One week after the capital punishment execution of Troy Davis, the students of SMCM held a candlelight vigil to commemorate his life and the lives of those who have been affected by the death penalty.
Troy Davis was convicted in Georgia in 1991 for the assault of two men and the murder of a police officer. He contested his sentencing for twenty years and upheld his innocence. He frequently sought to clear his name and prevent his execution, yet his petitions and appeals were repeatedly denied by the Supreme Court. Despite a wide range of support and a lack of evidence, he was executed on Sept. 21, 2011.
Black Student Union (BSU) and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized the vigil so that students could voice their thoughts. A large group of students gathered in the Goodpastor Courtyard to recite scripture, poetry, and share their thoughts on Troy Davis, the death penalty, and other injustices they perceive that occur in America. Troy Davis’s final letter was read and a moment of silence was given at the exact time that his death had been pronounced.
Numerous individuals, including students of St. Mary’s, were outraged that the execution was allowed to take place. Therm James, President of the BSU, spoke of how the case “touched the nation” and called the situation “demoralizing.” Others commented on how they believe the justice system is flawed. “Many injustices all came together. Racism, classism…” commented senior Jack Mumby.
The vigil was held to shed light on this incident and similar instances that occur. The majority of students in attendance had heard of the case due to social networking sites and friends, and they were angered that it was not more publicized. “We either voice our opinion or things like this will continue to happen” said James. Elena Gross, who recited a poem by Lucille Clifton, commented on how the case “hit close to home” and that those who attended will leave with “the hope that things will change.”