It is nine months since we lost Elijah Cummings, and now John Lewis.
I have a fantasy that these gentle yet fierce lions of the Civil Rights Movement are having a fine re-union, and, putting aside their well-earned rest, they are together doing what they are able to do now to help us bend the arc towards justice from where they are.
Born: February 21, 1940, Troy, Alabama
Died: July 17, 2020, Atlanta, Georgia
In his memoir, Lewis wrote: Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.
I was noodling my way towards unpacking Lewis’ words on freedom when a trusted friend private messaged me on FB (Facebook) with a post that came to her from a trusted friend.
Social media is not my go-to for news of any kind.
Nor do I generally freak out at a news headline. But it was 2:18 in the afternoon and I was freaking out.
The private messaged post contained photos of a phalanx of unmarked white vehicles with darkened windows. License plates were not visible in the photos. The post-er was giving a heads up to any civil disobedients to stay safe. She identified the vehicles as belonging to Homeland Security. And they were parked on streets near Camden Yards – the home stadium of our grounded Baltimore Orioles.
I was unable to verify this as I looked for breaking news on the local outlets I trust as a mainstream media: the 3 TV networks and our still-surviving daily newspaper, The Baltimore Sun.
I was hoping the post would prove to be an aberration, a falsehood, and that it would go away by the end of the day.
In response I posted on FB
URGENT QUESTION of the day: OK Legal wonks: please explain why it is not possible to get a court order to restrain my government from sending in their Homeland Forces or wherever the h – – – they are able to commandeer and send armed into city streets” uninvited, unneeded, and unrestrained.
In the lively Facebook conversation that took place over eight hours:
One person offered: I’m thinking under “emergency order” the President can do what he wants.
Another counter-questioned: What if there is no emergency?
Another offered: I think it might come under the provisions of the Patriot Act.
A fourth: I believe it has to do with us (protesters) being labeled as domestic terrorists. That changes everything, and laws that normally apply no longer do.
A brief Baltimore Sun article finally solved the mystery of the vehicles, if not my legal question: “A group of Homeland Security vans were seen outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore on Tuesday afternoon, but the Maryland Stadium Authority said it was regularly scheduled training.”
Though one could ask – and I did: what does THAT mean “regularly scheduled?” at Camden Yards? Are they looking for illegal immigrant black and orange birds?
John Lewis’ words bear repeating, just as he lived, devoted to continuous action
“Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.”
May he inspire and strengthen us, as he has said Rosa Parks inspired him, “to find a way to get in the way, to get in trouble… good trouble, necessary trouble.”
And may we also heed his counsel: “Never become bitter, and in the process, be happy and just go for it.”
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