Tag Archives: Ferguson

Activism, movement building, and fighting structural inequality

Dear friends,

Below, please find a blog post that I wrote for Hedgebrook, a phenomenal women’s writing residency and community of women writers that I have been a part of since 2010.

Activism, movement building, and fighting structural inequality

The play ended and my colleague Carlton Mackey (founder of 50 Shades of Black) invited the audience to share one-word reflections on their experiences. The students at Bowie State University, an historically Black institution in Bowie, MD sat in silence for several moments before their words came pouring out:

 “Familiar.”

“Discrimination.”

“Baltimore.”

“Relatable.”

“Ferguson.”

“Reality.”

 The play, called There Is A Field, tells the story of a 17-year old boy who had been killed by the police.

But it was not situated in America. The play was about Aseel Asleh, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who was killed by Israeli police on October 2, 2000, one of 12 unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel killed by Israeli security forces at the start of the Second Intifada.

Read the rest here.

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Students at Bowie State University watching There Is A Field

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Filed under Asel Asleh, Black Palestinian solidarity, Palestine/Israel

An opportunity to be heard

New Yorkers protesting the lack of accountability in the police killing of Mike Brown

New Yorkers protesting the lack of accountability in the police killing of Mike Brown

In light of the lack of an indictment in the killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson MO, the correspondence I’ve been having with prisoners around the country about I Am Troy Davis has taken on a new level of meaning for me. The “Black Lives Matter” signs that I’ve seen at protests in Seattle and New York resonate powerfully with the letters I have been receiving from the mostly young, black men whom society and the state has rejected and warehoused.

Mike Brown was a victim of state violence and a failed justice system that is based, in part, on institutionalized racism. Troy Davis was also a victim of racist state violence and a failed justice system. And so many of the prisoners I have been hearing from are victims of the same.

But, for those who are willing to look deeper into the images of burning shops and overturned cars in Ferguson, what they will see is people refusing to quietly tolerate oppression and refusing to submit to the victimization of state violence any more.  And for those who have been reading the breath-taking responses to I Am Troy Davis that I have been receiving from prisoners, I believe they will hear the same.

Here is a letter I received from Tim McKinney, formerly on death row in TN, now in Shelby County Jail in Memphis:

I received both your letter, also the I Am Troy Davis book. I was already very familiar with Troy Davis’s story, the struggle and the unbreakable bond of his sister Martina along with the love and relentless fight of his family, friends and thousands of supporters. In November 2013, I had the great pleasure of meeting and speaking with Troy’s nephew De’Jaun at a Campaign to End the Death Penalty (CEDP) march and protest in Texas. It was such a privilege and an honor to be on the same platform as De’Jaun, the Reed family, and all the other wonderful speakers and supporters against the death penalty.

Thank you and Ms. Marlene Martin (from CEDP) for even thinking of me and allowing myself as well as many others the opportunity to participate in the Community Book Club as well as the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

First, I must deeply apologize for not responding to your letter earlier. Since I’ve re-entered the county jail on Feb 1, 2014 I’ve been extremely depressed and haven’t had the drive, energy or motivation to do much of anything. I thank God for giving me the strength to wake up and get this letter off to you.

I am Troy Davis, literally. Our case and events in our lives was very similar. Starting with the background history of our upbringing and the circumstances concerning our case. The likeness of our charges both being off-duty police officers. Both of us falsely charged and convicted of crimes we did not commit. All the issues with the police, the witnesses changing their statements and testimonies, along with prosecutorial misconduct and the many stages of appeals that were denied, with every nerve-wracking newly scheduled execution date being set and the thought of going to death watch befriending fellow brothers that has gone before you/us.

Troy Davis is surely a must-read, it makes you hopeful, devastated, and then inspired all at the same time.

It inspired me to find the strength within to write you. The fight against the death penalty must continue. I’m no longer on death row physically, but spiritually and mentally I am and I have to continue to share our stories, letting our voices be heard fighting this broken system to put an end to the state murders! I am a living witness and the fight continues because I Am Troy Davis. I’ve walked in a pair of those shoes and I pray that I can be of hope, motivation and inspiration to others as well as being empowered and impactful with putting an end to the death penalty and other injustices within and outside the justice system.

Reading I Am Troy Davis was such a dark reminder of my own hellish experience, that at times tears ran down my face, my head starts hurting all the while thinking about my own family and the hurt and pain all the family, friends and supporters feel doing many years of waving emotions.

At the same time, maintaining an unshakeable faith in God, our Higher power…

Again, thank you and Ms Marlene Martin for even thinking about me and giving me another opportunity to be heard and hope to be an inspiration to someone else while being part of the vehicle that will put a stop to the death penalty. I know that my response may be a little late for you to add to your blog concerning the Community Book Club or the World Day Against the Death Penalty. I’m just grateful that you was able to hear of part of my experience that I shared with Troy and many others that faced death and the prospect of being killed by an unjust system. I would love to hear more from you and any help, advice, support that you’re able to offer is greatly appreciated–all reading material you can offer as well.

