NAACP Launches Campaign To Save Innocent Man From Execution Troy Davis Could Die Within Weeks

The NAACP is launching a campaign called “I AM TROY” to save the life of Troy Davis, an innocent African American man on death row, who will be executed unless Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue or the Savannah District Attorney Larry Chisolm intervene.  The NAACP is calling on people to get involved and contact Governor Perdue or Savannah District Attorney Chisolm urging them to not allow the execution of an innocent man.

Davis has been on death row in Georgia for nearly 18 years for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Savannah, Georgia.  There is no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime and seven of the nine witnesses have recanted or contradicted their original testimony, several saying they were coerced. One of the witnesses who has not recanted is the prime alternative suspect in the case and has been in and out of jail numerous times. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, who recently met with Mr. Davis for two hours on death row said, “Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this man is innocent.”

Troy had no prior criminal record and since he has been in prison, Davis has been a model prisoner and a valuable mentor to his young nephew, whose mother has breast cancer.

The courts have denied Troy an evidentiary hearing which would allow the evidence to be reexamined.  A last ditch effort before the Supreme Court will be heard on June 25 but is not expected to prevail and his execution could come within weeks following the decision. The NAACP, which filed an amicus brief in the case, urging Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to intervene.  The new Savannah District Attorney, an African American, could also reopen the case, saving Troy’s life.

Davis is also being denied the right to speak to the media.  60 Minutes, Dateline, and other television programs are being denied access to interview him.  While the prison will allow Troy to speak on the phone to reporters, “The denial of his right to speak to television is a flagrant abuse of his First Amendment rights”, says Jealous.

“It not only is morally wrong to put an innocent man to death, it does not bring justice to the victim’s family and allows a dangerous criminal to go free.  We have witnessed scores of people wrongfully sentenced to death in our nation.  Justice requires we not turn a blind eye to killing another innocent man – a travesty that can never be rectified.”  Jealous said.

Prominent politicians and leaders, including President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Presidential candidate Bob Barr and former FBI Director and Judge William S. Sessions have all called for Davis to be given a new trial or evidentiary hearing.

The NAACP is asking for people to send letters to Governor Perdue and for Savannah residents to contact the District Attorney Chisolm.  A new website, www.IAMTROY.com allows people to send an email directly to the Governor and the DA.

More than 60% of the people in prison are people of color and African Americans make up more than 40% of those on death row. 

The NAACP will unveil a national campaign at its Centennial Convention July 11-16 in New York aimed towards reversing those trends.  The campaign’s overarching goals are to make communities safer, improve police performance, save money and end the mass incarceration that characterizes our country’s criminal justice system.  The campaign will include ongoing efforts to save the lives of potentially innocent men such as, Davis and Reggie Clemons, another African American man from St. Louis, Missouri sentenced to death for the murder of two white girls.  There was no physical evidence linking Reggie to the crime:  no fingerprints, no DNA, no hair or fiber samples; nonetheless, Clemons was convicted and is scheduled to be executed on June 17 of this year.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.  Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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