The whole country is obsessed by the newest case of copkilling near Chicago. Schools close, people have to stay inside and there is a manhunt going on with an incredibly large police-army. They do not know which events led to this incident yet. i suppose that it is assumable that mental health issues, drugs and/or alcohol where involved and that it is an useless act of one to three people. The media react like a foreign power invaded the country. They seem to use incidents like this to create fear and unite people behind the one’s calling the shots.The fact that the Houston police killed 11 people last year (in New York 7) is carefully kept out of the media but fits perfectly in the Houston situation I observed in the last few days.
On my way inside the megabus to Austin to meet Doug Smith policy analist from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and people he is going to introduce me to. Doug is a former bankrobber and social worker and has been incarcerated.
Yesterdaynight I took the Uber to the Shape Community Centre (sort of “buurthuis”) to attend the meeting of theTexas Death Penalty Abolition Movement. Gloria invited me for this monthly meeting and sent me the agenda. In front of the centre I met Mike Allen, the guy who’s 16 years old son committed suicide in prison. I emailed Mike my Dallas-speech last year and he says:”It was a very good speech!”. Mike is a very intelligent and sensitive man who is heavily traumitized by what happened with his son. Mike gives me a sharp analysis about how the system of incarceration and suspression works. The power of the lobbyists, the manipulation of the media, the huge amounts of money made on locking up people.
The meeting is attended by about twelve people of very different age, race and background. But they are all real activists giving a lot of time and energy to fight the deathpenalty and supporting the people on deathrow in all kinds of ways. Gloria is active for ages, but one of the ladies, charman of the meeting, already marched against the death pemnalty in Washington in the sixties! Soon I find out that they are not very enthousiastic about Ray Hill: “Ray is all about Ray , telling you stories about Ray, just for the benefit of making Ray important!”. I also find out that the realtions between different so called activistic groups are not that warm. Mike said earlier to me that all those groups should join forces to have any impact, but that is not the case yeat. The catholic abolition group does not want to work with my frioends here and even plan events on the same day TDPAM planned their event a year ago. It is all about funding: the funders do not want their money being connected to a non-religious group, Gloria also says that the organisation of Doug does not make public statements against the deathpenalty order not to loose funding! I think that it is incredibly easy for powers to rule ina country where common people are so divided and fight eachother. People who have the same interest compete and fight eachother all the time: inside and outside the prison. And the powers deliberately use their (funding) money, the media and the juridical system to make that happen all the time. During the meeting we write a big pile of birthday cards for incarcerated people. I wonder what they think when the suddenly see the words: “Frans Douw, Dutch Warden” on their card! We talk about to use kickstarter to finance a bustrip to Wachington to March there, the phisical state of an incarcerated black panther Leader who has heppathitus B and the system puting people in an endless solitary confiment because they protested against their circumstances. We talk about the execution schedule and ways to make an altar for hose people and how to find out some personal information, like theidr favorite food or sports.
We also discuss the issue of worldwide suppression of poor and black people. The history of slavery which continues untill today. Big companies use incarcerated people as slaves and make them work without payment and without any basic human right, whatsoever. People just have to obey without asking or saying anything. They have no right to speak.Ramsey was a plantage and the owner just put his former slaves, now in prison, to wortk again!
It was an inspiring meeting with idealists and warriors for justice. Gloria brought me back to the hotel and we talked about how to get to Polunsky and back. Gloria cannot go to Polunski on friday, so I booked one night in the Super 8 hotel in Livingston. An old lady, officer from the salvation army, will pick me up there on friday to make it possible to visit Harvey again. After the visit, Gloria will bring me back to Houston.