‘It Can Wear the Soul Raw’: Activists Recharge at Mountain Retreat

‘It Can Wear the Soul Raw’: Activists Recharge at Mountain Retreat

BY ERRIN WHACK

The lush valleys and mountains of Asheville, N.C., are eight hours and a world away from the tragedy, violence and poverty of Baltimore.

This week, hundreds of leaders of civil rights and social justice organizations descended on this serene backdrop like soldiers coming off a battlefield for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s fourth America Healing Conference. The four-day event concluding Thursday was an opportunity to swap strategy, regain focus and recharge before returning to a fight that, for many, has been particularly traumatic in recent months.

Kellogg vice president Gail Christopher said the foundation’s approach to this year’s conference—including a first-ever session on self-care—factored in the potential toll of recent events on many attendees.

“Given all the pain that’s going on, when every single week there’s another story of a young black male that’s been killed, I realized we’re grief-stricken,” she said. “We knew that people would be bringing that energy in and we knew we had to find a way to have resilience … for them to have opportunities to know that they are valuable human beings.”

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The attendees — most of whom are doing work funded by the foundation — gathered at the 100-year-old Grove Park Inn, a resort atop the aptly-named Sunset Mountain. Between planning sessions and panels, they relaxed in rocking chairs overlooking the hills, and dined in fresh air as bees buzzed nearby.

“The location helps … It’s real laid back and calm,” said Darel Ross II, co-director of LINC Community Revitalization based in Grand Rapids, Mich. “It’s hard not to be relaxed, but this is 500 people who spend very little time relaxing. We don’t stop to pause day in and day out; we’re usually strategizing. This is really more of taking care of yourself so you can continue to fight.”

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Six officers charged in death of Freddie Gray

Six officers charged in death of Freddie Gray

By Pamela Wood
The Baltimore Sun
May 1,2015

The six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray – who died last month after being injured in police custody – have been charged criminally, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday.

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office.

Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Edward Nero, 29, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Garrett Miller, 26, was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

Mosby’s announcement was greeted with cheers and applause. She said she told Gray’s family that “no one is above the law.”

Gray, 25, was chased down and arrested by Baltimore officers on April 12 and died a week later. His family has said he suffered a spinal cord injury and a crushed voice box.

After bystander video of the arrest surfaced, showing Gray dragging his feet as he was put in a police transport van, there have been cries for charges against the officers

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State Violence Against Black and Brown Youth

State Violence Against Black and Brown Youth

Police gather outside the Ferguson Police Department Thursday, March 12, 2015, after two police officers were shot according to witnesses in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Police gather outside the Ferguson Police Department Thursday, March 12, 2015, after two police officers were shot according to witnesses in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

State Violence Against Black and Brown Youth

I first met Emery Robinson at Albert Leonard Junior high school in, New Rochelle, NY. He was two grades behind me, a 7th grader when I was in the 9th grade. He was known as a manchild, not only in terms of size, because he was much bigger than most 9th graders even then, but because he had the physicality and presence of a young man. He could have easily passed for 17 or 18 years old when, by my recollection, he could not have been much more than 11 or 12.

His face, however, betrayed his youth; cherubic, at times shy, an easy laugh and mischievous smile, he was what one would refer to as “not a bad kid,” to indicate someone who was a bit mischievous but not malicious. Because of his size he made the basketball team, though it did not seem as if he had a great interest in basketball. He gravitated to kids who were a little older, bolder and who occasionally got into trouble, petty theft, but no violence to my knowledge. In my home town, junior high school was a pivotal point in the lives of many poor and not so poor, black, brown and working class kids from many diverse backgrounds. The ones who smoked reefer first were the first to experiment with hallucinogens, the first to inject cocaine and perhaps heroin and from there, among the first to contract HIV/AIDS, which back then was a death sentence. Emery was spared this fate, this particular end to his life.

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