Friday, September 23, 2011

Enraged & Engaged: Does Anybody Hear Me?

Enraged and engaged.  That's how I woke up yesterday morning.  A bit exhausted after weeping off and on for five hours watching the Democracy Now coverage of the Troy Davis vigil outside the prison.  But despite a night of tossing and turning, a sense of urgency woke me before my alarm. Puffy-eyed, enraged and engaged.

A born peace-keeper / people-pleaser, I've recently been able to accept my own anger. My therapist told me to, and I want to make her happy. But she also taught me that anger is only healthy as a motivating factor that leads towards positive change.  So as not to become the angry-girl, I signed the Amnesty International petition "Not in My Name," voicing my continued support to partner with them to abolish the death penalty.  I woke up ready to engage, and armed with Amnesty's guidance, I e-mailed their representatives from the state of California to learn what I can do to act on my outrage.  Who's with me?

Here's what we can do in California; e-mail YOUR state rep to find out how to act locally, or move here!  We can hang out, get fro-yo and go door-to-door together, getting autographs to put the issue on the ballot.

From Amnesty International, USA:  In California, we are working now on repealing the death penalty in 2012. California has the largest death row in the country, with over 700 people. We can really make a difference and push for abolition in our state. To those of you who want to do more, there are many ways.
 
You can learn more about the SAFE CALIFORNIA campaign here.

You can VOLUNTEER for the SAFE CALIFORNIA campaign here.

You can learn more about Amnesty's Death Penalty Abolition work here.

Finally, this year's Western Regional Conference for Amnesty will be in Los Angeles from November 4th to 6th. We will have workshops on the death penalty and a variety of human rights issues. It's also a great was to connect with others involved in the cause. If you live in LA and are an Amnesty member it's only $25, if you're a student it's $15.  

They also have a great fact sheet that will give you some talking points and includes some gems such as:

  • In 2008, 93% of all known executions took place in five countries China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA.
  • The death penalty is racially biased. Since 1977, the overwhelming majority of death row defendants (77%) have been executed for killing white victims, even though AfricanAmericans make up about half of all homicide victims.
  • The death penalty claims innocent lives. Since 1973, 138 people have been released from death rows throughout the country due to evidence of their wrongful conviction. In this same time period, more than 1,000 people have been executed.
  • The death penalty is not a deterrent. FBI data shows that all 14 states without capital punishment in 2008 had homicide rates at or below the national rate.

As I processed my emotions from the night Troy Davis was killed, a lot of my outrage stemmed from a feeling of helplessness, not being heard. It felt like millions of people were surrounding the grounds that housed the death chamber, their pleas and screams to save someone's life not heard through some sound-proof barrier of bureaucracy. It reflects one instant that makes up the whole of living in a democracy but feeling that elected leaders are not listening, that I don't have a voice here. I'm exhausted from screaming into the wind, from preaching to the choirs of like-minded friends at dinner parties and BBQs. I'm hoping this action, partnering with Amnesty and others fighting the death penalty in California, being very specific about educating voters, will finally break through that sound barrier and allow our voices to be heard.

3 comments:

Christina said...

I hear you. And I'm with you. and I LOVE you!! I love your weepy, angry, beautiful heart -- with all of mine.

flamingodancer said...

I am so pleased and relieved that Australia does not have the death penalty. So many times we find that an innocent person has been executed. It really doesn't seem to be assisting the crime rate in America. I would imagine that most people who commit a crime, if asked, would say that the idea that they might be executed for their crime never crossed their mind until arrested.

Rebecca Snavely said...

Christina - love you. You ARE strong enough to be my man. (Inside sister joke with love to Sheryl Crow for diffusing many an argument.)

FD - Thank you for reading and taking the time to respond - please send good thoughts towards the U.S. for those working to put an end to the death penalty! Love reading your musings about your life in Australia. Happy to have met you here.