Ted makes some crucial connections between the circumstances of Mark Carson’s murder and the circumstances of CeCe McDonald’s unjust arrest. Pass this around - it’s important.
(Here are some thoughts I have been having since the death of Mark Carson)
Last Friday Mark Carson, a 32-year-old African American gay man was shot on the corner of west 8th street and 6th ave. Within a short time, police captured 33-year-old Elliot Morales, and he confessed to the murder. Earlier in the evening Elliot had been bragging about his gun, and was making homophobic comments to strangers.
One of the last things Elliot said to Mark before he shot him was, “Is that your boy?” referring to the man with Mark. “Yes,” Mark answered.
24 hours after the shooting there was a vigil for Mark. People mourned the young man’s passing and spoke about issues of safety, visibility and the need to watch out for each other.
Those who spoke also brought up the need to question hate crime legislation in an effort to work towards real ideas of justice, they brought up the closing of St. Vincent’s and wondered if there had been a hospital closer maybe Mark’s life could have been saved, and they made connections between Mark’s death, and the exceptional and everyday violence experienced by many in this city due to poverty, HIV/AIDS, and policies such as stop and frisk.
Learning more about Mark and Elliot I thought about another case where asserting one’s right to be ended in violence.
In Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 5th 2011 CeCe McDonald and her friends were walking to grocery story when they crossed paths with a group outside of a bar who began berating CeCe and her friends with homophobic, transphobic and racist slurs. Words escalated into physical violence and soon CeCe was bleeding and Dean Schmidt, one of the men who witnesses say was verbally and physically assaulting CeCe and her friends, was dead due to a fatal stab wound.
CeCe was the only arrested that night. She was charged with second-degree murder in Dean’s death. In a plea bargain she accepted a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter. As her supporters say, “in short, CeCe was prosecuted for surviving a violent, racist, transphobic attack.” She is serving 41 months in a men’s prison. The state will not recognize her as a woman.
While there cases are very different, like Mark, CeCe stood up for herself in the face of oppression. While it did not result in the loss of her life, her life chances have been severely reduced. As we hope for justice for Elliot, we need to pray for Dean’s soul. As we mourn Mark’s death we need to be also fighting for CeCe’s life.
In the wake of CeCe’s case over the last two years, and over the last few days after Mark died I have been inspired to see how communities can come together. Vigils have been organized, tough conversations have been had, and people have opened up and been vulnerable with each other, in return others have come to support. I have heard people compare these last few days to early AIDS activism, or the marches after Harvey Milk died.
While I am not sure about that, I do wonder, can we care for each other everyday this way, not just when the violence we know is happening all the time hits the news?
Can we learn to make the love we have for ourselves and each other a practice of everyday freedom?
Can this love be our resistance in the face of death, misguided hate crime legislation, and prison?
Can we create a community of networked and systemic care that rivals the networked systemic violence practiced against us?
Can we love each other en masse on the regular?