in the church praying. Now some of them are starting to come over here to the demonstration. You mentioned a prayer here. And people are really wondering what’s going to happen.
I want to say very briefly that there is a small group of protesters, off site here. You can’t see them. They’re with the Fraternal Order of Police. They’re from surrounding counties. I would say there’s about a dozen here.
AMY GOODMAN: We are joined right now by Joe Beasley. He is the—with Rainbow/PUSH. And he went with Reverend Jesse Jackson in June to visit Troy Davis. You’re now on the grounds of the death row prison, where Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed in 15 minutes. What did Troy Davis say to you?
JOE BEASLEY: Well, Troy Davis, while he had this great zeal to live, as any man of his age, nonetheless, he felt, I believe—kind of consigned himself to whatever fate would offer. Reverend Jackson reminded him, as a Christian, there is a life after death, after all. But this is a profound moment of change here in Georgia. People—really, indeed, across the country and really across the world. People have assembled here from all over. And I believe that it would not be the same.
There’s a political statement that’s being made here today. I met with the chairman of the Pardons and Parole Board with Reverend Jackson, the same death row we met with Troy. We made an appeal to him. We know that the Pardons and Parole Board is not elected by the people; nonetheless, they’re appointed by the governor. And that’s almost like trying to throw a rock and hide your hands. Governor Deal, he believed, will—I believe, and others, will face some repercussion from the people as a result of what happened here tonight. We’re still hopeful that the Supreme Court will, at this last moment, will make an affirmative decision to either commute the sentence to life in prison or to release him even.
But I have been on this case ever since—over 20 years. His family is here now. His mom—his sister has been a brave, courageous fighter.
AMY GOODMAN: His mother died only recently.
JOE BEASLEY: Yes, yes. And she—the family was together. And I believe that that example of family togetherness is something that’s going to have repercussions across the country. So, you know, I grew up here in Georgia. I grew up here in Georgia. We know how this death penalty has been used historically. And so, it is our hope, even here, as we approach the 7:00 hour, that we would get something positive from the Supreme Court of the United States. But we’re prepared. However it go, we’re prepared. This is a titular moment, and Georgia will not be the same after this moment.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you introduce yourself, why you’re here today? Have you been to a death row vigil before?
PATRICIA CHAMBERS JONES: I have not. I am Patricia Chambers Jones, and I’m here to stand in solidarity with everyone, that I think Troy should get a second chance, because they have lots of witnesses that recanted their statement. So he should get another trial, to have a fair trial and get justice.
AMY GOODMAN: Right behind you, again—if you wouldn’t mind parting. I want people to be able to see, those who are watching. Those who are listening, let me describe it for you. People in this pen—there are about 150 people here. The prison authorities are not letting more in, though there’s lots of room in this protest pen. Across the street, you heard Renée say something like a thousand protesters. It looks like a couple of people have been arrested. But people are gathered around the family and the human rights leaders, who are standing. They’re carrying signs that say, for example, "Stop the execution!"
Ben Jealous is with us right now. Ben Jealous is the CEO and president of the NAACP. Ben, you’ve spent the day on death row with Troy Davis and his family?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, I actually spent the day fighting, working with the lawyers and the whole team, trying to get the Board of Pardons and Parole to reconsider. We’ve had an incredible group of people, many of them in conference, reach out to the Board of Pardons and Parole—conservatives, liberals, anybody who we thought that they would actually listen to. And they—you know, we are hopeful. Last I heard, the Georgia Supreme Court had turned us down. Things are headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But I also heard that the Board of Pardons had not ruled yet.
AMY GOODMAN: Although they did hand down their decision just Tuesday.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes, the other day, but not ruled on our request for them to reconsider. You know, this is a—Troy Davis is a man whose faith makes you believe in miracles. Last time we were here, he turned down his last meal and came really within moments of being executed. And so, everybody here is gathered, prepared for either circumstance, prepared for a funeral, but also prepared for a miracle.
And I was blessed to spend a couple hours with Troy a couple weeks ago. I really wanted to be there with him today. But when it came to a choice between fighting or visiting, I did what I knew Troy would want me to do: I fought.
We had a witness come forward today. She had gone into hiding when the Board of Pardons and—when the Board of Pardons came down with the wrong decision. This is a woman who moved out of Savannah a few months ago, because the man who many say is the killer, she says admitted to her and many others he was the killer, and when she made it clear that she was going to let the world know that, he threatened to do harm to her.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you talking about Sylvester "Redd" Coles?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Talking about—yeah, I’m talking about Redd Coles.
AMY GOODMAN: So now, for the people who are watching, listening, who will read this, explain exactly the role. We have repeatedly said seven of the nine non-police witnesses have either recanted or changed, contradicted their testimony.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: Two didn’t. One of them was Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who was there that night.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right. And he was one of the first suspects. And, you know, why is it that somebody who was not one of the witness, who was not involved, who’s a friend of the Coles family, comes forward, you know, three years—sorry, comes forward months ago saying that three years ago she was at a party, and Sylvester was very drunk—this is back around the last time this was going. He was very drunk, and somebody said, "Sylvester, you know, why are you drinking so much?" He said, "Well, this is about to kill me." "What’s about to kill you?" He said, "All of this with Troy Davis." Said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, I killed Officer MacPhail." This is what Ms. Glover went on CNN with me today to talk about. Coles said, "I killed Officer MacPhail, but they got Troy Davis, and let them keep Troy Davis because I have kids to raise." This is what she’s saying he said.
And she’s saying that as recently as a few months ago, when it became clear that she was going to try to help save Troy Davis’s life, he so threatened her that she actually moved out of Savannah and has gone into hiding. And she decided today, because she had really—hadn’t really spoken to those threats to anybody, except for her lawyers and the Board of Pardons, to finally tell the world, because she’s so worried. She figured she would be more safe if the world knew that she was threatened, too. And so, now Pastor Warnock has reached out to a lawyer who’s helping her get a order of protection. Again, if there wasn’t doubt, if there wasn’t reason to believe Troy Davis was innocent, if there wasn’t reason to suspect perhaps Redd Coles did it, why would she be so afraid right now? Why would we be dealing with this now, just hours before the execution?
AMY GOODMAN: And what is it that the Supreme Court would rule on, this word that you’re waiting—one from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and the other from the U.S. Supreme Court?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Well, you know, this morning asked to take a polygraph test. Quite frankly, for an inmate to take a polygraph test on the day of his execution is a very high risk, because you’re so jittery, you can easily get a false positive. And yet, he’s so convinced and so—and they denied him, just like this prison has denied to let any media to talk to him in the last year. And so, it’s those sorts of issues that are being brought up to the Supreme Court.
You have a man—you know, there are witnesses whose lives—they say that their lives are being threatened by other people who those witnesses say—or a person that those witnesses say admitted that they did it. You have a man here on death row who has kept very clear about his innocence from day one, and as recently as this morning tried to take a polygraph test and was denied again. It’s those sorts of issues.
I mean, many of us believe that, as citizens of this country, it is impossible for our country to execute us, unless we’ve killed somebody. And yet, our Constitution doesn’t actually have a clear prohibition on not, you know, saying that thou shall not be executed if you have not committed a crime. What it says is that you have to be duly convicted. And that’s the—ultimately, the greyness that’s in front of the Supreme Court right now is, you know, is it this kind of fundamental spirit of this country or is it the letter of the Constitution that matters? And that’s—this is a case that falls right at the crux.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain something that people have said different things about? Will Troy Davis, if he is executed, have a witness that he has chosen to be there? There’s media witnesses. The MacPhail family, his son Mark and Mark’s uncle, will be there. Mark’s sister and mother did not want to witness the execution. What about Troy Davis? Did he want his family there?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, the—I don’t want to get into his conversations with his family, because that’s just too personal. But what we do know is that as recently as today he thought that he had five witnesses. The prison is saying that he only requested three. It’s virtually, you know, impossible to sort that out at this point. And so, recently there was just a conversation—well, what about these two other witnesses that we thought were on the list? But there will be three people there for him, including two of his lawyers.
The more important thing is that Troy has called all of us to witness about the death penalty. What he said repeatedly throughout this week and weeks before was that "They may take my body, but they won’t take my spirit." He said that "This is a movement that started before I was born. And no matter what happens Wednesday, it has to grow stronger." Tonight we saw 200 students from Morehouse bus themselves 40 miles spontaneously, because they want to witness the miracle, should it happen, or be here to go back and witness about this unjust funeral that our country has just created by executing somebody who was innocent.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Morehouse College—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes, Morehouse College in—
AMY GOODMAN: —the historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, and let me not be sexist: Morehouse and Spelman were both there, and Clark Atlanta, too. But young men and young women were so moved, and you could hear their thunderous claps, as people were saying, "Now, look, we are now in this country finally within 10 states of abolishing the death penalty. We know that we have to get to a place where a minority of states do it." That’s how we abolished it for juveniles at the start of this decade, for instance. And we’ve seen three states fall in the last two years. And to see students from one of the kind of cradle of the civil rights movement colleges all rapt, in rapt attention, focusing, listening to what they have to do to bring this to an end, should inspire all of us. And that was—Troy’s been very, very clear about.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Ben Jealous. He’s the CEO and president of the NAACP, which has taken up Troy Davis’s case, has an "I am Troy Davis" campaign on its website. Now, we—just to set the scene, there is a helicopter hovering overhead. We’re in the midst of an oddly peaceful, pastoral scene, considering what is taking place tonight, or what is scheduled to take place at what is called the George—the Georgia prison, which is the death row for all death row prisoners in Georgia. Behind us, about 150 people have surrounded the Davis family, to show support, to sing and to pray.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: But this group is the maximum number of people that the prison will let onto the ground. Across the street, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds more. And it’s become a very tense situation over there. Emotions are running high. We have—the students who came to us, we trained with a very quick nonviolence sort of training, so you won’t let yourself be provoked. But this is as tense of a situation as we’ve ever seen outside of an execution.
AMY GOODMAN: I was at the hundredth anniversary of the NAACP. You had a big gathering in New York, right?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Just two years ago. And De’Jaun Correia Davis, the nephew of Troy Davis, Martina Correia’s son, was there. You were there. President Obama came.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you talk to President Obama about Troy Davis’s case? And can he weigh in here?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: He knows about the case. He also knows that the case—I mean, he’s a constitutional lawyer, and he knows that the case law is very clear. In a state case, the President has no power. This is really up to the U.S. Supreme Court. You know, if there were certain circumstances that don’t exist here about a clear violation of his civil rights, as opposed to his human rights—and this is the real sort of sickness of our law, if you will. Civil rights are those rights that have been encoded into law. Human rights are the broader body of rights that surround them. So, for instance, the right not to be executed if you are indeed not guilty, if you are innocent, doesn’t exist in our civil rights; it exists in our broader human rights. But it does—so, the U.S. Department of Justice, literally, you got a sense lawyers were racking their brains trying to figure it out, but the law is not on our side, even though the spirit of the nation is.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you to stay for one more minute, but it is the top of the hour. It is 7:00 Eastern time, 7:00 Georgia time. We’re at the Georgia death row prison right here in Jackson, Georgia, where at this hour, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern [Daylight] Time, Troy Davis was scheduled to die. The Supreme Court has not yet weighed in. We are broadcasting in this Democracy Now! special broadcast on the grounds of the prison. There are—I don’t know—hundreds, if a thousand, people outside protesting at this prison, about 150, the max allowed by the prison authorities, inside. Ben Jealous, CEO of the NAACP, with us. So what does this mean right now? Right now, at 7:00, the Supreme Court has not yet weighed in.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, we are segregated over here, apart from our staff and our lawyers. Troy’s lawyers are inside. We will, I suspect, hear official announcement very shortly from the prison. Barring a miracle, this means that Troy Davis is being executed right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Doesn’t the Supreme Court have to weigh in?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: What I’m saying is that we’ve been segregated over here for several minutes. We don’t know what’s happened in those minutes. And so, in this type of situation, you’re literally in a limbo where it’s just unclear, until you hear an official announcement. Everything—you know, the lawyers are now inside. The guards are there assembled. Phone lines are kept open. But you literally—until somebody comes out from that sort of inner sanctum that is the death chamber on death row to let us know, to confirm, it is literally impossible right now, Amy, to know what’s—to know what’s happened.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask Larry Cox to join you. Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International. Larry Cox, Ben Jealous, Amnesty International, NAACP, these are the organizations that have been spearheading the demand for clemency for Troy Davis. It’s 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, the moment that Troy Davis was scheduled to die.
LARRY COX: Yes, but as we’ve been saying, in the meeting of people just gathered together, you can kill a body, but you cannot kill a spirit. And the spirit that has been ignited by Troy Davis in this fight, that spirit is going to grow stronger and stronger and stronger. There’s only one answer to this insanity, this evil, and that is to wipe out the death penalty once and for all, so no other human being, no other family, has to go through this horror again, and no other people has to go through this horror again. And that’s what we are going to do.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: In our country. In our country.
LARRY COX: In our country and in our world. We are not going to let Troy Davis’s fight die today. And—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, and there’s so many—you know, this day is, I guess, the 105th anniversary of the massacre known as the Atlanta race riots. And I was talking to the young people across the street, that it was moments like those that the NAACP rose out of, moments of feeling absolutely helpless, that the nation was absolutely unjust. In those moments, people find an ability to hold onto a spirit, that it is possible to make our democracy actually rise as high as its own aspirations.
Troy Davis, the remarkable thing about him is that he never gave up, not in himself or his story of innocence, but gave up in this country and hoping for a miracle that the justice system would actually work. And the reality is that we all in this moment have to commit ourselves to making sure that the justice system does work. You know, that is what patriotism is. We hear a lot of definitions of "patriotism" in this country, but patriotism is what was shown by Troy Davis saying, you know, let’s hold out hope to the last minute. Always hold out hope to the last minute. This is not supposed to happen here.
AMY GOODMAN: What did Troy tell you the last time you saw him?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: The last time he—part of the reasons—
AMY GOODMAN: We are hearing some kind of cheer that has gone up.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Got a stay!
LARRY COX: My god! Oh, my god!
TROY DAVIS SUPPORTER: Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And that’s what I said. We came here prepared for a miracle or a funeral. And we’ve heard that we just got a miracle.
LARRY COX: Amy, you’re going to have to start getting religious, because we just got a miracle.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re here with Larry—we’re here with Larry Cox, and we’re here with the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous. People are cheering.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: This is a great day for our country.
AMY GOODMAN: I would like—I would like—people are hugging each other. People, journalists, are gathering around. People are screaming behind us.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s what we’ve just heard. We’re waiting for confirmation.
AMY GOODMAN: The only thing we heard—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: We just received texts.
UNIDENTIFIED: Who from?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: We just received texts.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re on TV. We’re broadcasting live. All the different reporters are here. We just broadcast your speech. This is Democracy Now! Tell us who you are and what your thoughts are right now.
ROSLYN McCALLISTER BROCK: I’m Roslyn Brock, and I’m chairman of the board of the NAACP.
AMY GOODMAN: This is the youngest chair of the board of the NAACP. What did you just hear?
ROSLYN McCALLISTER BROCK: I just heard that he just received a stay. And we serve a god who is able. And we’re so grateful right now. Oh, we’re just so grateful right now, because—woo! We just thank God for this. We thank God. We believe in America. We believe in the justice system. And we are so happy tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you think you were going to hear this?
ROSLYN McCALLISTER BROCK: We are a faithful people, and we are a praying people. And we’re so grateful tonight. We’re so grateful tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: Do we know if this was the Supreme Court?
ROSLYN McCALLISTER BROCK: Supreme Court?
AMY GOODMAN: Was this the Supreme Court that—
LARRY COX: This was an enormous victory for people, for faith, for human rights. This is a victory of people all over the world, you have to understand. We’ve still got to fight. We’ve got to fight even harder. But this is an enormous victory.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And let me be clear. What you just heard, you know, these people have been praying for days. They’ve been praying for hours with an increasing intensity. People of strong faith, people of little faith, people of no faith at all, this is one of those—this is one of the—
UNIDENTIFIED: No stay.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: No stay?
AMY GOODMAN: No stay?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: What’s going on?
UNIDENTIFIED: No stay.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: What’s going on?
AMY GOODMAN: We’re trying to make sense, as you can see.
LARRY COX: I don’t know. I don’t know.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re trying to make sense. We heard, right outside of the prison gates—and now we’re hearing people shouting again. First we just—what we heard was a roar. Now, Ben Jealous will come right back. We are waiting to hear right now what has taken place.
LARRY COX: It came from over there first.
AMY GOODMAN: First we heard a cheer.
UNIDENTIFIED: No one is really sure. It sounds like they got a text from somebody.
AMY GOODMAN: We are trying to hear what has taken place. Let me see if I can hear in my ear, if we can get news from New York what has taken place. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, in a special broadcast on the grounds of the prison, trying to hear through the grapevine what has taken place. Hundreds of people here, but at least perhaps a thousand people right outside the gates. It was there that we heard a cheer. And if you would come over, Sara. What—OK, Ben Jealous is here.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: So, I was just—I was just on the phone with Troy’s lawyer. He says that Troy has not been executed yet, but that there is also not confirmation of a stay. So, here we are again, back waiting, not knowing whether we are here for a funeral or a miracle. I need to go explain this to the crowd right now. But that’s what we have just found. Again, I just spoke to Troy’s lawyer, who has been on death row with him. He said that Troy has not been executed, but there is also no evidence of a stay at this time. And so, we are waiting. Again, we don’t know whether we are here for a miracle or a funeral. I need to go talk to the crowd.
AMY GOODMAN: OK, let’s see, Sara Totonchi, if you know anything more.
SARA TOTONCHI: I’m just so sorry.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Sara from the Center for Southern—
SARA TOTONCHI: Southern Center for Human Rights.
AMY GOODMAN: Southern Center for Human Rights.
SARA TOTONCHI: There was a big outcry about a stay, but there—we just don’t have any evidence of a stay just yet. We’re still hoping there will be, but I just hung up with Troy Davis’s lawyers, and there is no stay right yet.
AMY GOODMAN: There is no stay at this moment.
SARA TOTONCHI: There is no stay.
AMY GOODMAN: Where are his lawyers inside the prison? We are just outside the walls of the prison. Can you describe this physical space that we’re in, where exactly the prison is? We haven’t been able to go beyond this point.
SARA TOTONCHI: We are on rolling meadows that would be suitable for a picnic on a better day. It is—they keep us about two miles from the actual prison. The prison is far down that road. We get about 10 feet within the gates. And Troy Davis’s lawyers are actually in Atlanta. They are at their offices, because they have been filing brief after brief trying to save Troy Davis’s life. And I’m just really sorry to say that we just don’t have good news yet, even though folks are celebrating here. I hope there will be good news.
AMY GOODMAN: You can see we’re trying to just gather information, as all people are, in this case that the world is watching. I wanted to go for a moment to Larry Cox. As I talk about the world watching this case, what exactly does that mean? I think people don’t quite realize where the U.S. stands in the world on the death penalty and why so many international journalists are here, why so many around the world are covering this story of Troy Anthony Davis.
LARRY COX: Well, the United States is a leader in the practice of killing prisoners. There are only five nations that are responsible for 90 percent of all the executions in the world, and the United States is one of them, along with China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and then the United States of America. That puts us in the company of some of the worst human rights violators in the world. It puts us out of sync with our strongest allies in the world. So, this has long been something that’s a scandal for the United States of America. It’s why people are here. And anyone watching this can only wonder what is it about this country—what is the insanity that grips this country, that it spends this kind of money, these kinds of resources, because it wants to kill a human being, rather than using these resources, this money, this energy, to do something to protect us. That’s what the world is wondering, all around the world. Right now, we know there are people at U.S. embassies making precisely this point: How can you do this?
AMY GOODMAN: At the news conference that you and others held earlier at the local church—
LARRY COX: We have some news.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous, and Laura, has an announcement.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: We have some news from the lawyers. So I just went over and spoke to one of the lawyers. He was on site here.
AMY GOODMAN: And just for the record, I want to let people know it’s 7:11. Troy Davis was scheduled to die at 7:00 Eastern time.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And so, what the lawyers are now saying is that we have a temporary delay from the Supreme Court. This is a reprieve, not a stay. This is something that could be minutes, it could be hours. But, literally, the Supreme Court has just asked them to hold off while the Supreme Court considers our plea. And so, we’re just in a holding pattern right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Will you be staying here tonight?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, we will.
LARRY COX: Of course, of course.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes, we are here.
LAURA MOYE: We will be here.
LARRY COX: We will be here.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: We will, yes.
LAURA MOYE: We’re not going anywhere.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you seen this before? I mean, this week, there was a death row case that was just stayed in Texas.
LARRY COX: That’s right. And we have seen it before in the case of Troy, where he was within, you know, minutes of being executed, and the Supreme Court intervened. So it happens. It’s one of the grotesque cruelties of this practice, that at the last minute people are saved. So we hope and we pray that this is the case right now. But we just have to wait and see. And you can imagine what the family is going through and what this does.
AMY GOODMAN: In the background—I don’t know if you can pick up—people are singing "Give Peace a Chance." Laura Moye, you’re with Amnesty. You’ve been in Georgia now for, what, 12 years.
LAURA MOYE: Not here currently, but I lived here for 16 years, and I was here at the beginning of our work on Troy Davis, when our first rallies for Troy included 40 people. And here we are now, and there are hundreds of people down here, hundreds of people across the street, lining the highway, hundreds of people gathered in prayer around the Davis family. There are multiple events happening around the world and around the country in solidarity with us right now.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, you wait.
LARRY COX: We wait. We wait, and we—we wait, with hope and determination. We wait, with the family.
AMY GOODMAN: The family is actually just right behind us, is that right?
LARRY COX: That’s right. They are. They are.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, were they able to go—what was the decision involved with Troy Davis not having family members, or does he, to—if in fact he is executed, to witness?
LAURA MOYE: In the state of Georgia, they simply do not allow family members to witness executions. The family of the murder victims are allowed to do that, but not the prisoners’ family. So, prisoners’ families often come here and join us when we form the vigil on execution nights, but they’re not allowed to be near the prison.
AMY GOODMAN: So they cannot witness?
LAURA MOYE: No.
LARRY COX: No.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, maybe many don’t want to witness.
LARRY COX: Yes, yes.
LAURA MOYE: This is a very controlled environment. When you come onto the grounds here, your car is searched. Dogs are brought out to sniff your cars. It’s a very controlled environment. And for whatever reason, they have decided as a policy that family members cannot witness an execution.
AMY GOODMAN: Right behind you, a sign is being held up: "NAACP Says Too Much Doubt." It’s a large picture of Troy Davis. It says, "Save Troy Davis, #toomuchdoubt." This is Democracy Now!, a special live broadcast from the death row prison in Jackson, Georgia, where death row prisoners are held until they are executed. It is 7:14.
LARRY COX: This is—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: This is Troy’s nephew, De’Jaun.
LARRY COX: Nephew.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: He’s visited him on death row every—almost every weekend of his life.
AMY GOODMAN: I know De’Jaun, because he came to Democracy Now!'s studios with his mother Martina, Martina who you just heard in the church, standing up in the wheelchair that De'Jaun was holding onto. De’Jaun, you’re 17 now. Your uncle Troy has been in prison your whole life.
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Yes, but, you know, that hasn’t stopped me from making a very, very, very strong connection and a unique connection with my uncle. You know, he only ever wanted the best for me, and that’s all he ever put it—installed in me over my years. And, you know, this—even if the execution goes on today, it will not break me down. It will only make me stronger. And that’s the thing that he installed in me, to don’t let anything break you down, just go straight on, head on, and learn on, and learn from it, and be a stronger man than you are, than you once was. And, you know, I’m being strong for my family. I’m being strong for myself. And, you know, I still—I’m still going to go out and speak on behalf of my uncle, still fight for justice everywhere, and, you know, just still be the man, the young man that I can be to the best of my ability.
AMY GOODMAN: You visited your uncle every weekend?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Well, we did when I was younger. Then we started going every other weekend. But—
AMY GOODMAN: Where do you live compared to where he’s imprisoned here?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Just about four hours away. Four hours away.
AMY GOODMAN: What were those trips like for you?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: The trips—after a while, the trips became, you know, just second nature. It wasn’t anything serious at all. The trips are very fun for me, and I have time with my family in the car, and then we go to see Troy, have another good time. And so, it was just a very, very good eight-hour trip there and back. And, you know, so it was nothing to be sad about when we were going there, something that we actually looked forward to going to see him.
AMY GOODMAN: What has your uncle taught you?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Respect, as most importantly, dignity, honor, and just how to recognize injustice, how to recognize fairness, and how to recognize peace all over the world. And, you know, he always told me to keep my head in my books and just to educate myself. And by him telling me that, I’ve educated myself to learn when someone’s being treated wrong and when someone’s human or civil rights are being violated. And since I know those things, it’s my right as a human being to stand up and fight against those things, until those things are brought to justice.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re going to college, aren’t you?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Yes, ma’am. I’m going to—I plan on attending Georgia Tech for robotic engineering.
AMY GOODMAN: I spoke to your mother a few days ago, to Martina Correia, your uncle’s older sister. She’s extremely proud of you, and she says you won’t stop growing.
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Oh, no. No, I just continue to educate myself and continue to keep myself in the loop of everything that’s going on. And, you know, being that, that’s how I got—that’s who I am today, and I won’t stop until I feel that—when I know that all human rights, all injustice—everything is just the way it should be.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve actually trained as an activist. Can you talk about what kinds of things you’ve done during the summer and during the year?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: I’ve been mentored by Mr. Benjamin Todd Jealous, Mr. Larry Cox, various other leaders around this world, and, you know, just been taking bits and pieces of what they have done, just studying them, and, you know, putting it into me and trying to form my own self as I grow up. And, you know, that’s all I can do. And I just take those things, and I just—I run with them, and I go from there.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, the first time we met, he was—
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: The first time we met, he was three years old. And Troy’s mom came up—I mean, De’Jaun’s mom, Troy’s sister, Martina, came up, and she said, "You know, my brother’s innocent." And that day, I said to her, you know, "Bring us the evidence, and we’ll all fight. We’ll all fight." But over those years, what has been most—two things have been consistent. One, Martina has succeeded in accumulating the evidence. Bit by bit, the case has fallen apart. The other thing is that De’Jaun has just risen from being as high as my knee to as tall as he is now and just grown stronger and stronger and wiser and wiser, just into a better and better, finer and finer young man.
