JOHN HENRY CRAWFORD III

(in draft process)

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

January 24, 2015
…. 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. (OBIT)

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KATHRYN JOHNSTON

IN MEMORIAM:
Ms. KATHRYN JOHNSTON, 92
Birthdate unknown, 1913? – November 21, 2006,
Atlanta, Georgia

Kathryn Johnston 20150117_201140-1

Remembered at St. Paul’s/Wellsboro PA January 10, 2015
Offertory (announced as “in her memory of Kathryn Johsnton and departed members of the parish”): “Lord, Send Your Angels” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIz-1fVsZhY)


I chose Ms. Johnston’s story the week I learned of the many, many deaths of Black women at the hands of badge-bearers.

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Edited together from a number of news reports:

Ms. Johnston was a beloved member of her neighborhood, a grandmother and mother, an aunt, and at least partially disabled. On November 21, 2006, Atlanta police officers broke down the door of the 92-year old’s Neal Street home in Northwest Atlanta, and fired 39 shots at Johnston, killing her. Johnston, who believed her house was being broken into, had fired a single shot at the door. Atlanta police later admitted that after killing Johnston, they’d planted marijuana in her house and had submitted false paper work to get the “no knock” warrant that they had used to justify breaking down her front door.

On November 21, 2006, Atlanta police officers broke down the door of the partially-disabled grandmother and aunt– so beloved by her neighborhood that 5 years later she would be remembered with flowers and teddy bears outside her home in Northwest Atlanta– and fired 39 shots at Johnston, killing her.

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This dear lady bled to death in her own home, in handcuffs applied as part of the officers’ attempt to cover up their guilt. (Police claimed she had shot them, but in the trial it was proved that they had been wounded by fragments of ricochet from their own storm of bullets.

Once they realized they had raided her home mistakenly, the officers handcuffed Ms. Johnston and left her to bleed and die on the floor of her own home while they planted marijuana in her basement..(Ms Johnston, believing that her house was being broken into, had fired a single shot at the door from her rusty gun.)

Four Atlanta police officers were sentenced to prison time for Johnston’s shooting, and the narcotics unit was replaced as were protocols. Atlanta police admitted that after killing Johnston, they’d planted marijuana in her house and had submitted false paper work to get the “no knock” warrant that they’d used to justify breaking down her front door. Four Atlanta police officers were sentenced to prison time for Johnston’s shooting; the narcotics unit was replaced.

Also learned, in the investigation of Ms. Johnston’s death:

It had long been routine for Atlanta’s narcotics officers to lie on drug warrants, and judges in the city rather systematically approved those warrants with no scrutiny at all (the judge in the Johnston case literally rubber-stamped the warrant), abrogating their oaths as guardians of the Fourth Amendment. [This in a city known as a progressive model of diversity.] Further, once the officers in the Johnston case knew they were in trouble, they pressured one of their actual drug informants to lie for them, and vouch for the fabricated account of the ‘controlled buy’ behind the warrant.

Subsequent investigations showed that the corruption at the Atlanta Police Department was so pervasive that Police Chief Richard Pennington eventually had to replace the entire narcotics division.

Two months before the Johnston, raid police officers nearly killed another elderly woman in the same neighborhood after forcing their way into her home in a mistaken raid. A year earlier, they had mistakenly raided the home next door to Johnston’s.

Shawn Mullins composed a song for Ms.Johnston and Atlanta, which appears on his album “Honeydew”. Click here for the original lyrics, my adaptation, and a link to Mullins performing his song.

http://www.justice.gov/…/three-former-atlanta-police…

EZELL FORD

IN MEMORIAM:
Mr. EZELL FORD, 25
Birthdate unknown, 1989? – August 11, 2014
Los Angeles, CA

eZELL fORD 20150103_183143-1 (1)Remembered at St. Paul’s/Wellsboro PA January 3, 2015

Communion music: The Heavenly Aeroplane

Ezell Ford was an unarmed black man shot and killed by police in August, 2014, in Los Angeles, CA. The shooting occurred just two days after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and was overshadowed in national news by the angry protests outside Ferguson police headquarters.

