To Orthodox laywomen, regarding the wives of your priests:

Yep!

The Orthodox Clergy Wife by Presbytera Anonyma

To Orthodox laywomen, regarding the wives of your priests:

These are the women who are married to priests:

They are just like you.

 They love and support their husbands and want them to succeed.

 They are trying to raise their children in the Faith they love.

 They are managing their families’ health and household needs on a daily basis.

Sometimes they are engaged in ministries or careers with a strong sense of calling, where they work with a great feeling of personal fulfilment and regular awareness of  accomplishing something worthwhile.  Sometimes they are working ill-paying, soul-deadening jobs, full time or part time, just to make ends meet in their household.

 They are just like you, but often their lives are not just like the lives of most of you.

 They live in a fishbowl, like the wives of a politicians. But without all the glamour.

 They are sent to live…

View original post 1,235 more words

Holy Week Renewal of Vows, 2016

When our Greek-heritage parish secretary referred to me, soon after our 1994 arrival at my husband’s parish, as ‘the Presbytera’– and then explained that term’s meaning in Orthodox churches– I recognized the feelings I’d had since undertaking to marry my Episcopal priest husband….  that sense of the ordained one’s conferred holiness extending through the wife  (because we are mystically one).

Last night, we spouses of clergy attending the annual Diocesan renewal of ordination vows were invited to reflect, in parallel, with our vow-renewing spouses, about vows we had taken. What a timely opportunity to take stock! Here’s what I journalled.

1. “What are significant vows you have taken in your life?

I very intentionally married a man, a family, a parish, and a vocation, in one casual but very swell foop. There was a strong, definite sense of Call about this, which our wedding invitations spelled out from us both. Thus our wedding was added to a regular Sunday 10AM service. (The reception? A dancing coffee hour!)

All these vocational thoughts were in my mind as my lips spoke our vows more than 23 years ago. They support me well when I must yield our personal time– or sleep– to pastoral emergencies. They fill me as I help comfort bereaved families. They offer boundaries in what I may– and may not– share of my husband’s ministries. They encourage me when I don’t want to load that dishwasher AGAIN.

2. “How are the vows of ordination similar/different?”

How I experience my vocation in the above regard is that anything done under my husband’s direction and in partnership with his Call, large or small, is Holy, and must be kept Holy

3. “What are the struggles and the joys …. in living into your vocation?

Joys– so many, all attached in my memory to individusl faces at special moments. What they have in common is intimacy with God and His people through the Holy Spirit, as She directs my attention and actions, especially in what, for most people, are their most private moments and transitions. What is discerned and done at these times is often startlingly vivid, handled with an infinite sense of restraint and care, and beyond words adequate in description.

These moments frequently lead to ‘Gospel tears’ as I call them– when ‘the heart is too small’ and the ‘Grace too big.’ In these moments, a mystical boundary opens for whatever the duration of need dictates; keeping it Holy means easily letting go of whatever temporary role I was briefly Called to play, as that boundary tightens back up to exclude me once more. And blessing the people strengthened by whatever brief time in their  journey I was blessed to share.

Struggles– HEALTH (physical and emotional), for self and family; parish and Diocese. INJUSTICE, as our euro-heritage human family creeps forward so very slowly… while precious persons die of our injustice. PATIENCE, which came to me pretty late in life. SELF-DENIAL/DEPRIVATION, at times not of my choosing. TRANSITIONS in diocesan roles/ministries (everyone’s). SPOUSAL LEADERSHIP/FELLOWSHIP never consistent, enough, or appropriate (particularly with our far-northern post only recently beginning to be embraced ‘down-Diocese’). TIME, and the inevitable consequences of necessary prioritization.

A 4th question I considered as I took stock, now in my semi-retirement: “Where have you seen Jesus in all this?

The usual answers (Cross, prayer, Sacraments, worship), but also these perhaps-less-usual: Community. Spiritual Gifts (everyone’s). Holy-Spirit-timing/direction/affirmation. Time. Growth.

A 5th question– the future?

Retirement! For me, this already includes continued Anti-Racism ministry in the Diocese to which we will retire.