And, you know, that doesn’t happen just because you have mentors who drop in and drop, you can call or text. It happens because you have some—you have people in your life who are very consistent. And Troy has been incredibly consistent. You know, when we were visiting a few weeks ago, we had hours. It was just the two of us, Troy and I. He was—he talked with such pride about De’Jaun. And I said, "What do you try to teach him?" And he talked about the importance of teaching De’Jaun, you know, about college, about right from wrong, about how to comport yourself with dignity as a young man. There are fathers who are with their children every day who don’t make that sort of investment in their sons, let alone their nephews.
And that’s, I think, part of why so many of us are affected so deeply, is we know this is an innocent man, we also know this is a very decent man, who has spent the last 20 years trying to prepare his family for a life, prepare the movement for a victory, and prepare De’Jaun, the last 17 years, for success.
AMY GOODMAN: Your mother also—I mean, your mother and your uncle have been fighting for their lives. Certainly your mother has been fighting for your uncle’s life and her own, as she fights breast cancer, her face adorning the mammogram vans in Savannah, fighting for mammograms for poor women. What has your mother taught you, De’Jaun?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: You know, she’s taught me to stay always—don’t get a big head, no matter how smart I do, no matter how much attention I get in the world, and no matter, you know, how much I reach out. Always remember who you come—where you come from. Always remember your background, and never forget that, because if you forget your background, then you’re just basically forgetting the people who you grew up with, and you’re turning your back on the people who you most love and who actually brought you up to where you are.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: But also his grandmother. I mean, one of the things is that, you know, when you get to know the Davis family, you realize that the grandmother, who passed this summer—or spring, was an activist, too. She was an active member of the civil rights movement, of the—you know, of our association, somebody who took part in sit-ins, and really raised her daughters and her sons to have politics, to think about the world, to think about what they could do to make the world a better place. And so, it’s important to understand that, in that respect, all of them—Martina, De’Jaun, Troy—really reflect this very beautiful grandmother.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous, if the MacPhails were watching this right now, what would you say to them? Mark MacPhail, the police officer who was killed in 1989.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: What we all understand as we look at this case is that Officer MacPhail was a hero. He was not on duty that night. He was working as a security guard. And quite frankly, the requirements for security guards are very different than for officers of the law. And yet, he did his duty. He went to protect a homeless man who was being attacked. And he gave his life trying to protect the life of a homeless man. I mean, quite frankly, what the headlines were saying today from California about officers who beat up a homeless man, let’s be clear that MacPhail was a very special kind of hero. And he deserves justice.
But justice must be precise and exact. And, you know, as somebody who was—just, frankly, the month I was appointed this job, my young cousin was killed in front of the KFC in Columbia, Maryland. And we found out later that they were coming for a gangbanger, and they mistook my cousin for the gangbanger. You know, I know that the healing takes a long time. The closure never really comes. Again, justice must be exact. And as long as there’s doubt, then what that means is that there’s also doubt that the real killer is out there. It’s important that the real killer be found and brought to justice. But when the former head of the FBI has doubt, when Bob Barr—who’s not just a former congressman, he’s also a former prosecutor—has doubt, then the cause of justice has to go on until we know precisely who killed Officer MacPhail and that person is brought to justice.
AMY GOODMAN: Your uncle has gotten four stays of execution, so you have lived through many of these, De’Jaun. This is the fourth death warrant that has been signed. Three others were reprieves. How do you get through this? And even just now, everyone wildly cheering, did you think that a stay had been issued?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: We thought—well, we are not sure yet. We’re still waiting on the Supreme Court, because they stepped in just to look at—they have opinions about it and what they’re going to do, so we’re waiting on them to give their verdict. But, you know, through the three that we had previously, you know, just been faith and determination and, you know, just the pride to never give up.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And the reality is that this delay, no matter how temporary, is a miracle itself. I mean, we were there at 7:00. It was eerily silent. Then we hear cheers coming, and there’s calls about a stay. It turns out the stay wasn’t a stay, it was a reprieve. But it’s—
AMY GOODMAN: And it’s 7:23 right now.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, and that’s 23 more minutes than the state of Georgia intended for Troy Davis to live. And each one of those minutes is a miracle, and it affirms the faith of Troy Davis and the family.
AMY GOODMAN: Any final words, De’Jaun, tonight, just in these few minutes?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Yeah. I won’t—I know I won’t stop fighting for what’s right. I know Ben won’t stop fighting for what’s right. And I know none of these people out here will stop fighting for what’s right. And, you know, as long as we have all these people out here fighting for Troy Davis, I know we can get out fighting for other brothers and other sisters who are in the same predicament as Troy Davis, as well. And like my mother came up with that shirt, "I am Troy Davis," we are Troy Davis. And you could be Troy Davis, too, Ms. Amy Goodman. And, you know, it’s just a miracle, and it’s a very strong presence that we have. And, you know, like I said, you know, we won’t give up, and this won’t be the end. This will only make us stronger.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much, De’Jaun. Thank you, Ben Jealous. I see a colleague of yours right here, the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, an historic church. Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Jr.’s church. The senior pastor here, Raphael Warnock, welcome to Democracy Now!
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Thank you very much. You know, Martin Luther King, Jr., used to say that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. There’s a whole lot of truth in that one statement. The fight for justice is long. It is difficult. It has many turns and bends in the road. And there’s no better example of that than the Troy Davis case. This is a case in which clearly there’s just too much doubt for an execution, for those who support an execution. And yet, we are here. And no one—no one would have predicted that we would be standing in the place where we’re standing now. There’s been a delay. We don’t quite know what’s going on at this point. But it suggests that this road that leads to freedom and justice is difficult, and whatever the outcome tonight, we have to keep struggling.
AMY GOODMAN: Today at the church, I saw you. And I want to just grab this piece of paper. We are just about 24 minutes into the hour in which Troy Davis was scheduled to die. We’re standing in this eerie situation on the grounds of the Georgia death row prison. And for journalists, the Department of Corrections gave us a package of information. The information included what Troy Davis would be eating for his last meal. Do you know if he—he refused, De’Jaun, to have a special meal. Did he talk to you about that?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: He did refuse, like he does every time, because he always says this will not be his last meal, he will come back.
AMY GOODMAN: And did he talk to you about people witnessing his execution, if that were to pass—come to pass?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: That does not—we don’t even focus on that at all as a family. You know, we focus on seeing him next week, you know, seeing him weeks after that, and seeing him walk as a free man. Every time we pray, he starts off with a prayer, saying, you know, "God, let me be able to walk out of here as a free man—and a free man, so that—you know, there was an injustice in this case, that I am an innocent man. I did not commit this crime."
AMY GOODMAN: Well, the piece of paper that the Department of Corrections gave us showed the drug cocktail that he would be injected with. It’s just four lines: pentobarbitol, pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride—that’s the poison—and Ativan, the sedative, that he could take at 6:00, an hour before the 7:00 deadline, if he wanted to take it. They say that’s optional. They also keep him on a kind of suicide watch, so that he cannot kill himself. And they give him a physical at 3:00 to make sure he—
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: He’s healthy.
AMY GOODMAN: Healthy enough to kill?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Yeah, yeah. It is—it is—it’s barbaric, it’s uncivilized, and it’s immoral. And this movement is exposing this ugly chapter of America, which unfortunately is not yet closed. Even if Troy Davis survives tonight—and we certainly hope he will, things look hopeful in this moment—we still need to close this ugly chapter of American history. It is connected to Jim Crow justice. The death penalty is deeply rooted in racial bias and class bias. And whether you get the death penalty has much more to do with the demographics of the person who is accused and the demographics of the victim than it does with the crime. That data—black, poor, people of color, as the accused—that, more than the crime itself, is a better predictor of who’s likely to be—who’s likely to be executed. I think America should ask itself, if Troy Davis were white, under these circumstances, or if Officer MacPhail were not a police officer, would we be where we are? Clearly, there is deep bias, both in terms of the accused and the victim. And somehow, we’ve got to turn this around.
I think this is a turning point. People are paying attention. And when I met with Troy on Monday, he said that he felt that God was using him as an instrument for His glory. He didn’t seem certain about how that would unfold. He kept—he’s continued to keep the faith. And even on Monday, he talked about his future plans. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Monday was the day before the—well, that was the day of the hearings before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: That was the day of the hearing. I met with him before we heard back from the Board of Pardons and Paroles. And even there, he—and even then, he expressed a tremendous faith. And we talked about his future and some things that he had in mind. And maybe at some point I’ll feel free to share those.
AMY GOODMAN: What is it like to go onto death row to visit Troy?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Well, Troy—
AMY GOODMAN: He was in isolation then.
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Well, not completely isolated. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Was it a contact visit?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: It was not. The last time I visited Troy Davis, it was a contact visit. But as we’ve gotten closer to this date, for some reason, road blocks, that seem quite arbitrary to us, and prohibitions have been raised every day. And we’re not certain why. Even today, there were some persons who thought they were on the list to be there in witness and solidarity. They were on the list to be in solidarity with Troy. They wanted to be there with him, as difficult as it is. They received—
AMY GOODMAN: At the execution.
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: And they received phone calls, yesterday, day before yesterday, that they could not be there, without an explanation.
AMY GOODMAN: Who were they?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: I’m sorry.
AMY GOODMAN: Who were the people—
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: That were...
AMY GOODMAN: —who were denied?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: These are people who have been engaged in this struggle, members of Amnesty and some of the other people who have been engaged in this fight.
AMY GOODMAN: De’Jaun, for you to visit your uncle, what is it physically like to go into the prison? How does it work? And do you have contact visits with him?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Yes, we have contact visits with him. We had—actually, for this past three or so days. We just had a few contact visits in the last two years, because they actually took away contact visits for everyone. And so, we’ve been talking across glass with a gate in between the glass, like a plexiglass, over a phone for the last two years. So it’s been kind of rough. But, you know, that didn’t break us down. Like I said, it only made us stronger. Each thing they do to Troy makes him stronger, so therefore it makes us stronger. You know, I just look at Troy—as far as, you know, Reverend Warnock said, Ben Jealous said, you know, Troy is one of the strongest, as far as mentally and stably in the word of God and faith, that they have seen in a long time, and I believe that also. And, you know, I’m going to keep emphasizing always that, you know, stay positive. Don’t look at it negative and let it bring you down, because once it bring you down, then you have been defeated. You can’t be defeated. You have to continue to fight and to continue to fight until you win and defeat something that was trying to defeat you.
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: De’Jaun—De’Jaun—De’Jaun is the clearest example of the kind of man that Troy Davis is, because from death row he’s mentored and supported this young man. Of course, he also has an incredible mother. And together, they’ve raised a young man that we’re all very, very proud of. He says he’s going to Georgia Tech. I say Morehouse College. But in any case, we’re very—
AMY GOODMAN: Has it been decided yet?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: We’re very proud of him.
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Not yet.
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: It may be a—
AMY GOODMAN: I hear hundreds of students from Morehouse and from Spelman marched here.
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Yes, they have. And I’m very grateful to them for them marching here. But, you know, I’m still—I’m still sticking toward Georgia Tech. But there is a way I can maneuver between Georgia Tech and Morehouse, and I’ve really taken an interest into it.
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Can I say to you that—because I haven’t said this yet. I’ve shared some of the things that Troy said to me the other day, but one of the things that I remember the most is that right before he and I parted ways—and we decided we would part a few minutes earlier than the time that they had given us—that we would leave on our own terms. And the last thing he did is he flashed this incredible smile. This is a man who, through an indomitable spirit and an incredible faith, has managed to smile, even on death row. He is—he is an incredible person, deeply—he has deep faith. And I was there as a pastor to encourage him. I hope I did. He certainly encouraged me.
AMY GOODMAN: Reverend Warnock is the senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. King’s church, Dr. King, Sr.’s church, as well. What did Dr. Martin Luther King have to say about the death penalty?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Well, Dr. King was unequivocally opposed to the death penalty, and so was his wife, Coretta Scott King. And they felt that the only Christian response to the death penalty is "no," and that was their position, which was consistent with his whole philosophy of nonviolence. And we’re seeing, in a dramatic way, the ways in which violence only breeds further violence. And it was Dr. King’s spirituality, which, in the midst of this—of the old Jim Crow South, allowed him to maintain a certain kind of discipline, and through it he transformed America. And these young people, De’Jaun and others, they stand on the shoulders of those who came before them. And right now America is being transformed. She may not know it yet, but America is being transformed tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about President Obama and whether he has weighed in. Have you spoken, De’Jaun—have you met President Obama?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: I have not yet. I have not met with President Obama yet. But I’m pretty sure in the future, if I raise enough hell, I will.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you want to say to him?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: You know, there’s not much I really can say, but if I would say something, just—you know, just look into the case. You know, just look into everything. Look into all—and everything is right there in black and white. You know, just look at it, and just sit back for 30-45 minutes, however long it takes you. Just sit there and look at it. And I promise you, if he looks at that case and looks at everything through and through, he will be on the same side that we are, saying, "Free Troy Davis." And probably wearing the "I am Troy Davis" shirt.
AMY GOODMAN: What about President Obama weighing in? He hasn’t yet. He clearly knows about this case.
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Sure. I endorsed President Obama in 2008, and I’ve been a supporter. He’s come to the church. We continue to support the President. I think his heart is certainly in the right place. A number of things are on your plate as president of the United States, certainly. We have reached out to the Justice Department. I know that the NAACP has. And I’ve also reached out to them to make sure that they are aware. Of course, everybody is aware of this case. I do think that there’s a role for the Justice Department to play here in investigating the police intimidation and coercion of witnesses that is at the root of this case. That is something that the Attorney General, the Attorney General, the Honorable Eric Holder, could certainly look into. And we would urge him to do so.
AMY GOODMAN: The White House said earlier it would be inappropriate to weigh in on a particular case.
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Well, I’m asking the Justice Department, the enforcement arm of our government, to examine the fact that witness after witness after witness has testified that they were coerced, they were intimidated. That flies in the face of what we call the rule of law. And that is something that the Justice Department could do and should do.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, it is right now, as we hold the watch, which is so critical on this evening, as the sun sets in Jackson, Georgia, it is 7:38. We’re talking to the senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, the King church, Raphael Warnock. And we’re speaking with De’Jaun Correia Davis. Is it Correia Davis or Davis Correia?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Davis Correia.
AMY GOODMAN: Davis, Troy Davis. Correia, Martina Correia, is his mother, who has fought for her brother’s life as well as her own, as she battles cancer. She actually is just behind us, is that right?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Mm-hmm. Yes, she is.
AMY GOODMAN: She’s just behind these yellow ropes. The journalists aren’t supposed to go beyond them, but the family is just beyond. You were wheeling her in the wheelchair. She is having a rough time, weaker than I’ve seen her in quite a while, De’Jaun.
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Yes, yes. She has had a—she is—now she’s cancer-free as of last year, going on. And so, you know, she has been battling cancer for 10 years, but this is just a side effect of, you know, what’s happened in her cancer. But she told me, you know, "That’s not stopping me." So she’s still out her—I mean, out here, because, matter of fact, last Thursday, and for like three months now, she’s been in the hospital. And, you know, she got out just so she can come and see Uncle—you know, her brother. And, you know, that takes a lot of heart, to come out of the hospital as low as—you know, as sick as she was at one point in time, to come out and to fight out here.
AMY GOODMAN: Your mom served in the military, is that right? In the Gulf War?
ANTONE DE’JAUN DAVIS CORREIA: Oh, yeah, she did. She was a nurse, and I’m not quite sure what else she did, but she did serve in the Gulf War.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, De’Jaun is here, the 17-year-old nephew of Troy Davis, as well as many others, now have gathered around us holding signs. Among them, "Spare Troy Davis. Stop this legal lynching," is one of the signs. "Not Enough Evidence" is another sign. "Justice for Troy Davis! On death row 16 years, no physical evidence, strong case for innocence."
We’re on the grounds of the death row prison for all of Georgia. Troy Davis was scheduled to die at 7:00 tonight, which is 40 minutes ago. We are waiting to get word from the Supreme Court. About 150 people, capacity here, because that’s how the Corrections Department wanted it, fill this pen behind me. And about a thousand people are across the street, where there are signs. You sometimes hear them cheer. In fact, that is what has led to some confusion, because when a cheer goes up, to say the least, it’s contagious. And then people try to get the information so that the facts can catch up.
1989, Mark MacPhail, a off-duty police officer who was serving as a security guard, went to the aid of a homeless man in a parking lot in Savannah, Georgia. He was shot dead. The question is, who shot him? Ultimately, Troy Davis was found guilty of the murder of Mark MacPhail, this white off-duty police officer. There’s no circumstantial evidence linking Troy Davis to the death of Mark MacPhail. Seven of the nine non-police witnesses recanted or contradicted their testimony over the years. In fact, several jurors in Troy Davis’s case have come forward and said if they knew then what they know now, they would never have convicted Troy Davis. It has led to four death warrants and three—four death warrants, three reprieves. This is the fourth.
As we speak right now, A death row prisoner, Lawrence Brewer has been executed in Texas. We’re joined right now—he died at 7:21 Eastern time. Renée Feltz is with us. This death row prisoner, Brewer, in Texas—Renée Feltz is a Democracy Now! producer. She hails from Texas, has followed the death row there very closely, also monitoring what’s happening all around us in this—in the grounds of the prison, where the sun is going down, and not clear what’s happening with this prisoner, whose case is being watched by people all over the world.
Renée, do you know about the Houston—the Texas case?
RENÉE FELTZ: I do, and I can report to our listeners and viewers around the world that 49-year-old James Byrd, Jr., who people may recall was dragged to his death by several people in Texas, has been executed tonight, shortly after the time, 6:00 p.m. in Texas. He was a white supremacist gang member, according to the AP, Lawrence Russell Brewer.
Now, what happened specifically was that he, along with some other people, dragged 49-year-old James Byrd of Jasper to his death. He was chained behind their pickup truck. Now, this was 13 years ago, but it seems like yesterday in the minds of many people. One of the witnesses in that case described coming upon the scene, and it’s a grisly scene of body parts, and they were on the road, and he didn’t know what it was and then followed the trail of these body parts to the truck and realized that it couldn’t be a deer and it couldn’t be a hit and run, because it followed the tire tracks on the road. So this was a very dramatic case. And this was what we are reporting on now, this execution that’s gone forward.
Now, a lot of people may wonder, you know, why people weren’t out there protesting. You know, it just points to the complicated nature of the death penalty. Meanwhile, here in—outside of Atlanta, Georgia, in Jackson, Georgia, we’re basically talking about a situation where we’re waiting on the U.S. Supreme Court to make a decision. Different sources are reporting it could be seven days, it could be minutes, it could be hours. We’re not quite sure. Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: We’re trying to get news in a very grassroots way here. Joe Beasley has his cell phone out. And Joe—Joe is with Rainbow/PUSH. He visited Troy Davis with Jesse Jackson, with Reverend Jackson, in June. What are you reading? What’s the information you’re getting?
JOE BEASLEY: Yes, I’m just reading information that on Channel 11, there’s reporting that Troy Davis has a one- to seven-day reprieve for a final decision from the Supreme Court.
AMY GOODMAN: Keep reading.
JOE BEASLEY: Yes. This is only a reprieve, not a stay. So he still might be killed any time after tonight. A reprieve means to delay the impending punishment or sentence or—of a condemned person. A stay means to suspend or delay action, proceedings. So it appears—
AMY GOODMAN: So it’s a reprieve, not a stay.
JOE BEASLEY: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And it could last any time from one day to seven days.
JOE BEASLEY: Seven days. The Supreme Court—
AMY GOODMAN: Now this—and where did you—
JOE BEASLEY: This is coming over Channel 11.
AMY GOODMAN: And that’s your local news in Atlanta.
JOE BEASLEY: Yes, local news in Atlanta, which I think is a reliable source.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to try to get someone to give us a little more information on this.
RENÉE FELTZ: Amy, I just wanted to make one addendum for our listeners and viewers around the world, that, you know, while I was in Texas reporting on the situation with the Byrd case, I came across many of his family members, who actually oppose the execution of this man responsible for this brutal death of their father. They oppose the execution of James Byrd, his family members, many of them. One of his family members wrote a song, has made an album about this. So it just goes to show, as we had earlier today, there are many murder victims’ families out there who, even in the toughest of cases, oppose the death penalty. That’s not necessarily what we’ve seen in the Troy Davis case, but it’s interesting to note that the outcry that’s been described for the execution of Troy Davis by police officers, by the family members, has been very strong in the media, but here today, at least on site, we’re not seeing a lot of members of the police here necessarily on site. That’s not to say it could be going on elsewhere, but it’s interesting to note that.
Also just wanted to tell you briefly that I did venture up near the entrance of the prison grounds here. Now no one else is being allowed in. There’s still a variety of police. They’re wearing riot gear, some of them, some of them more normal state police gear. And so, they’re guarding the entrance to the prison. Meanwhile, I would say I still see about an equal number of demonstrators across the street as it’s getting very dark here. The sun has gone down. People don’t seem to be leaving. They’re still waiting, still seem very hopeful, chanting. We see prayers going on behind us, people talking.
And I think you have to wonder what’s going through Troy’s mind at this particular moment. In Texas, where I’m most familiar with reporting, by this time, he would have been served his final meal. If he was going to eat it, he would have been served by now. And now, Amy, with this—this would be the fourth time that he has gone through this, right? And you have to wonder how, when the system works like this, if it’s very painful for the murder victims’ families, whoever was the perpetrator, you know, what it’s like for Troy Davis, what it’s like for his family members who are here. And some of them, so emotionally distraught, really don’t even necessarily want to share their thoughts. So you have to wonder what he’s going through. But as we’ve heard from many people who have met with Troy Davis, saying that he’s a very strong individual, and I’m sure he’s keeping hope alive, as you might say. But maybe he’s come to peace with what he’s done. He’s done what he could. And that’s kind of where we are standing right now.
Amy, have you mentioned we’re extending the broadcast?
AMY GOODMAN: Ah, we’re extending the broadcast until...
RENÉE FELTZ: Nine p.m. Eastern [Daylight] Time. That’s East Coast time. We’re going to keep going. We’re going to try to see what we’ve found out. I saw from one source, ABC News, that this could be a multi-day—it could be a week before we really hear anything. But it could be later tonight. We’ll have to see.
I wanted to say one other thing. I mentioned the police that are guarding the entrance to the prison grounds here. If you look around, you can’t really see it, it’s getting dark here, but there are police basically in stormtrooper gear scattered across behind the protest pen, if you will, here.
AMY GOODMAN: Behind the trees.
RENÉE FELTZ: Yes. There’s big, large cars that they were in. The police are there. They’re not in vast number. But as soon as the cheer went up, the police moved in. And I think they’re getting ready for a decision, one way or the other. So, it remains to be seen what the decision will be, but that’s the scene here now.
AMY GOODMAN: We are joined by—well, we don’t know everyone who’s in this pen, so why don’t you introduce yourself.
MINISTER LYNN HOPKINS: My name is Lynn Hopkins. I had an opportunity to meet with Troy yesterday morning. I’ve been a close friend of Troy now for a number of years. We became acquainted after I had a chance to hear Martina and immediately knew this was something that we needed to be involved in. So we started—
AMY GOODMAN: Where do you come from?
MINISTER LYNN HOPKINS: We lived in Georgia for 18 years, but three months ago we moved to Denver, Colorado. And that’s where we flew in from on Sunday night.
AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts tonight, as a helicopter hovers overhead, as people gather around the family, who is just behind us? We were speaking with De’Jaun. We want to play a clip of Martina in just a minute from earlier today and also want to bring you a conversation I had with the Reverend Al Sharpton as he came out to the protest pen before he left. And we want to play a little for you of Big Boi, as well, of OutKast. We’re going to go to Martina in a minute, but talk about what your visit was like with Troy Davis.
MINISTER LYNN HOPKINS: Well, of course it was heart-wrenching. We had just gotten word of the Board decision to refuse clemency. And so, we were devastated. Troy was characteristic Troy. He was strong. He was encouraging. Looking into his eyes, I could see that he was tired. But his heart tonight has been with his family. He wasn’t worried about what happened to him for his own sake, but he was deeply concerned about his sisters.
AMY GOODMAN: You can hear Kim Davis on Democracy Now!, his sister, who he took care of for many years before he was in prison. And then Martina Correia herself, who is sick at the same time she fights for Troy Davis. Let’s go to a clip of Martina Correia, the older sister of Troy Davis, just a little while ago. But before we do that, an update, some information. We’re trying to gather things as they happen on the ground. Let’s go to Martina Correia for a moment.
MARTINA CORREIA: Troy Davis has impacted the world. My brother said he never thought that people would know his name across oceans, across the states, in places like Tanzania and Ethiopia, places where they kill people in the Middle East, and they’re still saying, "I am Troy Davis." And they say it in hues of colors that my brother has never seen and languages that he can’t speak. But when they say, "I am Troy Davis," everybody knows what that means. And I want you to understand that that doesn’t mean "I am Troy Davis from Savannah, Georgia." That means that we can all be Troy Davis. And if we don’t have somebody to stand up for the Troy Davises, then we are no better than the people who put him there.
So I want to stand with my family and say that my—our lives, and my son’s and my sisters’ and brothers’ lives and my niece’s life, has been richer for knowing Troy. Anybody who’s met Troy has come away with an imprint of him on their soul. I don’t have to tell people what my brother’s life, because once they get to meet him, they can see for themselves. And that’s why they’ve tried to keep him voiceless in the press, because they don’t want you to know who Troy Davis is, because then you couldn’t stand by and allow the state to kill in your name. So I just would like to say that I am Troy Davis.
CROWD: We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis!
MARTINA CORREIA: And I just—and I just would like to say that, you know, I’ve been battling cancer for 10 years. And I’m—I don’t have cancer, but I’m reaping some of the effects of the medicine. Several months ago, I couldn’t—I was doing fine. And after that, I couldn’t get up out of the chair. But I’m here to tell you that I’m going to stand here for my brother today.
