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2011-09-22

Democracy Now! Special Report from Troy Davis Execution: Did Georgia Kill an Innocent Man?

Guests

Thomas Ruffin, One of Troy Davis’ attorneys. He witnessed Davis’ execution. He spoke to Democracy Now! about his reaction to the news that Troy Anthony Davis was put to death.

Jon Lewis, WSB Radio journalist. He was one of three media witnesses of Troy Davis’ execution.

Ed DuBose, President of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP. He spoke at a press conference at the Towaliga County Line Baptist Church, just a few hundred yards from the prison ahead of the execution of Troy Davis.

Big Boi, Hip Hop artist of Outkast and one of Georgia’s most famous musicians. He spoke out against Troy Davis’ execution and joined the press conference and protest outside the prison.

Martina Correia, Troy Davis’ older sister and his most steadfast advocate. She has battled cancer for the past 10 years while leading the effort to save her brother’s life.

Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Jason Ewart, One of Troy Davis’ attorneys. He witnessed Davis’ execution.

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Troy Anthony Davis was killed by lethal injection by the state of Georgia at 11:08 p.m. EDT last night, despite widespread doubts about his guilt. The execution occurred shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop the execution. Democracy Now! was the only news outlet to continuously broadcast live from the prison grounds last night, where hundreds of supporters Troy Davis held an all-day vigil in Jackson, Georgia. Today we hear the voices of Troy Davis’s sister Martina Correia, hip-hop artist Big Boi, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Ed DuBose of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP, two members of the Troy Davis legal team, and more. We also hear from journalist Jon Lewis, a witness to the execution: "[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.'" [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting from Atlanta, Georgia, just miles from the Georgia Diagnostic Prison in the town of Jackson, where the state of Georgia executed Troy Davis Wednesday night after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop the execution. It was one of the most high-profile executions in years.

Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of an off-duty police officer, who was white. His name was Mark MacPhail. Since then, seven of the nine non-police witnesses have recanted their testimony, and there is no physical evidence tying Davis to the crime scene.

Democracy Now! was the only news outlet continuously broadcasting live from the prison grounds last night where hundreds of supporters of Troy Davis held an all-day-into-the-night vigil. Today we’ll play excerpts from our six-hour live special.

KRISTEN STANCIL: 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: Minutes after the state of Georgia executed Troy Davis, a group of reporters who witnessed the execution walked out of the death chamber and onto the prison grounds. They described Troy Davis’s final moments. Jon Lewis is a radio journalist at WSB.

JON LEWIS: 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: But to the MacPhail family, he said, of course, "I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent."

JON LEWIS: 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.

AMY GOODMAN: Radio reporter Jon Lewis and Rhonda Cook of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Supporters of Troy Davis and opponents of the death penalty rallied for hours outside the site of the prison. The NAACP and Amnesty International held an afternoon news conference at the County Line Baptist Church, Towaliga, just a few hundred yards from the prison. Speakers included Ed DuBose, president of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP.

EDWARD DUBOSE: 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.

AMY GOODMAN: Ed DuBose, president of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP. One of Georgia’s most famous musicians, the hip-hop artist Big Boi of Outkast also spoke out Wednesday in solidarity with Troy Davis.

BIG BOI: Well, Troy Davis, first and foremost, is from my home town 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.

AMY GOODMAN: Big Boi of Outkast.

At the end of the news conference, Troy Davis’s older sister, Martina Correia, spoke for the family. Surrounded by her family and friends, Martina spoke from her wheelchair. For the past 10 years, she has been battling breast cancer while leading the effort to save her brother’s life.

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 exonorees from and also other types of exonorees, 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. And I’m here to tell you that if you know the truth and you don’t stand for it, then what’s the point of having you have a position? What’s the point of you being a politician? What’s the point of you being a minister? What’s the point of you sitting there and talking about family? Because family and community means everyone that’s impacted by you.

And 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: Martina Correia, standing up in her wheelchair, the older sister of Troy Davis, his most vocal and steadfast advocate, speaking hours before he was executed by the state of Georgia. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, broadcasting from Georgia.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit." She wrote in her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, that every time she sang that song about lynching, she went into the bathroom and threw up.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from Georgia, where hundreds of supporters of Troy Davis began rallying outside the prison in Jackson, just 40 miles from Atlanta, where we are right now. It was the early hour—afternoon hours ahead of the execution that was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Shortly after 7:00, the crowd erupted into thunderous cheers. For a moment, it appeared that the Supreme Court had stayed the execution.

BENJAMIN JEALOUS: 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 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 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 BROCK: We are a faithful people, and we are a praying people. And we’re so grateful tonight.

AMY GOODMAN: For hours, supporters of Troy Davis, after realizing that this news was not the case, that the decision to execute Troy Davis was not stayed, people prayed, they sang, they waited for news from the Supreme Court. At about a quarter to 11:00, the crowd went silent, when it was learned the high court would not stop the execution. Prison officials began the execution minutes later, at about 10:53 Georgia time. Troy Davis died at 11:08 p.m. Soon afterwards, as we learned the news, we spoke with Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP.

BENJAMIN JEALOUS: You know, my heart goes out, and 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. 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 or just a crime against our democracy; it’s a crime against those specific men and women who are called to hold down his left 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’s 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?" "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—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 what does that mean? And why are you saying that to me? And why is that—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, the faith of the Troy—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 their 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 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 go back to Bunker Hill and the Revolution, and on the other side we 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. 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—this is 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 of 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, and actually organizing coalitions that are uncomfortably large. We saw some of that here, with Republicans coming forward, and former officials in the DOJ department—you know, 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 need 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’ve faced a governor who opposed us, but a state legislature 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: That was Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP. We were speaking on the grounds of the death row prison in Jackson, Georgia. The execution of Troy Davis began at about 10:53 p.m. He died at 11:08 p.m., September 21st. After Troy Davis was executed, some of those who witnessed his death came out of the death chamber to the prison grounds to describe what they saw. Among the eyewitnesses was Troy Davis’s attorney Jason Ewart.

JASON EWART: I had the unfortunate opportunity tonight to witness a tragedy, to witness Georgia execute an innocent man. Troy Davis died tonight at approximately 11:00, 11:08 p.m. And with him died his quest for justice and the truth.

In the midst of all the newspaper headlines and litigation and lawsuits and vigils, one can lose sight of the man who lived on death row for half his life. Troy Davis is beloved by his sisters, by his brother, by his niece, by his nephew, by his many, many friends, by his attorneys, by his supporters. He was a family man, and his family mourns tonight. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Davis family, each and every one of them, and the MacPhail family, both of whom have lost a dearly loved family member.

The innocent have no enemy but time, and Troy’s time slipped away tonight. This case struck a chord in the world. And as a result, the legacy of Troy Davis doesn’t die tonight. Our sadness, the sadness of his friends and his family, is tempered by the hope that Troy’s death will lead to fundamental legal reforms so we’ll never again witness, with inevitable regret, the execution of an innocent man like we did tonight.

AMY GOODMAN: Troy Davis’s attorney Jason Ewart, one of the witnesses to the execution, invited by Troy Davis himself. We then spoke on the grounds of the Jackson death row prison with Thomas Ruffin. He was the other eyewitness invited by Troy Davis.

THOMAS RUFFIN: 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.

AMY GOODMAN: Thomas Ruffin was one of the witnesses to the execution, invited by Troy Davis himself. Troy Davis was executed by the state of Georgia at 11:08 Eastern [Daylight] Time. We broadcast the six-hour coverage of the execution from the prison grounds in Jackson, Georgia. To see the full report, you can go to our website at democracynow.org.

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