Monday, February 25, 2013

We



Keandre, age 11 on left and Xavier, age 12, on right, holding the banner commemorating their daddy; photo by Keandre's mom, Charlee Shegoturown Byington

We are The Friends and Family of Callion Hamblin.

We were laid low by the horrific killing of Callion, who was only 32-years-old when slain in a hail of police bullets in the city streets of Farmington, Missouri on February 20, 2012, for the high crime of jumping bond and being black in a deeply racist county.

Flags marking some of the bullets at the murder scene; image from St. Louis Post Dispatch

We were sickened by power's repeated lies about what had gone down on that fateful nightcorrosive, hurtful lies.

We became certain something was and remains terribly rotten in our hamlet.

We pulled together to organize an historic rally, the first ever of its kind in St. Francois County, one year later.  

Photo by Kerry McMullen

We met weekly for two months to plan our event and prepare a video (to be released in the coming days).

We reached out to partner with existing social justice organizations in St. Louis, who did not hesitate to stand with us.

We received solidarity, support, and the critical guidance of literary artists, intellectuals and activists in  St. Louis, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC.

Photo by Kerry McMullen
We repeatedly told each other the story of what had happened to Callion that night, piecing it together over time, slowly facing the implications of what we “knew.” 

We composed a counter-narrative to the official pack of half-truths, deceptions and distortions.

We sought inspiration  from family photos, Cal’s portraits drawn in pencil; we read his letters and poetry.


We remembered him whole.

We arranged for banners to be made, one for each of his sons.

We disseminated a press release.

We fashioned signs from poster board and markers.

We read the AP article published about our efforts all over the country the day before the rally, in the local papers too.

We felt the mixed emotions of having our worst suspicions confirmed.

Photo by Kerry McMullen
We learned that the autopsy report stated that Cal had taken 6 bullets to the back, and that one of the bullets was from a bondsman’s gun, a bondsman with a $25,000 investment in Cal’s death.

We rented a podium and a bullhorn.

We brought an extension cord and plugged it in outside the courthouse.

We took our power back.

We showed up in frigid weather, some 45 strongblack and white, old and young, city and country folk.

Photo by Charlee Shegoturown Byington

We smashed the silence.

We saw our neighbors whose tax dollars had paid for the bullets that killed Cal drive by our rally on Columbia Street, curious about events in their own town. Finally.

We heard a few of them rev their engines in disrespect, blow their horns during Amazing Grace.

We shook our heads in disgust.

We stood taller.

We held our ground.

We made history. Not just Black History, but wonderfully also that.

We’re preparing next steps.

We are pursuing justice, grounded in love.

We’ve crossed a line, there’s no turning back.

We don’t wish to turn back.

We hope you will soon be We.


2 comments:

  1. The story you're making is very telling as well as compelling. This is a tragedy that occurs probably daily somewhere in the US.. it won't stop until people like you and me stand up to right the wrong. If more of us would turn off our TVs, got organized and made more noise often enough they'd have to listen and make changes. Apathy is the enemy.. I think it's outstanding how you're addressing this travesty and hope you have success with your actions! Keep up the good work and improve your community.. after all it's where you live!

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  2. Thank you, Joan. I was thinking about your comment all last evening. It's so true what you say about the excitement of being part of positive social change. To be honest, it's not all that hard to do if you're a little organized and don't mind making a few lists and placing a few telephone calls, joining a few meetings with other people who "get" it, passing the inspiration back and forth. We went from being a group of hurting wary strangers to comrades to full-out friends. It's exhilarating, especially when you get to call out power for this kind of flagrant abuse and plain old dirty business. I mean, come on--six bullets in the back, two fatherless children. They're going to have to pay for this, and pay big at that!

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