[with crowd] I am Troy Davis! You are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis!
Now let’s get to work, and let’s tell Georgia that we will not stand by, and we will defy them. And we need to start with that gold dome. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Martina Correia, Martina Correia in a local church just about a quarter of a mile from where we’re standing right now. That was during the day. That was in the lead-up to the moment that the state had scheduled to execute Troy Davis. That was about 4:00 in the afternoon. It’s now 7:55. He was scheduled to die at 7:00. Behind me, the family of Troy Davis is being regaled with prayers and song. People are clapping. People outside of the prison grounds, there are many more of those, because this area is very seriously contained. Many guards, state troopers, all sorts of law enforcement is here, along with the media.
But I’m joined right now by Ed DuBose. Ed DuBose is the Georgia chapter president of the NAACP, gave a fiery speech in the church earlier today. You were talking about how the family had to leave at 3:00 from visiting Troy today, on what could be the last day of his life, because he had to get a physical.
EDWARD DUBOSE: He had to get a physical. And it’s amazing that he gets a physical, so that they can make sure he’s in good shape, so that they can then strap him down and put what we call "the murder juice" in his arms.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been working on this case for years.
EDWARD DUBOSE: For four or five years, I’ve been working on this case. I’ve met with Troy on three occasions, including yesterday. What an awesome individual.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about why you think this case has garnered so much attention, not only in Georgia, though coming here last night to Atlanta, it was news around the clock throughout Georgia. But also, around the country and around the world, it is getting, to say the least, far more attention than almost any other death row case, perhaps aside from Mumia Abu-Jamal.
EDWARD DUBOSE: The Troy Davis case represents everything that’s wrong with the death penalty. And I think that’s why people are paying attention to this case, that a man could be on death row with no physical evidence, that his life could be about—that his life could be taken any moment. And we believe that there’s too much doubt to kill him.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain, when you talk about no physical evidence. 1989, a police officer, who was a security guard—he was off duty—is killed trying to help a homeless man. Troy Davis is arrested. Then he was tried, and he was convicted, without any physical evidence. What does that mean?
EDWARD DUBOSE: Well, I mean, there is no weapon. Today there is no weapon. There is no weapon that the law enforcement is holding on, that they can say, "This is the weapon that was fired." There is nothing other than eyewitness testimony that tied Troy Anthony Davis to this case. And yet, seven of those nine eyewitness testimonies, those people have recanted. And so, again, it speaks to everything that’s wrong with the death penalty, and that’s why you see so many people, not just from Georgia, but across this country.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to warn the listeners and viewers who will be leaving us. We are extending our broadcast until 9:00. But if your station cuts away, you can continue to watch this special broadcast of Democracy Now! on the grounds of the Georgia—what’s called Diagnostic Prison. It’s Georgia’s death row in Jackson, Georgia, about, oh, 40 miles from Atlanta, Georgia. You can continue to watch this broadcast at democracynow.org. We’re live-streaming there. And if you can’t get on there, you can go to livestream.com and find the Democracy Now! broadcast. Tell your friends we are here, on the grounds, because of the grounds of this case, what this case about Troy Davis means for America. Thank you so much for joining us, those who are leaving. For those who are staying, we are staying, as well.
Right now, helicopters are hovering overhead. We see cars on the outskirts. There’s a lot of security around us. We’re surrounded by the lights of this broadcast. I’m with Ed DuBose, who is the chapter president of the NAACP in Georgia. We’re going to bring you Al Sharpton, a conversation I had with him just a few hours ago. There were a couple of buses from the National Action Network, his own organization that came in. Many of the people here are from the National Action Network. Again, thank you so much to those of you who have been with us. We’re going to be playing a clip of Big Boi of OutKast in just a few minutes. I got a chance to talk to him earlier today. He also is from Savannah, like Troy Davis. And he had a few things to say about Troy Davis.
So, again, go to democracynow.org to watch the live broadcast. You can go to livestream.com and watch our broadcast there. But to stations that are staying with us, you are staying with us. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We are live from the death row prison in Jackson, Georgia. I’m Amy Goodman.
We are joined by the president of the NAACP in Georgia, Ed DuBose, and also Jen Marlowe. Jen Marlowe is a longtime community activist, is wearing a T-shirt right now, a bright blue T-shirt that says, "I am Troy Davis," very much a refrain that is being heard here and seen on the posters and T-shirts.
Jen, you’re writing a book with Martina Correia.
JEN MARLOWE: Correct. It’s Martina’s story, really. It’s the story of Martina’s double struggle fighting for Troy’s life at the same time that she’s been fighting for her own life, battling cancer.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about who Martina is, the older sister of Troy Davis, who was in the military.
JEN MARLOWE: Martina Davis Correia is a force of nature. That’s the only way to describe this woman. She is someone who will fight and fight and fight, until there is—until she can’t stand anymore, literally. She is the reason why Troy Davis is alive at this moment. Without Martina for years and years shouting, at first like a voice in the wilderness, shouting about her brother’s innocence, shouting and shouting until finally people had to start listening, because she wasn’t going to stop fighting, and she wasn’t going to [stop] shouting. And people did listen. People like Mr. DuBose began to listen. Organizations like Amnesty International began to listen. The press began to listen. And that’s how this movement started. That’s how this phenomenal movement built. That led into almost one—actually, over one million petition signatures calling out for clemency for Troy Davis. That movement never would have happened if it hadn’t started with Martina.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, what about the significance of this night? We do not know how even this night will turn out. Joe just read to us a report from Channel 11, where they said he has not gotten a stay, but a reprieve for perhaps a few hours, perhaps a few days. We haven’t even confirmed that.
EDWARD DUBOSE: It’s something special about this moment that people have to pay attention to. He, Troy Anthony Davis, according to their watch, should already be dead at this moment. Yet there’s something about this moment, not a stay, a reprieve or whatever they call it, but Troy Davis is still alive.
AMY GOODMAN: And it’s 8:02. He was scheduled to die at 7:00 Eastern time. Again, we don’t know what’s happening in the prison, though, right now.
EDWARD DUBOSE: That’s absolutely correct. We don’t know what’s happening in the prison, but we do know—at least we believe right now at this moment—that Troy Anthony Davis is still alive. And if Troy Anthony Davis is still alive, we still have a reason to keep pushing. And even if—I want people to be clear—even if this moment pass and he was only alive for a moment, God has given us a reason to continue to fight. We come from all walk—black, white, brown. We come, Republicans and Democrats and independents. We come, children and adults. I saw a family, a whole family, walking down the street. He said to me, "Mr. DuBose, I heard you yesterday, and I brought my whole family." A father with all of his children and his wife. There’s something special about this moment.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn right now to Big Boi, to OutKast. You were at the church today, and so was this best-selling rapper. I got to talk to him for a few minutes.
BIG BOI: I’m just really just speaking out on a miscarriage of justice, man. You know, there’s too much doubt. I’m not, you know, really here to say who is guilty or who’s not, you know? It’s just the fact that seven people recanted their story. There’s no evidence. And, you know, how can you execute somebody if you’re not 100 percent sure. That’s what it all boils down to.
AMY GOODMAN: You singing about this, rapping about it?
BIG BOI: Man, I sing about life, and this is a part of life, man, so I guess it’s on to the next thing now right now. You know, "thou shall not kill," that applies to the citizens as well as the government. So, you know, down with the death penalty.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re from Savannah, as well?
BIG BOI: Originally Savannah, Georgia, West Savannah, Georgia, Frazier Homes, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: What is your message to Troy?
BIG BOI: Oh, man, just may God be with you, man. Just whatever the Lord say, for sure.
AMY GOODMAN: And to everyone else?
BIG BOI: God bless everybody, man. Just keep it—stay praying. Stay prayed up. All right?
AMY GOODMAN: Thanks.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Big Boi of OutKast, best-selling rapper, hip-hop star. We’re going to play some of his music later. But right now, we’re going to turn to Al Sharpton. The Reverend Al Sharpton was here earlier today, and as he came on the grounds of the—what’s called the Georgia Diagnostic Prison, the prison where Troy Davis is imprisoned on death row. I talked to him about the case.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re at the Georgia Diagnostic Classification Prison right now, just before the scheduled execution of Troy Anthony Davis. The press release that we’ve been handed says, "Execution date set for Chatham County murderer." It’s an information packet from the Department of Corrections.
Reverend Al Sharpton, why are you here? Who have you brought?
REV. AL SHARPTON: Well, National Action Network and I have been involved in this case the last four years. Our Savannah chapter was approached by his sister, and we’ve been involved. I stood right here with members of the National Action Network in 2008 with his mother. And we were—had the same press releases were put out. We were in preparation. I had visited him on death row. And 90 minutes out, it was stopped. So some of us here are hoping that we get another miracle.
Others of us are saying, no matter what happens, we must, in Troy Davis’ name, really move toward federal law that makes it illegal for states to even have a death trial on just eyewitness testimony. The crux of this case, which even Republicans, pro-death penalty Republicans like Bob Barr and William Sessions and others, have joined people like us in calling this case an egregious case, is that the total conviction was based on nine eyewitnesses, who—seven of whom have recanted. Even with their recanting, even with the fact that police gave a ballistics testimony that ended up wrong. They said that the ballistics on the bullet found in the victim, Officer MacPhail, matched a bullet from an earlier incident that they tied to Troy Davis. When they found out it didn’t connect, one of the jurors came forward and said Monday at the Georgia Board of Pardon and Parole, "If we had known that, I would have voted 'not guilty,'" which would have hung the jury. How do you execute a man with these many holes in the story? We’re not talking about a life sentence here. We’re not talking about him let out after 25 years. We’re talking about the state killing a man. This is a precedent that goes way beyond this man, because if flawed eyewitnesses can send a man to his death, that can happen to me and anyone that’s in this vigil.
AMY GOODMAN: This is the fourth death warrant signed for Troy Anthony Davis. Why have there been so many signed?
REV. AL SHARPTON: Because there’s been so much doubt. And you would think that the Georgia Board of Pardon and Parole would have said, "If three other times people said there’s enough cause for pause, then why wouldn’t we at least say, ’Let’s wait a minute. Let us get enough time, hold a date, and review this’? New evidence has come forward, new witnesses. The new juror came forward." They didn’t even do that. And you can only ask yourself why.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the relationship between race and the death penalty?
REV. AL SHARPTON: Well, if you look at the overwhelming majority of people that have been executed in this country, they have been black and then brown. The overwhelming majority of people on death row: black, then brown. Yet, we’re only 13 percent of the population. There’s been any number of studies that have shown the racial disparity in death trials, death sentencing, people on death row. So, race is a major factor here.
Class is a factor. When I sat with Troy, Troy talked about how when he was first arrested, he didn’t have the resources to defend himself. He was given pro bono attorneys. They were de-funded in the middle of defending him. So they couldn’t penetrate the witnesses. So, maybe the witnesses that ended up recanting would have fell apart on the stand if he had the proper legal defense. That’s class, by not being able to afford the proper legal representation. You have all of the demons that we have faced in this country, from race to class to people that have this almost bloodthirsty zeal that "we are right, and we don’t mind sparing life." All of that is in this case.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel President Obama should step forward on this case?
REV. AL SHARPTON: There is a debate on whether he could. This is a state trial and a state conviction, and lawyers are debating—because we’ve argued this with our general counsel at National Action Network and the Justice Department—whether the president can overstep a state trial. The governor, according to the Georgia state law, couldn’t pardon Troy. It’s only the Board of Pardon and Parole. So, if the governor can’t do it, there’s serious question whether the president could. What can happen is the Justice Department could come in and deal with the civil rights violation of somebody being tried based on eyewitness evidence. And the Justice Department can certainly deal with whether these witnesses were tampered with.
AMY GOODMAN: If Troy Anthony Davis is executed, what does it say to you about this country?
REV. AL SHARPTON: Says that with all the progress we’ve made, we’re nowhere near where we need to go. It says to me that we can mobilize and organize and elect an African-American president, have an African-American attorney general, but can’t stop an African American with more than reasonable doubt on death row from having his life taken by the state.
AMY GOODMAN: What was the last thing that Troy Anthony Davis said to you? You visited him. You’ve spoken to him several times.
REV. AL SHARPTON: "Fight for justice. It’s bigger than me. Fight to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Keep fighting." And that’s why I’m here. I promised him what—no matter what happened, I would keep fighting. And I’m going to keep my promise to Troy Davis.
AMY GOODMAN: The MacPhail family will be witnessing the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. What do you say to them? They have said—for example, Mark MacPhail’s mother has said that it will bring closure to her.
REV. AL SHARPTON: I say to them that we certainly sympathize with them—no one, in any way, justifies what happened to their son, their brother—and that they should get justice. But justice is not executing the wrong man. The only way you will ever get closure is if you know that the person that did this is the person that faced justice. And when this is all over and the cameras are gone and the people are no longer asking them questions, I would only ask them to think in their heart, are you really sure that they got the man that did this, or whether or not the man or woman that did it is still at large, and therefore Mr. MacPhail was a victim again, and along with Troy Davis.
AMY GOODMAN: Last question: what will this case mean for Mumia Abu-Jamal in Pennsylvania?
REV. AL SHARPTON: I think that it is a case that has to send chills over those of us that have supported Mumia, because, again, it brings us back clearly to where law is not abided by when it comes to those that want to just go ahead and execute. If we didn’t produce a juror to say, "I wouldn’t have voted guilty," if we didn’t have eyewitnesses say and recant, this might just be a debate over the death penalty. But when you have evidence that he was convicted and there was more than reasonable doubt, when you have Bob Barr, Bill Sessions, who was the head of the FBI, saying, "No, there’s something wrong here," I don’t know what you have to do.
AMY GOODMAN: The Reverend Al Sharpton, speaking to us a few hours ago, before the execution time for Troy Davis, speaking in this very spot, but it was light outside. Now, here at the Georgia prison, Georgia death row prison, where all death row prisoners in Georgia are brought, the grounds are filled with people who are opposed to Troy Davis’s execution. Across the street, where there isn’t a limit on the number, there are many hundreds of people. Inside, people are not allowed—where we are right now—are not allowed to leave. Or let’s just say, if they leave, they’re not allowed to come back.
In fact, just before we talk about the Supreme Court for a moment, and what could happen at the Supreme Court, because it is at this moment 8:13 Eastern [Daylight] Time—Troy was slated to die at 7:00, this is an hour and 15 minutes later—we want to find out what the legal issues are. But we’re joined by a couple of people who—here, if you could just come forward for a moment—people who have just come from all over the state, actually all over the country. This woman is wearing a T-shirt that says, "The Atlanta Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma and Theta Sorority." Tell us your name.
JODI WILLIAMS: Jodi Williams.
AMY GOODMAN: And you came today when?
JODI WILLIAMS: I came around 3:00.
AMY GOODMAN: From?
JODI WILLIAMS: Decatur, Georgia.
AMY GOODMAN: Uh-huh. And you’re not allowed to bring any food in.
JODI WILLIAMS: No, just water.
AMY GOODMAN: Just water. And you’re not allowed to leave.
JODI WILLIAMS: No. Right now, we’re not allowed to leave.
AMY GOODMAN: Why did you come?
JODI WILLIAMS: I came to support Troy. And I feel like Georgia is doing injustice to Troy. Seven people has recanted their story. And doesn’t lying constitute for something? You know, if they lied, then this man should be set free.
AMY GOODMAN: Talking about the seven of the nine non-police witnesses who have either recanted or contradicted their testimonies. This doesn’t include jurors who have now come out and said if they knew then what they knew now, they would not have convicted Troy Davis. But on Tuesday, the decision was handed down by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles that they would not grant a reprieve for Troy Davis, so he was slated to die tonight at 7:00. It is an hour and 15 minutes later.
And we’re joined by Joe Beasley. He is with Rainbow/PUSH. He visited Troy in June with the Reverend Jesse Jackson. And Ben Jealous is back with us, CEO and president of the NAACP and a parishioner at St. Mary’s Church in New York, where I understand crowds are watching Democracy Now! on the big screen.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Hey Father Kooperkamp.
AMY GOODMAN: So we’re here. We’re broadcasting until 9:00 Eastern [Daylight] Time. And for those of you who can’t get us on your radio or television station anymore, welcome to democracynow.org. We’re live-streaming there. But Ben, can you talk about this latest news we’ve heard about Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice, being the one to take on this case right now by the Supreme Court?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, if that’s indeed the case, many here would see that as a good sign, because the last time a stay was issued, it came to Justice Thomas, and he was the one who built consensus. The process on the court is that you ultimately have to have four justices to get a stay. They typically try to go for five, so that they’re clear that there is a majority, but they have to get four. And that’s a process where the clerks receive this, they discuss it with one of the principals like Justice Thomas. They then go about making a case, writing up, you know, their argument, circulating it to their peers, discussing and debating and deliberating—what justices do—and then ultimately seeing if they can get at least four, but they tend to go for five, all in a group, to say, "Let’s go forward with a stay."
AMY GOODMAN: So, since Judge Thomas reviewed this before, what has changed? Just to be clear, there have been four death warrants issued for Troy Davis: back in 2007, 2008, 2009, was it, and now, something like that.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: So, yeah, something like that. You know, the dates sort of escape me out here. We haven’t been able to eat for a while, and in fact many of us are fasting in solidarity with Troy right now.
You know, what’s changed in those years? A few things. I mean, this morning what changed, the prison said that he could not take a polygraph test. That was—that’s one thing that’s changed. Just this afternoon, we were on CNN with a witness who has had her life threatened by a man who she says has admitted to being the actual killer, that many in the community say indeed they know was the actual killer. That’s changed.
AMY GOODMAN: And that man, Sylvester Coles, is the one who first pointed the finger at Troy Davis that night. He was on the scene.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right. And he’s one of the only two to not recant. You know, we don’t—we haven’t tried or convicted him, but what we are saying is that there should be a new trial. And that’s something else, is that, look, in 22 years, there’s been a whole bunch of different machinations, different procedural appeals and so forth, but never a new trial. One thing that’s changed, that it’s come out—this weekend it came out. Dr. Warnock was on CNN talking about the fact that when he met recently with the current DA in Savannah, DA Chisolm, he said that if the case was in front of him today, he would not prosecute it as a death penalty case. Yet this is a man who signed requesting the death warrant. And so, you know, there’s been a lot of chinks that just continue to come out, that continue to tear away this case, or just simply the public’s confidence that we’re doing the right thing here.
AMY GOODMAN: Joe Beasley, Clarence Thomas, Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court, comes from Georgia.
JOE BEASLEY: Well, yes, he’s from Pin Point, Georgia, just outside of Savannah. And, of course, after Thurgood Marshall passed on, African Americans cried out for a new justice on the Supreme Court, and of course we got Clarence Thomas. And I’ve always held out hope that Clarence Thomas is going to do the right thing. And I think this is an example of a case that he can say he stands for justice. But let me just say this. I met Clarence, had lunch with him and got his book, and he’s a very personable man. And so, Mr. Jealous know a whole lot more about this than I do, and I just feel—I’m seventy—will be 75, and I worked with Jesse Jackson [inaudible] in 1976. But I feel really good having people like Ben Jealous that is really, you know, stepping in there and making us feel good as we get old, and we know we’re in great hands.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Well, you all trained us well. You all trained us well. You know, I think that the reality here is that if Clarence Thomas were to build a consensus, he’d be in good company. I mean, we’ve seen—one of the things that’s happened recently, we’ve seen former FBI director Bill Sessions come forward. We’ve seen Bob Barr.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the significance of Bill Sessions, who is a Republican.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: It’s a really big deal. Yeah, it’s a really big deal when you see a Republican former head of the FBI come forward and say that there’s too much doubt here to execute. It really casts doubt much more broadly. And then you see Larry Thompson, a black Republican like Thomas, former number two in George W. Bush’s DOJ, come forward and say that there’s too much doubt. And Bob Barr. And it begins to remind you that, really, you know, while both parties seem to think that they have sort of the lock on justice, that people across both parties, surrounding and in between, all believe that they believe in justice, that this is a country where justice happens. And this is a case where the doubt has spread far beyond black and white, far beyond Republican and Democrat. It’s really become sort of a very, you know, fundamental question in this country about Troy Davis and is justice being done here.
And so, again, I think, you know, Justice Thomas and the other justices are in a very good place. It is not every day—indeed, we have not seen a case before where you’ve seen one million people write, saying, "Please, don’t do this, not in the name of our country, not in the name of the state of Georgia, not in the name of the people of Savannah." You know, when you look at the number of people in Savannah itself, you know, there have been tens of thousands of people there who have signed petitions pleading for Troy Davis’s life. So, again, you know, if indeed Justice Thomas, as we have heard, is taking this up, he’d be in very good company. There’s a lot of Republicans, senior law enforcement. Judge Tim Lewis recently came forward. He’s a former U.S. Court of Appeals judge, just one step away from the Supreme Court in the Third Circuit, also a Republican, also a former prosecutor. Can you put it all together, Justice Thomas and the other justices will be in a very good place.
AMY GOODMAN: The Pope.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: The Pope, Archbishop Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter. That’s probably most significant there, is that he’s from Georgia. He’s a former governor of Georgia. Many others, quietly making calls. This is a case, you know, where I’ve seen a CEO of a corporation so outraged that he picked up—of a major Fortune 100 corporation—pick up the phone and call Governor Deal. I mean, this is really permeating.
AMY GOODMAN: Governor Deal is the governor or Georgia.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes, that’s right. I mean—
AMY GOODMAN: Now, he hasn’t weighed in.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: No. No, he has not. And all the signs are that he really let the Board of Pardons kind of act on their own conscience. And that’s a good thing. It’s the most you can really hope for, especially in a state like this, which is a different kind of state, where the State Assembly and Senate actually took away the power of the governor to determine pardons and gave it to a board. And so, it’s proper for him not to weigh in. But, you know, Kim Kardashian has weighed in, so clearly people—
AMY GOODMAN: Well, talk about the significance of Kim Kardashian, her father.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, well, yes. But, I mean, I think the significance of Kim Kardashian is that a whole group of young people, who typically don’t get too involved in politics, have decided that this is a case worthy of getting involved in politics.
And we’re now hearing really a whole parade of sirens arrive. That is not a good sign. But we don’t know what it is a sign of.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re seeing a lot of blue flashing lights Let’s see if the camera, one of the cameras, can show us the blue flashing lights. Blue flashing lights, many, many police vehicles here, coming down the road right at the—right at the intersection that leads into the prison.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And that’s one of the special things about this case. I mean, again, you’re hearing about rallies throughout the world, a march almost spontaneously organized to go to the Supreme Court happening right now. People at my old church, St. Mary’s, gathered, you know, and churches throughout the country. This is a night when many churches gather for Bible study. And we at the NAACP, we have been joined by the president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, one of the larger black denominations in the country, who have asked all of their Bible studies tonight to pause and to pray for Troy Davis. You know, and so, this is a—this is a case that’s caught the attention of the world. And again, it’s more than black and white. It’s more than Republican and Democrat. You even have fashionistas like Kim Kardashian weighing in. It’s a real sign that this country is paying attention.
AMY GOODMAN: And there are protests all over the world. Just getting notes from Berlin, a protest, in Bremen, from the U.S. embassy, outside the U.S. embassy in London, Iceland, Oslo, Dublin, Ireland, Paris, Marseilles. In Washington, we heard people are marching to the Supreme Court. Of course, in New York, in Harlem. Right here in Jackson, Georgia. You can hear behind me right now—we’re going to see if we can take a look—people are concerned. They’re shouting, "No justice, no peace!" They’ve been here for a very long time today. If they are to leave the prison grounds, they will not be allowed back. We’re speaking with Ben Jealous, the CEO and president of the NAACP, that has taken on Troy Davis’s case as a major cause. Also, Joe Beasley is with us, with Rainbow/PUSH. I’m Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! We flew down to Atlanta yesterday to broadcast from Atlanta, where there was also a major rally yesterday.
JOE BEASLEY: Yeah.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: Where was that rally?
JOE BEASLEY: You led the rally.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, that rally was right in front of the State Capitol. It was the second large rally we’ve seen this weekend. On Friday, there was more than 5,000 people who came to a church, the old church of Dr. King, Pastor Warnock’s church. That one holds 2,200. People were flowing out the doors. They actually had to organize a second rally in front of the church. Again, people of all races, people—there were people there who supported the death penalty, but said, you know, "This challenges my faith in the death penalty, and I don’t want to see it, not this way, not this much doubt."
AMY GOODMAN: When we came in last night, on the news, they were showing many of the speakers in the rally. State Senator Ford was one of those who spoke, a longtime civil rights activist. He called on the executioners, the prison executioners, those involved in the medical profession involved with the execution, doctors and nurses, not to participate in this action.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right, to participate in. Yeah, you know, what we know—and there have been books written, for instance, by a man named Don Cabana, who was warden at Parchman in Mississippi for 20 years and executed many young men. And he said that, ultimately, it was the practice of execution that turned him against the death penalty.
And he, you know, would come to know men. Death row is, for people who haven’t been to one, is sort of like the quietest place in the prison. It’s much smaller than the rest of the prison. There’s a much higher guard-to-inmate ratio. Typically the inmates are kept one to a cell. And the guards get to know the inmates, and they know them for 20 years. And then, one night, after developing a rapport and trust and spending—you know, I mean, when we’re at work, we spend a lot of time with people we’re around with at work. You have to hold down the left leg or the right leg, or shove the vein in—the needle into the vein, takes a tremendous toll.
I sat down with the warden here not a month ago. We had a conversation about this, because he’s been keeping the—he’s been keeping the press out. And I said, "Look, you know, please let the press in." You know, and we got this point talking about the guards, and I said, "You know, we all know—I’ve gotten to know guards over the years—it takes a tremendous toll. And with all this doubt, the toll will be even greater." He said, "Well, that’s why I won’t let the media in." And I said to the warden, I said, "Well, you know there’s another way, you know. I mean, there’s another option. You could let the media in. The truth could come out. You know, if indeed he’s innocent like we believe, he’ll come out, and then we can actually have a new trial. Maybe the right guy will end up in prison." And he said—and he cut me off, and he said, "Well, you know there’s a different side of the story." I said, "Yes, I know there’s a different side of the story." He said, "And you know I was on law enforcement in Savannah 22 years ago." And I said, "No, sir. I didn’t realize that." Absolutely chilling moment, that the man who has the decision really is far from unbiased. I mean, that was the point he was making, that he had picked a side.
