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Dr. King’s dream and march, our nightmare and pain

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Dr. King’s dream and march, our nightmare and pain

“I feel so broken hearted, I cried so many tears
There was so much you gave me, to my heart, to my soul
So much of your dreams that were never told
There was hope for a brighter day
Why were you, my flower, plucked away
Oh, oh, I’m missing you
Tell me why the road turns
I’m missing you”
—Diana Ross

I miss my son. I miss hugging him. I miss looking in his eyes when he is excited. I miss us discussing his plans for his future. I miss sharing in his everyday experiences. I miss his smile. I miss his joy.

All I ever wanted was for him to be in an environment where he can grow.

My son was arrested at 19 years of age. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison, more years in prison than he was alive. http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/mothers-prayer/content?oid=309130

My son was sentenced under California’s 10-20-life law. For two years he continuously rejected a plea and maintained his innocence. After being denied a fair trial and fair legal representation, he felt forced into taking two years for allegedly robbing someone for marijuana and 20 years for allegedly discharging a firearm.

Due to the time he received, not the crime itself, he is housed as a level-four prisoner with prisoners who have life- and life-without-parole sentences. With the 10-20-life law, you do not have to commit a murder or cause great bodily injury to receive life in prison.

Sentencing a youth under California’s 10-20-life law can be a death sentence when youth are housed not due to the crime but due to the prison sentencing time.

The youth incarcerated are not just losing freedom; many will lose their parents, siblings, spouse, girlfriend, children and their hope of a future outside of prison walls. For an inmate to live in a prison where many are sentenced to spend their entire life behind those walls is a great challenge in itself.

Sacramento courts have sentenced teens, as young as 14 years of age, to prison terms of life without the possibility of parole.

The outrageous misconduct within the investigation leading to my son’s arrest, as well as the outrageous misconduct through the court process, is all documented on appeal. It is only due to the pending appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court that I will not, at this time, discuss the particulars of the case and the circumstances leading to the misconduct.

For two years we fought in Sacramento Superior Court for a fair trial. When it became obvious he was not receiving a fair trial nor fair legal representation, we wrote letters to the trial court and the Sacramento Superior Court presiding judge.

Within the letters we continuously pleaded for his constitutional rights of a fair trial with fair legal representation.

We wrote letters to the California Bar Association, American Bar Association and to various local and statewide civil rights organizations.

At my son’s request, I went to our state capitol and cried, pleading for assistance from our senator and our assemblyman’s office. I left and painfully cried all the way to my councilmember’s office. None could assist us in our quest for a fair trial and fair legal representation.

I went to the NAACP. While they tried to assist by attending court, we were still not given a fair trial and the court denied our motion to have the attorney removed from the case. I went to anyone who would listen and begged, cried, pleaded for assistance in obtaining a fair trial.

I wrote letters throughout the state of California and wrote letters to organizations in other states. I went to so many, pleading for assistance to help my son get a fair trial, heck reward or penalty, with fair legal representation.

Our pleas were denied. The court would not acknowledge our concerns and failed to hold an evidentiary hearing. When I was brought into the courtroom and told to tell my son to take the plea deal or he would do life in prison, my son, under great duress, involuntarily and without understanding the consequences of the plea felt forced into taking the plea.

My son was coerced into pleading, denied fair legal representation and a fair trial and tried to protect his mother from further pain.

We were not alleging after the fact, once sentenced, that he was being denied his constitutional right to a fair trial and fair legal representation. We made those founded truthful accusations prior to the trial that ended in mistrial, and we continued begging for his constitutional rights during the start of the second trial.

We sent letters certified mail to the court to ensure they were being received. We have response letters showing the presiding judge, American Bar Association and California Bar Association all received the letters, and each responded they could not assist us.

The response letters are dated prior to my son taking the coerced, involuntary plea made under duress.

Four years later, we are still fighting in appeal courts. Our appeals have been denied, each without an evidentiary hearing, and we continue up the writ of habeas corpus ladder put into existence by our freedom-minded forefathers who valued the criminal justice system and the rights of the accused exposed to it.

It is extremely painful with each appeal court process. We have no money to afford an attorney. We have no legal skills to argue against skillful attorneys. We fight with the truth and a $50 book explaining the Great Writ and U.S. constitutional rights which should not be violated.

While it appears some of our Sacramento courts may have been hijacked by pirates posing as prosecutors, and some within the judicial process are more concerned with personal vendettas or winning cases, by any means necessary I still have faith in the Constitution of the United States of America because In God We Trust.

It is painful. It is time consuming. It is difficult. It is exhausting, but it is what it is, a fight we must endure to have an opportunity of life and freedom outside of our overcrowded, dangerous prison walls.

Sadly, once my son is released from prison it will be painful, difficult, time consuming and exhausting to ensure life within our neglectful, lack-of-opportunity, lack-of-employment, lack-of-resources-for-our-youth city since our politically ego-driven elected officials value endorsements from unions to advance their careers.

