Friday, October 28, 2011

Sometimes it Takes a Martyr to Sustain a Movement

Contributed by Amber Walker

"You have a choice. You can either fold up your bags after tomorrow and go home, or you can stand and continue this fight." –Troy Davis

The Troy Davis case touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. Folks rallied around his story, signing petitions, holding demonstrations, and orchestrating campaigns to urge decision makers to re-evaluate sentencing Davis’ to the ultimate punishment. Unfortunately, their efforts were not enough to save Davis’ life. On September 21, 2011, Troy Davis was executed by the Georgia Bureau of Prisons.

The morning before his death, Troy issued a statement to his supporters thanking them for their persistent dedication to his plight and urging them to keep up the work if he was not spared: “There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.”

Although Davis’ execution was thought, by many, to be a tragic misstep by our criminal justice system, his supporters must not forget what his story represents to the overall battle to reform the criminal justice system. Troy constantly reinforced the mantra that this struggle does not end with him. Although his death was a setback, it must be used to strengthen and reenergize the cause and serve as a reminder of what the fight is all about.

The campaign to save Troy Davis spanned nearly two decades. Somewhere in the back of his mind, I imagine Davis knew his appeals might be in vain. Despite it all, he continued to use his story as a means to rally support for an issue that he knew was much bigger than he was. Even though Troy is gone, we must heed his words and remember that there are, indeed, “so many more Troy Davis’”.

Sometimes it takes a martyr to sustain a movement.

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