AMY GOODMAN: And the prison warden, his name?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Carl Humphrey. And so—
AMY GOODMAN: So, Carl Humphrey, you’re saying, 22 years ago in Savannah, that’s when Mark MacPhail was killed.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And that’s what he told me, sitting in his office not a month ago. And it just—it just weighs on you, because you think, well, what if? What if we were able to do the polygraph test today? What if? What if Troy Davis was able to speak to the press, if 60 Minutes was able to do the investigation they felt like they could only do if they could talk to him? You know, in this country, we believe that we let the truth come out. And yet, they have made repeated efforts to keep the truth from coming out.
JOE BEASLEY: Well, you know, I just read a letter coming off the internet, where a group of wardens, including the former warden here in Georgia, have signed a statement saying, you know, this thing will trouble you for the rest of your life. And so, they’re calling upon this warden, to anybody that don’t want to participate, that he would allow them to recuse themselves. So it really is a real cross-section of people from all over the world that is coming out, giving second thought. And I believe, as Mr. Jealous had said earlier, you know, this day, it will change things, I hope, across the world, and I hope the death penalty will end with still Troy Davis being alive.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That’s our greatest hope. You know, and we’ve fought—I mean, one of the things that people don’t realize is that—one of the peculiarities about our Constitution. The Eighth Amendment, it prohibits punishment that is both cruel and unusual. Now it’s based on British common law that says "cruel or unusual." And I guess I blame some colonist who couldn’t read and write as well as he should, because he stuck in the word "and." And the way that’s been interpreted is where, in England, they—you know, they will ban a punishment if it’s cruel or if it’s unusual. Here, it must be both. It must be both. And the test for unusual is whether or not a majority of states are against it. If a majority of states are against it, then it’s also unusual. So, for instance, here, tonight, across the street is a woman named Jotaka Eaddy. She’s the organizer who took the total from 23 states opposed to the juvenile death penalty to 26. As soon as we got to the 26th, we could go to the Supreme Court, and they could ban it. Well, in the last two years, we’ve seen three more states abolish the death penalty. We’re now at 16. And so, the goal for this movement isn’t like the goal was back in the ’60s when it was about getting the Supreme Court to ban it simply.
AMY GOODMAN: So 34 states have the death penalty in the United States?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Thirty-four, and we’ve got to cut that down to 24. If we cut it from 34 to 24, we can then go to the Supreme Court and get it banned once and for all and bring our country in line with the rest of the Western world.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to a break for one minute. It is eight—I’m constantly checking my watch, which is, to say the least, relevant today.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: It is 8:31 Eastern time. Troy Davis was scheduled to die at 7:00 p.m. People are waiting. This is OutKast, who came out today—Big Boi came to the prison just to the church down the road to speak out for Troy Anthony Davis.
AMY GOODMAN: Big Boi and OutKast. OutKast, one of the big, bestselling hip-hop artists. Big Boi was here in Jackson, Georgia, right outside the gates of the death row prison here. We are standing on the grounds of the death row prison in Jackson. This is the prison where death row prisoners stay before they are executed. Troy Anthony Davis is here. 8:36 is the time. He was scheduled to die at 7:00 p.m.
I’m Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! And Martina Correia is with us. We’ve been talking about her throughout the evening, but now she is here. I saw her in the church when she stood up for the family to speak, not inside the prison, but right here.
Martina, last time we saw you on Democracy Now!, you were walking on your own feet. Now you’re in a wheelchair.
MARTINA CORREIA: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how you’re doing today, De’Jaun wheeling you over, your 17-year-old son.
MARTINA CORREIA: You know, I feel good I was able to get out of the hospital and come and be up here to support my brother, because I wouldn’t be any place else. And I knew that as an activist, I had to do whatever it was to be here, and that’s what I was going to do. Yes, I was walking on my own two feet, but I just had a reaction to some—you know, some medicine. And—
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve battled breast cancer for a decade.
MARTINA CORREIA: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: When you first came to Democracy Now!, you told us your life story, which is remarkable. You were in the first Persian Gulf War? You were a medical—you were a military nurse?
MARTINA CORREIA: Yes, I was. Yes, I was. Back in 1990, '91, I was in the first Gulf War. And, you know, it's amazing because being in the first Gulf War and being a nurse, I didn’t realize until I was probably about in my twenties that as a nurse, I was taught in basic training to kill people before I was taught to heal people. And that took a dramatic turn in my life as to how I want to see things, because I’ve always fought for human rights, but it really put things in perspective for me, you know. And so, but I had always been fighting for my brother and others that are unjustly incarcerated, and I said I would continue that. And so, I gave up my military career to fight for human rights.
AMY GOODMAN: Because—well, you’re talking 1990, ’91, the Persian Gulf War, but also ’91 is when your brother, Troy Davis, was convicted of murdering Mark MacPhail and sentenced to death.
MARTINA CORREIA: In 1989, my brother was convicted of killing Officer MacPhail and sentenced to death. And so, you know, it was—it was a tragedy in my family, and it was nothing that I ever expected to hear, that—you know, the only time we were allowed in the courtroom was the during the sentencing phase, and that was to beg for my brother’s life. And I never experienced anything like that in my life. I never had any experience with the death penalty. But, you know, it’s like everything good you have to say about that person, if you’re not on the victim’s side, it’s just destroyed and broken down. But I knew my brother Troy, and I knew what type of person he was, and I wanted the world to see that. And it took a long time before I can get people to understand that, but I wasn’t willing to give up easily.
AMY GOODMAN: Clearly, you haven’t given up easily in your own case or in the case of your brother. The images of you showing reporters what eyewitness testimony meant in your brother’s case. Describe the significance of this eyewitness testimony that you have taken apart over the years.
MARTINA CORREIA: Well, you know, when we started finding out the information about the recantations and the truth about what was really happening in the case, nobody believed me, because I was Troy’s sister. And so, I figured that the only way for people to see the truth was to see it in black and white, to see it in their own documents. And I figured that if people—if the judicial system and other people could see it in that light, that they would want to make a significant change. And I didn’t realize that I had still been living in the old South. But I have vowed to change that, because I do not want my son to grow up in a judicial system where the color of your skin still matter about, you know, how much time you get and what type of time you get.
And so, you know, I decided that I was going to protect my child, not only by protecting him from the judicial system, but by protecting my brother and showing that there is a racial bias in the South, that there’s a lot of bias in the courtrooms, because we have a lot of people in the judicial system who have been judges for all their life, and they’ve been voting the same way all their life. But the thing about it is that we always want them to, you know, dig down deep and believe in the judicial system and vote that way, and not vote, you know, the same way that has been done a long time ago. But I taught my son that—don’t allow anyone to allow this color of your skin to dictate your future. And so, I’m very proud of my son, because he can stand on his own. And he can walk into a room here in the States, over in England, British parliament, different places, and he can stand on his own no matter who he’s talking to, no matter what you look like, because I never taught my child to see color or race or socioeconomics. I taught my child to see people. And that’s what I want for him as a young man. And I want him to continue to struggle for human rights.
AMY GOODMAN: There are helicopters overhead. There’s a very, very significant police presence. What did you make of the police coming in with their sirens just a few minues ago?
MARTINA CORREIA: I think it’s a show of intimidation, because I didn’t know what was going on, why there were so many sirens. I know last time we were at this point, there were even dogs walking out among us, German shephards.
AMY GOODMAN: Were you out here in this very pen?
MARTINA CORREIA: Yes. And there’s still dogs out here, but they’re just in the back of police cars, so that it doesn’t look as bad. But you can see the police presence from several counties throughout the state. And the riot gear. And it’s like—it’s amazing that because we support Troy Davis, we have to be the bad guys, and that you have to show this type of intimidation. But that shows the old South. And it’s time for the new South.
AMY GOODMAN: Could you clarify something for us? Was Troy able to have witnesses of his choosing, if in fact the execution takes place? Or did he not want that?
MARTINA CORREIA: Troy had chosen witnesses of his own choosing that he wanted. But the prison warden here took them off the list, for whatever reason. We don’t know why. Someone made a decision to take those people off the list. So, this happened last time, where they waited to the last minute, and they took off the people that would support Troy that he chose to witness this, that he chose to go out and tell his story. And same thing has happened this time. And then, when they go to make their statements, they said, "Oh, well, Troy only decided to pick three people." And that’s not the truth, because you have people that flew over from different countries and different states because they were asked to be witnesses. And they were just taken off without any recourse, without any reasoning.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you choose not to be inside?
MARTINA CORREIA: Well, it’s against the rules in the prison for family members or anyone that’s really close to Troy on his visitation list to witness the executions. I think—
AMY GOODMAN: Say that again.
MARTINA CORREIA: It’s against the prison, the Department of Correction rules for them to have family members witness executions, because they don’t want really anybody there that really supports Troy or that they think might break down in the proceedings to show that this is a barbaric practice.
AMY GOODMAN: And your name is?
KIMBERLY DAVIS: Kimberly Davis.
AMY GOODMAN: Kim, we spoke to you just a few days ago on Democracy Now! Talk about your feelings right now. It’s—let me see the time. It’s 8:45. Your brother was scheduled to be executed an hour and 45 minutes ago. We don’t know the very latest. We heard possibly the case in the Supreme Court is being weighed right now by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from Georgia, from not far from you in Savannah, from Pin Point. What does this day mean for you?
KIMBERLY DAVIS: Well, it means that God is still in control. And God has showed up. He’s showing out.
MARTINA CORREIA: And I would like to say that, you know, I would like to see that the Supreme Court justices that are in the highest court in the land not use personal reasoning for making decisions, but use true judicial passion, why they joined the courts, why they wanted to be judges, why they wanted to be in the judicial system from the first place, and not look at the crime and the victim and this, but look at the facts of the case and see that when there’s doubt, we can’t be killing in the United States, because we are the only civilized country that are still killing its own citizens but telling other countries how to deal with civil and human rights.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what you’d like to see in your brother’s case now? What would you think would be the course of action that should be taken, starting tonight?
MARTINA CORREIA: I am praying for a stay of execution and not just a one-, two-day stay, but a time that the Supreme Court will be willing to address this issue once and for all: is it constitutional to execute an innocent person? And do we want to be doing this in the name of the citizens of the United States? But to take the time and really review this evidence, not send it back to the same judicial circuit that did the conviction initially, but give it fresh eyes on this case and give us an understanding that we would like to look at this case as a U.S. Supreme Court body and make a decision.
So, what’s happening? Something is happening.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re seeing what is happening right now. I think Ben Jealous is gathered around, talking to people. We’re going to see if we can find out for ourselves. Let’s see if we can take the microphone and go inside and listen to what’s being said right now. We’re just going to take a listen and see if we can find out what’s taking place. I’m going to go and listen, and if others can come with me to take a listen, we’re going to see what’s happening. There’s a large gathering of people here. If someone could relate to me—and Renée, if you could—
HANY MASSOUD: Get Ben. Get Ben to come closer.
AMY GOODMAN: —yeah, have them—well, we’re hoping, is that he could come closer, Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, because he’s gathered everyone around him, and he’s telling them something. We don’t know what. It’s an hour and 50 minutes past the time that Troy Davis was scheduled to die, and we’re trying to get the latest information. Ben is talking. We’re going to try to listen. Let’s see if we can—could he come forward? Oh.
Ben Jealous is saying we’re at an iconic place, around the country and around the globe. Let’s see if Hany, our producer, can bring the mic closer.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: ...to get the miracle that we’re all praying for and that we’ve received every minute, for the last hundred minutes or so, or not. And I think that if we’re hearing word that a decision could be imminent, let us come together in prayer, let us come together in song, let’s come together as a group, so we can receive the response as a group and we can be together. So...
AMY GOODMAN: Wait, wait, wait. Give it to me. OK, OK. Helicopters are overhead. OK, the troopers—you’re with the prison?
GDC OFFICER: Yes, ma’am, GDC.
AMY GOODMAN: OK, and GDC stands for?
GDC OFFICER: Georgia Department of Corrections.
AMY GOODMAN: Georgia Department of Corrections. They’re saying we’re not allowed to be inside the pen. That’s why we’ve been standing on the other side of the rope. They said that they would put us out if we dared to go inside. That side is where the protesters are. This side is where the media is. We’re going to try to find out—some people will give us information. It’s getting loud now. A lot of police are—if you can hear with the microphone. The blue lights are flashing. A lot of cars are moving in right now, police cars.
Let’s see if we can hear, if we can learn from Larry Cox. We’re going to stay on this story. Stay with us at democracynow.org. We are waiting. There is no word yet. Let’s see if I can hear from Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International.
We’re trying to listen carefully about what is happening, why all the police are now coming 'round. People are praying, you can just see behind me. People, some have their hands up. Their heads are down. Martina Correia was just talking to us, the older sister of Troy Davis. Many have said she has kept him alive for these 10 years. We're just waiting to hear what is taking place. We’re seeing if the pastor, the senior pastor at the Ebenezer Church, knows anything about what the latest is.
Pastor Warnock, Reverend Warnock, Dr. Warnock, we are seeing a lot of police cars now—
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: —with their flashing lights, the helicopters overhead. What do you think is happening?
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: As far as I can see, this is a peaceful gathering. We know that sometimes the police don’t always do a good job of remaining calm themselves. And hopefully everyone will remain calm and peaceful. Certainly that’s what you see here. It’s a prayerful gathering, a peaceful gathering. There are a lot of people who are very concerned about the Troy Davis case. And we’ll just have to see what unfolds. But I think the sirens, the movement, may be as much provocative as it is helpful.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, we just see a lot of people praying.
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Sure, absolutely. We continue to hope against hope. The fact that Troy Davis is still alive is reason enough to maintain discipline and stay focused.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s 8:52. We’ve extended another hour on the satellite. It’s an hour and 52 minutes after Troy Davis’s scheduled execution. Have you been out here before in Troy Davis’s case, out on this property?
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: I have been involved in his case for several years now. This is the first time I was able to be present for an actual execution date. This is his fourth time, which—
AMY GOODMAN: How does a person survive these death warrants, one by one? In one of the—the third time that the death warrant—the second time the death warrant was issued, I mean, it was an hour or two before he was—before, the reprieve was issued. It was an hour before.
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Sure. And this time, we were literally standing there at 7:00 p.m. And I was praying for the family, because I can only imagine what they must be going through, when we received word that there had been another delay. We’re glad that he’s still alive. But in a real sense, this—this whole process has been cruel and unusual punishment.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, the—
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: I’ve got to go.
AMY GOODMAN: —people are asking for—they’re asking for God to come into the mind of Justice Thomas. Justice Clarence Thomas is the judge on the Supreme Court now that is weighing the appeal of Troy Davis, Justice Clarence Thomas, who comes from Pin Point, Georgia, not far from Savannah. We’re trying to make sense of what’s happening here.
I think we’re going to go now to Carroll Baltimore. Carroll Baltimore is the head of the Progressive Baptist Convention, and he spoke earlier today here at the church just about a quarter of a mile down the road about the case of Troy Davis.
REV. CARROLL BALTIMORE: To join with my colleagues, being in the denominational home of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, to lift a clarion and clear voice today, to be a voice for the voiceless, that today does not and will not end the challenges that’s set before us. From early childhood, we heard the statements about "beyond reasonable doubt," "doubt," but in Troy’s case, there’s too much doubt. And I’m afraid that as the world watches the barbaric ways in which we are moving in this 21st century, it’s unheard of, it’s unwise. And we are joining with another organization, the 2.5 million-member Progressive Convention. I want you to know that we will not sit by silently, today nor in the future, for the other Troy Davises and others who are facing such inhumane conditions in a failed and flawed judicial justice system in this nation. We’re united together. God is not mocked, that whatsoever we sow we shall reap. But there is a just end, because we serve a wise and a just god. We say to this family, hold on. The battle is not over. It’s not ours, but it belongs to the Lord. God bless.
AMY GOODMAN: Carroll Baltimore is the head of the Progressive Baptist Convention, speaking here in Jackson, Georgia, part of the leadership, human rights leadership, including the NAACP and Amnesty International, that held a news conference today about four hours before Troy Davis was scheduled to die. Right now it is, oh, 8:56. He was scheduled to die at 7:00. We’re on the grounds of the Georgia Diagnostic Prison. That’s what the death row prison is called.
And we’re joined right now by a longtime anti-death-penalty activist in Georgia. Can you introduce yourself?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Sure. My name is Kathryn Hamoudah. I’m chairperson of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
AMY GOODMAN: I wish I could stand with you on the other side of the rope, but the Department of Corrections came and said that they would throw me out if I dared go on your side of this makeshift pen for the protesters. But can you talk about Troy Davis’s case and why you see it as so significant? People behind us are praying. Police outside are—have just quieted down a bit. Their sirens were on. Their blue lights were flashing.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Sure. Troy Davis’s case represents all that is wrong with Georgia’s death penalty system. And Georgia has been in the light a lot because of all of the atrocities that have been carried out in the pursuit of executing people. And we see that it is a gross injustice, what they’re trying to do here tonight. Many people have been woken up because of this case. And we are really hopeful that people will stay awake and continue to fight, no matter the outcome of tonight, for the abolition of the death penalty in Georgia.
AMY GOODMAN: What are the alternatives?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: The alternatives are, we know that there is a gross amount of resources that are put into trying capital cases, and there’s no holistic approach there. Resources for victims’ families are grossly underfunded. They could be—that money could be redirected for resources for them to solving cold cases and general public safety measures. We need to redefine how we talk about communities and public safety. And that is not happening when you have the death penalty as a punishment.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to talk more about the death penalty at the top of the hour. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. For those who have to leave us, tell your friends we are continuing to broadcast into this night of September 21st here in Jackson, Georgia, a night, for all sides, that is historic. If you have to leave us now, or your station is leaving us, you can watch us at democracynow.org. You can go to Livestream. We’re live-streaming there. You can follow us at Twitter. You can follow us on Facebook. And of course we’ll cover this tomorrow on Democracy Now! news hour. We’re broadcasting live from the death row prison where Troy Davis is inside. We don’t actually know what is happening inside. We are on the ground getting our information very much through the grapevine, through roars going up in the crowd, police that are congregating around the area, people who are praying behind us. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us, but don’t go away, because we’re continuing. We’ve extended the satellite. Stay with us.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, a special edition of this broadcast, this multi-hour broadcast on the grounds of the Georgia prison where Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed. It could be any moment, or the Supreme Court could issue a stay. We heard not very long ago that there was possibly a reprieve, which is not a stay, that Clarence Thomas is weighing this decision. Again, everything is a little bit of hearsay. It’s hard to know. The police are moving in, much more than they were before. There’s a group of about 150 people here. They—that’s the limit that the Department of Corrections would allow here. Many hundreds more are outside of the gates.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. We’re broadcasting on many different networks, including Free Speech TV, that is staying with us. Link TV was also with us through the evening. Larry Cox also with us, back with us right now, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, along with Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. And say your name again.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Kathryn Hamoudah.
AMY GOODMAN: Kathryn Hamoudah. Larry, what is the latest you know? I mean, we’ve had the police swirling around. We’ve had the helicopters overhead. We had the ecstatic roar from the anti-death-penalty protesters here, although I don’t like to divide it between anti-death penalty and pro-death penalty, because as we’ve learned in this case, there are a number of pro-death-penalty—
LARRY COX: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: —advocates who are actually supporting some kind of stay for Troy Davis.
LARRY COX: Well, I don’t think we know much more. I mean, there, of course, continue to be rumors. You know, there was a rumor that we would hear at 8:30. It’s now nearly 9:00. So—
AMY GOODMAN: After 9:00.
LARRY COX: It’s now after 9:00. Excuse me, I’m losing track of time. So, you know, there are other rumors going around. I think all we can do is wait and pray. People a little while ago were gathering to prepare themselves, because there was obviously a great moment of tension at 7:00. That’s now dissipated. People are relaxing. But if—at any moment, we could get terrible news. And so, we pulled people together to try to get them to think about how to respond in a way that would be consistent with the tone that has been set throughout the day.
AMY GOODMAN: Amnesty is international. There have been protests and vigils around the world, in Berlin and Bremen outside the U.S. embassy, in Britain, in Iceland, in Oslo, Norway, Dublin, Ireland, in Paris and Marseilles, in churches in Harlem, and Washington, D.C., in the streets, people walking to the Supreme Court. Why this case is so important, for people who are just joining us right now?
LARRY COX: Well, it’s so important because it really reveals everything that is so horrible about this practice of killing prisoners. First of all, it confirms what many people already know if they’ve been following the struggle around this issue, which is that it’s almost certain that if you continue to use the death penalty, innocent people will be killed. We know for a fact that more than a hundred innocent people have been put on death row, later proven innocent by DNA. We don’t know exactly, although there are cases where one can be almost certain that innocent people were actually killed, because once a person is killed, it tends to stop the investigation into what really happened to them. This case, it was almost a prime example of a case that—where there was evidence that came forward that discredited the original eyewitness testimony on which the case really was constructed. And so, and yet, the process just kept moving on. They kept trying to kill this man, as if this was the most important thing in the world, to kill this one human being, as if that somehow would do something for all of us.
And I think the fact that the man himself has been such an eloquent spokesperson, such a person of faith, his family has been so courageous, and people have gotten to know the family, has made this suddenly a human issue, I mean, not an abstract issue, not an issue of ideology or philosophy, but about a human being. And that’s what always galvanizes people in the fight for human rights. That’s what always has galvanized people around the death penalty. There have been cases—there was a case in England that was quite instrumental, I’m told, and of course the Caryl Chessman case in California. It’s always been one case that makes people realize, well, if this can happen to this person, something is fundamentally wrong with the entire system.
AMY GOODMAN: In Texas tonight, a man was executed, Lawrence Brewer, who was involved in the murder of James Byrd, who dragged this man, an African American, through the streets of Texas, in Jasper. At 7:21, he died, Eastern time. The death penalty goes on in the United States. In countries that have banned the death penalty, how did it happen?
LARRY COX: Well, it happened in a range of ways. You know, often it was also the courts who ruled that this was inconsistent with either a constitution or with their human rights obligations. In other cases, it was a legislative decision. In very few cases, actually, was it the result of a large majority of public opinion. It really—there have been commissions set up, for example, and many, many countries have dealt with this by setting up a commission to try to look as objectively as possible at the pros and cons, as it were, of this practice. And almost all of those commissions have come back saying this practice should be—should be abandoned. It’s now such a strong article of belief in the European countries that to join the European Union, you would have to abolish the death penalty. So...
And the most striking thing about all of this, of course, is that when you then look at these societies after they’ve gotten rid of the death penalty, has there been some kind of negative effect? Have homicide rates gone up? Have people felt angry because justice is not served? No. People have accepted that there are other ways to have justice served, putting people in prison for a long time, you know, that are better, that are more consistent with the values of that society. Homicide rates have often even fallen after the death penalty was abolished. So, if the United States were the kind of country that could actually learn from the real experience of other countries, we may not—we would not be here tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you know if the family is being prepared for any kind of news?
LARRY COX: Well, that’s what, partly—the family was there when we were trying to talk about the fact that bad news may come. I have no idea, to be honest—I don’t know if any of us can—how it would feel to have a loved one who the state is prepared to kill and then have it delayed, then have it, you know, maybe not delayed. I mean, it’s the worst kind—it’s almost like a hostage situation or a terrorist situation, where somebody’s putting a gun to somebody’s head, pulling the trigger, but it’s a blank, and then saying, "Well, maybe in an hour, we’ll put in a real bullet." I mean, it’s just so cruel. And I’m afraid it’s an inevitable part of the process that we have in place right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, Troy Davis—we don’t even know what is happening inside the prison. But this paper I’ve been carrying around all night that the Department of Corrections gave us, a very simple paper that has these drugs on them, the lethal cocktail of pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride—that’s the killer—and Ativan, the sedative, if he wants to take it. In fact, Georgia was using a drug that was banned.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about that?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Sure. Up until May 20th of this year, Georgia used sodium thiopental in place of pentobarbital in the—as the first drug in the process. And it came to our attention that this drug, in fact, came from the back room of driving school in London, England.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, what do you mean, came from the back room of a driving school?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: It was—we—I mean that it was illegally imported and distributed here amongst different states who use the death penalty. And we found out that that was the case in Georgia. And in a quick fix to try to find a substitute, instead of halting to address all of the egregrious problems with the death penalty in Georgia, instead the Department of Corrections changed its protocol to include pentobarbital to charge forward and to kill people in our state.
AMY GOODMAN: How do these drugs work?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: The first drug, pentobarbital, is a sedative, which sedates the person. Pancuronium bromide is—sorry, the first one is an anaesthetic. The second one is a paralytic. And potassium chloride stops the heart. And the third drug is the drug that kills the person.
AMY GOODMAN: This is_Democracy Now!_, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, doing a special broadcast from the grounds of the death row prison in Georgia. Here, it’s in Jackson, Georgia, about 40 miles, 40 minutes from Atlanta, Georgia. You’ve flown in from where, Larry Cox?
LARRY COX: New York City.
AMY GOODMAN: And you came in from?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Atlanta.
AMY GOODMAN: Atlanta. Georgia has been seminal in the history of the death penalty in this country.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Was it Georgia v. Furman, Furman v. Georgia?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain what that case was, that led to the overturning of the death penalty in the United States.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Yeah, it was like you said. It was just that. It led to the overturning of the death penalty. And Larry actually came down during that time. But every death penalty case, Furman, Gregg and McCleskey, have all been based in Georgia. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we’re here tonight talking about another case that will go down in history in Georgia’s death penalty.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you know this case?
LARRY COX: Which case?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Furman.
AMY GOODMAN: That overturned the death penalty, the Furman case.
LARRY COX: I don’t know the—I mean, you know, it’s the historic case that ended the death penalty for a considerable length of time, almost a decade. And then, of course, the second case, which was Gregg, right?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Gregg.
LARRY COX: v. Georgia, the court found that you could have a death penalty that was—that met its objections in the original case, that is to say, was not discriminatory. We have seen since that in practice that’s not true either. But the politics of the court have changed also, as you know, over time gotten more conservative. So it’s become harder to count on the Supreme Court.