 Reference text: Presbytera: The Life, Mission, and Service of the Priest’s Wife

 

Celebration Circle (Inaugural)

2014 money shotBe there for the inaugural Celebration Circle of Song, Story, and Solidarity, Sunday, August 16, Rain or Shine, 5 – 10PM. (Children/families’ music early, and ‘more adult’ material later)

Yeah, I know some of you are “too far away.” But we have weekend sleeping space available, and/or you know people in the area to invite on my behalf.

DETAILS:

BYO Chairs/Snacks.

General location is near Lowe’s in Xenia, convenient to 35.
Please contact organizer FMI.

What’s happening: Multi-cultural, multi-generational music that lifts.    Stories that build up.     Ice cream.     Instruments.     Multiple rooms for various types of music or stories.     Poems.     Beating time on pot lids.    Hugging.     Disabilities.     Questions.    Fire pit.     Flowers.     Intersectionality.     Sprinkler.     Sidewalk Chalk.     Small Amps.

No alcohol, drugs, or weapons. Shaming not permitted.
Organizer: Susan Oldberg Hinton, motormice@hotmail.com

When is it NOT “Hoarding”?

A potential house-cleaner once came to give me an estimate, and gave himself a full tour of ALL the nooks and crannies in this 3-family home… which two of us now occupy. I had described what he would find, and the sound reasons for it, very clearly. I used to run a housecleaning business, so I thought I was speaking his language…

But our culture’s current media focus on hoarders overcame everything I had told him. He opined that estimating the job I’d requested (ground floor only) could only be done after we’d filled a large dumpster with our stuff.

Eventually, angel cleaners materialized, until my rehab allowed me to do it myself. But he left me in the lurch for the impending MIL visit.

The day he came for that estimate (I was not home), the LR held half a cargo trailer’s worth of packed containers for the next month’s trip to Ohio– as I had described. So yes, it did make the LR/DR look different from the “usual” pastor’s LR. The other half-cargo was on the porch (being the more cold-resistant stuff), waiting to be loaded. There was an open box I was still filling.

The REST of the house, as I described, was in the process of an eventual move to Ohio.

He was SO OFFENSIVE with his reaction that I decided to write,

“When is it NOT “Hoarding”?

1. It’s not hoarding if you can find exactly what you need in less than 5 minutes, blow off the dust, and use it within the hour.

2. It’s not hoarding if there are no obstructions between you and the sought item that need to be moved for you to get to it.

3. It’s not hoarding if there is no “science experiment” or evidence of vermin when you pull out the sought item.

4. It may be an unexpected warehouse masquerading as a house, but if you shop from it instead of spending money to purchase new, identical items– guess what? It’s not hoarding.

5. It’s also not hoarding if– every time you “shop” from your “warehouse”– you mark (as you go) those items for discard that you know (now that you have actually purchased a house) will not fit in your next home– and donate them or give them away to people who need them.

~Susan

MANY T’OUSAND GONE

I’ve been away and then sick. This post is the start of remembering the lost near the date of the anniversary of the incident that cost all of us their lives. Doing them this way, I’ll often have more than one per week; February had so many anniversaries that I’ve had to split them to share during Lent, to catch up.

Remembered at St. Paul’s/Wellsboro PA February 28, 2015:
IN MEMORIAM
Recent Februarys Past
USA

Signage/names/details for this week’s service:

“We remember this week the anniversary of four Black sisters and brothers who died in Februarys past, as a result of split-second fatal mistakes by police, that resulted in the death of Black citizens:

Feb 4, 1999 Mr. Amadou Diallo, age 23. This unarmed Guinean immigrant was shot by police in New York, NY who was reaching for his wallet in his building vestibule. His death sparked mainstream media coverage and national outrage over stop/frisk and profiling policies.

Feb 28, 2003 Mr. Orlando Barlow, age 28. Unarmed, but shot while surrendering on his knees in front of four Las Vegas, NV police officers called to defuse a domestic dispute. The officer who shot him and two other officers were fired after they printed T-shirts with the initials “BDRT” — “Baby’s Daddy Removal Team.”.

Feb 1, 2012 Stephon Watts, age 15. Parents had called for help with their autistic son per his therapist’s directions, but he was shot in the head by responding Calumet City, IN officers familiar with his condition (and previous, non-lethal “help”).

