Friday, December 16, 2005

Still Confused

Just to see if I was crazy or what, I listened to the KPFA broadcast cited in my previous post. I remembered most of it, including the speaking and singing after Tookie's death was announced. But we never heard that! The crowd way up front turned slowly and began oozing towards the road out. We three were puzzled and grumbling. Corby was crabbing about what cowards the prison authorities were for not issuing an announcement. Patrick asked a nearby newswoman presumably waiting for the same bulletin we were, and she said she'd heard no word. Then when I listened to the archive of the broadcast, you could hear it, just kinda slipped in there.

Usually when death is announced, there is a moment of silence or a collective groan or sigh or some wailing. This time there wasn't. There were some isolated cries of outrage, as there'd been all night, so it didn't seem especially significant this time. A man at the mike lead another singing of "We Shall Overcome," hideously off key and badly phrased. Still, who cares at a time like that? You just sing because it's the togetherness of the voices and collective resolve that counts, not the musicality. We heard some of the words. We sang the song.

I wonder why the sound system was so inadequate? Were the organizers not expecting such a crowd? I'd estimate there were at least 2,000 of us. Were they not allowed to mount more speakers because it's a usually quiet residential street and they can only amplify in the immediate area around the East Gate? Did they not have enough money for more mikes?

I counted at least three helicopters circling the area all night. They had those piercing white lights scanning the crowd. When I was standing next to Sean Penn, I was reminded of reports of his wedding to Madonna when the helicopters were so low and numerous they completely drowned out the words of their vows. Still, this time the helicopters were far enough away that they didn't really out-volume the sound system, such as it was. That is if you could get close enough to the mikes to hear anything.

"They" got 'em lined up now, one execution after the other. Next month, on Monday, January 16, his 76th birthday, Clarence Ray Allen is scheduled to die. Well, technically, at 12:01 a.m. on January 17th. Ironically, this is the weekend the birth of another advocate for non-violence, Martin Luther King, Jr., is celebrated. Allen is not a sympathetic character. He has done nothing of note by way of contributing to society. He's just a sick old man convicted of triple homicide who was probably a pretty unpleasant fellow when he was out in society. I don't want to see him out and about. But killing him in the name of justice just reduces society, us, the people of this state, to his level. We'll be there.

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