AMY GOODMAN: And when it comes to the death penalty, where does the court stand now?
LARRY COX: Well, there doesn’t appear to be, you know, to say the least, a majority that would be in favor of abolishing the death penalty. What’s interesting to me—and this evening may be an example of it—is that there seems to be a greater reluctance, even on the part of the Supreme Court, to approve executions. I mean, there have been a number of stays that have been very surprising, including the one that they gave to Troy Davis when they ordered an evidentiary hearing on whether he was innocent or guilty. They stayed it just—they gave last week on the case of a future dangerousness in Texas, where a psychologist who is often used by the state of Texas had ruled that because the defendant was black, he was more dangerous, and therefore likely to commit a crime. These kinds of things, I think it’s fair to say, a few years ago, the court may not have done that. So, something is happening. I think there is a shift. There’s certainly a shift—and you can speak to it—on practice, in terms of the number of death sentences coming down.
AMY GOODMAN: What about those numbers?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: In Georgia, there have been no new death sentences in two years. And it really speaks to the fact that DAs are using more discretion in it, and there’s just great lawyers doing this work in Georgia.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Renée Feltz, if I can find her. Renée. Renée is with Democracy Now!, and you’ve been doing a little roundup of global protests and vigils that have been taking place tonight.
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right, Amy. I heard you ask them where they had come from, and I know a lot of people here are from Troy Davis’s home town of Savannah, Georgia, have come down here since, many of them, 11:00 in the morning.
There’s also a lot of demonstrations taking place around the world. I want to read a report that was helped compiled by our producers back in New York City, all of us working together to produce this global broadcast for our global audience. It says, now, human rights group Amnesty International has reported demonstrations outside of U.S. embassies in France, Mali, Hong Kong, Peru, Germany and the United Kingdom.
And Amnesty International—we’re standing here with the executive director of AIUSA—the group claims over one million people have signed a petition to save Troy Davis’s life. Now, some of the people we want to recap who have signed on to this petition, notable supporters include President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict, the former FBI director William Sessions, and a number of other celebrities. Now, senior leaders with the Council of Europe, the European Union’s human rights watchdog, have called for Davis’s sentence to be commuted.
Still, as we speak now at 9:14, two hours and 14 minutes past the scheduled time when Troy Davis was set to die by lethal injection here in Jackson, Georgia, the world waits as the Supreme Court decides the fate of a man whose guilt has been called into question for over two decades. And that’s the update, Amy, from around the world.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you, Renée. Are you concerned, Larry, about what is taking place right now, the kind of waiting? Is this typical? And let me put that question to you, as well, Kathryn.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Yeah, it’s typical. We are here at this time of just about every execution that there is, waiting on the courts to decide. It just speaks to the torture that the person goes through and the family goes through—both families, the victim’s family and the family of the person being executed. We were here ’til midnight just in July with the execution of Andrew DeYoung. So this is absolutely typical in our experience here.
LARRY COX: Yeah, I think you have to step back and look at the whole process. And if you’re a sane person, when you look at it, you can only come to the conclusion that this is grotesque. It’s so grotesque that I think people don’t realize. You know, we accept it as something normal, but to have people waiting here while you decide whether a man is going to live or whether you’re going to kill him is something that is—that, as Camus said once, you would very rarely find in the criminal world. You only find it in the government world. It’s unbelievably grotesque and obscene.
And, you know, I, myself, haven’t been coming on a regular basis to executions. I used to do it a long time ago, many years ago, and then I stopped, because, frankly, it took a lot out of me. But this reminds me again just how—what galvanized me the first time I went down and saw the warden explaining what they were going to feed the person before they killed him. And, you know, it was like something out of a horror movie. I mean, it was something that a monster would do.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, that continues every which way. You have a suicide watch, so that the person doesn’t kill themselves, but that allows them to be killed by the state. They have a physical, to ensure that they’re physically fit enough to be executed.
LARRY COX: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: You learn in great detail about their last meal, exactly what they’re going to have. Troy would be offered coleslaw, beans, grilled cheeseburgers, and I think it said a grape beverage. And then you’re handed, by the Department of Corrections, the drug cocktail that will top off the meal, the pentobarbital, the pancuronium bromide, the potassium chloride and the Ativan, although they say that’s optional. The prisoner can choose whether they take that. What about the issue of those that execute, the prison guards involved, the doctors, the nurses? We talked about this earlier tonight, but it truly is remarkable. You have the George State Senator Fort, who called on those involved with the execution—doctors, nurses, executioners, those that strap down the legs and the arms of the prisoner—to engage in civil disobedience, not to do it.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Yeah, we really commend the Southern Center for Human Rights and Senator Fort for calling on the people responsible for carrying out this execution to remember their humanity and to remember what exactly their jobs mean. And their jobs entail executing Troy Davis and those before him and those after him. And it’s just a—we hope that some of them heeded that call and stayed home. And what that would—and what they symbolizes is something really huge in our state.
LARRY COX: And there has been an ongoing debate or campaign within the medical community to try to stop medical personnel from taking place in executions. They, after all, are pledged to use their skills to serve life and not to take life.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: And I think it’s important to note that the doctor that—and his medical team, Dr. Carlo Musso, that’s responsible for carrying out the executions—his group is called Rainbow Medical Associates—is under review at the Georgia Medical Review Board for his participation in illegally distributing and importing sodium thiopental. So that—
AMY GOODMAN: The practice is called Rainbow?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Rainbow Medical Associates and Correct Health.
AMY GOODMAN: They’re brought in as contractors to—
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: They’re contracted $18,000 in execution in Georgia. And this is the group responsible for carrying out executions and the group that’s responsible for carrying out this execution tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: And what do they do? Who do they bring in?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: They are the doctors responsible. So Dr. Carlo Musso and his medical team, they provide the other doctor and the nurses who put in the IV in the person’s arm. They bring it all. They bring it all in. The medical team is what they provide. And they provide—Correct Health is the entity that provides medical care to Georgia prisons.
AMY GOODMAN: And how does—how is Correct Health involved?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Dr. Musso, that’s his company. So he has Correct Health, that provides medical care to prisons in Georgia, and Rainbow Medical is the group that participates in the executions.
AMY GOODMAN: We just got this tweet. SCOTUS press office says still no developments. That’s the Supreme Court.
LARRY COX: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: Protesters’ latest chant: "Supreme Court, let’s face it: death penalty is racist."
LARRY COX: Well, of course, this is another dimension to this whole issue, which is that, you know, the criminal justice system reflects the society in which it operates, and it has all of the problems of our society, and that there’s no doubt that racial bias is one of them. And, you know, that would be a problem in any case, but it becomes really something insupportable, when at the end of it you’re putting people—people to death. We—they have longtime studies of the disparity between people who get the death penalty for killing—a white person killing a black person or a black person killing a white person, depending on the race of the victim.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, isn’t that the greatest disparity of all?
LARRY COX: Yes, it is. It is.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s determined by the race of the victim.
LARRY COX: Of the victim.
AMY GOODMAN: Whether someone will get the death penalty.
LARRY COX: Yeah. And again, you know, it’s hard to imagine a criminal justice system where the prejudices of juries and the prejudices of judges isn’t reflected. But that’s all the more reason why no human criminal justice system should have the power of life or death, because the death penalty, of course, makes it impossible to correct those biases.
AMY GOODMAN: Not that money is the most important issue in a case like this of life and death, but what about the costs of the death penalty? In a country today facing the deficit it does, just death row politics, in general, not just in one prisoner’s case, how many people are on death row, and how much do these cases cost?
LARRY COX: Well, you may have the—do you have the exact figures for Georgia?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: We don’t have the exact figures in Georgia. The study commission that the American Bar Association did did not include figures, but we absolutely know that it costs much more to put someone to death than it does with life without parole, which is an option here in Georgia.
AMY GOODMAN: And why is that?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Because of all of the—just the appeals process, which is not only, but it just requires highly skilled attorneys, and which is something that’s afforded to someone being convicted of a capital crime. It just costs much more money. It’s much more time-intensive and labor-intensive.
LARRY COX: And it has been a factor in the debate in various states, like New Jersey and like Illinois, like New Mexico, because states, of course, are strapped. And they are spending consiberably—they’re wasting millions of dollars trying to kill one person, when that money could be used to invest in community policing, for example, that might reduce the rate of crime. It could be used to improve prison conditions, which might reduce the recidivism rates or the—what happens when people get out. And this has been a very—it’s not an argument that Amnesty International uses, but it’s a very powerful argument for taxpayers who, especially when it’s—when we know that the death penalty serves no discernible purpose in actually reducing crime more than any other sanction.
AMY GOODMAN: Yet, Rick Perry, the Republican presidential, the Tea Party candidate, says that you come into Texas and you kill a police officer or child, and you’re going to be killed, you’re going to get the death penalty. Now, actually, in most cases, that isn’t true. Most people do not get the death penalty who murder. Isn’t it nationally something like less than 1 percent—
LARRY COX: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —of the cases? But also significant was the amount of applause during the presidential debate, when he talked about the hundreds of prisoners who have been executed in Texas.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Yeah. We in Georgia were watching that and appalled that this is what got attention, because we know that nationally, that support for the death penalty is at an all-time low, that people are realizing that it is a waste of resources, that it doesn’t bring justice, that it is not a deterrent to crime—all of the things that we’re told by politicians, including Rick Perry. And we know that this is not true, and it’s harmful to put that sort of information out to the public.
LARRY COX: Yeah, I think it’s important not to make that crowd at that debate sort of representative of the American people. I don’t think it is representative of the American people. But it is an example of the way that the death penalty has historically, and still, apparently, in certain states, been used for demagogic purposes, to, you know, win votes and to scare people and to say, you know, we’re tough on crime, when in fact, as you point out, first of all, Texas is probably the worst example.
They asked him if he ever lost any sleep or if he ever worried at all that he might have actually put to death an innocent man. We know there are several cases in Texas where it’s highly likely that an innocent man was put to death. Apparently, Governor Perry either didn’t care or doesn’t lose sleep about anything. But the normal human reaction would be, indeed, to be very worried. The Willingham case, for example, where a man was convicted of arson, in terms of burning his house and killing his—I think it was two children, or—
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Two.
LARRY COX: Two children. And then later, forensic evidence showed that there was no strong evidence of—or virtually no evidence that it was actually arson, that anyone committed arson. He, of course, maintained his innocence also. And when the commission was set up to investigate that case, to look into that case, Governor Perry, at a certain moment, changed the makeup of that commission, and so that it would not produce a report that would indicate that he had, in fact, presided over an innocent man being killed.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about where Troy Davis is right now?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: I don’t know for certain, but we believe that he’s in the—in the execution chamber. Not sure if—you know, I don’t know physically if he’s on the gurney or not. But we know that the media witnesses are inside and—we know that the media witnesses are inside and that Officer MacPhail’s family is inside, and I believe that Troy has a few witnesses that are there. But there’s a curtain that covers the window, so I don’t think that he can see anybody right now. Then again, I’m not inside. But I understand that that’s the process. And they’re about a mile—the prison is about a mile up the road from here, that sits back on this hill.
AMY GOODMAN: When he was last within hours of his death, before the stay was issued, was he strapped to the gurney then?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: That, I don’t—I don’t know. I don’t have that information. But I imagine so, because they wait for the word from the Supreme Court. So, yeah, ostensibly yes.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, Johnny Cash wrote an interesting song and sings a song called "The Mercy Seat." And we’re going to see if we can bring that to you. But we are standing right now in Jackson, Georgia, at the—what’s called the Georgia Diagnostic Prison. You know, why is it called "diagnostic"?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: It’s called diagnostic and classification prison, because when someone is sentenced, they are brought here for—to have physicals and to be classified depending on what they were convicted of. And then they are sent to other prisons in Georgia. So this is where they go to first, for a lack of a better way, to be checked in to the system.
AMY GOODMAN: And why death row here? And how many people on death row are here?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: So, the classification—on death—on Georgia’s death row, there are 108 people. And the classification, it’s—part of it’s death row, and then the other part, there are like medium-class-level offenses, people offended, housed here. And so, it’s not just death row. This is where death row is housed, but this is the place—
AMY GOODMAN: So, 108 death row prisoners are here.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: In Georgia.
AMY GOODMAN: All men and one woman?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: All of the men are here, and the one woman on death row is in Atlanta.
AMY GOODMAN: And are these execution dates coming up?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: We have already had three execution dates this year. We have seen them come at a rapid rate, where we haven’t seen—haven’t seen that before. And it’s just people who are at the end of their appeal. So we don’t know when the next execution date will be, but we anticipate that there will be more this year.
AMY GOODMAN: In terms of organizing, how Amnesty works—and death penalty is certainly not the only issue it takes on—but how do you organize around the death penalty?
LARRY COX: Well, you know, first of all, of course, we try to tell people the truth about it, which is something that many people have never heard. You know, we have to, you know, counter the arguments that are used to justify it, which is not hard to do, I think, in terms of, you know, deterrence, in terms of, you know, whether it’s fair. All of those arguments are used. But ultimately, I think what has been a turning point has been two things. I mean, one is, of course, the innocence issue, which has really been something which we, earlier, in an earlier period of the struggle, 30 years ago, you couldn’t point definitively to DNA evidence, and you couldn’t prove that people were being wrongly convicted. Now you can. There’s no doubt about it. So, this is a very strong argument for people who, you know, might have supported the death penalty. They do not want to see innocent people killed. And secondly, we of course put it in the context of what kind of world do you want to live in, what are your values. You know, it’s part of the human rights argument and a frame. What does this do, to use violence? It doesn’t accomplish anything. But what does it teach the young? What does it say to the rest of the world, to use what’s obviously a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment? Nobody has ever argued effectively that killing another human being is not cruel, inhuman and degrading. It’s almost impossible to make that argument.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for spending this time. I think we’ll be talking to you a little more tonight. Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, and Kathryn Hamoudah is with Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. This is Democracy Now!’s expanded, many-hour broadcast, taking place on the grounds of the Georgia Diagnostic and...
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Classification Prison.
AMY GOODMAN: Classification Prison, where 108 death row prisoners from Georgia are housed. It’s not clear what’s happening to Troy Davis now. That’s why people are here, more than a hundred here. That’s the limit the Department of Corrections would allow on the grounds. Hundreds of people just outside at the intersection who are also protesting Troy Davis being strapped to a gurney and being executed.
We—it is now more than two-and-a-half hours, just past 9:30, the execution time. We will keep you updated. But for right now, we’re going to turn to Johnny Cash, the late, great singer, singing about the death penalty, singing about "The Mercy Seat."
AMY GOODMAN: That is Johnny Cash, singing "The Mercy Seat." This is Democracy Now!’ special broadcast, multi-hour broadcast, began at 6:00 p.m. Eastern [Daylight] Time, covering the scheduled execution of Troy Davis. It is difficult to figure out what is happening just about a mile from here, the prison itself, though we’re on the prison grounds. We’re at the Georgia Diagnostic Prison. That’s what it’s called. It’s where 108 death row prisoners are from around Georgia. In my periphery, I can hear Ben Jealous, the president and CEO of the NAACP. A number of human rights leaders are here. Al Sharpton was here earlier in the day. Also, joining us now are family members and people who have come from wide and far to be out here today, concerned about what is happening, not only to Troy Davis, but about the issue of the death penalty. We’re joined by Troy Davis’s cousin.
Can you introduce yourself?
E RED: All right. I’m E RED, Troy Davis’s little cousin, from Savannah, born and raised.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re from Savannah.
E RED: Born and raised, was there when—from day one, when this all first started taking place. And, you know, the first thing I want to do is thank everybody from around the world, not just the United States, not just the state of Georgia. I mean, it’s over a hundred countries. There are two or three million supporters. "I am Troy Davis" is not a slogan. It’s a way of life. You know? "I am Troy Davis" could be you. It could be me. It could be anybody standing behind me, you know? In Savannah, for years, this has been the way of life we’ve known. I mean, the whole world is getting a whiff of it finally, but for 22 years, this has been going on, and not just with Troy. We’ve had other people go to jail, no evidence, all type of situations, since Troy and before Troy. You know?
But I think the thing that’s so special about this, Troy’s spirit, he’s at one with God. And Troy’s a peaceful person. He’s never been violent in all my life of knowing him. He’s never been violent. And what has happened is his spirit has manifested into this movement. And that’s why it’s grown like it’s grown, because it’s about solidarity. It’s not about black. It’s not about white, blue, red, yellow, green. It really doesn’t matter. It’s about everybody. If you’re from Savannah, this can happen to you, you know? It doesn’t matter if you’re white. If you live in a low-income area, you look just like everybody else. So, you know, there is no line. And, you know, when they gave this decision, they drew a line. And they drew a line between themselves and the people, you know. But again, Troy’s spirit has taken over this, because that’s all he’s had us pushing, fighting the good fight. Two wrongs doesn’t make a right, you know. So, we’re going to—we’re going to continue to fight the good fight.
And I want to continue to thank everyone for supporting Troy Davis and the whole Davis family. And we truly appreciate you. We could not do this without you. We could not be here without you. You all are making history today. Over a million signatures, over 600,000 emails, over 700,000 faxes. The P and P knew exactly how we felt about this before they made a decision, and, you know, which was biased, because, you know, out of what? Four out of five of the people on that board are, some shape, fashion or form, retired police.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking about the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
E RED: Right. Four or five are some—they’re all somewhat some type of police. And we all know they have a brotherhood, right or wrong. So, we know they was going to stick together. But, you know, we’ve always prepared for the worst, and we pray for the best, and our faith stays strong. And that’s how we have made it here. And, you know, Troy always continues to tell us and tell people that you really don’t understand how blessed he is through everyone, everyone that has taken up the fight. And we truly appreciate you in every sense of the word. And I can’t—I just can’t say that enough. I can’t say that enough.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m looking at this piece on the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "A Day of Lasts Preceeds Death." And it says, "Exhausting all appeals, Davis to follow schedule before 7 p.m. execution." Well, that passed a few hours ago.
E RED: That’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: "Today, Troy Anthony Davis for the fourth time is preparing to die," writes Rhonda Cook.
“Davis’ day will run according to a schedule the Department of Corrections follows in the hours leading up to an execution—a final goodbye to family, a last meal, the chance for Davis to make a final statement.
“Then, at 7 p.m., he is scheduled to die by lethal injection for the 1989 shooting death of off-duty police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.
"Three previous times Davis has been scheduled to die. In 2007, his execution was called off the day before. In 2008, he came within 2 1/2 hours of dying when the U.S. Supreme Court stopped it. And again in 2008, the federal court of appeals stopped the execution three days before he was to die."
This the fourth time. You remember all of those times, E RED.
E RED: Every single one. I remember every single one of these times.
AMY GOODMAN: Were you here in those cases?
E RED: Every single time. And, you know, the biggest thing I don’t think people understand and have question marks over their head, everybody wants to know, well, I’m going to answer this. I’m going to break it down for you tonight. I’m going to answer this question for you, OK?
The problem is, Troy never had any evidence against him. There were several lies told by the former DA, Spencer Lawton, and he has been forced to retire. That’s why he’s no longer in office. He didn’t retire because he had a great career and it was over. He retired because he was forced to retire for misconduct, behind this case and several other cases. So, see, he was either going to do time himself or get out the picture.
But what people fail to understand is, all his little do-boys, all his little, you know, doers, they’re still right there. They’re still at the district attorney’s office. They’re still working as judges, police officers, other jobs in the judicial system around Savannah. So, this is how they have been able to keep holding Troy down. Everybody wants to know how we get back here now. The reason for them being so strict with that, the simple fact is, this case reopens, Spencer Lawton and several of his other little flunkies coming up on charges.
AMY GOODMAN: Former DA.
E RED: They coming up on charges. And, you know, and while I have the time, I would just like to say to the present DA: You used Troy’s name. You used Troy’s likeness. You used Troy to get in office. And since you’ve been in there, you haven’t said one single word.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, that the current DA used Troy?
E RED: He campaigned—Chisolm campaigned that he would help Troy. This is how he got the votes from the city to get in office. OK? And since he’s been in there, all he’s done is sat back and hide his hands. He think by not putting his name on the death warrant that, I guess, you know, he didn’t have nothing to do with it. Well, understand this. We understand you’re in charge of the district attorney’s office. We do understand that. And what we do understand, whether your name was on it or not, your flunky’s name was on it, and you had to co-sign it. So, make no mistake: we know where the blame lies. And be very sure about it. You should start getting your résumé together, because you, those people on those boards, all of you are going to have to find new jobs. See, what you fail to realize, that your job is public servant. That mean you work for us. We decide what happen. And if a million people, two million people, a million signatures, history, something that’s never been done before, and you’re still going to decide to do what you want? Well, it’s time for you to find a new job. I need you all to understand that we are not waiting for re-election. You will come out of office right now.
AMY GOODMAN: If you’re experiencing problems on our website, just stand by, because it’s going to be fixed in a minute. The massive traffic, people all over the world tuning in and joining us on our sister networks, on television, on radio. We’re going to go to Phil Ochs in a moment, another singer who’s written about the death penalty. But before we do, I wanted to talk to the person who’s wearing an "I am Troy Davis" T-shirt, one that’s very common around here today. It’s a blue T-shirt with white letters. Tell me your name.
MICHAEL HENRY: My name is Michael Henry. I’m from Stone Mountain, Georgia.
AMY GOODMAN: And where is that? How far from here?
MICHAEL HENRY: That is approximately 60 miles.
AMY GOODMAN: Uh-huh, Stone Mountain. Talk about how you came to know about Troy Davis and what you’ve done about his case.
MICHAEL HENRY: Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: Come on over.
MICHAEL HENRY: I’ve been tracking this case for approximately four or five years. And it’s always just struck me as bizarre that the state of Georgia has decided to, for some reason, put down reasonable doubt, common justice, and just to go full board to eliminate a man’s life. And I just want to say, I do represent my Facebook, my wall, the "I am Troy Davis" group. They come from Slovenia, Ireland, France, Peru. The whole world is watching. And the whole world is standing incredulous. And I’m so glad to be standing here in the footsteps or instead of 2,000 people who are following this case. And I have two little daughters who have gone to sleep now, and their daddy is out here campaigning for justice, because what his family is going through, I don’t want my family to go through, for them, when they grow up. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you step forward?
CHRIS OATES: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: What is your name?
CHRIS OATES: My name is Chris Oates. I drove down from Atlanta, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: Uh-huh?
CHRIS OATES: I really am, in a way, new to this case. For a long time I’ve been anti-politics, anti-a lot of things, and realizing I can’t just sit back. Or if I do disagree with something, I can’t just again sit back and—you know, today—well, yesterday, rather, you know, I took to Twitter, I took to Facebook, and I vented my thoughts and feelings on that. But I didn’t think my efforts would be justified if I didn’t at least attempt to try to come out here and stand for Troy Davis.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you do in Atlanta?
CHRIS OATES: Well, I’m a student. I’m a student.
AMY GOODMAN: Where do you go to school?
CHRIS OATES: Georgia Perimeter. Georgia Perimeter. Oh.
AMY GOODMAN: A lot of big bugs around here.
CHRIS OATES: Yes, they are.
AMY GOODMAN: They seem to aim for the eyes.
CHRIS OATES: Yes. But it’s really—in some ways, you know, I expected to come down here—well, I expected for them to change what—the course of this evening. Well, right now it is changing. It’s turning. But what it was expected to be by many is an execution. And clearly, at this point, we’ve seen that it’s not, not so. But, you know, it’s so important to stand up and speak your voice, you know, do all that you can for whatever you believe in. There are supporters of each side here. They’re standing for what they believe in. And nothing is going to change unless somebody has to speak up and say something. So that’s one of the main reasons why I’m here. It’s—I do see the injustice in the case. There’s a lot of flaws. It could be anyone anywhere. It can be me. You know, it doesn’t matter. If there’s no evidence, it doesn’t matter. You know, if I wasn’t there, it doesn’t matter. It’s all based on someone’s word. And at this point, you see that those words are not true.
AMY GOODMAN: For people who want to see the images of the vigils and the protests all over the world, you can go to our website at democracynow.org. Again, vigils and protests in Marseilles, in Paris, in Bremen, in Berlin, in Iceland, in Oslo, Norway, in the streets of Washington, D.C., all over, in fact, Ireland, as well. I’d like this young woman to step forward.
Where are you from?
MONICA BARROW: I’m from San Francisco, California.
AMY GOODMAN: San Francisco. When did you come to Georgia?
MONICA BARROW: I left two days ago.
AMY GOODMAN: And why did you come here to Georgia from San Francisco? What’s your name, first of all?
MONICA BARROW: Well—oh, sorry, I’m Monica Barrow. I’m in law school. And everything I’ve learned—
AMY GOODMAN: Where are you going to law school?
MONICA BARROW: North Carolina Central University. And everything I have learned about the ethics of the law has not been displayed here, and I’m just so very disappointed. I mean, if Troy Davis doesn’t deserve a new trial, then who does? So, I’m just hurt. I’m just really hurt, and I’m concerned for America’s soul right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, a shout out to our friends at WNCU, community radio in North Carolina University. This is Democracy Now!, and we’re broadcasting right here on the grounds of the Georgia prison. We’re going to be going to Jesse Jackson in a moment. He’s not here, but we interviewed him in New York to talk about the whole case of Troy Davis. He visited Troy Davis in June and also visited the head of the Pardons and Paroles. E RED called it "P and P"?
E RED: Say it again? I didn’t hear you.
AMY GOODMAN: The P and P.
E RED: Mm-hmm.
AMY GOODMAN: The Georgia State Board—
E RED: Yeah, Pardons and Parole.
AMY GOODMAN: —of Pardons and Paroles that made this decision. Now, today, the delay, because right now it is 9:50, he was—Troy Davis was scheduled to die at 7:00. That’s two hours and 50 minutes ago.
E RED: Well, you know, if I were government, if they didn’t—if they’re going to ignore the uproar across the world, not just in our country, across the world, if they’re going to do that, then, you know, it’ll be a lot more people coming out of office finding new jobs. But the point—just like I said, the point is, you are all public servants, and you’re going to serve as public servants. You’re going to do what we ask as the citizens of this country, because that’s how you eat. And we’re not going to let you sit up at office and wear your nice suits and make your cushy checks and get all the other perks that go with it, when you don’t care about the people that put you there. It’s not going to hunt. It’s not going to go.