Feb 2, 2012 Mr. Ramarley Graham, age 18. This unarmed Bronx, NY teen was shot to death by police after they chased him into his family’s apartment building; they’d seen him adjusting his waistband.

I ask your prayers and your responses to these questions: Who were these people before they were killed? Had they ever done anything qualifying them for the death penalty? What, if anything, did their communities learn from this event?”

Opening Song: WINGS OF A DOVE
Sequence Song: CHANGE MY HEART, OH GOD
Offertory/Communion music repeated each week in Lent:

DID CHRIST O’ER SINNERS WEEP?
MANY THOUSAND GONE

Closing Song: MY SISTERS AND BROTHERS

The post title comes from the reflection I’ve been having for some time, that these memorials are the present-day equivalent of this (only now we’ve learned to get the names):

slave statuess underwater 8fbf928cac2f11e19dc71231380fe523_6Oh didn’t you know? Here’s the view from topside:

slaves overboard article-2167996-0D91256700000578-330_472x338Yes, this used to happen quite often. Somehow it doesn’t feel good enough that we’ve learned to try to get the names of the people we do this to in the USA.

I sat with all this long enough that a new song came. It will be sung unaccompanied, with each verse modulating up from deepest voice in V. 1, to a near-howl by the end:

MANY THOUSAND GONE
Learned from the singing of Odetta, this traditional Negro spiritual’s tune is familiar to many because Bob Dylan “borrowed” it for “Blowing in the Wind.” This version was written in memory of Black lives lost at the hands of badge-wearers who made split-second, tragic, fatal mistakes. These cost our whole planet’s people the lives of the individuals killed– as well as the generations of people who would have flowed from them in the unfolding of time. As white people, it is most appropriate that we sing about losing not our lives– because for the most part we’re safe– but the unearned Privilege that allows this.

Lyrics (c) 2015 Susan Oldberg Hinton for The Good News-Goodtime Band.

1. No more precious lives to mourn, no more, no more!
No more precious lives to mourn, many thousand… gone.

2. No more patient waiting, no more, no more!
No more patient waiting, many thousand… gone.

3. No more outraged silence, no more, no more!
No more outraged silence, many thousand… gone.

4. No more holding back for me, no more, no more!
No more holding back for me, many thousand… gone.

5. No more unearned privilege, no more, no more!
No more unearned privilege, many thousand… gone.

6. No more sorrow songs for me, no more, no more!
No more sorrow songs for me, many thousand… gone.

~S~

JOHN HENRY CRAWFORD III

IN MEMORIAM:
JOHN HENRY CRAWFORD III
July 29, 1992 – August 5, 2014
Age 22, Beavercreek, Ohio

Remembered at St. Paul’s/Wellsboro PA January 24, 2015

  John Henrry Crawford III 1409122-john-crawford-jms-1545_c99aabe1740c3690017643debc20f8dd.nbcnews-fp-1280-600  JOHN HENRY CRAWFORD III X4822V0B47RY7X1T-l

OBIT: beloved son of Tressa Sherrod and John Crawford, Jr.; loving father of John H., IV and Jayden Crawford; fond grandson of John, Sr. and Joyce Crawford, Annie B. Trimm and Theodore Sherrod, also survived by a host of aunts, uncles, other relatives and friends.

Music: (to come)

  • Opening:
  • Sequence:
  • Offertory
  • Communion Instrumental:

From Cincinnat!.com (by Sheila McLaughlin, smclaughlin@enquirer.com):

CRAWFORD’S LIFE   John Crawford Jr. described his son as a typical 22-year-old who was laid back and very family-oriented. He had once considered going into the military, following in the footsteps of a grandfather who served in the Army.

[John] Crawford III had lived in Cincinnati pretty much all of his life, attending at least 11 private, public or charter schools since entering the first grade in 1998, Cincinnati Public School records show. John Crawford Jr. said he visited [mother Tessa Sherrod and his] only son nearly every weekend.

[John] Crawford III had lived in Cincinnati pretty much all of his life, attending at least 11 private, public or charter schools since entering the first grade in 1998, Cincinnati Public School records show. John Crawford Jr. said he visited [mother Tessa Sherrod and his] only son nearly every weekend.

