By Tim Chitwood
September 21, 2011
Among the organizations protesting Troy Anthony Davis’ execution in the fatal 1989 shooting of Columbus native and Savannah Police Officer Mark McPhail is the NAACP, which has urged its supporters to rally outside the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Jackson.
The organization had hoped the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles would halt the execution, but it has not.
“We’re certainly disappointed. We’ve issued a statement condemning their ruling,” said Ed DuBose, president of the NAACP Georgia State Conference and former president of the Columbus chapter. “We’re moving to ask the same board to reconsider.”
The group Tuesday also was asking the district attorney of Chatham County to try to persuade a judge to vacate the execution order, and the national organization, “as a long shot,” was to solicit President Barack Obama’s aid in halting Davis’ execution, DuBose said.
Should such measures fail, then the NAACP today will shift its focus to the death-row prison.
“We are mobilizing a large group toward the prison tomorrow evening,” DuBose said Tuesday.
That large group is to include not only people from across Georgia, but people from “across the county,” said DuBose.
In a statement the organization issued Tuesday, he was quoted as saying, “We find it unconscionable that the board would allow this execution … despite the nearly 1 million voices calling for justice — including 40,000 from Georgia and over 10,000 from Savannah, 3,300 members of the clergy and 1,500 legal professionals — in support of Mr. Davis.”
The other side
On the other side of the issue is Randy Robertson, president of the Columbus chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police and vice president of the state organization.
He said the FOP has contacted law enforcement officers around the world to solicit their support.
“We do a lot of our stuff via email,” he said. “We sent emails to law enforcement officers and FOP members throughout the United States, and we sent them to law enforcement groups internationally. We sent some to Australia, Hong Kong … where we all have connections.”
But the FOP has not insisted other groups respond.
“We ask everybody to examine the case, and if you feel it was properly adjudicated by the jury in Chatham County, please send an email to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and ask them to support the case,” he said.
Also backing the jury’s verdict is Jerry Luquire of Columbus, president of the Georgia Christian Coalition.
He issued a statement Tuesday on behalf of his group.
“In the murder of Mark MacPhail 21 years ago, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has made the only decision it could render if we are going to be governed by the rule of law,” Luquire wrote. “The board refused to substitute the emotions of those who disagree with the verdict with more than 20 years of legal decisions upholding the guilt and sentence of Anthony Davis. Make no mistake — this is not a good day for his victim’s family either as their loss also is forever on this earth.”
Reached later by telephone, Luquire was reluctant to elaborate, saying he wanted the statement to stand alone.
“I did not want to get into the arguments about capital punishment or the guilt or innocence of the man,” he said. “It should have been looked upon strictly as a matter of law.”
Luquire said the law can be merciful, too: “The rule of law is tempered with mercy. It’s called appeals.”
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, an attorney, put her faith in the justice system.
“As a person who practiced law for 16 years, I have to believe in the U.S. justice system,” she said. “I realize the appellate courts are limited in what they can consider, but I still believe in the system.”
Robertson said no joy’s to be gained from Davis’ death. “Happiness” would be Mark McPhail’s living to be a 25-year police veteran who saw his children grow up, and Troy Davis’ having gone on to become “a productive part of society,” he said.
“That would make us happy,” he added. “This stuff that’s going on right now, there’s no happiness in this, and there never will be.”