And, you know, I’m going to tell you like this. This is the only outcome I ever expected, you know, because it’s very simple to me. If you kill Troy, you got to kill me, too. It’s very simple to me. What they don’t understand is, I am Troy Davis. Troy Davis will never die. They do not understand that. You can’t take away Troy Davis by taking his life. You cannot harm a man that is at one with God and at peace for his self, because he’s an innocent man that has not committed no crime. That’s why God has come to work today like this. That’s why 7:00 came and passed. The things you were reading in the paper? When man say they want to do something, well, you know, they write it in the paper. But you can’t—you don’t never know when God show up. God show up in His own time. And that’s what He did today. So, understand you are all living witnesses of history, and you’re all living witnesses of the power of God, when He says. And that’s how that works.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to turn right now to Reverend Jesse Jackson. You’re hearing from some of the people who made it into this yellow-roped-in area. If you tuned in earlier, you saw I am not allowed to pass this, or the Department of Corrections moves in and says I’ll be evicted from the area. But inside are about 150 people who have come to protest the execution of Troy Davis. Outside, hundreds of people.
In fact, Renée Feltz, if you could come back, Democracy Now! producer, you were scoping out the outside. Describe the scene outside these gates. The Department of Corrections says if we go outside, we can’t come back. Tell us what is actually happening outside.
RENÉE FELTZ: Well, it’s actually quite striking. We are here under the bright lights. You’ve got a jacket on, Amy. I’m kind of curious what the riot police, for lack of a better word to call them, are feeling, because they’re under all of this gear, they’ve got their batons, they’ve got their helmets still on, and many of them have their face masks down. And when I say "riot police," I’m talking about maybe two dozen, maybe three dozen, by this point, lined up, blocking the entrance to the prison grounds here. And what’s most striking about it is not so much maybe their comfort, but what they’re protecting us from. Across the street, there’s still hundreds, maybe more—it’s dark, it’s a little hard to tell—of people holding small tea candles. So, it’s dark out here, and you go out to see what’s happening, and all you see are a phalanx of riot police and people sitting, standing quietly, holding small candles. And, you know, you kind of have to wonder what the threat is here. Of course, this is a prison. We understand that. But it’s still quite striking to see the contrast there.
We should mention that, as we’ve said, it’s been a long day. The people here have been here since the early morning and weren’t allowed to leave the premises and come back. And on top of that, as I understand it, they’ve been able to bring in water, and that’s about it. No food and no other liquids. We were fortunate to get some tea in, so thank you for that.
Now, the other thing that’s kind of striking to me is that there’s still police rounding the area around here. You know, they’re—
AMY GOODMAN: What Renée is describing is behind us, behind the protest pen, where the trees are.
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right. So, you know, it’s literally a protest pen roped off with yellow cord, yellow rope. As you experienced, Amy, when we tried to enter the protest pen, we were immediately approached police, heavily done up and telling us to get back on the other side. So they’re—they’ve got massive crowd control here, even though everybody’s pretty calm at this point, and tired, you might say.
And, you know, Amy, we have a lot of things to play for our listening and viewing audience, among them Reverend Jesse Jackson, who met a couple months ago with Troy Davis. We also have a woman here who’s come a long way. I wanted to bring her in.
AMY GOODMAN: Is this Ashley?
ASHLEY KINCAID: Hi.
RENÉE FELTZ: Yeah, tell us your name and how far you’ve come.
ASHLEY KINCAID: My name’s Ashley Kincaid, and I came from Indianapolis, Indiana.
AMY GOODMAN: And you’re wearing one of the blue T-shirts with white letters, "I am Troy Davis." And who is next to you?
JONATHAN COLEMAN: Jonathan Coleman.
AMY GOODMAN: Jonathan, where are you from?
JONATHAN COLEMAN: Louisville, Kentucky.
AMY GOODMAN: Louisville. How far is Louisville from Jackson, Georgia, where we are right now?
JONATHAN COLEMAN: I think it’s about seven hours. I don’t know.
ASHLEY KINCAID: It’s about eight, eight hours.
AMY GOODMAN: And how far—
ASHLEY KINCAID: We drove through it.
AMY GOODMAN: Oh, yeah. So eight hours for you. And how long for you, Ashley?
ASHLEY KINCAID: I drove about 10 hours to Atlanta and then an hour or two here, so about 11 hours total.
AMY GOODMAN: So, about 11 hours. Why?
ASHLEY KINCAID: Because I care. I got involved in this case back with the original execution date—well, the second execution date in 2008, September 23rd. I couldn’t be just one of those students that just went about my day, when I knew something bad was happening. So I got in my car at midnight the night before and drove down and protested there, and got to see it through, so back again.
AMY GOODMAN: Why does Troy Davis matter to you?
ASHLEY KINCAID: It was just—I had just gotten involved in the death penalty movement, and I had read about the case, and I saw he was scheduled for execution, and it was still about a month out. And I remember thinking, this case, surely somebody’s going to do something, it’s not actually going to happen, so I’m going to spend my time on other cases. And then, the night before, I just couldn’t believe the overwhelming testimony and evidence that this guy is innocent, so I came, and I met his sister, I met his mother. I started writing to him. And it’s just such an obvious case.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you met him?
ASHLEY KINCAID: No, I have not met him. I would love to. And hopefully, tonight would allow that to eventually happen.
AMY GOODMAN: Jonathan, talk about how you came here from Louisville.
JONATHAN COLEMAN: I came down here with Youth in Action and National Action Network. And—
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Reverend Sharpton’s organization.
JONATHAN COLEMAN: Yes, ma’am. And I came to support Troy Davis, because I felt like me being 16 years old, that could have been me.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re 16?
JONATHAN COLEMAN: Yes, ma’am. Me being—
AMY GOODMAN: What grade are you in?
JONATHAN COLEMAN: I’m in 11. Me being 16, it could have been me locked up. And I would want people to support me, if I’m innocent and I know I didn’t do it. And I feel that he’s innocent. I heard the case, and I read it, and I listened to everybody’s story. And I feel that he’s innocent, that he shouldn’t be locked up. And they shouldn’t kill an innocent man for doing something that he didn’t do.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to go right now to Reverend Jesse Jackson, as well as a guest in a studio in Washington, D.C., Mary Schmid Mergler, with the Constitution Project. And we had them on—we had them on to talk about Troy Davis and why they were involved with gathering signatures. More than a million signatures have been gathered, why Reverend Jackson came down here, met with the head of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. So we started by asking Reverend Jackson simply why, why is he taking on the case of Troy Davis.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Because there is not only reasonable, but there is substantial doubt. No physical evidence that he did the killing. The family is in great pain, the policeman who was killed, but he should not be used as a trophy to give them false relief. Of those who testified against him, nine have recanted their position, suggesting that they were either under pressure or didn’t have adequate information. With this much abounding doubt, his life should be spared. We will not be safer Wednesday morning if he’s killed the night before.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting. Seven of the nine recanted. One of the two who didn’t is the person that others point the finger at, "Redd" Coles, who’s the one that went to the police department that night and said it was at Troy Davis who did the shooting.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: That further makes the case more compelling, because it suggests that the one who went that night is in fact the chief suspect. But in this environment where a kind of bloodthirst is emerging here, where Rick Perry says he presides over 232 executions and gets a standing applause, there is something toxic in the wind. In many ways, America’s character is on trial in this case. And I would hope that the family would know that we who plead for the life of Troy Davis are not insensitive to the loss of their loved one, but they should not accept him as a trophy and then have some sense of false relief.
AMY GOODMAN: Mary Schmid Mergler, you have been putting together a list of high-profile supporters calling for Davis’s life to be spared. Talk about some of these people. A number of them are pro-death penalty.
MARY SCHMID MERGLER: That’s correct. We have assembled a group, a death penalty committee that consists of individuals who are both for and against the death penalty. But a number of these individuals have decided to speak out in this case, believing that when it comes to the death penalty, there is no room for doubt. And one example is Judge Sessions, who was a former director of the FBI; Larry Thompson, who was the former deputy attorney general under the George W. Bush administration; Mark White, who was the former governor of Texas and oversaw 19 executions during his governorship.
AMY GOODMAN: And why are they calling for Davis’s life to be spared?
MARY SCHMID MERGLER: I think that the sense among these people is that there is too much doubt, too much doubt in this case. And regardless of whether one believes the death penalty is appropriate in some cases, it certainly is not appropriate in this particular case, with seven of the nine witnesses recanting, and also with the conviction generally resting upon eyewitness testimony. That, in and of itself, is problematic.
AMY GOODMAN: Last—
MARY SCHMID MERGLER: So—
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Amy—
MARY SCHMID MERGLER: Go ahead.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: If you had blood, you know, if you had fingerprints, weapons, you have a case of evidence. Eyewitness is perhaps the weakest form of determining whether someone is guilty or not. And so, the lack of substantial evidence, and his declaration of innocence and the recanting of witnesses, is heavily suggestive.
AMY GOODMAN: Last week on MSNBC PoliticsNation, Reverend Al Sharpton was joined by former Republican Congress Member Bob Barr, who has worked with the Constitution Project to oppose Davis’s execution. Although Barr supports the death penalty, in general, he said it should not be applied in Troy Davis’s case.
BOB BARR: There was no physical evidence. It’s primarily based on eyewitness testimony under very difficult circumstances. It was nighttime. It was dark. It was a poorly lit parking lot. And you add on top of that the fact that these witnesses, many of these witnesses have, not just sort of cavalierly, said that they were not sure or have recanted their testimony, but very, very credibly done. This case, if this execution goes forward, really is a textbook example of the sort of case in which the death penalty should not be applied.
AMY GOODMAN: And this is Brenda Forrest, one of the jurors in Troy’s case. She told CNN she initially did not have any doubts that he committed the crime. However, Forrest has since changed her mind.
BRENDA FORREST: If I knew then what I know now, Troy Davis would not be on death row. The verdict would be "not guilty."
AMY GOODMAN: Mary Mergler, how have jurors’ reassessments factored into Troy’s case?
MARY SCHMID MERGLER: Well, I think that it’s more evidence of the fact that this conviction is just pervaded with doubt. You know, you have four jurors coming forward saying they have doubts. And that’s because new evidence has arisen since the conviction, since the trial. The jurors were not able to hear these recantations, and they’re now saying, had they heard them, that their decision likely would have been different.
AMY GOODMAN: And Mary Mergler, the role, as Reverend Jackson was talking about, of eyewitness testimony in these cases?
MARY SCHMID MERGLER: Well, what we know is that of the three-fourths of the 273 DNA exonerations that have taken place to date in this country, three-fourths of them have involved and been partly—the conviction has been partly based upon eyewitness testimony. So, we know that jurors put a lot of credibility in that testimony, and yet it is very often mistaken. Even eyewitnesses who testify in good faith are very often mistaken.
REV. JESSE JACKSON: Amy, it’s also fair to say that in these cases, withheld information, often by prosecutors, politics and race are also factors in this matter. And I would hope that the five commissioners, who may be listening to us, they will take the case, don’t be as Pontius Pilate was, and you can’t find evidence the man is guilty, but just wash your hand and let a man die. And then, you cannot recover a man who’s dead after you made a mistake. Don’t risk the mistake. This is not just reasonable doubt; this is substantial doubt.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been listening to Reverend Jesse Jackson, together with Mary Schmid Mergler of the Constitution Project. She was speaking in Washington, D.C. We are continuing, because we actually don’t know what’s going to take place tonight. In fact, my phone has died, and I’ve been watching the minutes pass. We’ll have to ask Ben Jealous.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: It’s 10:05, 10:05.
AMY GOODMAN: It is 10:05. Ben Jealous, CEO, president of the NAACP.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And timekeeper for Amy Goodman.
AMY GOODMAN: And timekeeper. This is three hours and five minutes past the execution time that was set for [Troy Davis]. He has not been executed, though we don’t know what has happened so far in the prison. I was wondering if Renée Feltz could come back over, Democracy Now! producer who has long covered the death penalty, particularly in Texas, to tell us about another execution that did take place tonight. It took place, Eastern time, 7:21. That’s 6:21 Texas time. Tell us about Lawrence Brewer.
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right, Amy. Listeners may remember, it was more than a decade ago that a grisly murder took place in Texas, in the Piney Woods of Texas. It was a small town. James Byrd, Sr., was discovered, torn apart, by a resident of this small town who first came across body parts on the road and thought maybe a deer had been hit or something, followed these down a road, and saw that—he had been chained to the back of a truck and dragged down a road. And this ultimately led to a case in which several people were tried and sentenced to death. One of those men was executed tonight in Texas. Didn’t hear a whole lot about it. And it’s one of those cases where it makes you wonder, you know, how do I feel about the death penalty? Is it right in some places? A lot of people were discussing that in various outlets this evening.
And part of that discussion included the family members of James Byrd, Sr., specifically James Byrd, Jr., and his son Ross. And they’ve come out against the death penalty, and specifically against this execution. They’ve used some of the people who came forward with funds afterward, who wanted to help pay, for example, for the funeral of their father, to set up a center for reconciliation and to look at alternative—alternatives to the type of punishment of the death penalty and capital punishment, which, of course, is, as we know, even though it’s applied here four times already this year, as I understand it, in Georgia, many, many more times than that in Texas. And, you know, the eyes are—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: This was the 236th—
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: —execution under Governor Perry.
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right. And the eyes are on Texas right now, as Governor Perry is running for president. And we see a precedent in how Governor Bush ran and also, you know, went forward with another controversial execution of Gary Graham Shaka Sankofa in 2000, which drew thousands of people, in a scene very similar to this, to the Huntsville execution chamber. So, it’s a significant night in the terms of the death penalty in that case, with James Byrd, Sr., is something that really sticks in people’s mind, and it’s worth noting.
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, his family opposed to the death penalty.
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: His family came out. And his family came out squarely and said, you know, you can’t solve a murder with murder. You know, it’s in the same time we’ve seen—I believe tonight, but certainly this week—capital charges brought against a young white man in Jackson, Mississippi, who’s accused essentially with actual lynching. And again there, the victim’s family saying, "We hope that they won’t seek the death penalty."
And the reality is that this is a practice of vengeance in this country. It’s something that Perry seems to use as like a marketing ploy. And we see it coming, you know, to play in politics in that way. The last public execution, actually, in view of the public, was held in 1936. If you go back and you read the _Times_’ coverage, it’s literally—they say that hangsman’s breakfasts and packages at bed and breakfasts throughout the region were actually challenging the Kentucky Derby as the biggest sort of event draw, these public executions that were being held in Kentucky as late as 1936. You know, this strikes a populist chord, but the reality is, as the Byrd family said, it doesn’t bring closure, it doesn’t bring justice. It just brings one more death, one more murder.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, I’m thinking about Abel Meeropol’s song "Strange Fruit" that Billie Holiday, of course, made so famous. And folks in New York maybe will get that song so that we could play it for people today. And I’m also thinking about a gathering that’s taking place in Hyattsville, Maryland, at Busboys and Poets. Hyattsville, Maryland, where many people have come out to honor Howard Zinn, the great—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: —late historian who wrote People’s History of the United States, fiercely opposed to the death penalty, and his focus on history. I’ve seen a lot of signs tonight talking about lynching. Talk about the history of lynching in this country. And do you think it relates to what we’re seeing here?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Oh, absolutely. You know, my family is from the state of Virginia. Virginia was one of the first states to, quote-unquote, "get its lynching problem under control." And what they did in that state was they literally brought the process of lynching into the courts. They dramatically shortened the time that it took to adjudicate a case. And actually, in Virginia, in that period, ’20s and ’30s, when the country was so plagued by lynching, you saw them shorten everything down to a day. Somebody could be charged, convicted, sentenced and executed in a day through the courts. Well, at that point, who needs a lynching, right?
And so, the reality is that in this country, which, you know, started off as a very wild country, where people would just be hung from a tree in the back woods, that, you know, our justice system and the practice of lynching have always been sort of a push-pull, kind of tug o’ war, interconnected relationship. Again, in the middle of the 20th century, early part of the 20th century, was very explicit, as you were saying, trench [inaudible] sent to the other. And yet, the ghosts are still there. And there’s a sense that this is a situation where, for some people, for some people, anybody will do. They, you know, just want vengeance. And that’s—and that’s hard. I mean, not the family, not people who were involved, but just sort of in the public. You can bump into people on the streets who are extremely hostile.
AMY GOODMAN: And how has it impacted the black community, in particular, the African-American community?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Well, you know, I think it is actually—the impact has gone way beyond. You know, the—you run into people, for instance, over at the church the other night, church in a black community, filled with black people, and yet also with white people, even people who support the death penalty, saying, "This just tortures me. It tortures me." Because they want to believe that the death penalty is precise. And yet, we know from history that it’s not precise, that it’s fraught with human error like everything else we do. And it’s intolerable, all the more for that reason.
AMY GOODMAN: Ida B. Wells, the great crusading journalist—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Of the NAACP.
AMY GOODMAN: —who crusaded—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Of the—you know, she was one of our great writers, like Walter White. Just a bit of pride there, but yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Who crusaded against lynching.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes. And, you know, if you look at what Thurgood Marshall was doing as he was working those decades, ultimately building the case for Brown v. Board, often back down in the South on death penalty cases, arguing that we should have, you know, a trial in fact, you know, not just in form. And yet, the reality is that in this country, you know, we’re not—we’re not quite there yet. I mean, we don’t have a constitutional guarantee that if you are innocent, we won’t execute you. What we say is that you have to be duly convicted. What we know from all the DNA exonerations that we’ve seen, that we duly convict innocent people all the time. That’s the limits of our law.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go back to Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit," written by a man named Abel Meeropol. His stage name was Lewis Allan. He actually was the father of, or the stepfather of, the adopted father of the Meeropol brothers, who were the sons of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: When their parents were executed at Sing Sing in the early 1950s. Michael and Robby were adopted by Lewis Allan, by Abel Meeropol and his wife. It was Abel Meeropol who wrote "Strange Fruit," that Billie Holiday made so famous.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yeah, and that song—and that song was actually part of the NAACP’s anti-lynching crusade at the time. One of the things I think people forget is that the NAACP really was founded as this great expression of black and Jewish unity in New York City, of people who came together to fight against injustice, you know, to really assert the need for blacks to have full equality in the civil life of this country, protection of the justice system, at the time when there were others, like Booker T. Washington, who were saying that, you know, really what we need is just good trade schools, and we just need to, you know, kind of own a piece of the pie. And they said, well, you can’t hold on to a piece of the pie if you don’t have a justice system that works, you know, if you can’t participate and vote. There’s too many shadows of that time right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous is president of the NAACP. We hear people honking their horns outside. People are holding candles, hundreds of people outside this death row prison, where Troy Davis was scheduled to die at 7:00 tonight. It’s now more than three hours later. We’re still waiting for news from the Supreme Court. The latest word we have is that it’s a Georgia Supreme Court justice, a Supreme Court justice of the United States from Pin Point, Georgia, Clarence Thomas—
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Justice Thomas [inaudible], yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —who actually is weighing this right now.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And, you know, that may confuse folks, but people need to remember, if they’ve forgotten and they know, that the last time there was a stay, it was Clarence Thomas who actually created the consensus. And so, people see that as a good sign. And, you know, folks here are really, really full of faith. I mean, they see every minute that goes by as just one more miracle. They came here tonight not knowing if they were coming to a funeral or expecting—you know, or coming to witness a miracle. And we’ve seen—excuse me, we’ve now seen, I guess, over 200 miracles. Every minute that ticks by is a miracle when a man is scheduled to die and it doesn’t happen.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Billie Holiday, singing about strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been listening to Billie Holiday singing Lewis Allan, Abel Meeropol’s song, "Strange Fruit." Billie Holiday wrote in Lady Sings the Blues that every time she sang that song about lynching, she would run into the bathroom afterwards and throw up.
This is Democracy Now!'s special coverage, multi-hour coverage. We don't know how long we’ll be going tonight, because inside the grounds of this prison—we’re on the grounds, but inside this death row prison, Troy Davis is scheduled to die. It’s the fourth death warrant. He was scheduled to die at 7:00 p.m. Eastern [Daylight] Time. It’s now more than three hours later. We’re still waiting to hear what the Supreme Court will decide. There was a slight reprieve, but not a stay, not to be confused. We will be with you as long as it takes tonight.
Right now we’re with Ben Jealous, the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP, for our international audience. In fact, there is a very large international audience and people who are vigiling and protesting all over the world, we hear, throughout Germany, in France, in Iceland, in Norway. In Washington, D.C., people are marching in front of the Supreme Court. And in Dublin, Ireland, as well, just to mention a few, not to mention what’s happening in the United States.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right, well, yeah. And one of the most remarkable things that’s happened today—and I was talking to our colleagues from Amnesty about this—is that six former death row wardens, including Dr. Ault, the former warden here at this prison in Jackson, Georgia, have come forward, saying that this should be stayed, that—calling for a stay. Meanwhile, we have the actual warden in there who seems—well, I mean, we thank God that he’s at least paused for the Supreme Court to consider, but seemed absolutely committed to getting this done. And it really brings up something that we don’t talk about with the death penalty often, which is the impact that it takes on the guards themselves. It is simply an unnatural act to participate in a scheduled execution at a date certain.
AMY GOODMAN: We’ve just gotten this breaking news, Ben Jealous, the Supreme Court refusing to stay the execution of Troy Davis.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: I’m going to talk to folks here.
AMY GOODMAN: Larry Cox, if—
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What did they say?
AMY GOODMAN: The Supreme Court has refused to block the execution of Troy Davis.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oooh...
AMY GOODMAN: It’s 10:21 Eastern time. Troy Davis was scheduled to die at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When?
AMY GOODMAN: The Supreme Court just, according to AP, has ruled that they will not block the execution of Troy Davis.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So they’re going to go through with it. Oh, gosh.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s the Supreme Court decision. We’re standing on the grounds of the prison where he is set to be executed. Ben Jealous, Larry Cox and others have gathered around the family. We can’t go past the yellow cords. About 150 people are here. Ben is breaking the news to the gathering. Everyone is gathering round. There are hundreds more people just outside the gates of the Georgia Diagnostic Prison, the death row prison in Georgia, where more than a hundred death row prisoners are. This latest news, the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to block the execution of Troy Davis. We will be with you. It is not exactly clear at this moment where Troy Davis is inside the prison.
I’ve just been given this press release from Amnesty International: "Troy Davis Execution a 'Catastrophic Failure of the Justice System,' Charges Amnesty International. Human rights organization will continue to campaign for abolition as opposition to the death penalty grows."
The crowd is very quiet here.
Renée, have you gotten any more information?
RENÉE FELTZ: I’m checking now, Amy. You know, what happened was that was an AP alert that came through. It is confirmed that the stay has not—has been denied. Now, what we’re listening to now is silence here on the scene, as Ben Jealous and others consult with people. Their priority now is to collect their thoughts and to think about how to move forward, not necessarily to do interviews.
But we should get an update now. The update: the execution of Troy Davis has not been blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s the latest from the Associated Press. It’s confirmed. We’re reporting this to you live here, 10:23. He was set to be executed at 7:00 p.m. tonight. We’re outside the prison, where, arguably, the prison officials are preparing the execution of Troy Davis. It’s been 20—more than two decades for this moment. The world is watching. And Amy, again, a very silent crowd now, as people prepare what to do with Troy Davis very close to us now. Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me read for a moment from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today, describing what would take place if in fact this happened. This is a piece from the front page. It says, "An hour before he is scheduled to die, Davis will be offered a sedative to calm him.
“That also is the time when five reporters will be loaded into a van and driven to the prison where they will wait, down the hall from other witnesses, until they are taken to the death chamber behind the massive prison.
“One by one, they will be led into the view area—first the witnesses for the state, then Davis’ witness and finally the media witnesses.
"Mark MacPhail Jr. and his uncle, William MacPhail, will be in the death chamber to represent the family. Mark MacPhail said his older sister’s emotions wouldn’t let her witness the execution and his mother and grandmother didn’t want to watch." The 22-year-old said, "I was the only family member willing to."
“Once the witnesses are seated, Davis will be placed in view with IVs in both arms. The warden will read the death warrant and Davis will be offered a chance for final words. The lethal injection process will begin, injecting a cocktail of drugs in Davis that will kill him within minutes.
That is if this execution goes forward. The Supreme Court has refused to stay the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. Renée?
RENÉE FELTZ: One small addition to that, Amy. We’re hearing reports that there were no dissents in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. What transpired tonight was they received a request for a stay of execution. The justices considered it. The state waited to move forward until they heard back. They’ve heard back now. And again, what we’ve been waiting for is to learn whether or not this execution will go forward. And from what we understand, by the rules in place now, that would be the next step. I believe we hear singing starting now.
AMY GOODMAN: People are breaking up from gathering, hearing some people speak. Larry Cox is the executive director of Amnesty International USA.
LARRY COX: The word is that the Supreme Court has decided not to issue a stay. What we don’t know is exactly what that means now in terms of Troy tonight. So, we’re waiting to hear that. But I think it’s been confirmed that the Supreme Court has, you know, obviously took a while to look at the material and has decided not to issue a stay of the execution.
UNIDENTIFIED: Was it unanimous?
LARRY COX: I don’t know. That’s all I know, what I just told you. That’s all I know. So, to me, what is amazing is, right over there, people are still talking about Troy’s spirit. They’re still talking about the fight. Nobody is talking about despair. Nobody is talking about giving up. And we will tomorrow begin to double, triple, quadruple our efforts to make sure that the day will come sooner when this—we never have to go through this again, for anybody, for any reason. So, that’s what we’re going to do.
AMY GOODMAN: Is there any possibility of any other stopping of this execution?
LARRY COX: Not that I know of. Not that I know of. The only question mark, I think, is what will happen tonight, whether they will proceed or not. I just don’t know the answer to that.
AMY GOODMAN: How will you redouble your efforts?
