22 August 2005

West Memphis Three Rage

Had a nice weekend. Worked a show I enjoyed for once; The Blind Boys of Alabama. Even still I had to deal with all sorts of Dill Weeds. I was excited at first because I thought it was my last show out at the tent. Turns out I have one more..Damn you Tent Gods!! Got up at the crack of Bird's dawn (which is about 6am) to volunteer at the Aids Walk. Seemed like a great turnout (this was my first) and I had a nice time. For information on great HIV/Aids related charities check out Colorado Aids Project.

Two Minutes Hate
I am sure that many of you who attend live shows have seen the "Free the West Memphis Three" t-shirts. I had...i saw them everywhere but you know how these things are, you just kind of notice and then it slips from your memory. I didnt really think about it again until I noticed a co-worker wearing the WM3 black bracelet. Finally i dragged my ass over to the computer to investigate this whole thing. Holy shit, was I blown away.

All of the quotes I am using in the post are from the WM3 webpage.

"Shortly after three eight-year-old boys were found mutilated and murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas, local newspapers stated the killers had been caught. The police assured the public that the three teenagers in custody were definitely responsible for these horrible crimes. Evidence?

The same police officers coerced an error-filled “confession” from Jessie Misskelley Jr., who is mentally handicapped. They subjected him to 12 hours of questioning without counsel or parental consent, audio-taping only two fragments totaling 46 minutes. Jessie recanted it that evening, but it was too late— Misskelley, Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols were all arrested on June 3, 1993, and convicted of murder in early 1994.

Although there was no physical evidence, murder weapon, motive, or connection to the victims, the prosecution pathetically resorted to presenting black hair and clothing, heavy metal t-shirts, and Stephen King novels as proof that the boys were sacrificed in a satanic cult ritual. Unfathomably, Echols was sentenced to death, Baldwin received life without parole, and Misskelley got life plus 40.

For over 12 years, The West Memphis Three have been imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit. Echols waits in solitary confinement for the lethal injection our tax dollars will pay for. They were all condemned by their poverty, incompetent defense, satanic panic and a rush to judgment."

This was the most jaw dropping story i have read in a long time. Check out the site and read the case information. I could try and tell you all the ways this is fucked up but honestly, there is too much to tell. This story will scare the bejeezus out of you. It scared me. As americans we are brought up to believe in a fair trial. A jury of our peers who will make a decision based on evidence presented before them. Now, I am not so naive. I know that often times the innocent person is arrested, imprisioned, put to death. I know that jurys often make decisions based not on the evidence but rather fame, race, fear, etc. However, reading the story of these boys scared me.

It scared me because I am often called strange. I am often called weird. I am often called a freak. I am different. I like these things about me. I think most people do as well. These boys were targeted because they are just like me. They were a little different. Just a little weird, just a little strange. I think some people dont understand how small towns work. In a small town, you have a label. That label sticks with you for the rest of your life. If you cried during class you will forever be the guy who cried during class even if you are all-state quarterback. If you slept with your boyfriend and he told his pals, you were forever the whore. If you read stephen king and had dyed hair, you were capable of killing.

The story of the WM3 should scare anyone who considers themselves educated, independent, strange, unique, goofy, EMO, goth, and on and on. It should scare you enough to get involved. Do something, even if it is as simple as buying the ultra-hip tshirts and wearing it to the next show you go to. Also, spread the word.

Big thanks to K for educatin' me.

the bird


Anonymous said...

I still remember my final tent show. What a glorious occasion that was!

Ask K if you can check out the WM3 documentary that he has, truly unbelievable stuff.


Bird said...

Excellent point PJ. Check out Paradise Lost and Paradise Lost 2 on DVD. Two documentaries that HBO made.


Anonymous said...

Well written Bird. I got me involved for the same reasons that you did. I have always been a little different (who me?), and on a smaller level was once accused of some of the same things when I lived in Mississippi. The "Bible Belt" is a very different place, and people who look or act different from the Southern Baptist culture do not get a fair shake in many aspects of life there.

Keep up the fight, it is not over even if the worst case scenario comes to reality.


p.s. The book "Devil's Knot" is even more horrifying than the two documentaries.