Waiting For Troy Davis

By Phillip Martin

Sept. 28, 2011

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The news that Troy Anthony Davis was executed in Georgia was met with silence and teary-eyed dismay in Harvard Square late Wednesday night.

All night, a small, racially diverse group of candle-carrying protestors waited for news from the US Supreme Court. Would Troy Davis receive a stay of execution? Amnesty International¹s Northeast Director Josh Rubenstein organized the vigil. At 8:04pm he was hopeful.

"So now we're hearing that there is a reprieve. It could last for a very short time. He could be executed tonight or they could ask for more time, and we'll see," Rubenstein said.

All eyes and thumbs in the crowd then turned to their iPhones and blackberries and scrolled for news from the High Court. A man passing by at 8:26 p.m. gave the crowd a disapproving finger.

At 8:45 p.m., one vigil participant named Verne Noma said, "I just think this is a barbaric practice in general, but specifically in this case it just seems that there are just too many questions and I don't agree with it."

The Supreme Court announcement that many believed would come at 9pm did not. And the 40 individuals that were brought together via Twitter and Facebook continued their vigil.

At 9:23 p.m., some candles that had blown out as the wind picked up were relighted.

Some of the anti-death penalty protestors seemed hopeful that mitigating circumstances — including seven out of 10 witnesses recanting testimony against Troy Davis —would convince the High Court to stay the execution.

A woman in the crowd spoke. "My name is Theresa McGowan, someone got through to the Supreme Court and they left a message. The Supreme Court said there hasn't been a verdict yet. And I hope something positive comes out tonight."

At 10:49 p.m., when I returned to Harvard Square the small crowd had become even smaller and most of the candles had blown out.

At 11:08 p.m., Troy Anthony Davis was put to death in Jackson, Georgia, and the group in Harvard Square slowly dispersed, despondent and deeply disturbed.

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