We had a very successful and enlightening teach-in last week focusing on capital punishment in this country and specifically the case of Troy Davis. The teach-in was no ordinary event at the School of Social Work, not that any event can be deemed ordinary. It was a call from students, faculty and staff for the school to provide a space to discuss this issue that impacts our work, our feelings and our country. The event really began when Christine Dominguez, a leader in the Latino/a Caucus requested to put up a memorial wall honoring Troy Davis and providing a space for people to share their thoughts. Around the same time the dean’s office at the school reached out to our caucus after seeing interest from faculty to address this issue. Though the process was difficult and rushed we were able to work together to pull off an important and much needed event.
The Latino/a Caucus created an amazing presentation situated in the school that not only paid respect to Troy Davis but many others who have lost their lives to a fatally flawed system. Dr. Kathy Boudin, director of the Criminal Justice Initiative was able to connect us with four great speakers who were each uniquely tied to this issue. With further support from the Black Caucus, the Office of Student Services, and the Office of the Dean we were able to put on an event attended by over 90 members of the CUSSW community.
In addition to our many collaborators in this effort the Student Union Executive Board graciously offered to fund the recording of the event. We hope to have a link to that posted soon.
Though putting the event together was a difficult process it cannot compare to the hard work of those who fought for Troy Davis and those fighting government executions.
The four speakers were
Russell Neufeld – a criminal defense lawyer who has spent much of his work defending people charged with potential death penalty cases. He was key in the political and legal struggle to get rid of the death penalty here in New York State.
Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris – the Northeast Field Organizer for Amnesty International. She speaks about and has worked on Troy Davis’s case. She helped to organize the Troy Davis Memorial at Riverside Church.
Lawrence Hayes – a co-founder of Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Mr. Hayes worked very closely on the Troy Davis case and spent time in Georgia during the clemency/pardons period; he was there with the family and at the funeral. He is currently working with a group that is both organizing a boycott against Georgia corporations to try and end the death penalty in Georgia and is working to continue investigating the Troy Davis case, which is something that Troy Davis wanted and he continues to work with students in his work.