Tag Archives: Cleveland

Walking with Russell

We met once.

We did not speak.

But for a few moments, we walked together.

On April 4, 1994, the Cleveland baseball team opened a new stadium.

My friends and colleagues among the indigenous peoples and the antiracism activists of Cleveland have a simple message. People are people. Not mascots. The name and logo of the Cleveland baseball team need to go.

The Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance organized an educational event for the stadium opening. The event included a public witness/demonstration at the new stadium. I attended.

As the stadium opened, we gathered in its shadow. Words were said. Prayers prayed. And then we walked in silence around the stadium.

Russell Means attended the event as one of the speakers. He walked with us. And for a few moments, we walked side-by-side. We made eye contact. We smiled. But no words passed our lips.

Russell, who journeyed to the spirit world early this morning, was a big man. And I walk slowly. I did not keep up for long. But those few moments, I remember, for they were a gift, an honor.

Russell lived a life of courage – working tirelessly and faithfully for the well-being of his people – of all indigenous peoples – of all oppressed peoples – of us all.

I give thanks for his life, his work, and his witness. I give thanks that, for a few moments on one April day in Cleveland, we walked together. I give thanks for all who in any way carry on the struggle for human dignity.

The National Museum of the American Indian will present a symposium: Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports on Thursday, November 1, 2012, 10 AM – 5:45 PM in Washington, D.C. I will not be there, but the event will be Webcast. As my friend Molly suggests, watching – and then taking action – would be an appropriate way to honor Russell Means.

People are people. Not mascots.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights

Urgent action needed: Ask Governor Kasich to issue reprieve

From Ohioans to Stop Executions

Ohio plans to execute Abdul Awkal on June 6 for the 1992 murders of his estranged wife and her brother in Cleveland. There is no reasonable doubt about that. The larger question is always about the death penalty itself. The specific question in this case focuses on the mental competency of Mr. Awkal.

Here are recent developments: Governor Kasich denied clemency to Mr. Awkal on May 30 without explanation.

The governor’s decision came after the Ohio Parole Board issued a split recommendation against clemency.

I join Ohioans to Stop Executions in calling concerned individuals to contact Governor Kasich’s office by phone at 614-466-3555 or by e-mail and urge him to issue a reprieve so courts can determine if Mr. Awkal is competent for execution. Attorneys for Mr. Awkal will present new evidence that Mr. Awkal is incompetent to be executed.

Learn more about the case.

I vote in Ohio – long story – but I do – and only in Ohio.

I have contacted Governor Kasich telling him that I do not want the State of Ohio to kill in my name!

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty

6 June execution date in Ohio

The State of Ohio is scheduled to execute Abdul Awkal on 6 June. Awkal was convicted in 1992 for the murders of his wife, Latife Awkal, and his brother-in-law, Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz. The murders took place inside the courthouse on Lakeside Avenue in Cleveland.

The Awkals were scheduled for a meeting on 7 January 1992 in the family conciliation services office of the Domestic Relations Court over custody of their 15-month old daughter. Latife Awkal had filed for divorce from her husband.

For some reason or reasons, the situation took a violent turn. Awkal shot and killed his sister and brother-in-law. He then tried to flee with his daughter before a sheriff’s deputy shot and wounded him.

There appears little doubt of Awkal’s guilt. There appears no doubt. Guilt is not the question. The question is responsibility. Awkal has a long, well-documented history of severe mental illness that predates to before the murders. One source describes his illness as “a severe depressive/delusional disorder that results in audio and visual hallucinations, delusions of grandiose and paranoid themes, and suicide attempts.” Does that matter? While different courts have taken different views of the impact of his mental illness and his mental competence at different times, I believe there exists a reasonable doubt as to his level of responsibility.

On Friday 18 May, the parole board in Ohio recommended to the governor that he not grant clemency to Awkal. One member dissented from the decision.

I grieve for Latife and Mahmoud. I grieve for a child who lost one parent to death and another to incarceration. The use of violence in a courthouse and before an effort at reconciliation disturbs me greatly. I give thanks for the actions of the law enforcement officer who may well have prevented a greater loss of life. Nothing justifies Awkal’s actions. Nothing minimizes their brutality. And yet …

What is gained by the execution of Abdul Awkal? It does not bring his wife and brother-in-law back. It does not make our society any safer than we would be if Awkal remained in prison for life. It would be an act of revenge – an act of violence – that further dehumanizes our society. Can we not do better?

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Human Rights

Christmas vacation 2011, the early days

Harry Potter 2011 Blu Ray Years 1-8 Box Set Cover

Image via Wikipedia

I arrived in Cleveland on December 15, bringing with me a major cold. Recovery has happened.

Eric’s graduation remains the highlight of the first week. The Steelers loss to the 49ers has been the low point, although sharing the misery with Laura and Abraham helped.

Lots of work has taken place. With Eric’s help, I have begun to walk again – walk for self-care. I have a goal of 10,000 steps. The last couple days, I have met that goal. Richmond Town Square has been amazingly empty both in terms of stores and in terms of people shopping.

We visited Phoenix Coffee and took some to Noble Road Presbyterian Church to drink with Carol.

We have started a Harry Potter marathon (not on Blu-Ray, despite the image). Each of the last three evenings, we have viewed one of the movies. The next one may not happen until early next week. Sean arrives home tonight, then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day follow.

While viewing, we have engaged in a Scrabble competition. We do not keep records, but each of us has won some and lost some.

All in all, a pretty good start.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Movie

What I am doing in December

Yes. The commercialism of Christmas annoys me. On Tuesday, November 1, while on my way to have lunch with my friends Leo and Theresa Chavez Sauceda in Vallejo, I stopped by a drug store – one of the major chains, I forget which. Transition dominated the shelves that day. Of course by now, the transition is completed.

Halloween items: gone.

Shelves: stocked with Christmas items.

Yes. In many ways it is too early to begin thinking about Christmas. But, when one lives in multiple places, one has to plan time with care to do what one wants.

So my plans for December have begun:

  1. Travel to Cleveland
  2. Buy coffee for Carol at Noble Road Presbyterian Church (probably with Eric)
  3. Coffee (recurring theme) with Francis and Isaac about the Dougbe River Presbyterian School
  4. Go to movies
  5. Watch football
  6. Finalize the “usual events” – Christmas Day at my brother’s home; Trivial Pursuit; Steelers games at the Winking Lizard;

Today, I added another item to the list.

On my way to worship with the saints of the United Presbyterian Church of Ozone Park, I noticed a woman wearing a hat. Her hat reminded me of my hat-wearing friend Merdine T. Morris. And I knew.

December needs to include time to see Merdine T.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, Family, Friends

Under a grey blanket

A grey blanket
envelopes the airport,
the constant drizzle
enhances the atmosphere –
the dreariness exceeded
only by my mood.

2 October 2011

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Filed under Poem

Grazing the flora buffet

A movement caught my eye.

I sat at the kitchen table in Cleveland Heights, working on one of the presentations I will make in Wooster this weekend.

The blur of dusky brown drew my attention from the computer. Deer appear regularly at the Erie Shire; more regularly than I do.

On this late afternoon, three doe (yes, only two appear in this picture) grazed the buffet of flora that our back yard offers. Not wanting to frighten them, I took pictures through the window.

Did she hear the shutter? I find it hard to believe, but doe closest to the window turned when she I took the first picture. It appeared to me that she gazed through the window, staring at me, posing the question, “Just who belongs, and who is the visitor here?”

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Cleveland Heights, Family, Photo