This is just a quick note from Savannah, Georgia, where I am right now with a wonderful delegation of folks from the UK who are here visiting to support Troy Davis.
Many Amnesty International activists around the world have been working hard on the Troy Davis campaign. AI UK is one of the sections that has made Troy’s case a priority. They wanted to send a team here to visit Troy and offer their solidarity for our struggle. Their anti-death penalty campaigner, Kim Manning-Cooper, is here with Alistair Carmichael, a Member of Parliament, and Richard Hughes, drummer for popular British band Keane.
On Friday, September 25, we had meetings with three members of Congress’ offices and European embassy staffers. All of these public servants have been invested in work to abolish the death penalty and create a more fair justice system. It was wonderful to exchange perspectives and discuss strategies for a global effort to end the death penalty. That night, we flew to Atlanta. We drove down to Jackson Saturday morning along with Troy’s mother, Virginia, and sister, Martina. We entered the maximum security facility, lined with tall fences covered in multiple coils of concertina wire and guard towers at every corner.
Entering the prison, there were multiple motivational slogans and posters on the walls. Above the first of several gates that we entered was the slogan, “make a difference”. They were strange sights against stark walls of white painted concrete in a facility where human beings wait for their lives to be snuffed out. When we left that area after the visit, the slogan over the final gate read “you made a difference.” I thought about our work to help Troy gain an opportunity to have evidence of his innocence heard in a court of law. I’m not sure that’s the kind of difference they had in mind, but I was proud of the movement that we have helped to grow that has truly made a life over death difference.
We sat with Troy for four hours. We spoke about a number of topics from life on death row to his thoughts on family and helping young people grow up to be good people. Troy did not express resentment or bitterness about his plight. He has been prayerful about all of the people involved in his situation, including the MacPhail family, who continue to suffer the loss of their loved one, Mark MacPhail. He was very vocal about his religious faith and was so grateful to his legal team and the activists. He reflected on all the twists and turns in his case and said that only a higher power could have brought all of us together and made all of these things happen.
Over 500,000 people have taken action for Troy, signing our various petitions to Georgia authorities. I pass along the deep gratitude that he expressed for AI’s work to all of you.
If you have met or heard Martina speak, then you will have some idea of what Troy is like. He is very much a Davis. He has their conviction, rooted in their belief in God and in justice. He has their peace and dignity, despite having been subjected to a system that has taken half of his years on earth and has tried to end his life three times. Troy also has a playfulness that made us all feel at home. He is very alive and inspires us to use our freedom to keep working for human rights.
The UK team is here until Wednesday and will speak to media, public officials, students and our activists in Georgia. Follow the UK blog for their accounts!
I think of Gouri Sadhwani, one of our senior executive staffers, offering US solidarity to women in Sierra Leone on her recent research trip and this team offering their solidarity to us in the US. I am again inspired and humbled to be part of an international organization that can take local issues of injustice to the world and build a powerful voice for human rights by linking us all up across so many lines of difference.