(His family says he went to the Walmart [the night of his death] to shop for the cookout he was going to attend that night. They say that as he shopped, he talked on his cellphone with LeeCee Johnson, the mother of his two baby sons.)

The shooting came seven days after Crawford Jr. had celebrated his son’s 22nd birthday together with a few rounds of pool at Memories Sports Bar in Fairfield, [Ohio,] where Crawford III had resided for three or four years following graduation from Greensburg Christian Academy in Indiana.

[One day,] Crawford III, frustrated by not being able to find a job, had confided to his father that he wanted to start college. Crawford III,

Crawfod's sons BuYV1JmIIAAQQ4L.jpg medium

who had played football in high school, had shopped around for a football scholarship after high school, his father said. When that didn’t happen, sons John IV and Jayden came along– and plans for college were put on hold.

Crawford Jr. was in Fairfield on business that Tuesday [of the shooting] and had stopped by to see if his son, John Crawford III, would join him for dinner. But his son had already left for a cookout in Dayton, Ohio. Crawford Jr. painted the dramatic scene Thursday as he talked to The Enquirer about his son’s life, and what he wants from the investigation into his son’s fatal shooting by police at a Walmart in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek on Aug. 5. The phone call [he received that day] plays back in John Crawford Jr.’s head “every day, all day” since Aug. 5.

The mother of his son’s young children – boys, five months and nearly 2 – was screaming. “Mr. John. Mr. John. They shot him. They shot him,” Crawford recalls the cries from LeeCee Johnson.

She put her cell phone on speaker. “You could hear in the background he was gasping,” John Crawford Jr. told The Enquirer in a phone interview this week from his home in Jackson, Tenn. “I’m virtually listening to my kid taking his last breath.”

From Wikipedia:

John Crawford III was a 22-year-old African-American shot to death by Beavercreek police officer Sean Williams on August 5, 2014, in a Walmart store near Dayton, Ohio, while holding an air rifle.

THE SHOOTING   Crawford picked up the un-packaged BB/pellet air rifle inside the store’s sporting goods section and was then seen walking through the store with it by a fellow customer, Ronald Ritchie, who called 911. According to Ritchie at the time, Crawford was pointing the gun at people and at children walking by. Ritchie has since recanted, stating “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody”.

Two officers of the Beavercreek Police arrived at the Walmart shortly after their dispatcher informed them of a “subject with a gun” in the pet supplies area of the store. According to the officers, Crawford did not respond to verbal commands to drop the toy gun and lie on the ground, and eventually began to move as if trying to escape. [Mistakenly] believing the toy air-rifle was a real firearm, one of the officers fired two shots into Crawford’s center mass. He died of his injuries shortly afterwards. The shooting was captured by the store’s security video camera. Crawford [is shown] talking on his cell-phone with the mother of his two [young] children, and holding the BB/pellet air rifle in his left hand, when he was killed. According to others who viewed video footage of the event, the officers fired immediately without giving any verbal commands and without giving Crawford any time to drop the toy– even if he had heard them.

A second person, Angela Williams, died after suffering a heart attack while fleeing from the shooting. Her death was ruled a homicide.

AFTERMATH   The Guardian revealed in December that immediately after the shooting, police aggressively questioned Crawford’s girlfriend, Tasha Thomas, threatening her with jail time. The interrogation caused her to sob uncontrollably, with hostile questions suggesting she was drunk or on drugs when she stated that Crawford did not enter the store with a gun. She was not yet aware of Crawford’s death at the time of the interrogation.

Following the shooting, a grand jury decided not to indict any of the officers involved. The Justice Department is conducting its own investigation. Meanwhile, the officer who shot Crawford remains on desk duty.

Crawford’s mother believes that the surveillance tape shows the police lied in their account of events,[and has spoken out against the killing Crawford family at press conference, Dayton Daily News fotoat a “Justice for All” march. The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart and the Beavercreek police department.

Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece has proposed a “John Crawford’s Law”, which would change the way toy guns look to prevent similar tragedies.

