By Phillip Martin | Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Sept. 28, 2011
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The news that Troy Anthony Davis was executed in Georgia was met with silence and teary-eyed dismay in Harvard Square late Wednesday night.
All night, a small, racially diverse group of candle-carrying protestors waited for news from the US Supreme Court. Would Troy Davis receive a stay of execution? Amnesty International¹s Northeast Director Josh Rubenstein organized the vigil. At 8:04pm he was hopeful.
"So now we're hearing that there is a reprieve. It could last for a very short time. He could be executed tonight or they could ask for more time, and we'll see," Rubenstein said.
All eyes and thumbs in the crowd then turned to their iPhones and blackberries and scrolled for news from the High Court. A man passing by at 8:26 p.m. gave the crowd a disapproving finger.
At 8:45 p.m., one vigil participant named Verne Noma said, "I just think this is a barbaric practice in general, but specifically in this case it just seems that there are just too many questions and I don't agree with it."
The Supreme Court announcement that many believed would come at 9pm did not. And the 40 individuals that were brought together via Twitter and Facebook continued their vigil.
At 9:23 p.m., some candles that had blown out as the wind picked up were relighted.
Some of the anti-death penalty protestors seemed hopeful that mitigating circumstances — including seven out of 10 witnesses recanting testimony against Troy Davis —would convince the High Court to stay the execution.
A woman in the crowd spoke. "My name is Theresa McGowan, someone got through to the Supreme Court and they left a message. The Supreme Court said there hasn't been a verdict yet. And I hope something positive comes out tonight."
At 10:49 p.m., when I returned to Harvard Square the small crowd had become even smaller and most of the candles had blown out.
At 11:08 p.m., Troy Anthony Davis was put to death in Jackson, Georgia, and the group in Harvard Square slowly dispersed, despondent and deeply disturbed.
By Azita Ghahramani | Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Sept. 28, 2011
GROTON, Mass. — Home to the Groton School and Lawrence Academy, the town of Groton also boasted an Inn where Presidents and historic figures stayed on their way to Boston. But that Inn may soon be demolished.
Late on the evening of Aug. 2, 2011, a neighbor alerted George Pergantis that his inn was on fire. Pergantis described watching the firefighters at work. "The fire department came in with a big truck and as soon as he hit the window all the flames came out, poof, 50 feet in the air," Pergantis said.
Fifteen trucks, and the efforts of countless firefighters couldn't save the building.
"It's all over for me," Pergantis tearfully recalled. "I don't want to talk much because I feel bad…"
Pegantis feels bad because after 30 years of love and labor keeping The Old Groton Inn running, he says at age 81 he's too old to rebuild now. So despite objections from area residents, he plans to tear down what's left of the building.
"The town people, I'll be honest with you. All these years, they never supported me. Very few people here and there. Now, they come here, they want to support me. It's too late," Pergantis said.
Laurie Gibson hopes it's not too late. She grew up here and her parents once owned the inn. It was their meticulous research and efforts that put the Groton Inn on the National Register of Historic Places.
"The oldest part of the Inn dates back to 1678. Which is 98 years before we even became a country," explained Gibson. "Paul Revere inducted the Masons here. Ulysses Grant was also in the registers. Teddy Roosevelt and William H. Taft. One of them had stayed here the night before he was elected," Gibson said.
Established originally in 1678 as a homestead for the local parish, The Groton Inn eventually became a popular resting spot for travelers. Gibson and some town residents aren't ready to put 300 years of history to rest and are pinning their hopes on an engineers' report that claims parts of the Inn can be salvaged.
"From what we understand, at least 30 percent of the building is viable," Gibson said. "It wasn't touched by the fire. It's amazing to me — the oldest part of the building survived the most."
But Pergantis sees no point. "Keep the front for what? Nothing is left. The foundation is no good. What are you going to keep?" Pergantis said.
Pergantis already has permits to tear the building down, he's just waiting for his insurance claim to pay for the demolition. Gibson expressed the hope of supporters who are using this borrowed time to make a plea to save the inn.
"We are hoping somebody would come forward and hopefully want to purchase the property. And want to purchase what's left of the building. And restore it as much as possible," Gibson said
But even a benevolent stranger might not be able to restore the inn if Pergantis refuses to sell it. The Old Groton Inn – a resting place for 3 centuries of travelers, may have come to its final rest.
By Bridgit Brown | Tuesday, September 13, 2011
By Alicia Anstead | Friday, July 29, 2011
By Bridgit Brown | Friday, July 29, 2011
By Kerry Healey | Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Last week, three iconic American freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press — collided in a nightmare scenario that could well still lead to the loss of American lives.
The self-styled Rev. Terry Jones' irresponsible threat to burn copies of the Quran at his tiny church in Jacksonville, Fla. was withdrawn at the eleventh hour after pleas from General Petraeus and the White House. But Jones’ selfish stunt has inflicted real damage to America's reputation for religious tolerance, and makes achieving peace in Afghanistan even tougher.
Neither should we allow one American to twist our freedoms into a Gordian knot that prevents us from showing America's true values to the world.
America must never be so intimidated by the threat of terrorism that we curtail our fundamental freedoms. But neither should we allow one American to twist our freedoms into a Gordian knot that prevents us from showing America's true values to the world.
Several things went wrong with the handling of the Jones case. Let's consider freedom of speech. Jones certainly has a right to express unpopular views if they are true. But now it seems that the Quran-burning threat was merely a dangerous publicity-seeking ruse.
When Jones’ false threat spawned violent demonstrations in five countries, it crossed Oliver Wendell Holmes's famous line of falsely shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater. Jones’ speech may not have deserved constitutional protection after all.
Jones also fundamentally misused freedom of religion.
Freedom from religious persecution is the bedrock on which this nation was founded. But the exercise of religious freedom comes with a duty that requires each religion to see to their own knitting. Tolerance is required, not just from the government but from ordinary Americans like Mr. Jones. He showed none.
The most serious questions in the Jones case are reserved for the media. Jones has a right to express his views, but no inherent right to be heard by people in Indonesia and Afghanistan. The media chose to blitz the obscure Jones’ ravings around the world as if he were an American leader or a celebrity spokesperson for religious hatred.
In truth, Jones deserved no attention beyond a footnote in the Jacksonville Times. Thanks to the media, one bigoted man and his 50 parishioners were allowed to become the face of 300 million Americans to the Muslim world. The media needs to question whether creating incendiary fodder for talk radio justifies the magnification of an ant like Jones, tarnishing America's reputation and risking our soldier’s lives.
Freedom of the press exists to preserve democracy, not to entertain us.