(The author wishes to share his extreme disappointment due to mechanical problems, thus not able to post them. Maybe it’s better anyway–I forgot to have folks to sign a waiver).
February 15, 2015
The Friends Meeting of Austin– www.austinquakers.org,– was host today, at a very unique Press Conference, to support Rodney Reed who is scheduled to be executed, by the state of Texas on March 5, 2015.
Today’s guest speaker, Helen Prejean, known world-wide for her activism for justice in the Criminal Justice System, was in Austin for another speaking engagement: when Judy Morgan found this out she contacted Sister Prejean, to see if she would be able to attend today’s event. It turns out that she would.
Walter Long introduced the program. The innovative Press Conference was actually following the format used in The Friends’ worship time. Walter Long, one of the members of the Friends, moderated the flow through the Press Conference. During the times of silence, those who are Friends silently linger and wait for the Spirit or Inner Light to show them what to say; then an individual stands up and speaks what he or she has been given.
Mr. Long also read a letter from their church to the Texas Board of Pardons; they asked that Rodney Reed have the benefit of a new trial or the legal opportunity to present evidence that was not allowed in Mr. Reed’s initial trial (this is the author’s statement, so if there any wrong or inaccurate information, please contact Christopher Bear-Beam at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We continued on our path through our loom of silences. There were designated speakers, followed by any comments that others would desire to share.
Roderick Reed, Rodney Reed’s brother
The first speaker was Roderick Reed, Rodney Reed’s brother. He thanked all the audience for their support, and said that he wanted to let people know what his family was like, and what they valued. Their family was a military family so they lived in many places. They value love, respect, and an abiding faith in God.
Rodney has three sons, and now he is a grand father, and it saddens him that he isn’t able to see more of them, although he now has the chance to see them more.
Everyday seems like a nightmare, Roderick said; we get tired but it’s people like you who keep us going. Rodney’s and Roderick Reed, mother wanted this group to know how she appreciates all the support given by those who are fighting for Rodney’s life!
Roderick mentioned that the family’s spirits are up, and the Reed family is so very grateful for the support they’ve received, that it’s just hard to put into words. ‘We’re looking for victory,’ Roderick said at the conclusion of his remarks.
Heather Stobbs, Stacey’s cousin speaking
Heather Stobbs apologized to the Reed family for her not coming forward until much later, to tell what she knew of the people involved, and the facts surrounding her cousin’s death.
When something like this hits a family, the typical survival mechanism is to “close ranks” and stick together. She said her family is split between those who don’t believe Rodney Reed killed Ms. Stilts, and those that do.
As Heather learned more about the facts in the case, she began to want a new trial for Rodney, but the courts shut down this avenue. She concluded by saying her perspective is that Rodney Reed did not do this murder—nothing else.
Sylvia McCormack, a minister in Austin, Texas (no picture available) spoke about how Black & Brown people in the Criminal Justice System were being eaten up like bread on a daily basis, but for those of us who fight for justice are ‘daily bread,’ too. She concluded by saying our mis-justice is seen “in the hues of our prisons is black & brown.”
A Catholic priest spoke after Rev. McCormack (I apologize for missing his name and church). He cited Micah 6:4 that tells us to “act justly” (Journey Bible, Zondervan).
Tom Van Distal, pastor, the Congregational Church in Austin, Texas
Reverend Van Distal can’t understand why more clergy members aren’t speaking out about Rodney Reed’s case, and also said that the time has come where we can’t “sugar coat” the issues about Reed’s trumped up case.
Continuing, Pastor Van Distal read a letter that he sent to some of his spiritual cohorts; he said that all the court documents have suppressed the truth. He asked, ‘Do we want to live in this kind of society? The letter called on “all clergy to take a stand in support of Rodney Reed!”
Gaea Logan (no picture available), is a therapist, and founder of The International Center of Mental Health and Human Rights. The Center works with communities who have experienced trauma, abuse & oppression. Historically speaking, trauma was given a pubic persona and messaging of lynching. This was done with the blatant intention that the everyday people were the only authorities, i.e., whites had the social and self-made legal authority, and they intimidated African Americans by lynching and other violent means.
We are a highly complex system that’s organized around trauma. Seventy percent of the people who are incarcerated, then executed, are Black or Brown; there are forty-two per cent African Americans are Black on Death Row, whereas forty-three per cent are Whites on Death Row.
What’s it like to have your brother on Death Row? What kind of family (community) do you want to be? Sister Prejean has said, “If I don’t speak out, I’m an accomplice.”
Sister Prejean speaking at the Austin Friends
Sister Prejean began by citing Frederick Douglas who said, ‘Justice is never given to you—you have to struggle for it.’
This culture and its Criminal Justice System are “practioners of death,” Sister Helen said. ‘On the other hand, we are so blessed to be aware, to have our eyes open, to know injustice when we see it.’ We are able to be mindful of injustice and take actions to rectify it.
Sister Prejean thanked the Reed family and all other advocates and supporters as we seek justice for Rodney Reed.
The final designated speakers was Quincy McNeil (no photo available), one of Rodney Reed’s attorneys. He thinks that they have a powerful case, and is cautiously optimistic about winning; Stacey Stite’s killer has never come to justice.
Please check out www.Justice4RodneyReed.org
For more information and how to get engaged in the struggle.
© Christopher Bear-Beam February 16, 2015