MEDIA REACTION   The incident received national and international coverage, in part due to the time of its occurrence; the recent police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent unrest there had attracted public attention, as did the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and the shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ohio is an “open carry” state, in which the open carrying of firearms is legal with or without a license, which prompted discussion of gun rights and race. (Michael Wright, the Crawford family attorney, said that [since] Ohio is an “open carry” state, and that even if the pellet gun Crawford III was holding had been a real firearm, it would have been within Crawford III’s right to carry a rifle in the Walmart without a permit as long as it was in view.  [http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/grand-jury-probes-police-shooting-black-man-ohio-walmart-n208821]

I noticed right after hearing about this shooting that the photograph most often used for John Crawford III had been clipped out of the picture at the top of this page, showing him holding his newborn son at the hospital. I see the clipped photo as an image meant to convey a marijuana-stoned man who might have been smart-alecky enough not to follow a police order to drop a weapon– the storyline being circulated to excuse the officers for killing a non-shooting, non-threatening, perfectly legal carrier of a toy ‘version’ of a rifle WalMart did, in fact, also sell.

That clipped image– a display without permission of a black person: JOHN HENRY CRAWFORD III n-JOE-CRAWFORD-III-large

When I am at our Xenia, Ohio vacation home– a modest base from which to take action to dismantle systemic racism– I shop at a WalMart a few miles from adjoining Beavercreek. I was there the day the grand jury, which convened in the county seat of Xenia, declined to indict the officer who killed John Crawford. That day, with Black neighbors, we were making some modest lawn improvements to save a tree and create a ‘settin’ space’ to enjoy like an open front porch.

Without saying so, we were all listening for the courthouse news as we worked, picnicked, and got acquainted. We were seen by passing neighbors, a few of the Black neighbors stopping to visit with us (and white neighbors not.) I got the grand jury news first on my ‘better’ (Privileged) cellphone, so had the strange role of breaking the sad and bad news to my new friends. It became increasingly clear that they had not expected this ‘business as usual’ news to matter to me at all, much less to discover that their new friend had shared with them the outrage that an indictment would never have been likely.

A complicated relationship was born that day. Thus my work against racism in Xenia began, before I was ‘ready’.

Now the time has come to memorialize all this somehow in music, with one tiny sign and a voice in the midst of the flu. I still don’t feel ‘ready,’ but by tomorrow night I hope to be well enough to sing– and ready to sing the right songs to reach more members of our mostly-white congregation. So the next step for today is to listen my way through our new justice-oriented songbook for the melodies and words John Henry Crawford’s loss to the human race deserves. With God’s help.

~Susan

AIYANA MO’NAY STANLEY-JONES

Yet to add– photos of Aiyana Jones in Life

IN MEMORIAM:
AIYANA MO’NAY STANLEY-JONES
July 20, 2002 – May 16, 2010
Age 7, Detroit, Michigan

Aiyana Mo'Nay Stanley-Jones 20150117_201039-1

Remembered at St. Paul’s/Wellsboro PA January 17, 2015 and at The Mudcat Cafe.

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Music:

Edited and adapted from various news reports:

Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones, 7, died May 16, 2010 after being shot by an officer during a police raid in Detroit. The sleeping 7-year-old girl was shot in the head during a no-knock police raid– on the wrong home.aiyana-stanley-jones-5-1024x682

Her parents say they hope Aiyana will be remembered as more than a symbol of heightened tension in a city in crisis. They want her remembered for the small, joyful moments that make up a little girl’s life. Aiyana-Jones-and-brothers-Family-photo

From the moment Aiyana was born, she was a loud, little mystery.

Her dad, Charles Jones, tried to decipher her screams. Frazzled, he’d turn her over to her mother or grandmothers to make sense of the girl.

“I was scared — not because of the baby, because of the girl,” said Jones, now 25.

When Aiyana was about 11 months old, Jones sat eye-to-eye with her as she wailed. He asked her, “What do you want me to do? You can’t talk, so how am I supposed to know?”

For some reason, he handed her some Cheetos. They ate them together. She was quiet the rest of the night. From then on, Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones was his baby girl.

