Al Sharpton repeated his call against the impending execution of Troy Davis on his Tuesday show.
Davis has been on death row since 1991, convicted of the 1989 murder of a police officer. But pervasive questions about his innocence have plagued the case. Davis was convicted almost solely on eyewitness evidence, and seven of the nine witnesses who testified against him have recanted their testimony. There is no physical evidence tying Davis to the crime, and another man has even confessed to the killing. Nevertheless, after years of appeals and several stays of execution, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles upheld Davis’ conviction, and he is scheduled to be killed by lethal injection on Wednesday night.
On Tuesday night, the New York Times’ editorial board condemned the decision, and detailed a long list of serious doubts that surround the guilty sentence. The Times noted that supporters and opponents of the death penalty have both called for a stay of execution based on these doubts.
Sharpton, who will be in Atlanta protesting the execution on Wednesday, called it “a bleak day for anyone who cares about justice in this country.” He noted that the doubt surrounding the case has even led three jurors who convicted Davis to plead with the pardons board not to execute him.
“This is America’s justice system,” Sharpton said. “But is it justice?” He brought on the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who runs the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Warnock echoed Sharpton’s outrage, noting that people should not be executed if there is even a tiny question about their guilt.
“I would like to know, at what point and on what basis did the Board of Pardons and Parole decide there was no doubt?” Warnock said. Sharpton quoted data showing that 75% of death penalty convictions overturned on DNA evidence had relied on faulty eyewitness testimony.
“With that kind of data…how can anyone sit up and say, take this man’s life?” he wondered. Later, Sharpton spoke directly to the audience.
“Justice in America must work for everyone, and people should not lose their life if there’s an inkling of doubt,” he said. “Troy Davis is not the only one violated tomorrow…it’s a violation of the victim if the wrong person pays. History should say we stood up for what’s right, even if those in high places, for whatever reason, would not take that stand.”