22 April 2011

Virginia Davis: In Memoriam

Last week, the mother of Troy Davis passed away.   Mrs. Virginia Davis has fought tirelessly for decades to save her son from execution by the State of Georgia.  Her daughter, Martina Correia, has described her as the "rock of the family" that held them together.  While she passed away in her sleep and did not seem to suffer, she was too young and healthy for this to have been expected. 

From a personal report from an Amnesty International staff person:

"'Natural causes' was listed as her cause of death. Strangely, when she went to see the doctor the day before for a check up, nothing seemed to be wrong with her health at all. [Those who know her and her struggle to save Troy] believe that she died from the emotional strain caused by the tremendous burden of caring for a son on death row and having a daughter battling cancer...  Even on Sunday, just a few days before her death, she was collecting signatures for Troy at church... She was a dedicated mother and a fighter in her own right. She inspires us to continue our struggle for justice."

Below are a few photos of Virginia that I captured in September 2008 as she stood outside the Georgia death row and execution facility awaiting Troy's execution.   Only 90 minutes before the scheduled execution, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay, and Troy is still alive today.  Many of these photos show those intense moments that Virginia had to live through.

Unfortunately, Troy Davis is expected to get another execution date in the coming months.  More information and action opportunities are at justicefortroy.org.

Below: Virginia pauses in relief with a friend just minutes after the news was announced that the U.S. Supreme Court had stayed Troy's execution.

Below: About three hours before the scheduled execution, Virginia retreats to the corner of a nearby Wendy's to talk to her son on a cell phone in what she thought would be the last time she would ever hear his voice.

Below: Virginia, with Rev. Al Sharpton, wait anxiously for news from the U.S. Supreme Court about Troy's final appeal, which was his final hope.

Below: Virginia lets out a cry of relief and joy when the news of the stay is announced.  Rev. Sharpton (at right), Wende Gozan (from Amnesty International at left) and supporters rejoice in the news.

Below: Virginia, with a supporter, gives thanks to God across the street from the death house, where an impromptu celebration is held.

Below: Virginia (left) and daughter Martina (center) rejoice with others in the parking lot celebration.

Below: Virginia hugs attorney Jason Ewart, who emerges from the death house, where he was to have witnessed Troy's execution a mere half-hour earlier.

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