LARRY COX: Well, we will—you know, obviously, this has been a phenomenal night. I mean, the number of people involved is something that we never dreamed of, I mean, all around the world. In London, they were at the U.S. embassy until 3:00 a.m. in the morning. All over the country, all over the city, people have been watching—all over the media, for that matter, people have been talking. Troy Davis has now become an incredible symbol of everything that’s broken, everything that’s wrong with this practice of killing prisoners in the United States. So, we will try to build on that. We will immediately, you know, organize a campaign to draw attention to other cases like Troy’s, to continue to make sure that his name and this case is used as an example of why the death penalty has to be abolished. We have to regroup and look at our strategy, figure out where is the best place to push. But we will certainly not let this be forgotten. We will build on the phenomenal outpouring globally of opposition to what happened here.
AMY GOODMAN: Does it mean you have to change your anti-death-penalty strategy in organizing?
LARRY COX: I don’t think—I think this is actually the—what happened here is the result of a strategy that is succeeding. I think that people have—this movement has been growing. And I think this will give it an incredible impetus. And now what we have to do is take people who were against the penalty but maybe never did anything about it, never saw it as their primary issue, and we have to say now is the time to really follow up, begin writing your legislature, begin writing to the Georgia legislature, begin taking, you know, steps to do something concrete. We have to figure that out. Right now it’s—you know, we’re all tired and exhausted. Tomorrow morning we’ll wake up, and we’ll start having those conversations, and we’ll figure out a strategy. I think it will build on this. I don’t think it will be a different strategy. I think it will build on the fact that this case has really revealed to the whole world that we cannot continue with this, with this system.
AMY GOODMAN: How many Troy Davises do you think there are?
LARRY COX: There are many. There are many Troy Davises. We know already of cases. Reggie Clemons in Missouri. There are other cases where, you know, people are quite possibly innocent. There are other cases where there are other factors that reveal other aspects of the system which are broken. Texas is such a perfect example. And as people have been pointing out all evening, this is now going to become an issue, I think, in the presidential campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: How is it an issue? The main presidential candidates in the Democratic and Republican Party agree on the death penalty.
LARRY COX: Well, I think that will be an interesting question to see how much they agree. I mean, do you really want to have Governor Perry set the tone for U.S. criminal justice? Do you really not—do people really not want to differentiate themselves from that? And who is willing to reexamine what we’ve been doing? And who is happy with this system that we now have? I think that will be a real question that reporters will finally begin to ask people during the campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: I have loaded the document—I have loaded the document here. And Renée, maybe you can talk more about this, but this is the official document from the Supreme Court.
LARRY COX: The Supreme Court.
RENÉE FELTZ: You can see this now, Larry Cox, Amnesty International. It’s a very short, one-sentence-long order from the United States Supreme Court, came down just now. It reads: "The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Thomas, and by him referred to the Court, is denied." No explanation, no further detail. What do you make of this very short response, Larry Cox?
LARRY COX: Well, it’s—I’m afraid it’s what—it’s all that they’re required to do. And I think it’s an avoidance of having to deal with the real issues in this case again. It’s, I think, a cowardly statement. One would have hoped that they would have said why they felt that this was—in this case, it was not possible to grant a stay, when there’s so much doubt about the case. But they’re not required to do that. And they obviously chose not to do it. So...
AMY GOODMAN: What kind of response have you gotten from people around the world, as yours is an international organization?
LARRY COX: Well, we are just now getting emails from people. You know, again, I have never seen so many people so engaged on this issue. We were getting emails from all over the world. People were riveted. People were staying. They were not going home. They were going to wait for as long as it took to find out.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re beginning to hear the response from across the street now, people weighing in.
LARRY COX: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: The White House saying they don’t think it’s appropriate to weigh in in a particular case, though we’ve seen them do it in other cases.
LARRY COX: Yeah, I think this is more cowardice. And in a way, it shows that they are now afraid of this issue. There would have been a day when people would have said, "Of course, this is perfectly fine." I think people know in their hearts that this is shameful. And they certainly know from their allies around the world. They hear all the time from their embassies that the rest of the world regards this as barbaric, that this hurts the United States. It hurts our criminal justice system. We can’t get—a lot of people will not be given back to the United States when they’re captured abroad, because we have the death penalty. And more importantly, it just lowers our already not very high esteem in the world for our human rights record. So, I think that, you know, people in their hearts know that this is something that the country is going to have to deal with. And my hope is that now, during this presidential campaign and during other campaigns, this will finally become a real issue that will be debated and discussed.
AMY GOODMAN: What does it say that the ruling was unanimous, or no one on the Supreme Court dissented?
LARRY COX: Well, that’s, of course, you know, unfortunately, not a tremendous surprise with this Court. And this Court has, you know, previously looked at the Troy Davis case, so it may be that they simply felt that there was not enough new material here for them to reverse themselves. And it’s obviously greatly disappointing.
I think we can’t rely simply on the courts to solve this problem for us. I think that’s one message here. We are going to have to do the hard, really hard work, not only state by state, but even county by county, to try to make this issue. We’re going to have to analyze which are the counties that, as I understand this county to be, Chatham County to be one, that turn out very high degrees of death sentences, and why is that, and who are they giving death sentences to. I mean, so there’s a lot of work for us to do, but there is—this was a phenomenal step forward for us, and—in terms of world opinion. And we’re definitely going to build on that, and we’re going to go forward knowing that the writing is on the wall, I think, that the rest of the world has already decided, and I think, especially after this spectacle, this grotesque spectacle tonight, more and more Americans will decide they don’t want to live in a country where the state engages in this kind of human sacrifice.
AMY GOODMAN: Larry Cox is the executive director of Amnesty International, responding to the news that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to stay the execution of Troy Davis. It’s three-and-a-half hours after the execution time, not clear exactly what is happening, except we have just gotten this news: a prison official saying the execution is proceeding, expected within a half an hour.
We’re joined right now by the senior pastor of the Dr. King church in Atlanta, Georgia, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Ebenezer Baptist Church. We’re joined by Dr. Raphael Warnock.
Your thoughts today?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Dr. King talked often about man’s inhumanity to man. And we’re watching that unfold in this very moment. He began—Dr. King, that is—focused on civil rights and continued to focus on human rights, to focus on the world. And the world is watching Georgia now. Clearly we can do better than this. This is tragic news. We were hoping for a better outcome. Troy Davis is being tortured by our government.
AMY GOODMAN: Where do you go from here?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: We continue to fight. In the midst of this dark night, there is a glimmer of hope. And much of that is in the light in the eyes of these students that I see, the many, many young people, many of whom you can’t see—they’re across the street—who have come here tonight to demonstrate in peace and to say that they believe in their country and that they believe that we can do better than this. They are our best hope. And I think while we certainly would not like to lose Troy Davis to this fight, in a real sense, I think what looks like his imminent execution will only add more momentum to our struggle.
AMY GOODMAN: What will you be saying at Ebenezer Baptist Church when you preach there?
REV. DR. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Oh, I will encourage the membership there to keep the faith. We look back on previous struggles, and because we are on the other side of the civil rights movement, for example, sometimes we act as if those victories were inevitable, when they were actually quite improbable. And yet, they kept the faith without knowing what the outcome would be. We have to stand on behalf of what’s right, not because we believe we will always win, but because it’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Raphael Warnock is senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, came about, what, 40 miles to Jackson, Georgia, to be here, this vigil outside the death row prison, where Troy Davis is now being strapped to a gurney, as chemicals are injected into his arms. Again, the Department of Corrections laid out for us what those chemicals are: first pentobarbital, then pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride. Those—that is the three-drug cocktail, if in fact what we have just heard is happening, a prison official saying that the execution of Troy Davis is happening as we stand here, as we stand on the grounds of the death row prison here in Jackson, Georgia, called the Jackson Correctional Prison. Renée Feltz is getting more news.
RENÉE FELTZ: So, Amy, just to recap, I went over to speak with the prison officials, who told us they would give us an update. The plan right now is they said it was for the execution to go forward here now in the prison where we’re standing outside of within the next half hour. You read the description of what would happen earlier. And after that, we should be getting a statement from the prison officials about what’s occurred.
Now, Amy, I’m not sure if you want to read this now, but it might be very interesting. It’s the 2008 statement from Troy Davis that his family sent. People may remember that this was another tense moment, that turned out quite differently than what we anticipate happening tonight. Should we read it? So, this is a 2008 statement released by Troy Davis’s family. It’s from Troy Davis.
“I want to thank you all for your efforts and dedication to Human Rights and Human Kindness, in the past year I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never ending faith. It is because of all of you that I am alive today, as I look at my sister Martina I am marveled by the love she has for me and of course I worry about her and her health, but as she tells me she is the eldest and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.
"As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see first hand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail."
He reads further—he writes further, "I cannot answer all of your letters but I do read them all, I cannot see you all but I can imagine your faces, I cannot hear you speak but your letters take me to the far reaches of the world, I cannot touch you physically but I feel your warmth everyday I exist."
Now, he closes here: "So Thank you and remember I am in a place where execution can only destroy your physical form but because of my faith in God, my family and all of you I have been spiritually free for some time and no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this Unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country."
He ends, finally, "I can’t wait to Stand with you, no matter if that is in physical or spiritual form, I will one day be announcing,
"'I AM TROY DAVIS, and I AM FREE!'"
That’s his 2008 statement from Troy Davis, as we stand outside the prison where he’s set to be executed within the next 30 minutes, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Renée Feltz reading Troy’s words in 2008, Troy Davis. This is the fourth death warrant that has been issued. Now, it sounds like the latest news is it’s being carried out as we stand here.
Talk about what’s happening right now, Kathryn.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Sure. As far as we know, Troy is in the—
AMY GOODMAN: First identify yourself.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: I’m, sorry, Kathryn Hamoudah from Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. As far as we know, Troy is in the execution chamber, and he’s being administered the IV with the different drugs. We don’t know if that’s happening right now, but that’s the process that will happen. Afterwards—there are five media witnesses that are inside, and afterwards a white van holding the witnesses will come out, and they’ll describe to us what happened inside. They’ll describe any motions that he could have made. We know from past executions that there have been some movements. So anything that looks like it could have gone wrong, they’ll explain to us. And then we always wait. The black coroner van will go by, and we wait here as a sign of respect. So that’s the process that happens on these nights, and that will likely happen tonight.
AMY GOODMAN: And where does that black coroner’s hearse go?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: It goes to the local medical, where the coroner will examine—examine the body. And I think it’s worth noting that on the death certificate, after executions, that it says "cause of death," and it says—it reads, "homicide." So, I think that’s worth noting.
AMY GOODMAN: And do you know where Troy Davis will be buried?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: I believe he’ll be buried in Savannah. I don’t know when, but in Savannah.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what’s happening behind us right now? You’re in the protest pen. Right behind us, people were talking. People are praying. They’re being very quiet.
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: Yeah, we—as you know, we got word several minutes ago that the U.S. Supreme Court denied stay of execution. The family has gathered in praying, and they’re together. And people gathered here are praying and singing softly right now. I think they’re just being silent.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you go through this so many times?
KATHRYN HAMOUDAH: I’m here so many times because I believe that our state can do better. I believe that we, as a society, can do better. And the minute that I stop showing up is the moment that I give the message that the state has won. And they haven’t.
AMY GOODMAN: I see Kim Davis. Kim Davis is Troy Davis’s sister. She is—let’s see if we could speak to her. She is coming to sit down right now. Kim Davis is Troy Davis’s younger sister. Martina Correia is Troy Davis’s older sister. De’Jaun, who we spoke to earlier, is his nephew, Martina’s son. And they’re all gathered here with friends, family, supporters.
It’s very dark, except for the light, media lights. You can hear the engines of the satellite trucks. There’s not much sound that we can hear from across the street. Earlier, there was false hope about 7:00. A wild shout went up that spread like wildfire from outside the prison grounds to inside, people thinking that a stay of execution had been issued. But very quickly, we learned that wasn’t the case. And then it was simply the waiting game, except it certainly is no game.
Now, right now, according to the descriptions of what will take place, Troy Anthony Davis will be strapped to a gurney. He’ll be injected with the chemicals that will kill him. The state of Georgia will execute him. There are witnesses there, including reporters. And those reporters, I believe, after prison officials speak, the reporters will come out and describe what took place. And they’ll also talk about Troy’s last words, if he chose to share any. A few hours before, he was allowed to record words, a longer statement, and I suppose we’ll find out what they are.
People here have varying levels of experience with the death penalty. Some are longtime anti-death-penalty activists, have come here, especially Georgians, as many times as there has been an execution over the last years. Others, of course, this is their first time. They were drawn to this case, perhaps not even because it was a death penalty case, but because it was Troy Davis, and they felt there was some egregious wrong. All day, people have been streaming in. But there is only a few that were able to stay here. The Corrections Department cracked down, keeping this area quite sparse. Outside, there are hundreds of people.
We’re going to get the latest now from the Southern Center for Human Rights. The police presence, the trooper presence, the Department of Corrections, is very tight. When we tried to simply jump over this white—this yellow rope to speak with the family members to find out what was being said in a huddle, very quickly the Department of Corrections came out. Armed guards came out and told us if we didn’t get out of the pen, that we would be sent out.
Sara, can you talk about what you’re holding right now?
SARA TOTONCHI: We have a tradition, when our state extinguishes the life of a human being, of reading the names of the people who have been killed before the person whose life is being taken tonight. Troy Davis will be the 52nd person executed in Georgia. I was hoping we could maybe read the names to your listeners.
Number one, John Eldon Smith, December 15, 1983.
Number two, Ivan Ray Stanley, July 12, 1984.
Alpha Otis Stephens, December 12th, 1984.
Roosevelt Green, January 9th, 1985.
Van R. Solomon, February 20th, 1985.
John Young, March 20th, 1985.
Jerome Bowden, June 24th, 1986.
Joseph Mulligan, May 15th, 1987.
Richard Tucker, May 22nd, 1987.
William Boyd Tucker, May 29th, 1987.
Billy Mitchell, September 1st, 1987.
Tim McCorquodale, September 21st, 1987.
James Messer, July 28th, 1988.
Henry Willis, May 18th, 1989.
Warren McCleskey, September 25th, 1991.
Thomas Dean Stevens, June 29th, 1993.
Christopher Burger, December 7, 1993.
William Henry Hance, March 31st, 1994.
Nicholas Ingram, April 7, 1995.
Darrel Devier, May 17th, 1995.
Larry Lonchar, November 14, 1996.
Ellis Wayne Felker, November 15th, 1996.
David Cargill, June 9th, 1998.
Terry Mincey, October 2001.
Jose Martinez High, November 6, 2001.
Fred Gilreath, November 15, 2001.
Byron Parker, December 11, 2001.
Ronald Spivey, January 24th, 2002.
Tracy Housel, March 12th, 2002.
Wallace Buck Fugate, August 16th, 2002.
William Putnam, November 13, 2002.
Larry Moon, March 25th, 2003.
Carl Isaacs, May 6, 2003.
James Willie Brown, November 4th, 2003.
Robert Karl Hicks, July 1st, 2004.
Eddie A. Crawford, July 19, 2004.
Tim Carr, January 26th, 2005.
Stephen Mobley, March 1st, 2005.
Robert Dale Conklin, July 12th, 2005.
John Hightower, June 26, 2007.
Earl Lynd, May 6, 2008.
Curtis Osborne, June 4th, 2008.
Jack Alderman, September 16, 2008.
Robert Newland, March 10, 2009.
Mark Mize, April 29, 2009.
Mark McClain, October 20th, 2009.
Ray Ford, June 9th, 2010.
Brandon Rhode, September 27, 2010.
Emmanuel Hammond, January 25th, 2011.
Roy Blankenship, June 23rd, 2011.
Andrew DeYoung, July 21st, 2011.
And Troy Davis, September 21st, 2011.
As we read these names, we remember their lives, the lives that were taken in the name of our citizens of our state. And we reaffirm our commitment to coming out here and working until the day when people don’t gather to watch other people put to death in the name of justice.
AMY GOODMAN: Will it change your strategy, what is taking place tonight, what we understand is taking place as we speak? Again, we have no final confirmation, but we have prison official quoted as saying the execution of Troy Anthony Davis is being carried out as we stand here now. Soon, if this goes according to previous executions, the prison officials will come out. They’ll tell us that the deed has been done. And then the reporters will come out and tell us what happened inside the execution chamber.
SARA TOTONCHI: One of Troy’s strongest messages was that this—the problems with the death penalty were so much bigger than his case. And I know, if there is anything that Troy Davis would want us to take from this, is to continue to fight, to continue to build the movement, the many, many people whose eyes have been opened by the injustices of his case, and it’s our challenge to continue to engage everybody, every person of conscience who is watching, who is listening, who is praying tonight, that this death penalty will end in our lifetime.
AMY GOODMAN: I just wanted to see if we could speak with the person who’s standing right behind you.
SARA TOTONCHI: Yeah, yeah. Vizion.
AMY GOODMAN: Vizion.
VIZION JONES: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: You were leading the prayer and the singing. Where are you from?
VIZION JONES: I’m from Atlanta, National Action Network, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Atlanta, Georgia.
AMY GOODMAN: What were you just singing?
VIZION JONES: "You Don’t Know What the Lord Told Me" and "When All God’s Children Get Together."
AMY GOODMAN: Can you sing it?
VIZION JONES: [singing] When all God’s children get together
Oh, what a time, what a time, what a time!
Gonna lay down by the banks of the river
What a time, what a time, what a time, what a time.
My voice is a bit gone, because I’ve been out here all day. We’ve been out here since 12:00. We’re here for justice.
This case is actually—it’s a pregnant moment. It’s not the end of anything. It’s the beginning. It’s only the beginning. The eyes of the world is upon this case. The United States goes to other countries and tells them what to do and what’s right and what’s wrong. And clearly, here, you cannot convict on eyewitness testimony, because it’s the most fallible piece of evidence that you could possibly use. You have to convict on scientific, emperical evidence. Seven of the nine have recanted. That leaves no DNA. That leaves no physical evidence, no camera, no nothing placing him at the scene. That leaves no murder weapon. Just the two that’s left. And so, therefore, I don’t feel Troy Davis should have to prove his innocence. The state should have proved his guilt. The state did not prove his guilt. And how dare we legislate to Libya, to Egypt and other places, Iran, around the world about what is right and what is wrong, when you can’t get justice in the United States?
And so, this is not the end, this is the beginning. You know, them killing Troy Davis is going to do no more—murdering him is going to do more than making him into a martyr. And I hope they know that, because we’re not going to forget him, and he’ll never die. His name will live forever, whether he lives or whether he dies, because it could happen to any of us. Any person can be pulled off the street, and a group of folks can get together and say, "Hey, that person did it." You know that under stress, people don’t recall evidence properly. We know that. We don’t recall the right height. We don’t recall the right eye color. We don’t recall many things. So this is definitely a travesty that should not have occurred.
I don’t understand why our legislators don’t realize that this is wrong and that the man has spent—served his time to society. He has spent 20 years, two decades. And we need to really look at this and look at Georgia. And if Georgia actually does go through with this, we believe that more should happen. More should happen. We need to vote with our dollars and make sure that Georgia gets the signal that this is not going to be in our name. Georgians—a lady told me just yesterday while I was at the Capitol, she said, "This is not the country that my father died for. This is not the country." And it touched my heart, because I’m a veteran. And when you look at our veterans coming back, not getting the treatment that they deserve—and I’ve seen it firsthand—we really need to look at many things. But we need to look in this case, because this is a miscarriage of justice. And we’ll never—we’ll never stop this fight. We’ll never stop this fight.
AMY GOODMAN: Thank you for joining us.
VIZION JONES: Absolutely.
AMY GOODMAN: Vizion from the National Action Network.
VIZION JONES: Vizion from the National Action Network, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: In Atlanta, Georgia.
VIZION JONES: In Atlanta. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, broadcasting live. Ben Jealous, back again. When he got the news, the breaking news of the Supreme Court refusing to stay the execution of Troy Davis that just came in moments ago, he went back to gather with all of the people who are gathered here on the grounds of the Georgia death row prison, where Troy Anthony Davis, as far as we know, is being executed as we speak.
Your thoughts right now?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, my heart goes out. It goes out to the MacPhail family. We’re surrounded by the Davis family. All of our hearts are broken. I’ve known his nephew since his nephew was three years old.
And right now it goes out to the guards. You know, there was a moment the other day when my staff was in there and the family was in there, and a guard leaned over to Martina and asked her to hold it together, because, he said, "We’re just barely holding it together." He said, "My mom’s been praying for you guys for days." And there was a sense that if she started crying, the guards would start crying. And we have to remember that, you know, these are men, these are working-class men and women, you know, in a rural area, looking for a good-paying job to support their family. And this shouldn’t be part of it. They know they may have to execute somebody, but having to execute somebody in the midst of so much doubt, when the former warden, who used to be the boss here, is saying, "Stay the execution," former head of the FBI is saying, "Stay the execution," Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, all saying, "Stay the execution," it’s absolutely inhumane. It’s not just a crime against Troy Davis. It’s a crime against our democracy. It’s a crime against those specific men and women who are called to hold down his leg or his right leg amidst so much doubt, when even their old boss is saying, "Stop this. Don’t do it."
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, the current warden telling you that he was a Savannah police officer 22 years ago.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Right, as if that should mean anything, other than the fact that he would want to reopen the case if there’s any doubt. I mean, it was this—just this sort of this chilling notion that, you know, we’re going to get it this time, we’re going to do it this time. And—
AMY GOODMAN: And explain what it was that Warden Humphrey—why he was telling you this, why you were meeting with him.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Because for more than a year they had stonewalled media from talking to Troy Davis. And they weren’t—and they were even—there was a witness, where probably most recently CNN tried to get in to a witness who is being held in prison, and they wouldn’t let the witness speak, either. And I said to him, "Look, you know, among everything else, at the end of the day, we’re also worried about your guards having to execute amidst so much doubt." And he said, "That’s exactly why I won’t let those media in here." And I said, "Well, you know there’s another way." He says, "What’s that?" I said, "Well, you know there’s—you know, i.e. you could let the truth out, and we could maybe get the right person behind bars." And he said, "Well, you know there’s another side of the story." And I said no—I said, "I know." And he said, "And you know I was on law enforcement in Savannah 22 years ago." And I said, "No, no, I didn’t realize that." And—and what does that mean? And why are you saying that to me? And why is that how we end this conversation?
Reality is, you know, our hope right now is that people won’t close their hearts and their minds, but rather they’ll keep their hearts and their minds open, and they’ll ponder what this means for our nation, they’ll search their souls and question. You know, if they supported the death penalty before this, can they any longer, knowing that it’s such a blunt instrument, that we will execute amongst so much doubt? And we hope that people will show the discipline and the faith of the Davis family and ultimately Troy has shown throughout this himself, you know, believing that ultimately—as he put it, "This movement started before I died, and it must continue to grow no matter what, until we abolish the death penalty."
His mom was an NAACP member. She had taken part in the sit-ins of the '60s. She raised her children to be conscious people, to think about the world. And, you know, we see some of that spirit tonight, as James Byrd's family—as his killer was executed, the horrible hate crime in Texas, coming forward and saying, "Please don’t do this in our name. Know that Governor Perry doesn’t do this in our name. We don’t want to see the death penalty happen here." Same thing happened in Mississippi, where a young white man has been charged for literally lynching a black man just a few months ago, caught on videotape, and the family of the victim coming forward, saying, "Don’t—don’t do this. We shouldn’t seek the death penalty here."
There is another way. You know, it’s been said a long time ago that "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." This is a time for us as a nation to evolve and to catch up with the rest of the Western world, who has cut bait with this barbaric practice for this very reason, that it’s possible for the innocent to be executed, because we’re all human, and human error happens, human hearts harden, and all of a sudden, what we thought was justice starts to look more and more just like vengeance.
AMY GOODMAN: Does this mean another kind of organizing?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes. You know, 15 years ago in this country, I was at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. It was the 20th anniversary of the reinstatement of the death penalty. And the movement was forced to make a choice: do we continue with a court-based strategy, or do we switch and actually focus on a strategy based on changing the law, and, in many cases, changing the DA? We’ve employed that strategy for the last 15 years, and in that time, we’ve seen massive progress. We’ve abolished the death penalty for juveniles. We’ve abolished it for the people that the court refers to quite crudely as the mentally retarded. We’ve abolished it, in the last two years alone, in New Mexico, in New Jersey, in the state—you know, in President Obama’s home state, the great state of Illinois.
AMY GOODMAN: Yet he supports the death penalty.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And I hope that he’s questioning it tonight. I hope that he’s, in this moment, as a constitutional law professor, looking at the limits of the U.S. Constitution. I mean, here we are—yes, the letter of the Constitution does not contain any guarantee against executing the innocent. But the spirit of our nation does. The spirit of the Constitution does. You know, I was blessed to grow up in a family where one side we’d go back to Bunker Hill and the Revolution, and on the other side we’d go back to Reconstruction statesmen. And the reality is that both those families, as torn apart as they’ve been at different moments, agree, the tradition of both those families, that we as a nation should be a beacon for human rights in this world. And we are not a beacon tonight. We are—we are a very dim light in the world tonight. The world is ashamed of our nation tonight. We are patriots. We believe in our nation. But it is hard for the rest of the world to see us as a beacon for human rights when things like this can happen here.
AMY GOODMAN: As I’m looking behind you, I am seeing that the family must have gone back behind the other people who are vigiling. And news organizations are now saying that the execution has begun.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Yes, we had heard that it may happen around 11:08 p.m. It’s a very sad night here in Georgia. And it is—we came here prepared for a miracle or a funeral, and we’ve witnessed both. Every minute that this was stopped, that it was—there was a reprieve, there was a delay, was a miracle. And ultimately, it has turned into a funeral. And those of us who knew Troy Davis, who sat with him, who talked to him, know that he was somebody who was full of love, full of love for his family, full of love for humanity, full of love for a movement that he was born into, a movement for civil and human rights in this country, somebody who said, "This movement started before I died. No matter what happens on the 21st, it must grow stronger." We’re now within 10 states of abolishing the death penalty in this country. We just have to get to 26 before it will not just be found to be cruel, as it has in the past in the Supreme Court, but we can also prove it is unusual. And we’ve abolished it in three states in the last two years. And we have to move forward with the spirit, Troy Davis. You know, he said that "They may take my body, but they’ll never take my spirit, because I gave my spirit to God." But we certainly cannot allow this to take our spirit, either. This has to be a night when we defiantly recommit ourselves to the nonviolent struggle for justice in this country, and we commit ourselves not just to abolishing the death penalty in our lifetime or in this century, but in this decade. And we can do it if we’re focused. There’s states like Connecticut and Maryland, where we’ve come very close recently. We need to push harder. There are other states where we think we could even break through. People look at us—
AMY GOODMAN: How do you push harder?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: Push harder by organizing smarter, by doing what Dr. King admonished us to do, in actually organizing coalitions that are uncomfortably large. We saw some of that here, what with Republicans coming forward and former officials in the DOJ department—you know, of the Department of Justice for George W. Bush coming forward, former head of the FBI coming forward, you know, Jimmy Carter joining Bob Barr, Tutu joining Larry Thompson. We needed to do more of that.
