VonDerrit Myers & The Call to Humanize
Our partners on the Ferguson Action Council have dedicated the month of October to remembering the victims of police brutality, specifically VonDerrit Myers. On October 8th 2014, we gathered at Shaw and Klemm after news spread of his fatal encounter with an off duty police officer - an officer who was hired to patrol an area located blocks from where he pursued and ultimately killed VonDerrit. Tonight, a year after his death, we gathered around VonDerrit's family and prayed over them. We laid hands on them and wept with them as they continue to grapple with the long unanswered questions surrounding the death of their son, grandson, cousin, nephew and friend. Family members reflected on the past year and shared stories of the young man who was the best at doing impressions of people, telling his friends what to wear, and quoting funny lines from his favorite movies.
Faith for Justice was present and happily played a supporting role in this event. We firmly believe that by amplifying the voices of the people who loved him most, we affirm the ethic of telling the victim's whole story and condemn the practice of criminalizing victims. We support the Myers family and are dedicated to participating in the demand that local authorities bring dignity to this case and reopen investigation into VonDerrit's pointless killing.
Though these stories shared have been available for reporters and other media since Myers' death, they were apparently not exciting or attractive enough for mainstream media, as they seemed to prefer to profile VonDerrit as dangerous, careless and worse. But we know that these moments of remembrance and reflection are critical to the longevity of our movement; they remind us to fight on, march on, pray on, hold on - until every life is treated with equal regard. The promotion of public justice is a core value for us, and this is only possible if we are able to look upon each other as image bearers above all else.
What racism has criminalized, activism must humanize.
Our activism is wrapped up in different patterns at different times, but it must have the same goal, same effect. Today we held perimeter intersections and redirected traffic during the vigil. We led the set up crew and furnished candles and balloons for the family. We brought tissues, made contact with the alderman and nearby shop owner. And we were just.. there. We do not have to lead chants to feel like we are participating. We don't have to lead anything. Our service to this family and this movement is a delight and a reward. The activism of service is itself our own small way to affirm the humanity of Vonderrit and others whose humanity was so despised that it was considered disposable.
Friends, the opportunity to do more for our communities is right now. It is as simple as sharing the whole truth. When we remind our neighbors and each other than VonDerrit Myers was a son, only child, a teenager, and a devoted father of a young child, we are insisting that the full narrative of his life cannot be contained by a criminal record. In the same way that any human would ask another "don't judge me by my mistakes", we demand that the family of VonDerrit and others like him be granted the humane and proper course of justice, because VonDerrit is a human; because justice is a human right.
photograph by our friend fellow activist, Richard Reilly