In a funeral service attended by thousands, Aiyana’s parents Charles Jones and Dominika Stanley buried their only daughter. The funeral was held in the Second Ebenezer Church on May 22, 2010 in Detroit; the Rev. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy. The casket was white and was afterwards driven to the grave by horse-drawn carriage. She was buried on the grounds.

Aiyana’s grandmother, Gwen Carter, 46, hadn’t been thrilled to hear that her 17-year-old daughter Dominika Stanley was pregnant. She scolded Dominika, then a high school senior, about getting into trouble with Charles Jones, her boyfriend.

“But then I said, ‘We’re gonna get through this,’ ” Carter said. Carter helped feed her teenage daughter’s Taco Bell pregnancy cravings. As Stanley’s belly grew, the two painted a room in their house pink and white to welcome the baby home.

After seven years of endless moves, the duplex at 4054 Lillibridge was supposed to be a pit stop, a temporary fix as Aiyana’s parents searched for their first home together in Detroit. Aiyana — a girl both bossy and sweet, tomboy and girlie-girl, a self-described princess — was there just a month before her life ended.

When Aiyana was born, “There she was– a beautiful, beautiful angel,” said Carter. “She was my firstborn granddaughter.”

Aiyana’s other grandmother Mertilla Jones also was smitten, claiming the girl as her “mini-me”. She swept Aiyana into her brood of grandchildren. Aiyana’s young parents were happy to have the help.

“She had so much love coming from top to bottom,” Carter said. “She was a happy baby. Whatever she wanted, she got — she demanded it.”

Charles Jones wasn’t sure about a baby girl. He grew up with brothers and now has six sons — three with Stanley, three with another woman — and felt like he had a grip on raising boys. Jones, a lifelong Detroiter, suddenly was immersed in Disney films and Hannah Montana songs.

Looking at photos from her seventh birthday last July, he rattled off the Disney princesses that adorned her cake: Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty. “She pulled the strings in me,” her father said.

 

MORE MEMORIES OF AIYANA

The bond between father and daughter was obvious to the staff at Trix Elementary. Aiyana was in second grade at Trix when she died. Wesley Ganson, who was principal at Trix until a year ago, said he saw “Jones give Aiyana a kiss every day. “He would always say: ‘I love my daughter,’” Ganson said.

Aiyana loved to be in the middle of everything. “We had a lot of incentives that we did in the classroom where they could earn different points and different prizes,” recalled kindergarten teacher Frankie Black. “She always wanted to make sure that she got her name on the board … or a star on her paper.” Black remembers when Aiyana saved her from playing one of the Jackson 5 during a Christmas program. The girls were supposed to just dance in the background.

“When it came time to do the performance, one of the boys was absent,” Black said. Just as Black began to think she would have to stand in, Aiyana came to her rescue. “She raised her hand and said, ‘Mrs. Black. I’ll do it.’

“And when it was time to do the performance, she did a beautiful job.” Black, too, recalled Aiyana’s bond with her dad. “I think she adored her father, because whenever he came to pick her up, she was ready to go, she was right there,” Black said.

Aiyana seemed drawn to music from infancy, her family said. Even before she could talk, she could dance. “My goodness, the baby was 6 months old, and she could rock herself,” said her grandmother Mertilla Jones. “She’d rock the boat. It was amazing that a 6-month-old baby could rock like that.” Added Carter: “She had a beat to it.”aiyana-stanley-jones-11

THE RAID

The raid was conducted by the Detroit Police Department’sSpecial Response Team (SRT). Her death drew national media attention, and led U.S. Representative John Conyers to ask U.S. Attorney GeneralEric Holder for a federal investigation into the incident.

Officer Joseph Weekley was charged in connection with Aiyana Mo’Nay’s death. In October 2011, Weekley was charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment with a gun. Weekley’s first trial ended in a mistrial in June 2013. His retrial began in September, 2014. On October 3, the judge dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charge against Weekley, leaving him on trial for only one charge: recklessly discharging a firearm. On October 10, the second trial ended in an another mistrial.

The SRT had prepared for a surprise raid ‘to arrest a wanted man.’ A surveillance unit had been monitoring the duplex in which he lived throughout the day; a no-knock raid was scheduled for just after midnight.

