Friday, March 10, 2006

 

a hilltop discussion panel in 3 acts ...

as organizers we develop tools, script trainings, craft messages, and personalize outreach all in hopes of building a cohesive grassroots movement that will one day build and another day exercise political power…

and in the end we must, as rock n’ roll shari silberstein (sitting abolitionist of the year) of equal justice usa likes to say, trust the integrity of the process…

and one thing that means is an event will have a life of its own or at least unfold in acts like a play … like last night’s event in sewanee, tennessee on the campus of the university of the south…

act 1

it was raining either proverbial or actual cats and dogs on I-24 depending upon who you asked as regina hockett and I careened down the highway to sewanee from nashville … it was sort of like living a passage out of a fear and loathing novel as prayer and good kharma were the likely tools that got us safely on campus … but we were supposed to be there for the screening of the empty chair at 7:00 – our car skidded to a stop at the front door of bishop’s common at 7:41 … by the time I walked in, dripping wet and windblown after parking the car, there sat regina, juan melendez, reverend bill carroll in the middle, an ominous empty chair, and then 12th district attorney general michael taylor --- i was set up but was reassured in remembering to trust the integrity of the process…

act 2

it was kind of a cat and mouse dance between me and ol’ mike taylor … he is about to try a capital murder case and not his first … like many a d.a. he likes to obfuscate the absolute discretion they hold in deciding to pursue death by laying out the limitations placed upon them (aggravating factors etc…) – so I counterpunched with a re-frame explaining not only the discretion but why it results in geographic disparities and cases that look alike resulting in wide varying sentencing outcomes … and so it went between us – parry, parry, jab, hook, parry, duck, jab, feign, parry, sidestep, jab … juan melendez says I won the match on points … I felt nimble … I thought taylor was gonna take the match to the world wrestling federation level when I called him on his assertion that the defense has access to far greater resources than the prosecution in a capital case … d.a. taylor hunts down meth labs with the best of em’ but I thought for sure he might be dipping into confiscated stashes of the scurrilous white powder when he made that comment … we both let it go there…

act 3

the closing act was the real show of the evening – the unscripted portion of the play … a woman in the audience, hope, started in on regina right off the bat after the video (regina’s 12 year old daughter adrienne was murdered 10 years ago in an Antioch parking lot) with “you don’t believe in the death penalty???” -- which regina does not … hope’s sister had been murdered less than 2 years ago and she is still deeply grieving … she expressed her anger, outrage, and full feelings of frustration and pain … regina and juan, coming from experiences that give them the right to address someone like hope expressed their concern for her and made the point over and over again that she may best be served by forgiving her sister’s killer, not for the killer’s sake but for hers!!! in so doing, in letting go of the hatred and anger, a person in hope’s shoes takes away the power that a murderer holds over them … this dialogue dominated a large portion of the 75 minute discussion and in the end hope was shown love and compassion by panelists and audience members alike as tears were shed, honest smiles were managed, and we hope that hope is in a better place today to work through her grief than she was yesterday…

so there you have it – an event that had a life of its own while still getting across a message that benefits our work and goals … now its back to work, following up, deepening old ties and cultivating the newer ones

peace out - <3
Comments :
Wow. That is pretty powerful. I think forgiveness is something we as individuals, and as a country, need to work on. It is a hard thing to do sometimes, but you are so right that it gives us much peace and freedom.

Linda
 
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