Kollin Elderts. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. The list is far from complete. People of color dying at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve.
Honolulu resident, Carolyn Hadfield looks nothing like any of these men. But as a member of an ad hoc committee connected to the larger Stop Mass Incarceration Network, she has changed her profile picture more than once in recent times to signal her outrage at the unwarranted use of lethal force by officers of the law in their encounters with these men. And to protest the fact that the officers who killed these men are not being held accountable. Yesterday we learned that yet another grand jury–this time in Staten Island has declined to indict the officer who put Eric Garner in a chokehold for the high crime of selling untaxed cigarettes. (Another grand jury did indict the man--Ramsey Orta– who recorded the whole incident–on weapons charges that he insists were trumped up by police officers in retaliation for his filming of the Eric Garner incident.)
So Carolyn has changed her profile picture on Facebook yet again to one of Eric Garner. She invites residents–and visitors–in Honolulu to join in a protest on Saturday December 6 in front of the City Municipal Building starting at 5.15 p.m. This coincides with the start of the Honolulu City Lights celebration and the lighting of the 50-ft tree and other festivities. This protest is entirely in keeping with the message of the prince of peace:
“What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
We began the Advent season last Sunday with readings that call on us to “Be watchful. Be alert.” Carolyn Hadfield’s invitation is to take the next step and act.
At the third Noura Erakat talk in Honolulu earlier this week, we heard an extract from an upcoming issue of Biography devoted to Palestine in which Sa’ed Atshan and Darnell Moore say:
“Reciprocal solidarities …can be practiced through the sharing of life stories, and can result in the undoing of globalized apparatuses of discipline and marginalization from Ferguson to Gaza. Now is the time for resistance—the kind that can only be achieved through coalition and the realization of our parallel and articulated struggles as we share our individual stories and collective forms of mobilization.”
Turning up to protest the failure to hold police officers responsible for the death of Eric Garner is one small way to participate in that undoing and draw strength from our shared stories. It is a way of being watchful in this season of waiting. Perhaps the US Bishops might even consider launching a Fortnight for Justice?