Community mourns Davis in different ways, in person and online

While the Shelby County community has mourned slain Pelham Police Officer Philip Davis through a public procession, a funeral and several fund-raisers for the Davis family, many people have turned to the Internet to share their grief.

Facebook, a popular online networking community, has a group dedicated to Davis’ memory with more than 14,000 members.

The group’s wall, which allows members to leave thoughts, has dozens of comments expressing support for Davis’ wife, Paula, and two children, Sarah and John.

State Rep. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, who is a member of the group, said he joined the group to honor Davis’ sacrifice.

“I didn’t know Mr. Davis personally, and I’m sure many people on there didn’t, but the story was so touching and moving, especially at this time of year. I think it’s just a good way to show your sympathy and your support for that family,” Ward said.

He said he feels people are honoring Davis on social network sites such as Facebook because people are so used to sharing their lives online.

“It’s a very popular way of honoring people in this day and age. It’s become a popular phenomenon in honoring heroes, especially fallen heroes in the community,” he said. “It’s a forum everyone’s become accustomed to using now.”

Ward said the number of people who have joined the group just shows how much Davis meant to the Pelham and Shelby County communities.

“I think it’s a testament to how strong our community is, a testament to Mr. Davis and what he meant to so many people, his friends and members of the community,” Ward said. “You see the total number of people that’s signed on there, and that’s a true indication of how much (Davis’ death) impacted people in the community.”

Davis’ death also made an impact on Twitter, another social networking site, where people can only leave updates of 140 characters or less.

Several members left status updates referring to Davis’ death in the last week and a half. Rita W. from Seattle, who goes by the handle binhog737, a week ago wrote, “Just heard about Officer Philip Davis being shot and killed during a traffic stop.”

Dusti Chuang of Alabama, who goes by HeyDusti, Dec. 8 wrote, “watched Pelham Police drive, lights & sirens on, to funeral for Officer Philip Davis.” Right after Chuang’s post published, Tessa Joy Mayfield, also known to others on Twitter as TMayf, wrote, “is Praying for the Family, Friends and Co-Workers of Officer Philip Davis… such a sad day…” People have also posted about fundraisers for Davis’ family on Twitter.

Ward said he believes it’s important for people to have a public forum to express grief and support.

“I think it’s very important. Whether you do a public display of support on TV or a public church gathering or online, it’s just another means and venue to express support to the family,” he said.