Troy Davis Protestors take to the Streets: "This is what Democracy Looks like"
Amity Paye AmNews Web Manager | 4/3/2012, 12:01 p.m.
What started as a twitter post just minutes after Troy Davis' execution became a full fledged, unreported revolt in the streets of New York City today.
"Raise your hand, raise your fist, it is time to resist," they chanted.
At 5 p.m. 100-200 people gathered at Union Square for a rally in the name of Troy Davis, who was on death row for over two decades for the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail and was executed September 21 at 11:08pm in Savannah, Georgia.
In a town hall-style gathering people from all walks of life, and many different organizations voiced their reasons for supporting this battle.
Lawrence Hayes, a former death row prisoner and anti-death penalty activist said, "Troy Davis up until his death was the poster child for reasonable doubt...the whole criminal justice system is rotten to the core, and we are not talking reform we are talking abolition. We want to abolish the execution system. It is unfair, it is unjust, it is racist." To the black community in attendance Haynes said, "We got our own voice and we need to raise it up."
With goals ranging from the end of the death penalty to the end of all racism in America, protestors took the microphone, raising their voices up. One speaker remembered Sean Bell, saying his death should also be remembered in this movement, while yet another reminded people of Mumia Abu Jamal, a former member of the Black Panther Party who has been on death row since 1981.
A representative from the International Socialist Organization said, "they'd rather kill him (Troy Davis) than admit that they made a mistake, but one thing they're not counting on is our anger, our strength." The next speaker, Sean Baucom, called on the young people in the crowd to draw on that strength saying, "Instead of using social media for pointless updates, use it to organize and be aware."
And that was exactly what happened when another speaker called for everyone to march. The group began moving from Union Square towards the West Village. They marched west on 14th Street, then turned south onto 5th Avenue to pass Washington Square Park, where New York University students were literally jumping out of their first floor windows and tweeting their friends to join in on the march.
"The system is racist, they killed troy Davis," they chanted.
Along the way police continuously tried to stop the march by creating a row of motorcycles to block the way, but protestors kept finding detours around them. From there the growing crowd marched onto McDougal Street, with patrons at its bustling bars taking pictures and joining the crowd. On Spring and Thompson the crowd clashed with a much stronger police force, about 50 cops with tear gas dispensers in hand and paddy wagons. Protestors and police fought a couple of times.
One man was thrown to the ground, provoking the comment to police, "you're all Black, how can you do this to your people," from one protestor. But the frightened crowd did not stay to hear a response and ran away from each fight onto the sidewalks. After the commotion died down, protestors and police stood sizing each other up for a few minutes before the march turned back uptown and east towards Broadway.