Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Pain and hope and fear

I am in Washington for a series of clemency events. Last night there was a vigil in front of the White House with people who have received clemency, family members who are waiting, and others (including Van Jones, who organized it).

The setting was stark: cloudy, with a Supermoon cutting though. I suppose that was fitting. We could not stand right by the White House in Lafayette Park, because the scaffolding is being built for Donald Trump's inauguration. I suppose that, too, is fitting.

I was able to see and talk to many of the people who have contacted me over the past several years. Some I have been able to help, others I could not. 

One of them was a woman I have corresponded with for years, whose brother is incarcerated for a non-violent narcotics offense. She has been a remarkable advocate and hero, pushing me and others to take on his case (I prepared and submitted his petition earlier this year). As we talked, she told me about the sleepless nights and worry, the disappointment that her brother has not been on the lists of those given clemency, and the slam of despair that came with the election of Donald Trump for her and other African-Americans. I gave her something, something ancient and precious, and she broke down. I held her as she sobbed, all the sadness and heartbreak pouring out of her. It was deep and real and true, for both of us.

And this, too, in the long nightshadow of the People's House.

Aside from everything else, what a privilege to be in a place where your work has the potential to give people hope. Time may be running short on this chapter, but keep pushing!
All who opted not to vote for Hillary Clinton should have shared your experience. They gave their tacit approval for his oft stated positions on criminal justice. He promised them that they will be safe from "the bad dudes" for the next four years.

Donald Trump attacked President Obama for his existing commutation efforts, warning supporters to “sleep tight” after the recent clemency order released what he characterized as “bad dudes.”

President Donald Trump isn't likely to come through on much that he promised. We can only hope. Don't give up the fight.

Bravo for doing that work.
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