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:
Recent Februarys Past
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?”
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):
Yes, 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.