AMY GOODMAN: So there are 34 states that have the death penalty.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: And we need to reduce that to 24, so it’s a minority of states. And this country, our Eighth—the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution requires that to ban a punishment, it must be both cruel and unusual, not "or." And so, to get to unusual, we’ve got to abolish it in 10 more states. And we can get that done.
AMY GOODMAN: And have you targeted particular ones?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: We know—yes. I mean, you know, we have pushed hard in the state of Connecticut recently. We’ve come within a couple of votes. You know, we faced a governor, you know, who opposed us, but a state legislature who was very much with us. We’re going to keep pushing forward in states like that.
I’ve got to wrap up.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Ben, what will happen tonight? Troy is being executed right now. The hearse is going to take his body where?
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: The hearse will take his body to have an autopsy performed by the state. And then we will move—you know, the body will move from there ultimately to a funeral home, and a funeral will be planned. But right now, you know, the execution will occur, and it will be taken for an official state autopsy.
AMY GOODMAN: According to CNN, the Georgia Department of Corrections confirms the execution process begins around 11:05 or 11:10 p.m. Eastern time, which is right now.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: This is a very sad moment. Excuse me.
AMY GOODMAN: Ben Jealous is the president and CEO of the NAACP. He has known Troy Davis for many years, has known his nephew since he was three, has visited him, spoken with him only recently. As we broadcast right now, as we speak with you, bring you the voices of people who have gathered here on the grounds of Georgia’s death row, where the execution is being carried out, Troy Anthony Davis is being killed.
Renée Feltz is back with an update.
RENÉE FELTZ: Amy, as we understand it, the execution is now underway. And we’re expecting the Georgia prison officials to come out afterwards to give us an update or a statement, something to that effect. So, I want to let listeners know that we’ll be providing that as soon as possible. If we can, we’ll try to feed the statement from the prison officials live.
AMY GOODMAN: Do they do this right here? Do they do this—
RENÉE FELTZ: It will be over near the police officers dressed like stormtroopers. That’s where the press conference is going to take place from the prison officials, where they give their statement. I wanted to just read one interesting tweet from Representative John Lewis, who’s come up this evening from Georgia. As we stand here—
AMY GOODMAN: He came from Atlanta?
RENÉE FELTZ: That’s right. And he has tweeted today: "We are all Troy Anthony Davis tonight." He continues, "A little piece of all of us will die."
And so, I’m going to go over there, Amy, and we’ll bring listeners and viewers updates. And if you’ll keep your phone on you, Amy, I’ll keep in touch with you that way. So—
AMY GOODMAN: Maybe we can even record it and play it for everyone who has been with us in this broadcast and continues to want to get information. We’re going to go right here. Ben Jealous is now informing the group of—that has gathered around. The family of Troy Davis is here, is on the grounds. Troy’s sister, Martina, is in a wheelchair. Ben Jealous is now saying, we have just received word.
KRISTEN STANCIL: ...interviews. But again, the time of death is 11:08.
AMY GOODMAN: The time of—the time of Troy Anthony Davis’s death was 11:08 Eastern time, Georgia time, here at the death row prison in Jackson, Georgia. Ben Jealous is saying, behind me, the president of the NAACP, to the people who have gathered in vigil, about how much faith people have shown and how people have to redouble their efforts. He is repeating what Troy Davis said, that he rededicates his life to God, that they can take his body, but they cannot take his spirit. Right behind me is Troy Davis’s sister. People have their arms around her. People are applauding Ben Jealous right now.
And the planes are now—helicopters are hovering overhead. It’s very quiet. People are very hushed. Both here, where about 150 people are gathered, and have been all day, not allowed to go out of the prison grounds, if they wanted to return, not allowed to get food, not allowed to replenish supplies. And people outside also very, very quiet.
Again, right now, the news is that Troy Anthony Davis died at 11:08 Georgia time. Let’s go to the tape my colleague Hany has just recorded.
KRISTEN STANCIL: All right, is everybody ready? All right. The court-ordered execution of Troy Anthony Davis has been carried out. The time of death is 11:08 p.m. At this time, the media witnesses will be coming out to give their firsthand account of what happened during the execution. The coroner’s van will be coming out very shortly. It will be a black van. Media will be able to move up to get video of that van. At this time, we may have some people who were at the actual execution who may come out to do interviews. We will wait for them to come out, and we will be sitting—in the same area if they do choose to do interviews. But again, the time of death is 11:08.
AMY GOODMAN: Again, prison official sharing the news that Troy Anthony Davis was executed at 11:08. That was the time of death. I’m standing with...
WESLEY BOYD: Wesley Boyd. And I’d like to say this has been a travesty of justice. And I’d like to tell the—America ought to be ashamed of yourself. And God help America. And if you’re alive in America, please don’t come to Georgia. Don’t come to Georgia. Don’t buy any Georgia pecans. Don’t buy any Georgia peaches. Don’t buy any trade with Georgia. The whole world, don’t buy anything with Georgia. God bless America. God bless Troy Davis.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re standing here where people have been holding vigil, oh, all through the day.
SARA TOTONCHI: We’ve gotten word that Troy Davis has passed away. The witnesses who saw the execution take place—
AMY GOODMAN: Sara, say your full name and your organization.
SARA TOTONCHI: My name is Sara Totonchi, and I’m the director of the Southern Center for Human Rights. Just across the yard from me right now, the people who witnessed the execution of Troy Davis.
AMY GOODMAN: We have—we’re going to go right now to the statements that are coming in right now.
JON LEWIS: Jon Lewis, WSB Radio, J-O-N L-E-W-I-S. Basically, it went very quietly. The MacPhail family and friends sat in the first row. Warden read the order, asked if Troy Davis had anything to say. And Davis lifted his head up, looked at that first row, and made a statement, in which he said—he wanted to talk to the MacPhail family and said that, despite the situation you’re in, he was not the one who did it. He said that he was not personally responsible for what happened that night, that he did not have a gun. He said to the family that he was sorry for their loss, but also said that he did not take their son, father, brother. He said to them to dig deeper into this case, to find out the truth. He asked his family and—his family and friends to keep praying, to keep working and keep the faith. And then he said to the prison staff, the ones he said "who are going to take my life," he said to them, "May God have mercy on your souls." And his last words were to them: "May God bless your souls." Then he put his head back down, the procedure began, and about 15 minutes later it was over.
RHONDA COOK: Any questions?
JON LEWIS: Questions?
REPORTER: We thought you were each going to have...
JON LEWIS: No, just pretty much they picked me. Well, I’ll do it, but any questions?
RHONDA COOK: If you want more exact quotes, we can get them to you. OK, I’m Rhonda Cook with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He said, "The incident that night was not my fault. I did not have a gun." And that’s when he told his friends "to continue to fight and look deeper into this case, so you can really find the truth. For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls." And—but to the MacPhail family, he said, of course, "I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent."
REPORTER: Greg, you’ve been to an execution. You’ve been to a few before. How, if at all, was this different?
GREG BLUESTEIN: There was more security than usual at this execution. There was more security than usual at this execution. But otherwise, it went as other executions have gone here. There was tightened security, but the prison folks here are professionals, and they’ve done this before. And it went pretty much as planned. I have the execution starting at around 10:53, and he was declared dead at 11:08.
REPORTER: How did he look? Was he talking in a loud voice or quiet voice?
GREG BLUESTEIN: He was talking very quickly. And as my colleagues have said, he was defiant until the very end in maintaining his innocence until the very end. He spoke quickly. He looked at one of his attorneys who was sitting in the second row. He appeared to glance at the attorney, who nodded at him. Mark MacPhail was sitting in the front row, and he was looking at—Mark was looking at Mr. Davis the entire time, it seemed. And once he was declared dead, we were ushered out.
REPORTER: How would you describe the mood?
GREG BLUESTEIN: Somber. How else? It was just a somber, somber, somber event. We were all waiting for about four, four-and-a-half hours in the prison with no details on what was happening. And then, when we were ushered into the prison itself, we knew that—we assumed, at least, that the Supreme Court had rejected his final—his final appeal.
RHONDA COOK: We saw two. The brother, the officer’s brother, his name is William. And Mark MacPhail—Mark MacPhail, Jr.
REPORTER: Did they have any reaction when he maintained his innocence to the end?
RHONDA COOK: No, Mark MacPhail leaned forward through the whole process. And his uncle, William MacPhail, sat back. And neither seemed to move at all.
JON LEWIS: They spent the entire time just staring at Troy Davis, never turned their heads, never did anything but stare ahead. And then, when it was over, as they were leaving, they hugged somebody, and they seemed to smile about it. So, for the MacPhail family, at least, they seemed to get some satisfaction from what happened.
REPORTER: Who was there from the MacPhail family?
RHONDA COOK: Pardon?
REPORTER: Who was there from the MacPhail family?
RHONDA COOK: Mark MacPhail, Jr., his son, and his brother—and the officer’s brother, William MacPhail.
REPORTER: Can you talk about Troy Davis was saying?
RHONDA COOK: Beg your pardon?
REPORTER: Can you talk about Troy Davis was saying before the end?
JON LEWIS: He was saying he was innocent. He said to the MacPhail family, again, that he was not the one responsible for what—he was not personally responsible for what happened that night. He said that he did not have a gun. He said that he was not the one who took their son, father, brother. And he said he was innocent. And that was to the end.
He lifted his head up. He was strapped to the gurney when we walked in. And when the warden asked if he had to make a statement, he lifted his head up and looked directly at the front row, which is where the MacPhail family and friends were sitting, and said, "I want to address the MacPhail family," and made sure they heard what he had to say, which was that he claimed he was innocent, he was not responsible for what happened that night in 1989, he did not have a gun, he was not personally responsible for the death of Officer MacPhail. And I’m paraphrasing, but this is what he was saying. Then he addressed his friends and family, telling them to keep praying, keep working, keep digging into this case. And then he said to the staff, he said, "To the people who are about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, and may God bless your souls." And then that was it.
REPORTER: Do you know if he was—Troy Davis was strapped to the gurney the entire time?
JON LEWIS: No idea. We weren’t there.
RENÉE FELTZ: I’m sorry, did you say whether or not Davis’ family members were present?
JON LEWIS: I didn’t see anybody, just the attorney for him.
REPORTER: Which attorney?
JON LEWIS: No, it was Ewart, Jason Ewart.
RENÉE FELTZ: Do you know whether Davis refused his last meal or anything about his last meal?
JON LEWIS: That, I don’t know. I don’t believe he did have a last meal, and I don’t believe he made a final statement when he was going to be given the opportunity to record one. But he did make the statement, as we’ve said, while he was strapped to the chair—strapped to the gurney, and again, addressed directly to the MacPhail family first, to let them know that he said—claimed he was innocent.
RHONDA COOK: He did not—he did not eat his dinner. And he did not take the Ativan.
JON LEWIS: He was offered, but he did not. And then they started the execution. He blinked rapidly for some period of time. Then he went out. They checked him for consciousness. Warden came back into the death chamber, went back out again, and then they started the lethal mixture. And again, the whole thing took about 15 minutes. 11:08, the warden came in and pronounced him dead.
REPORTER: Did he make his final statement on the post, on the—
GREG BLUESTEIN: On the gurney?
JON LEWIS: He was strapped to the gurney when we came in, so everything that happened, he was already strapped to the gurney. We came in. The warden was in the room with him, another prison official, a medical attendant, plus one that was off to the side, and then Troy Davis strapped to the gurney. The warden read—while we were there, read the order from the Chatham County judge, asked Troy Davis if he had any statement. Davis made his statement. They ordered the procedure to go on. He asked if he had a prayer first. There was no response. Warden stepped out of the death chamber, and then it started.
JON LEWIS: That was a member of the medical who was in there and also somebody else who was out of our eyesight off to the side. So there were two other people in the death chamber with him. One was a medical attendant who was monitoring the thing the whole time, monitoring the lethal injection, and then somebody off to the side. Once the procedure was over, two doctors came in. Both used stethoscopes. One checked vital signs, eyes, pulse and the like. And they nodded in agreement, and that’s when the warden pronounced him dead.
REPORTER: Obviously this was a highly publicized date. This was the fourth execution date for him. What was it like [inaudible]?
JON LEWIS: It was somber. I mean, none of these are easy. It was very quiet, much more so. The only sound where we were sitting was the sound of the air conditioner. People weren’t moving. I mean, there was not even some casual movement. I think everybody in there understood the enormity of what was going on and acted accordingly. It was very, very quiet, very respectful, and very somber.
GREG BLUESTEIN: The lethal injection started at 10:53. He turned his head very slightly to his left, the same minute that the lethal injection started. The next minute, I have him blinking his eyes a little more—a little more rapidly for a very brief few seconds. I have him squeezing his eyes shut for maybe a second and then opening them again. And then at 10:54, about two minutes after the—about a minute after the lethal injection started, I have him peering to God. And then, around 10:55, it started slowing down. And 10:58, which is five minutes after the lethal injection started, they did a consciousness check to make sure he was unconscious before they started the next two—the next two lethal injection drugs that paralyze his body and stop his heart. And after that, there was very little—there was no movement, except for slower breathing.
RENÉE FELTZ: What do you understand is going to happen with Mr. Davis’s body now?
GREG BLUESTEIN: We saw a Butts County Coroner truck pull up to the death chamber minutes before we walked in. So I’m assuming that it is going to go out in the Butts County Coroner truck. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve just been listening to the witnesses, the witnesses to the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. They began the execution at 10:53 Georgia time, Eastern time. He was dead at 11:08. The media witnesses talked about what he said. The front row was Mark MacPhail, the off-duty police officer who was killed, his son, who is 22 years old, and his uncle, William. Troy Anthony Davis looked at them and said that he was not responsible for his father, his brother, for MacPhail’s murder, and that they should continue to find out who was. And he also said that—talking first about the murder of Mark MacPhail, then talked about continuing the struggle. These were the eyewitnesses to the execution who spoke.
He did not eat his dinner. They said he was strapped to the gurney. The first statement was to MacPhail, again, saying that the son, the brother, the husband, he was not responsible for their death. The witnesses only Troy Davis’s attorney, not the Davis family. They said he blinked rapidly. Then the staff went out. They checked for consciousness. Then it was announced that he was dead. The media witness said it was so quiet, the only sound was the air conditioning, and then said the Butts County truck was there, which would be the hearse.
We’re going to hear from Renée Feltz, who was over at that news conference. It was just really a few steps from there. I was here watching the family of Troy Davis, as they were quietly executing—as they were quietly leaving, exiting this vigil area that was set aside for a small number of those who were deeply concerned about Troy Anthony Davis’s execution. You are here with us as we bring you this live coverage on the ground of the Georgia Diagnostice Prison, as they call it. It’s Georgia’s death row.
Let’s see if we can just bring you a few people here. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org.
Sara, if you could come over here and summarize for us. Sara is the head of the Southern Center for Human Rights, that is based in Atlanta. Your final thoughts here?
SARA TOTONCHI: We must work hard to make sure that the death of Troy Davis is not in vain. They eyes of the world have been on Georgia today. And we need to prove to the world, as Georgians, that we will not let this death penalty—this racist, awful, horrific death penalty—be carried out in our name any further.
AMY GOODMAN: And here’s Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International, as the family of Troy Davis departs.
LARRY COX: Well, I’m deeply ashamed in my country. But I think everybody here is leaving absolutely determined to create a different kind of country, one where they don’t do this kind of thing anymore. And we are sure we can. We’re sure we will. The fight for human rights is very, very long and hard. Every day we lose people in it. But the end, the spirit of people is going to prevail, and the spirit of creating a country where no one has to go through what the Davis family went through ever again is going to drive it. And we saw today this phenomenal outpouring of support all over the globe that I think will—when we look back, we will see this as the turning point, the beginning of the end of the death penalty in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts, if you heard what Troy Davis, looking up first to the MacPhail family, the son Mark and his uncle, saying that he was deeply sorry for their loss but that he was not responsible for the murder of their father and brother.
LARRY COX: Well, I think this shows you what we did tonight, what—and I say "we," I mean what the state of Georgia did, the kind of human being they killed, the kind of human being they killed. Even if you want to argue—and I don’t at all—that he committed a terrible crime 20 years ago, look at this human being. Look what he has become: an example for all of us. And to have obliterated him is more than just wrong. It’s really the most serious kind of human rights violation I can imagine. So, I think he will—his spirit will stay alive. It will be one of those spirits that we talk about for the rest of our lives. And hopefully, it will be the spirit that drives us, as we move towards not only total abolition of the death penalty, but so much progress on so many fronts, in terms of creating an America that believes in human rights.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you—do you know the attorney who was there, Troy’s attorney Jason?
LARRY COX: Yeah, yeah. I can only imagine what—what has happened. I mean, I think, you know, for me, this is—I have stayed away, actually, from execution sites for a while, because—but I now urge people to come, because if you see what this does to everybody who gets close to it, how grotesque it is, how ugly it is, I don’t think anybody—I don’t even think Rick Perry could believe that this is something that our governments should be doing. It’s that ugly. It’s that horrible. I can only imagine what it felt like to work with Troy so closely and to lose that fight. I hope the lawyers do not blame themselves, but put the blame where it belongs, on a system that is broken, cruel, inhuman and has to be ended.
AMY GOODMAN: His lawyer, his attorney, said that Troy Anthony Davis—said that Troy Anthony Davis was on death row for half of his life. With his death comes the death of his quest for the truth in his own case.
LARRY COX: I think we have to make sure that it’s not the death of the quest for the truth. I think we have to continue to insist on an investigation in what happened to Troy Davis and how it was possible that a case that was riddled with so many doubts could reach the conclusion that we will simply kill the person who is raising these questions, who has the most at stake in answering these questions. I think we cannot honor him if we let people forget what happened. And I don’t think we will. I think he will become the symbol of a new stage in the abolitionist movement, and I think it will be a successful stage. That’s—for me, that’s the real change. Thirty years ago, when I started this work, I thought it was hopeless. Today, I leave, after this horrible experience here, hopeful and believing that in honor of Troy’s spirit, we will—we will prevail. And I’m sure of this. I’m sure the people leaving here, including his family, are going to continue to fight. Not only continue to fight, they’ll fight harder than ever.
AMY GOODMAN: Larry, why is it called the abolition movement?
LARRY COX: Well, because the goal is to abolish this practice totally. And its link is to the abolition of other evils in the history of this country—the abolition of slavery. This is an evil like that. You know, that’s what we have to find a way to communicate better to the nation, that this is something—there’s no other word for it, and I don’t use the word lightly, but this is something evil. This is the systematic killing of a human being, the deliberate, cold-blooded killing of a human being who poses no threat to anyone. I don’t know any other definition of it than evil. Just like slavery was something that could not be defended, I do not think this can be defended, in any way, shape or form. So we’ve got to communicate that reality.
And I’d be amiss here in a final statement if I didn’t say—express my gratitude for you and for Democracy Now! for helping to do that tonight, simply by letting people bear witness to what was going on here in a way that is so—so unusual, but that I think, you know, you’re beginning to see. I was really encouraged to hear from other people who were calling in to me how much of the media was devoting its time tonight to this terrible act. Capital punishment is usually on page, you know, 30, if it’s on any page at all.
AMY GOODMAN: This may sound crude, but do you think that executions should be public, not just being outside with the people who are vigiling, but being inside and showing what actually takes—what takes place?
LARRY COX: Well, if I were only interested in a political objective and was willing to sacrifice everything to that political objective, I would say yes, because I think people need to see the ugliness of it. But you have family members who are involved. This is the death of somebody. So I would never advocate that people come. And in fact, I think it’s one of the most grotesque aspects, that we invite people in to witness this, as if it were some kind of, you know, celebration or ceremony that we are proud of. I think we should not make this a spectacle more than it already is. But I do think that we have to find a way to communicate just how horrible it is. And I think you’re beginning to see it.
I don’t know why the Supreme Court took so long to make this decision, but I think on some level they know that they are dealing with something that is so wrong and so evil that they wanted to say, "Well, at least we took it seriously. We struggled for a while before we reached this decision." And that’s the beginning of something.
AMY GOODMAN: Troy Davis’s attorney called this a "legal lynching."
LARRY COX: Yeah, I think people struggle to find language which will communicate just how horrible it is. I always—I never refer to it as an execution. I always talk about it as a killing.
AMY GOODMAN: Larry, I think his attorney is right.
LARRY COX: Oh, OK. Let’s talk to him.
AMY GOODMAN: And maybe if you could bring him over.
LARRY COX: Yeah, let’s talk...
AMY GOODMAN: If you wouldn’t mind joining us—
LARRY COX: No, he’s not.
AMY GOODMAN: No? Couldn’t bring it. Thank you. I’m Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! We’ve been broadcasting here through the day. Tell us your name.
THOMAS RUFFIN: Thomas Ruffin. Is that all you want to know?
AMY GOODMAN: No. I’d like to know what you just witnessed.
THOMAS RUFFIN: OK. Well, I’m one of—I’m one of Troy Davis’s lawyers. Mr. Jason Ewart of Arnold & Porter and I, as two of Mr. Davis’s witnesses, witnessed what I regard as a legalized lynching. Mr. Ewart also was one of Troy’s lawyers.
What I basically would say is that this is a circumstance where, first of all, Troy, Mr. Davis, very bravely, in the morally upright fashion that he’s always conducted himself around me, in very clear terms, spoke to three classes of people.
First of all, he spoke to the MacPhail family. And he said to them, without equivocation, that he didn’t kill Mark MacPhail, that he didn’t even have a gun on the night of August 18, 1989, and that he had nothing to do with the violence that resulted in Officer MacPhail’s death.
Then he said something to the MacPhail family, to his own family and to his supporters. And that was that he would certainly hope that the MacPhail family, and certainly he urged his own family and his supporters, to go deeper into this case and bring the MacPhail family—that is, for his lawyers, most definitely his family, including, I would say, our leader in this, Martina Correia, and his sister Kim Davis, for them to lead the MacPhail family into a deeper scrutiny into this case, so that they can see two things, that Troy Davis did not kill Officer MacPhail, but rather that someone else did.
And then, in his final words, he more or less called upon everybody who would want what’s right, who would want what’s morally right and whatever this thing called justice is, if it means anything good, who want that, to bring an end to this madness called capital punishment, as it’s applied in the United States.
And out of all of that, I basically say that Troy—Troy Davis, whose case was one that was, we say, riddled with doubt, it was riddled with sworn recantations from the witnesses who put him in the place where he was convicted by a predominantly white jury and a white judge and then sentenced to death. Seven of those nine witnesses recanted, and then additional witnesses, under oath, came forward and identified the actual perpetrator of the crime. And if, in that situation, Georgia and the United States can kill somebody who’s actually innocent, that’s not just a legalized lynching, that’s a threat to all innocent life in a society.
RENÉE FELTZ: Amy, on that note, the prison is telling us that we have to leave right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Final words for the larger community? As the helicopters hover overhead and the prison authorities clear us out very quickly, you’ve just experienced something so profound, so horrific. You have known Troy for how long?
THOMAS RUFFIN: I actually don’t remember when I met him, but I’ve known him for some years. I think I actually met Troy probably about four years ago, but I’m not really sure.
But I think, with regard to this horrible experience you refer to, I want to say this. I want to be real clear. Even in being—in his dying, when he was being killed, I think he wanted—Troy wanted to be clear about something that Martina Correia, his sister, and Kim Davis, his sister, and his mother, Ms. Virginia Davis, all made clear beforehand. And that is, this tragedy, that’s brought about by America’s capital punishment, must be brought to an end. And capital punishment in this society must be brought to an end. In Georgia, 48.4 percent of the people on death row this morning were black males, but only 15 percent of the people in the state are black males. Sixty percent of the people in Georgia’s prisons are black males, but only 15 percent are black males. That punishment could be applied in a racially disparate way, must be brought to an end. That’s all I have to say.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, and thank you for being with us.
RENÉE FELTZ: If our feed gets cut, it’s because they pulled the plug on us.
AMY GOODMAN: OK. Well, just final thought. Troy—they said that the execution began at 10:53. He died at 11:08.
THOMAS RUFFIN: That might well have been the case. The official presiding over the matter announced his death at 11:08. I wasn’t—I really wasn’t able to keep time, so... It took a while.
AMY GOODMAN: You saw them inject the chemicals into his arm?
THOMAS RUFFIN: I saw the tube that apparently was—that was inserted in his arm and then jerking in some fluid, as best I could see from a distance, was flowing. It’s a macabre experience. It’s sickening. It’s worse than any film adaptation, or it’s not—it’s worse and more macabre, more horrible, than what we see in the movie and television. I mean, it would take—it would take about an hour to go over and recall the details.
AMY GOODMAN: They’re telling us we have to leave at this moment, or they’ll pull the plug. The attorney and witness for Troy Anthony Davis’s execution. We are now—we’re gone now. I thank you very much for being with us, as we go out with Billie Holiday’s song, "Strange Fruit."
We’re broadcasting from the Georgia prison where Troy Anthony Davis was executed just minutes ago. It’s death row here in Georgia. I’m Amy Goodman, with thanks to Renée Feltz and Hany Massoud and Mike Burke and Julie Crosby and Sam Alcoff and Steve Martinez and Nermeen Shaikh and Deena Guzder and Jaisal Noor and Becca Staley and all the folks that made this broadcast possible. I’m Amy Goodman, live from death row prison in Jackson, Georgia.