At his August 30 funeral, Ford’s grandmother, Dorothy Clark said, “You’re so wonderful to think of and so hard to live without.” Reporting from the funeral, LA Times’ Gale Holland wrote:

On a breezy Saturday morning in southwest Los Angeles, they came by the hundreds to lay Ezell Ford to rest and to protest the fatal shooting by police of an unarmed black man struggling with mental illness. “This is the breaking point,” Maurice Bull, 46, one of Ford’s cousins, said outside the funeral service at First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the city’s oldest black pulpit. “It’s got to stop.” “The cop that killed him, he knows all of the kids over there,” said Lakisha Cardy, 39, who said her children grew up with Ford.

Conflicting accounts have emerged about the Aug. 11 killing of Ford, 25, who family said had been diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia and who, after the onset of mental illness, became a “drifter” who walked the neighborhood “endlessly,” asking for cigarettes. (Click here to see the disputed facts.)

Tonight (January 3, 2014) was the first night anyone asked about the music-stand display of a name in the prayers. J, with whom a great discussion flowed quite naturally. I’m over the moon! There are silent people here, who know, and care. And now that J has begun the conversation at the parish, it can continue.

Here’s the gist of the conversation, as J was leaving past my autoharp station by the piano:

“Was Mr. Ford a friend of yours?”
“No, he was a Black man who died when the police made a mistake.”
“Oh! I should have known….”
“It’s not your fault this name is not familiar– his death got lost in the Ferguson story.”

Later, as J came back into the church while I was putting away my gear and locking doors:

“J, I want to thank you for asking about Mr. Ford. I’ve just started doing this and I wasn;t sure how people would take it.”
“These things are happening too often… it’s terrible.”
“Yes, and it all happens faster than anybody could think what is happening.”
“My [relative] is a cop in [state]. I worry what kind of things he may have to deal with and how he will deal with it.”
“Yes… we need those body cameras to protect everyone, and better anti-racism training for all police. They don’t wake up one day and decide to kill a Black man. The trigger is pulled before they can think.”

And so forth.

Tonight was also the first night I was able to print off all the internet information I had gathered, and insert it into the binder; I hope to add the material about those already memorialized into it next weekend, along with the sheet protectors for each sign to act as each person’s section dividers. I can update that as the various justice efforts proceed; most of these families are awaiting DOJ and lawsuit results, with a few having already gone through a trial of the police officers.

RAMARLEY GRAHAM

IN MEMORIAM:
RAMARLEY GRAHAM, 18
April 12, 1993 – Feb. 2, 2012

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Remembered at St. Paul’s/Wellsboro PA Dec. 27, 2014
Communion music: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Ramarley Graham was leaving a store near his home February 2, 2012, when undercover narcotics officers began chasing him to his house. Officer Richard Haste fatally shot Graham in his bathroom minutes later. Haste later admitted he thought Graham was adjusting a gun in his waistband — but no weapons were found on Graham’s body.

“It pains me to know that as such a young lady, that I have to go through this and face this moment,” shared Jasmine, Ramarley’s girlfriend of four years. “Normally I would have him to talk to, and I don’t have him, and it doesn’t feel the same.”

“Ramarley was 18 years old, kind, generous, and loving,” said [his mother] Constance Malcolm.“My friends would come over and call him ‘dark chocolate,’ because of his skin complexion. His skin was just pure chocolate. He was a loving, fun person.”

GEORGE JUNIUS STINNEY, JR.

IN MEMORIAM:
GEORGE JUNIUS STINNEY, JR.
October 21, 1929 – June 16, 1944

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Remembered at St. Paul’s/Wellsboro PA Dec. 22, 2014.
Communion music: A Christmas Lullabye

The first person this project memorialized was the youngest person ever electrocuted in the 20th century, George Stinney, Junior, who was exonerated (just before Christmas, 2014) of killing two white girls in 1944.

I have not found anything yet about his life before this wrongful conviction and execution; a movie is due out soon.

During Communion, I played A Christmas Lullabye, and wondered if George had found peace.

The words are:

Are you far away from home this dark and lonely night?
Oh tell me what best would help to ease your mind:
Someone to give direction for this unfamiliar road,
Or one who says, “Follow me and I will lead you home.”?

How beautiful, how precious the Savior of old,
To love so completely the loneliest soul.
How gently, how tenderly He says to one and all,
“Child you can follow Me and I will lead you home;
Trust Me and follow Me and I will lead you home.”

