Troy Davis

At the Texas Capitol on Friday, students commemorated the death of a man they say was wrongly executed and protested against the death penalty.

Troy Davis was executed in Atlanta by lethal injection on Wednesday, Sept. 21, after being on death row for 20 years. He was convicted in 1991 for killing a police officer.

Protesters held up red and black signs during the demonstration that read, “End the death penalty” and “We are all Troy Davis.” The event began with its three organizers holding up one of their signs, and as the evening went on, protesters trickled in on bikes and on foot, ready to show their support.

One student at the protest said a group of people gathered outside the Capitol on Wednesday, hoping for a last-minute stay for the execution.

“It was excruciating,” said computer sciences senior Ruben Fitch about Wednesday night. “There were about 40 people out here protesting, hoping he would get a stay. We were out here for a good while.”

According to the Associate Press, during Davis’ 1991 trial no physical evidence was presented, and seven of the nine witnesses against Davis have gone back on their testimonies, saying they were pressured by police.

Before the execution, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles received more than 630,000 letters asking for a pardon for Davis. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter and 51 members of Congress all sent letters, and the Board rejected pleas by Davis’ lawyers on Sept. 20.

Davis insisted he was innocent to his final breath.

Davis’ death led Plan II Honors senior Victoria Hopper to organize Friday’s protest, and she said she gathered support by creating a Facebook event.

“We decided we were irritated by what was happening,” Hopper said. “We can’t support a justice system that has irrevocable consequences.”

Hopper got the protest together with the help of two friends, Plan II Honors seniors Jamie Boyle and Melanie Scruggs. All three reached out in various ways to notify others about the protest, hoping to draw support for the demonstration against the death penalty.

“The Troy Davis case has given this issue a lot of momentum,” Hopper said.

The protesters were not only UT students, but other Austin residents and passersby also felt compelled to show their support for Davis.

“We feel like this issue of the death penalty is timely because of the Troy Davis case,” Scruggs said. 

Troy Davis was executed in Georgia at 11:08 p.m. Wednesday. He was denied a stay by the Supreme Court, despite serious doubts about his case.

Let me give a brief synopsis: Troy Davis’ is no ordinary case. He was convicted in 1991 of murdering a police officer in Georgia. There was no physical evidence, no weapon ever found. There were only nine witnesses leading to this man’s future in prison. He was sentenced to death row, a place already fraught with claims of racism and arbitrariness.

Then the case against him collapsed as seven of the nine witnesses came forward with changed stories and claims of police coercion. They recanted their testimonies, but the judge determined that these witnesses were “unreliable” and declined to review the case against Troy Davis.

This is where we stand. Years later, we are still holding rallies in his support all over the world. This time, things didn’t work out. He has been given four execution dates, all of which were stayed — until Wednesday. Our criminal justice system is hardly doing justice by executing an innocent man. Is the death penalty worth it?

The Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty will be held Oct. 22 at the Capitol.

— Anne Kuhnen
President, Texas Amnesty 

JACKSON, Ga. — Georgia inmate Troy Davis maintained his innocence until the very end, saying he did not kill an off-duty officer in 1989.

Davis made his final statement as he was strapped to a gurney. He was executed at 11:08 p.m. on Wednesday. Davis told the family of officer Mark MacPhail that he did not kill their son, father and brother.

Davis said the incident that happened that night was not his fault and he didn’t have a gun. Davis’ claims of innocence drew worldwide support from hundreds of thousands of people. Courts, however, consistently ruled against him.

MacPhail’s family believes Davis was guilty.