Solidarity Prayer for Tyquan Atkinson

This was written just over a week after Judge Alito’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade was leaked to the press.

This was written just a day after a white New York gunman drove 3 hours from his home to a Buffalo grocery store, to livestream his murderous, racist rampage.

Violence as a means to oppress and suppress takes so many forms, that to address it necessitates specificity and contextualization. I do not intend, by talking about it in one of its many manifestations, to detract from other people’s experience of it. In all the ways individually and societally that we inflict violence, as well as experience it, we must see ourselves rightly. As co-bearers with a captive God, we who vainly wield power must confess and make repairs sacrificially, at the leading of those we’ve wounded. As co-bearers with a God of compassion and medicine, we who are wounded can receive the gifts of mercy and healing, leading the work of conciliation through the prophetic gift of discernment and diagnosis.

We stand with Tyquan Atkinson.

We stand, ashamed, as we watch our institutional representatives act like petulant children, sucking their teeth over their loss at Tyquan’s trial.

We stand, as the jury of Tyquan’s peers, as we experience the betrayal by the courts, who asked for our deliberation, acknowledged our decision, then acted unilaterally to undermine us.

We stand, horrified, as bitterness shapes the system’s protracted, defiant rigidity, while its actors manufacture the narrative used to justify his continued bondage and isolation.

We stand in the persistence of Tyquan’s mother, who knocks everyday at our door and pleads with us to take up his case alongside her.

We stand in the knowledge that we have lost our minds, hearts, and imaginations, having given them over to the easy solution of distant detention.

We now must work to turn our stiff necks toward State Road.

We now remove the scales over our eyes to see the state of our jails: both the physical conditions that promote desperation and disease, and the psychic mania that punishes prisoners for the prison’s own deep failures.

We now go with the name Tyquan Atkinson imprinted in each of us, to discern with God and with one another, who we are in his story, and what, after today, is ours to do.

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