New School Students Protest Against Prisoner’s Execution
About 200 people turned out for a rally in Times Square on September 16, calling for an end to the death penalty and a retrial of Troy Davis, who is set to be executed on September 21.
Among the protesters were a number of New School students. Waleska Cabrera, a New School for Public Engagement student and group coordinator of The New School chapter of Amnesty International, helped advertise the event at the university.
“Amnesty International is known for emergency action,” Cabrera said, adding that the New School chapter of the international human rights organization worked in cooperation with the national chapter in mobilizing protesters during the past week.
Davis has been on death row since 1991, when a jury found him guilty of the 1989 murder of a Georgia police officer. According to an affidavit compiled by Amnesty International, 10 witnesses used in the Davis trial later admitted that they were coerced by police to give false testimony. One of two witnesses who has refused to recant his testimony was the principle alternative suspect in the case.
“The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial,” according to Amnesty International’s official website.
Davis maintains his innocence, and supporters worldwide are calling for a retrial. Hundreds of thousands of protesters in the United States, Europe, and Latin America took to the streets on September 16, five days before his impending execution.
“Every citizen deserves rights, and that does not only include people who can afford them,” said Lang sophomore Christina Hiras, who also attended the rally.
Deborah McCready, a member of the Astoria, New York chapter of the NAACP, was disappointed by the turn out in Times Square.
“I wish we had more people,” she said, “and I really wish there were more young people.”
The controversy comes at a time when the death penalty is a subject of debate across the nation.
Duane Buck, a 48-year-old African-American man convicted of two counts of murder in Texas, was recently granted a stay of process by the U.S. Supreme Court, due to the potential racial bias involved in his trial.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has overseen 235 lethal injections as the state’s chief executive, more than any other governor in U.S. history. The issue has been brought up during the Republican race for the Presidential nomination, with Perry stating that he is “proud” of the state’s record on capital punishment.