Praying for Troy Davis and for the two faces of justice
In places near and far today people are praying for Troy Davis, the death row inmate who is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. tonight in a Georgia prison. With one last ditch appeal filed this morning, nothing short of a miracle is expected to save Troy Davis’s life now. Pray.
Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, is asking that people stand together to pray and fast this evening.
“Ask friends to meet up. Ask your family to fast Wednesday evening in solidarity with Troy’s family and use the dinner hour to talk. Ask your faith community, if they already have a Wednesday night fellowship planned, to make time for conversation about Troy’s scheduled execution,” Jealous said in a letter to supporters. (Photo from ABC News)
“However you do it, please mark the 7 o’clock hour on that evening—the time of Troy’s scheduled execution—as a moment to reflect on Troy’s experience, to offer prayers for his family and that of Officer MacPhail, and to talk about what we can each do to ensure our nation never does this again.”
Troy Davis professed his innocence from the moment he turned himself in until now. The 42-year-old said he has been sustained by his faith and family and that he’s ready whenever his moment of death comes.
“They can take my body but not my spirit, because I have given my spirit to God.”
Twenty years ago, Davis was handed the death penalty for killing off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. The persistent work of his dedicated sister helped garner a groundswell of national and international support. Concern continues to mount that another innocent man may be put to death under a flawed legal system.
Seven of the nine witnesses who testified against Davis in 1991 have since recanted and enough doubt has been raised that Davis’s scheduled execution has been halted three other times. But on Monday when the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole turned down his request for clemency, hope sink.
Davis said his case isn’t just about him. It is about justice and the human spirit to see justice prevail. “This Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated,” he wrote. “There are so many more Troy Davis’.”
For the family of Officer MacPhail, the execution of Troy Davis today will be justice. They have been unwavering in their belief that Davis killed MacPhail when the off-duty officer was trying to prevent a homeless man from being attacked. They want him punished.
“Justice was finally served for my father,” said Mark MacPhail Jr., who was an infant when his father was killed. “The truth was finally heard.”
Whose justice? Whose truth? I am praying for both families who have had to live with the consequences of this case since 1989 when MacPhail was killed. I pray that God’s grace will be sufficient for them and that in forgiveness they will find healing. I pray also that the use of the death penalty in this country will be stopped.
Troy Davis’s case is focusing attention on the death penalty, especially as it relates to the number of innocent inmates who have been killed by their states. But there is another death row inmate who is scheduled to be executed tonight whose plight is testing my own compassion and views of the death penalty.
There is no mounting support or any claims of innocence for Lawrence Russell Brewer. The white supremacist was sentenced to death for the heinous 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr., a black man, in Beaumont, Texas.
As horrible as this crime was, the son of the murdered man is calling for mercy for his father’s killer. Brewer is scheduled to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. tonight in Texas.
“You can’t fight murder with murder,” Ross Byrd told Reuters. “Life in prison would have been fine. I know he can’t hurt my daddy anymore. I wish the state would take in mind that this isn’t what we want.”
May God guide us as we seek justice for all.
What are your views on justice and mercy?