Georgia Dems call for prison strike to block execution of Troy Davis

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 15:23 EDT
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With the final hope of clemency now lost, Georgia death-row inmate Troy Davis faces execution tomorrow night – unless, of course, prison staff refuse to carry out his sentence.

That’s precisely what State Senator Vincent Fort (D) and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) want to see.

“I am calling for a general strike or sick-out by all but a skeleton staff of the Georgia Diagnostic Prison on September 21st, 2011,” Sen. Fort said in a prepared statement. “I say to the prison staff: If you work on that day, you will enable the prison to carry out the execution of a possibly innocent man.”

In an exclusive interview with Raw Story, Sen. Fort elaborated on his call for civil disobedience.

“When someone is executed by the state, when someone is in effect murdered by the state, it is done in the name of all citizens,” the Atlanta Democrat told Raw Story. “We don’t want Troy Davis killed in the name of all citizens of the state of Georgia. What I have called for today is an extension of that.

“For those employees, doctors, nurses who have been given or have taken on the job of killing Troy Davis, we’re asking them to say, ‘Not in our name.’ We’re asking them to say, ‘No, this is immoral, this is wrong, and we won’t partake in it.’ We’re asking them to take a stand for what is right and good.”

For a short time on Tuesday, Sen. Fort was the lone voice calling for a prison strike to save Davis’s life. Reached by Raw Story, a spokesperson for Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), an icon of the Civil Rights movement, said the congressman would also be supportive of the action.

“If there are individuals who work within the Georgia prison system who feel their conscience is guiding them to not to participate in this execution, Congressman Lewis would support their right to follow the leading of their own convictions,” a spokesperson wrote.

“At the heart of what the Civil Rights movement was about, was individuals standing up and saying no to injustice,” Sen. Fort added. “That’s what Dr. King did at the Birmingham jail, saying we’re not going to abide by an immoral law. I believe what they’re doing to Troy Davis, if they execute him, is unjust and immoral. Thus, as individuals, as moral human beings, we have to stand up and say, ‘Not in our name.’”

Davis, 42, was convicted of murdering Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989. Since his conviction, seven of the nine people who testified against him have recanted or changed their testimonies.

“I am utterly shocked and disappointed at the failure of our justice system at all levels to correct a miscarriage of justice,” Brian Kammer, an attorney for Davis, said following the decision.

No murder weapon was ever found, no DNA evidence or fingerprints tie Davis to the crime, and some witnesses have since said the murder was committed by another man — a witness who testified against Davis.

Davis is scheduled to be executed Wednesday at 7 p.m. Protests in Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and other cities around the world are planned to coincide with the killing, although some activists have already begun demonstrating.

(H/T: Atlanta Journal Constitution.)

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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