One year ago today, on September 21, 2011, Troy Davis was executed by the State of Georgia.
Troy Davis’ story became national news after organizations like the NAACP and Color of Change, and public figures like Reverend Al Sharpton, John Legend, and former President Jimmy Carter called for his life to be spared from the punishment of a crime many believed he did not commit.
In 1989, Davis was accused of shooting and killing a Savannah police officer, Mark MacPhail, during an alleged altercation. Ballistics evidence and a number of eye witnesses led to Davis’ conviction for the murder and subsequent sentence of the death penalty. Davis was set to be executed 3 different times: once in 2007 and twice in 2008. Each time, his execution was stayed.
But in 2010, Davis’ attorneys presented affidavits from 9 of the original witnesses, who had now recanted or changed their testimonies. Despite this, his conviction was upheld and a new execution date, September 21, 2011, was set.
In the weeks and days leading up to that date, family, friends, celebrities, and a lot of you, spoke out against Troy’s pending fate. Social media, hashtags, news coverage, and everything else went into overload, especially in the hours before his execution. (People were riled up then, but do we remember now?)
Everyone anxiously waited to see if, somehow, the United States Supreme Court would grant Troy a stay of execution, but news broke late that night that Davis’ request was denied. After a 3 hour delay, he was executed by lethal injection in a Jackson, Georgia prison, maintaining his innocence until the end. Time of death, 11:08PM ET.
The day before he was scheduled to be executed, and in the midst of a denied clemency petition, Troy released the following statement about his fight for justice:
â€œThe struggle for justice doesnâ€™t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. Iâ€™m in good spirits and Iâ€™m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until Iâ€™ve taken my last breath.â€
With the speed of life, the news cycle, and trending topics, it can be easy to move on from Troy Davis and Officer Mark MacPhail. But in case you forgot what caused us to become involved in the first place, or even why we rocked those “I Am Troy Davis” shirts, here’s a reminder: Killer Mike and Big Boi’s speeches at a rally for Davis in Jackson, Georgia on the day he was to be executed.
*The NAACP has decided to carry on Troy Davis’ message by fighting to abolish the death penalty. If you would like to know more about the cause, visit, NAACP.org.