In the United States, where capital punishment is legal in all but 14 states, the case of Troy Davis has drawn ire from abolitionist activists. Davis was convicted of murdering a police officer in 1989 during a trial in which there was no DNA evidence implicating him, but merely the testimony of witnesses, several of whom later recanted their statements.
Davis was given the death penalty, and his first execution scheduled for July 17, 2007. After appeals by Davis's lawyers, NGOs, and numerous celebrities, Davis was granted a stay of execution. Twice his execution was re-scheduled, and both times Davis was granted a stay; then, following a federal appeal in 2010 – which was rejected – his execution was once again scheduled, for September 21, 2011.
In the hours and minutes leading up to the execution, scheduled for 7pm local time, individuals from all across the globe continued to rally for a stay of execution. Using the hashtags #Troy Davis, #TooMuchDoubt, and #TheWholeWorldIsWatching.
From the UK, @Rachel_McCormack tweeted:
Georgia I am outside the US Embassy in London freezing and watching #thewholeworldiswatching
Also from the UK, @CatherineBee shared her thoughts:
“It is better to risk sparing a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.” Voltaire #thewholeworldiswatching #troydavis
@LizLemonCologne expressed a sentiment likely shared by many:
Following the #thewholeworldiswatching hashtag is just breaking my heart. #troydavis
Watch Democracy Now. Now. Watch democracy fall apart for #TroyDavis. And people wonder why I left America…. #thewholeworldiswatching
And from Greece, @helion spoke:
a western democracy, a supposed bastion of human rights, should not take the life of a possibly innocent citizen #thewholeworldiswatching
In the end, their tweets–along with ample offline activism–served as a rallying cry against the execution of a potentially innocent man. Just a few minutes after 7pm, news broke on Twitter that Davis had been granted a stay of execution. Said @Colorlines:
Speechless! @democracynow is reporting a literal last-minute stay of execution! Livestream: http://democracynow.org #troydavis
From the UK, @GrahamSimmons commented:
tonight is a victory for humankind #troydavis #thewholeworldiswatching #fb
But amidst the excitement, @graceishuman – relaying news from @DemocracyNow reporters in the room – clarified the news, explaining:
SCOTUS has issued a reprieve for #troydavis execution – which means it's delayed (for further review?) not stayed. (via Democracy Now)
ABC News confirmed the story, stating that “The Supreme Court could decide at any time tonight or in the next seven days whether to go through with his execution.”