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There are thirty-one states and counting that have some form of the Castle Doctrine
on record in the United States, including “Stand Your Ground” and “No Duty to
Retreat” laws.  Laws that allow for justifiable use of deadly force to protect a citizen’s
“habitat,” if the occupant “reasonably believes” that an intruder poses a threat to his or
her life.  They are laws that shield calculating murderers, providing them with
immunity from both criminal and civil prosecution.  

The laws have origin in the Medieval European concept that a man’s castle is his
home.  As a victim and survivor of a home invasion, I am all for protecting and
defending my life and my home.  But, just as corporations are not people, (contrary to
the supreme law of the land), the last time I looked, the common streets of a gated
community does not translate into the definition of someone’s private domain.  

Oh, that’s right.  In Florida, the “No Duty To Retreat” applies to anywhere you take
your stand.  

As the old folk would say with regard to inexplicable insanity, “My Lord!”

It is under the “Stand Your Ground, No Duty To Retreat” law that a “hunt ‘em down,
smoke ‘em out” cowboy Bush mentality (yeah, he said it), redneck racist is covered
for the cold-blooded execution of a young boy on his return from an evening stroll to
a convenient store to buy a cup of iced tea and a box of Skittles.  

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March 2012
"The ultimate measure of a man is not
where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I will never forget that the only reason I am
standing here today is because somebody,
somewhere stood up for me when it was risky"
President Barack H. Obama, Jr.
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Trayvon Martin, 17
Murdered February 26, 2012
by self-proclaim law enforcer,  
George Zimmerman
in Stanford, Florida
Kendrick McDade, 19
Murdered March 24, 2012
by two unnamed police
in Pasadena, California
Rekia Boyd, 22
Murdered March 21, 2012
by policeman Dante Servin
in Chicago, Illinois
Ramarly Graham, 18
Murdered February 3, 2012
by policeman Richard Haste
in Brooklyn, NY,
in front of his grandmother and
six year old brother
Photograph by Jeff Ivey
On July 17, 2015, a free, white, 21 year old male walked into Emmanuel African
Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and murdered nine
innocent, black parishioners in prayer.  We know his name, but refuse to grant him
any power by calling it.  

Not only do we know his name now, the police knew his name then, as he was
already on record with South Carolina law enforcement prior to his heinous and
hateful act of slaughter.  

Merely four months earlier, in February of 2015, police were called to the Columbia
Centre mall in response to complaints regarding his disturbance of the peace.  He was
later questioned by the police, during which time they discovered his possession of
drugs prescribed to treat opiate addiction.  The procession was written off as a
misdemeanor, and - unlike millions of young black men charged with drug procession
- he was not incarcerated.  His sentence, rather, was to be banned from the public
mall, a ban he violated on April 26, and still not jailed.  

In between the original banning and the violation, on March 13, 2015 he was
investigated again by Columbia police for suspicious activity, at which time they
discovered a semi-automatic rifle grip and six unloaded magazines capable of holding
40 rounds of ammunition.  He was not arrested, as possession of the grip and
magazines are not illegal in the state of South Carolina.

On July 18, 2015, this free, white 21 year old known murderer was picked up after
having been sighted in Shelby, North Carolina driving his black Elantra sporting a
“Confederate States of America” front bumper plate.  

Unlike the unknown and unarmed black men and women who have been dragged,
choked, and gun down like mad dogs in the street, this known assassin was arrested
civilly without having to raise his hands in the air, or lower his body to the ground.  In
reviewing dash cam footage of the arrest, the police just seem to “mosey on over” to a
suspected mass murderer, engage in conversation, allow him to exit the car casually
“on his own steam,” handcuff him, and graciously escort him away.  Instead of being
bounced to death in the back of police van like Freddie Gray, he was granted the
luxury and ease of air transport back to South Carolina for the privilege of exercising
his “due process,” Constitutional right to a fair trial.

Seven months later, “free, white and 21” is alive and regarded as innocent until proven
guilty. Twelve year old Tamir Rice and countless African-American men, women and
children – named and unnamed - had no opportunity for arrest, or trial.  They are dead
– killed on the spot of encounter, acts justified as appropriate when approaching
suspected dangerous criminals, with or without prior run-ins with the law.  

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December 2015












"For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not rest until
her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch."  
The
New Revised Mittie Imani Black Methocostal Version - as inspired by the Reverend,
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver - reads like this: "For the sake of my people, I’ve got
something to say.  For Black America’s sake, I will not rest until justice beams forth
like the morning star, and liberation like a fire ablaze!
The First Sunday in Christmastide Sermon
Cory United Methodist Church, Cleveland, Ohio
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Lectionary Text - Isaiah 61:11 - 62:3
"Do You Hear What I Hear?"
*****
There’s a small battle brewing in Chandler, Oklahoma.  A battle brewing over – of all
things – the tolling of the First United Methodist Church’s Christmas bells.  It turns
out that not everyone – well, at least not two people – wanted to hear the chiming of
carols every hour, on the hour for the past two weeks.  

While bell towers of the original St. Matthew near the corner of my street have been
silent for years, I found myself drawn to this story because of – shall we say – the
healthy collection of wind chimes dominating my front porch and back yard.  While I
have not had any complaints from my neighbors, I have had curious comments from
passers-by.  One little girl wanted to know why my house was so “spooky” with all
those candles in the windows and “them bells.”  Actually, the electric candles in
every window – 26 to be exact - started out as Christmas decorations a few years
ago, and were never removed.  It takes me well into the middle of February to just to
get down the garland and wreaths.

So, throughout the year, candles light the windows of my home from dusk to dawn,
and neighbors and passers-by speculate their purpose.  I’ve heard a few, the most
popular being that someone is missing and they are lit until they come home –often it’
s from war or prison.  Thank God, I have no one away for either reason, but that has
not always been the case.  One friend reminded me that I am a modern day
abolitionist, and so it is fitting for candles to peer from my windows.  

   But back to the wind chimes.  Once I was questioned by a fellow shopper while
taking advantage of the end of season 75% off sale with a basket full of chimes.  
“Why do you do that?’  Unsure of what he was talking about, I responded with “do
what?”  He pointed to my cart.  “Why are you going to hang up all those wind
chimes to make all that noise?  My neighbor has those, and it drives me crazy.”  
    Realizing that this was a tender subject that had now garnered the attention of the
entire check-out line, I decided to ante up the truth about my affinity for wind
chimes.  “Well, I hear them as God’s music.”  He looked at me like he wanted to
reach over and slap me.  “Now, how you gonna put God in the middle of that
noise?”  I braced myself.  “How do chimes make noise?”  I asked.  Another listener
responded before he could speak a word. “The wind!”

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