WASHINGTON — Mourners gathered in Georgia on Saturday for the funeral of murder convict Troy Davis, saying his execution last month serves as a rallying cry for the movement to end capital punishment.
Hundreds of people packed the Jonesville Baptist Church in the southern city of Savannah, where many wore blue T-shirts reading “I am Troy Davis.”
Davis — a 42-year-old African-American convicted of killing a white off-duty police officer in 1989 — went to his death on September 21 proclaiming his innocence, in the most high-profile US execution in a decade.
Activists and Davis supporters highlighted considerable doubt about his 1991 murder conviction, but an international campaign to spare his life fell short, prompting an outcry from the European Union and elsewhere.
Facing a flower-draped coffin and surrounded by pictures of Davis, several speakers took to the floor to call for an abolition of the death penalty.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Georgia, the state of Georgia, murdered an innocent man,” said Edward DuBose, president of the Georgia chapter of the civil rights group National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“After we grieve, we need to move to action,” he said.
“You need to fight for every prisoner that is on death row in this country, that’s what Troy wanted us to know.”
Amnesty International USA executive director Larry Cox hailed the worldwide support for Davis’ cause, adding it was a “chilling violation of human rights by the government to deliberately kill a prisoner.”
“This was called justice. When other people in other places are forced to wait and watch while others prepare to kill them it has another name. It is called torture,” Cox told the congregation.
“We are still fighting and we also will never stop until we have won, until we have wiped from this country forever a practice that does not stop violence but is violence, that does not serve justice but mocks justice, and does not protect the innocent but sometimes kills the innocent.”