Again, thank you!

In solidarity,

Peace, love and friendship,

Tim McKinney

once again

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Filed under Criminal Justice, Troy Davis, Uncategorized

Participate in the Community Book Club!

Dear friends,

Troy Davis's nephew, 20-yo De'Jaun, in solidarity with Mike Brown and Ferguson

Troy Davis’s nephew, 20-yo De’Jaun, in solidarity with Mike Brown and Ferguson

The police killing of Michael Brown and the subsequent repression of protest in Ferguson, MO has demonstrated more clearly than ever: there are no equal rights and there is no equal justice in the United States. State violence–be it perpetrated by the police, or the criminal justice system–targets communities of color at every level.

With this in mind, donkeysaddle projects is calling on you to participate in the

I Am Troy Davis Community Book Club from Sept 21-Oct 10

On September 21 2011, the State of Georgia put Troy Davis to death despite a compelling case of innocence.  Last September, I launched my book I Am Troy Davis, co-authored by Troy’s sister Martina Davis-Correia with Troy’s participation. The late Maya Angelou said about the book, “I Am Troy Davis should be read and cherished.”

3 years after Troy’s unjust execution, donkeysaddle projects invites you to participate in a nation-wide grassroots Community Book Club.

The Community Book Club will take place between September 21 (the 3rd anniversary of Troy’s execution) and October 10 (World Day Against the Death Penalty). Through hundreds of intimate book discussions across the country, Troy’s story and all it exposes about the criminal justice and death penalty systems–and the racism undergirding them–will reach and impact thousands of new people.  We hope this nation-wide Community Book Club action will be a part of the urgent shift we need to make as a nation, so that every life is given equal value, and treated with equal dignity.

Participating in the I Am Troy Davis Community Book Club is easy! You need only:

  • Set a date between September 21 and October 10 to host the book discussion. (Dates are flexible; if you want to participate but are not able to within this time-frame, you can still register)
  • Register your book discussion here.
  • Invite friends/colleagues/family to read the book and attend the discussion!
  • Make sure all the participants (including yourself) know they can get the book directly from Haymarket Books at a 30% discount by using the coupon code TROY30 at checkout!
  • Download the I Am Troy Davis Study and Discussion Guide developed by Equal Justice USA in partnership with the NAACP and Amnesty International USA to help you facilitate the conversation!

I’m thrilled to report that a long list of incredible organizations have signed on to co-sponsor the Community Book Club, including Equal Justice USA, Amnesty International USA, the Innocence Network, Haymarket Books, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Fellowship for Reconciliation, Death Penalty Focus, Teaching for Change, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Ministry Against the Death Penalty, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, Journey of Hope, with more signing on every day!

We’re looking forward to your participation in the I Am Troy Davis Community Book Club, and to widening the circle of people prepared to challenge a system that treats some lives as valuable, and others as dispensable.

Engrossed reader in Savannah, GA

Engrossed reader in Savannah, GA

In solidarity and in struggle,

Jen Marlowe

Author, I Am Troy Davis
Founder, donkeysaddle projects
Twitter: @donkeysaddleorg
Blog: View from the donkey’s saddle

PS–Click here to read the open letter from the Davis family to Michael Brown’s family and the people of Ferguson, MO.

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Filed under Death Penalty, Troy Davis

Message from Troy Davis’s family to Michael Brown’s family and the people of Ferguson

TO THE FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN AND THE PEOPLE OF FERGUSON, FROM THE FAMILY OF TROY DAVIS

We are writing to express our heartfelt condolences on the brutal killing of your loved one, Michael Brown. My family knows, all too well, the pain of losing a loved one at the hands of state violence. Our family extends our love and our support to you, and wish there were something more we could do to lessen the pain of your loss.
We are also writing to express our solidarity with all those in Ferguson who are standing for justice for Mike Brown, who are demanding accountability, and who are organizing against the racism and dehumanization that is at the root of Michael’s killing and so many other examples of state violence and racist violence against black men and boys in our communities.
Our voices are added to yours, that there be no more families plunged into grief, as your family is mourning, as my family grieves still, like the still-grieving families of Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
We must continue to stand up and speak out until there is justice for Mike Brown and so many others.
We must continue to stand up and speak out until all young men and women in this country are seen for who they are–human beings deserving to be treated with respect, with dignity, and with equality.
In solidarity, and with sorrow,
Kimberly Davis, sister of Troy Anthony Davis (innocent death row prisoner executed by the state of Georgia on September 21, 2011)
on behalf of the Davis family

Kimberly Davis "Hands Up, Don't Shoot"

Kimberly Davis, sister of Troy Davis: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!”

Troy Davis's nephew, 2-yo De'Jaun, in solidarity with Mike Brown and Ferguson

Troy Davis’s nephew, 20-yo De’Jaun, in solidarity with Mike Brown and Ferguson

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Filed under Human Rights, Troy Davis