Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Song of John T. Williams

Maybe only poets can cut through the surrealistic double-speak and crazy bureaucratic excuses that pass for justice to make sense of recent events following the cold-blooded murder on August 30th.  The victim was shot in the side while innocently crossing the street in broad daylight.  He carried a closed pocket knife and a small plank of wood.  The event was videotaped and witnessed by several bystanders.  The murderer is on a long paid vacation.  The victim's family is nearly destitute, living hand-to-mouth in cheap motels, being harassed by the killer's colleagues, men with guns, at every turn.


Storme Webber's poetic justice doesn't right this wrong. Clearly, the story would be different if we weren't talking about a cop shrouded in impunity and a non-threatening Native American carver, now dead. It's coming on winter, and the combination of the cold wet weather and the cops'  harsh treatment has people spooked and uneasy.  Rick Williams, John's brother, sells his carved totem poles and masks near Pike Market or at the Seattle Center, now he's wary as the police try to intimidate him.  He's asking for support and needs accompaniment.  Maybe something like Peace Brigades is called for, someone to serve as a witness and non-violently defend the human rights of those living on the street.

Poet A K Mimi Allin is embarking on another kind of witness, her own self-imposed residency at Seattle's Tent City 3 beginning in December. From her blog, Song of Tent City: "while living in a tent, she'll work full-time at Seattle's migrating, outdoor, homeless encampment. Like Whitman, she believes in the democracy of poetry. 'This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger, It is for the wicked just same as the righteous, I make appointments with all, I will not have a single person slighted or left away…' From Song of Myself by Walt Whitman."

final n'est pas un arme