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~

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

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.

black women names 10898148_848536898502828_1910916175421999266_n

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.

Kathryn_Johnston-300x189

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

ramarley sign 10891488_755831684496130_6642886716564714537_n

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

Stinney 20141227_181209-1

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)

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