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Witness to a Funeral

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Troy Davis was killed by the state of Georgia on September 21, at 11:08. Jim and I were privileged to attend Troy Anthony’s Davis’ funeral last Saturday in Savannah Georgia along with 2000 supporters. Held at the giant new and beautiful Jonesville Baptist church where security included no large handbags allowed. A bevy of volunteers escorted us to our pew.     

Inspiring singing, praying, and clapping from the large choir drew   in everyone around us. Above the wide altar hung two giant screens which projected the speakers and often flashed back to Troy’s picture and that moving quote: I am Troy Davis and I am free.

I wish I could quote all tributes paid to this man. His attorney, having gotten close over the seven years he represented him, Jason Ewart became Troy’s close friend and delivered a most telling account. “Troy is not only symbol but very soul of somebody much larger. Together with similar tributes from his many family members, friends, pastors, attorneys, and even prison cellmates, here was a man of truly transcendent substance. No accident that the word spread across the globe to people who’d never even met him. A million signatures had been collected from all over the world opposing his execution, including pleas from the pope, politicians, and celebrities everywhere.

“When,” Jason concluded, “We learned that they had murdered him after hoping for another stay, we simply said: ‘This makes no sense.’  Troy’s execution was noteworthy because so much doubt existed over it.

Those allowed in the killing chamber spoke of Troy’s amazing calm,   exemplified in his last words. To the family of the murdered policeman he said: “I am sorry for your loss, but I did not take the life of your son.” Then he turned to the man who would shoot the “murderous juice” into his arm to say:  “I forgive you, and may God bless you.”  

What other evidence is needed! No man guilty of a crime could ever be so aware and compassionate at the very moment of death. He refused the calming sedative they offered him for he was already calm.

A young woman attorney spoke of how Troy became a mentor to her and to her husband. Through many conversations, “he was always strong, always comforting us,” she said. I’m profoundly grateful for having been his friend. And grateful that he was no longer #657678 but Troy Anthony Davis and that he was free.

A black friend who’d served his country in two wars asked Troy in his last visit: “What do you want people to know?” 

Even though they kill me, you must continue to fight for all the Troy Davises before and after me. Young people must work to take away this death penalty in our country.” 

“Even in death,” the man concluded, “Troy wasn’t thinking of himself.”  

Ben Jealous, director of NAACP brilliantly spoke of our un-just system: “Justice is clogged when innocent people can be murdered, and when one of the white guys on the Georgia Parole board changed his vote making it two to three to kill him, obviously, our criminal justice system is more criminal than just.” 

Larry Cox, head of Amnesty International spoke passionately, bringing many of us to our feet amid our tears. ”Every killing removes the basic rights of a person. The murdered policeman, McPhail’s rights were taken. But the state of Georgia turned around and took another man’s rights away by killing again. And what do you call it while a condemned man watches guards prepare to take his life? No other name for it: TORTURE! This system of ours is EVIL. 

Everyone joined the fiery Cox in wrapping his talk up. “Georgia believes the Troy Davis case is over. Let’s be clear about that. “And a cry arose from the multitude: “No! This case hasn’t even started!

Finally, in his ardent eulogy, Rev Raphael Warnock, pastor of Martin Luther King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta proclaimed that Troy Davis transformed his prison’s death sentence into a powerful pulpit, a light to the Netherlands, to Nigeria, to London, and to the entire world. 

Friends, join me to personally do everything we can to change America’s violent death penalty. (Really State sponsored murder) America is only one of five countries practicing this barbaric form of death. It’s about time it comes to its senses!

~ Adele


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