Police staged a “safety briefing” shortly before the raid, undoubtedly focusing on their own safety rather than the safety of unknown innocents behind the doors they were about to kick in. Officers were briefed that they’d be entering a “possible dope den,” in which the suspect “might be armed” and might even possess “dangerous dogs.”

Police neglected to account for — or flatly disregarded — the safety of any innocent adult citizens and children that might be present. Besides the glaring presence of toys strewn about the lawn and front porch, it is unlikely that investigators could have missed the presence of four young children and multi-generational family in the opposite unit, during their surveillance of the duplex.

The raid commenced at roughly 12:40 a.m. The Special Response Team arrived in its armored vehicle with a warrant to arrest Chauncey Owens, who was known to stay with his fiancée at 4056 Lillibridge Street.

Armed with MP5 submachine guns, adrenaline, and an unhealthy fear for officer safety, the raiders shuffled past the toys that littered the front yard and ignored the two distinct street address signs hanging on either side of the shared porch of the multi-unit building; 4056 was on the left, 4054 was on the right.

With a shot, a family lost their princess. father charles jones aiyana-stanley-jones-9-300x224

A man named Mark Robinson was detained on the sidewalk while walking his dog, just before the raid. He repeatedly told officers, “There are children in the house,” yet his warnings went unheeded. He was pinned to the ground with officers’ boots on his neck and back, reported attorney Geoffrey Fieger.

The raid team was accompanied by an embedded cable TV crew, filming for A&E’s “The First 48.” With full bravado, the SRT put on a display of maximum force for the fans of police-state-adoring reality television.

What happened inside the lower flat of that two-unit house is disputed: Police say the gun went off accidentally when a cop made contact with the grandmother. The grandmother said she never touched anyone. But no one disputes the tragedy of losing Aiyana, a spirited girl who was already planning a fairy-princess-themed birthday party in July.

It was Mertilla Jones who lived on Lillibridge and who had been  beside sleeping Aiyana on the couch. Aiyana’s parents had moved in, temporarily they say, while they searched for their own place to raise their children.

The blood-stained couch where Aiyana was sleeping was removed as evidence. But the home remains filled with all things Hannah Montana, Aiyana’s family says, from shoes to purses to a play stage backdrop through which Aiyana blasted “Nobody’s Perfect” until her mother could barely stomach the song.

With all the turmoil surrounding Aiyana’s death — which led the family to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city — Aiyana’s family said they hope people don’t forget what the girl meant to them, and the moments her parents will miss out on. Aiyana-Jones-rally-Aunt-Krystal-Jones-at-front-3-8-13-300x211

Her father said he appreciates the attention directed at Aiyana, from the Rev. Al Sharpton’s eulogy to the stuffed animals to cards he said the family has received from around the world.

“She deserved all this, anyway,” Charles Jones said, “without having to die.”

Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones was the first child, killed by badge-wearers, whose name I came across (thank you Kate). I have a list of men and a list of women, but children… not yet.

Not only is it so painful for folks to think about, most people don’t work on their pre-birth experiences in counseling; that contributes to not being able to think well about our society’s youngest victims. Add to that the difficulties of racism’s lies imposed upon white minds– in trying to free ourselves from all the lies of racism…. but I am sure I will have more children to grieve, remember, pray for and about… and memorialize.
Conversation after service:

“Who is that beautiful child you sang for?”
(first time photo appeared on sign)
“That beautiful child was killed when police made a mistake in Detroit.”
“Oh no! And what happened?”

bilde

We had a long and lovely talk. That’s two Saturday nighters I can count on, now, and I think I have just met a third.

I was given the go-ahead to run a parallel project at Mudcat (thank you Joe Offer), to facilitate posting of music resources and, perhaps, invite comments here or there. Aiyana Mo’Nay’s death has been the hardest for me to ‘get at’ in my co-counseling sessions; her memorial has also been the hardest to plan, sing, and remember all the details for. On the upside, the time I could not spend listing the song we opened with (I’ll nab it Sat. night when I look in my binder of last week), I put into standardizing the format here and at Mudcat, and standardizing the process of posting these in three different places– for three different ways to reach other white people.

~Susan