Be near me, Lord Jesus I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever and love me I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there–
Take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.

(Writer(s): Chris Eaton, Copyright: Sgo Music Publishing Ltd., Dayspring Music LLC)

IN MEMORIAM SERIES:

                 Black lives lost at the hands of badge-bearers

“Know these names.”
“Find out what happened to them.”
“Speak their names.”
“Tell the stories.”

Somewhere between the no-bill grand jury decisions for the officers who killed John Crawford and Eric Garner, a dear Black friend asked one thing of white allies: Learn what has happened to so many of our lost Black people.

My friend Nick Peterson decorated an outdoor Christmas tree this year, with ornaments giving the names and ages of the lost. This inspired me to use display space I’m Privileged to have at my church’s Saturday Night service. At that service, for which I co-lead the music, my ‘platform’ is the back of my music stand.

From there– with signs and my voice– I have an opportunity to educate white people about Black lives cut short by Racism, due to mistakes made by badge-wearers whose cultural indoctrination with the ugly messages of Racism is combined with the potential for the split-second misuse of deadly force. The conversations after the service are priceless opportunities to:

  • find out who (in our mostly-white parish) shares my concern,
  • answer questions that may lead anywhere,
  • and put what I have learned while working to end racism, into conversation.

So, each week, I choose a name from a growing list, and research whatever the internet holds for that person’s life. These deaths are the topic of current events and current conversation, nowadays. But they have been going on for a very long time.

Each week, I choose the name, and start the research. As the week goes on, there are so many reflections about Racism! I take the painful feelings into co-counseling sessions, as a way of un-installing my own culturally-installed racism. I look particularly for information about who the person was before the tragic incident that ended their life.

The research and images lead to songs I can lead or perform at the service. Then I make the sign, which includes a thumbnail photo of the person in life, and add it to a binder that hangs over the back of my music stand. I add the background information and other photographs easily found on the web. Inserted into a page protector, the sign-page becomes that person’s section divider. As time goes on, news of any justice efforts go into the relevant section. (Thank you, Kate Ginsberg, for the 8 Chanukah memorials you posted.)

  • Each week, 12-25 good-hearted white people arrive at the service by walking right past me… and the sign.
  • Each week, 12-25 good-hearted white people watch me sit there, behind the music stand, as I sing or play music.
  • Each week it’s my turn to sing an offertory, 12-25 good-hearted white people hear it sung in remembrance of that lost life– and all the lives that would have flowed from it in life– the generations lost. Before I begin, I announce the name of the person I am remembering.
  • Each week, 12-25 good-hearted white people hear the name of the person remembered, when my husband includes it in the congregation’s prayers for the departed. Just the name, which I also announce if I am singing an offertory.
  • Each week, 12-25 good-hearted white people hear an autoharp instrumental played during Communion, prayerfully played in remembrance and resolve.
  • Each week, I note in my music binder which song was played or sung, in memory of which person.

Several times a month, one or two folks stop after the service for a conversation. The questions usually start with, “Who was [name]?”

I answer slowly and sensitively– pastorally– because I am breaking sad news to someone who may not be aware that another fellow human being has been taken away from us all. I listen. And then, I answer whatever is asked, unsure until they ask that I will be able to answer any question without making the racial divide any wider or thornier. (I pray that when someone who doesn’t understand approaches me, I will be as able to answer in love.) I tell them why I began to do this. I explain that because I am a musician, anything serious in my life comes out in my music, and that music offers one way I can try to help heal the racial divide we all know is there to be healed.

These are the simple, nonviolent things Black people are asking of white folks who care about how Systemic Racism affects US society.

If you can share that journey with me, please pick a name, post it as a comment, and put into that comment (or additional comments) information as you find it. Be that one-death-at-a-time detective to learn (and share with other caring white people) as much as we can, so that we can teach it to others. (Thank you, Elizabeth Frauenknecht, for giving me a heads-up about how long this list would be.)

I’m especially looking for links to obituaries or other pages that give information about the person in life, separate from the violent-death-image the press has used to perpetuate the normality of Black deaths, and smear campaigns. I’m also looking for links to the stories of their deaths and lost justice.

Thank you, Nick Peterson.
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