The evenings were chilly in October. I draped myself in an oversized hoodie, doing my best not to jostle the other people around me. Amnesty had organized “Stand Firm for Justice” in downtown Atlanta, one rally of many as part of their Global Day of Action for Troy Davis. My father, Priya, and I were part of the few hundred people assembled on the steps of the gold-plated Georgia capitol.
A man handed me a sky-blue “I Am Troy Davis” sign while others held enlarged images of the Prison Photo. As the crowd began chanting “I am Troy Davis!” I spotted Sahil across the crowd.
The masses were held in rapt silence as Martina spoke. Toward the back of the crowd a few black men held Louis Farrakhan posters: DO YOU WORSHIP THE DEVIL?
Martina finished speaking, and the crowd erupted into cheers and shouts.
I overheard the Amnesty staff whispering that they were “Concerned about the Farrakhan people…we don’t want to be associated with them.” The rally ended shortly after and Sahil walked over.
“Come on Gautam, let’s talk to Martina,” Sahil said, but I was too shy.
“Don’t be too impressed,” my father told me when he saw the way I looked at the speakers. “This is your first rally. Every street corner in India had these kinds of rallies. They’d yell, they’d scream, they’d fire up the crowd, and then nothing would happen. It’s the same routine.”
Though I’d been captivated by the words, I was disappointed. For a Global Day of Action, we could barely muster a few hundred people outside the steps of the government that was four days away from executing an innocent man.