Hearing hard-core Republicans applaud the use of the death penalty during a recent televised forum for GOP presidential candidates incensed Sara Callaway, an African-American living in London for the past 25-years.
“It was like a declaration of war against all of us committed to justice,” said Callaway, one of over two hundred people who gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in London’s upscale Mayfair section for a silent, candle-lit vigil protesting the execution of U.S. death row inmate Troy Davis.
That London vigil beginning hours before Davis’ execution in Georgia was among many held in cities across Europe. Georgia officials executed Davis by lethal injection ignoring not hust the hundreds of thousands of appeals from Americans (and the overwhelming evidence that his trial had been a fraud and a lynching), but worldwide protests against that action.
European, American and supporters across the globe opposed the death of Davis, whose conviction stood on evidence now severely compromised by eyewitness recantations, improprieties by authorities and identification of a suspect–one of the witnesses for the prosecution — who one juror in the case alleges she heard admit to killing the off-duty policeman whose murder sent Davis to death row.
A vigil for Davis in front of the U.S. Embassy in the German capital of Berlin, in contrast to the quiet presence in London, contained loud shouts and speeches from some political leaders, as reported by Victor Grossman, an American born, Harvard educated writer living in Germany for over fifty-years.
Participants at the London vigil lit a long row of glass-dished candles placed on the ground across from the U.S. Embassy. Some participants held candles and signs with messages like: “USA! Shame on You!” and “Troy Innocent – Georgia Guilty!”
Nina Lopez, another London vigil participant wondered why civil and court officials in Georgia had ignored the international outcry to spare Davis’ life and accept evidence showing his tainted conviction.
“This is terrible for them to reject all of this international support. One petition gathered 600,000 names in only a few days,” said Lopez.
Voices in the U.S. and abroad urging postponement of Davis’ execution due to questions surrounding his conviction, including from a former director of the FBI, as well as conservative politicians and the Pope – evidence of innocence summarily rejected by appellate courts and by Georgia pardon officials.
“Ignoring all the evidence of Davis’ innocence is insanity,” said Sara Callaway, director of the London-based Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike.
“This is a cover-up of an injustice,” Callaway continued. “The real perpetrator is still at-large and the police responsible for the major problems in this case haven’t been held to account.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, which blocked two planned executions in Texas during the past week, declined to re-enter the Davis case.
Georgia has 103 persons on death row, far fewer than California (721) and Texas (398) according to statistics compiled by the Washington, DC based Death Penalty Information Center.
Of the 138 American exonerated from death row since 1973, five have been Georgians.
Worldwide opponents of Davis’ execution cited racism as a driving reason in his execution. Davis, who is black, was convicted of killing a white off-duty policeman. The overwhelming numbers of victims whose murders result in death penalties are white, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Georgia, incidentally, historically was the state with America’s second-highest total of lynch mob murders, in which the overwhelming number of victims of this bloody violence were African-Americans.
In Georgia, 450 lynch mob murders were officially recorded between the years 1882-1930, placing that state only behind the 538 lynchings officially documented in Mississippi, according to The New Georgia Encyclopedia.
“Terrorism” is how London vigil participant Tongogara characterized the then-pending execution of Davis. He heads the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Defense Committee in the UK.
LINN WASHINGTON, JR., currently on residence for several months in London, is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent alternative online newspaper