Posts Tagged ‘ Amnesty International ’

U.S. Supreme Court sends Troy Anthony Davis Case back to Savannah: Reporting both sides

By Tina A. Brown

SAVANNAH _ Passions ran high Tuesday as supporters of slain Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail Sr. and Troy Anthony Davis, who sits on death row for MacPhail’s murder, called for justice on the eve of a historic evidentiary hearing in federal court.

U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. will hear evidence starting today at 10 a.m. whether there is enough new evidence for Davis, convicted 19 years ago, to get a new trial. The U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to Savannah last year after it reviewed evidence that seven of nine witnesses against Davis recanted testimony. Davis’ execution has been stayed three times.

The case will be heard at the Tomochichi federal courthouse on Wright Square in Savannah.

Activists and family members rallied separately around the question of justice.

About 50 supporters of the MacPhail family and Georgians for Justice, a non-profit group, stood with the slain officer’s sister and children outside of the city’s police memorial. Willie Lovett, the first African-American police chief of the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department, was the first speaker at the MacPhail rally to call for a resolution to the case. MacPhail son, Mark Allen MacPhail Jr. urged the community not to allow the case to be overturned.

“Let them come! Let them beat their chest. Let them scream their lies,’’ the son of the slain officer said.

“People in the community and courts need to stand up and do the right thing,” added Aulmon Giles, president of the local fraternal Order of Police.

MacPhail’s sister, Kathy MacPhail McQuary said that representatives of Amnesty International and the National Association of the Advancement of Color People who are seeking a retrial, improperly introduced race into the issue.

“Yes, The NAACP is about color but this is not as a racial thing… It was (an officer in) blue who sacrificed his live. What is the victim’s name? It’s definitely not Troy Anthony Davis. The heroes color is definitely blue. He died during right,” said McQuary of Columbus, Ga.

MacPhail was working as an off-duty security guard at the Burger King in Savannah when he intervened during a robbery in 1989 and was killed. Davis was sentenced to death in 1991.

Laura Moye of Amnesty International said the organizers of the Davis supporters’ galvanized people from around the world because Davis hasn’t received a fair hearing. MacPhail was white and Davis is black.

“We can’t deny race is a factor… This isn’t MacPhail vs. Davis… If Troy Davis is not the person who committed this murder then the person is still out there. There is a racial dynamic. To say it’s only about a police officer not receiving justice is not the whole story. They both haven’t received justice,” Moye said.

Davis’ sister Martina Correira, who spearheaded his worldwide public awareness campaign, was joined by Davis mother, Virginia, and about 200 supporters at another rally at New Life Apostolic Church in Savannah. They called for prayers for both families. Some of the most prominent attendees included, Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International, Edward O. Dubose of the Georgia state chapter of the NAACP and Richard Shinhoster of the Savannah chapter.

“We’re optimistic we believe,’’ Correira said. “A lot of things you see and hear are not factual but inflammatory. There are thousands of people in this situation because of their class and situation. We have to stop killing people until we have justice for all. … People would not stand for someone if they thought he was a cop killer.’’

Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta grew up in a Savannah housing project. He said the Davis case has become “a colossal battle to the soul of a nation…’’ He said the case has brought together international leaders who don’t normally agree, including, former FBI Director and judge William Sessions, U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Pope Benedict XVI, and Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Cox of Amnesty International offered these fiery remarks.

“Since I’m in this holy place… I’ve confess. I do believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. We know we have come a long away. … It’s never going to be over until Troy Davis is speaking from this pulpit… The media likes to divide us into camps. ..How can you be for justice for one and not the others? We also want justice…Locking up the wrong man is not justice,” Cox said.

Tina A. Brown is a freelance journalist based in Savannah