Sadly, some politically ego-driven elected officials would rather ensure that police union departments are enhanced rather than ensure that the residents of the city are provided with resources.

On June 30, 2005, during an NAACP Police Brutality town hall meeting, former Police Chief Albert Nájera defensively and accurately stated, "A black young man between the age of 16 and 25 has a 50 percent chance to die in the city of Sacramento, and he is dying at the hands of another black young man."

I was at the meeting to discuss our city youth violence and deaths. I wondered the same thing the police chief did: Why were we gathering for a police brutality case and failed to gather for the hundreds of youth who have died in this city at an alarming rate at the hands of another?

I wondered why we were not meeting with the city and county of Sacramento insisting on jobs, resources and opportunities for our youth?

Our black youth were losing life and freedom, and our civil rights leaders solely focused on prejudice- or police-related issues. The police chief’s aforementioned statistic about black youth nor their 92 percent arrest rate was not mentioned by the media, nor the organizations holding the meeting.There was no focus on the loss of life, nor the loss of freedom.

Some of our children are faced with the plight of two options either dying on Sacramento streets or dying in a California state prison.

The mounting deaths and arrests due to youth violence were dismissed. The loss of life and loss of freedom of Sacramento’s low income youth was dismissed; until grant-funding became available.

Civil Rights Groups, concerned over police interaction within the low income community,  held townhall meetings to discuss Sacramento Police Racial Profiling and Sacramento Police Brutality cases.

Grant dollars, for youth and gang violence prevention, suddenly becomes available and Sacramento law enforcement jumps on the youth and gang violence prevention funding bandwagon.  The same Civil Rights Groups concerned with Police Racial Profiling and Police Brutality decide to apply for grants to work with law enforcement for youth and gang violence prevention.

The low-income community affected and exposed to the violence living in communities divided into victims and suspects were not seen until grant-funding became available. Were they looking at the low income community affected and exposed to the violence? Or were they looking at money?

This past week, my son was beaten, physically assaulted on the prison yard. He could have fallen asleep and not woken up due to head injuries. By the Grace of God, my son’s life has yet again been spared. He was placed in the hole. His life is in danger if he steps foot back on that particular prison yard.

His prison counselor stated, “It is the safest place for him.”

Can you believe it? Can you imagine the pain of knowing the safest place for your child is in the hole in a prison? No windows, no TV, no outside contact, no contact, visits from his mother, sibling or girlfriend?

Can you imagine living in America, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, my country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty of thee I sing, where I pledge allegiance to our flag, in so much pain fighting for life and freedom and the Pursuit of Happiness?

When I march in the annual Martin Luther King Parade, I don’t march to sing and dance of the triumphs of yesterday. I have genuine, deep-rooted horrible never-ending pain.

Can you imagine fighting for your child to live in this city and immediately thereafter fighting for him to know freedom? Then have to fight the appeal courts for the truth to be seen? Then with all your heart, have to find a way to keep him alive in prison?

Imagine being a mother having to cry and beg for a prison in the state of California to do what the city of Sacramento failed to do: protect my son

That suffering is the plight of many of us who live in communities divided into victims and suspects, where our children have become commodities to enhance departments and advance political careers.

In God we trust, since the money the motto is written on appears to be valued more than many of low-income, disadvantaged citizens. And many are looking at money, grants, enhancing departments through crime and not looking at those of us affected and exposed to the violence.

I march out of pain for the plight many of us are experiencing today. I also march out of my own personal pain. I don’t think I am disrespecting Dr. King by writing this, since Dr. King did not march singing and dancing for the triumph of the end of slavery.

Dr. King did not march for the past. He marched for his present-day crisis and to provide a better future for many of us. Dr. King did not look backward. He looked to the present and hoped for a better future.

Those of us with current-day suffering from the death or arrest of our youth are expected to march in the annual parade walking on a treadmill of the past.

I realize the definition of insanity is to continuously do the same thing over and over and expect different results. But what else do we have? I do plan on attending the MLK march.

But with all due respect, for some of us to sing and dance once a year is not what I believe Dr. King would have wanted us to honor. I am a mother in pain 365 days a year.

I will walk surrounded and suffocating with pain. In fact, it will be pain moving my feet. I have nothing left to carry me. While addressing youth violence, I gave this city everything I have. http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/death-be-not-shrouded/content?oid=47273   Unwillingly, I even gave my first born son.

There are days when my pain is so deep I don’t have a will to live. There are days I don’t want to wake up. There are days when I am afraid of living in this world gone mad and afraid of dying wondering who will protect my children that I brought into this world.

There are nights when I am afraid of falling asleep due to the nightmares I have still hearing the sounds of gunshots outside my home, leaving shell casings that would have blown tremendous holes throughout my son’s body.

There are nights I am afraid of going to sleep because I am afraid of waking up to this nightmare I am living.

But I have to awake. Who else will fight the writ of habeas corpus ladder of a low-income mother for her son to know what was rightfully his: freedom?

To march with a hollow lack of substance in tribute to a man of great substance, to me, is disrespectful.

I will be in the crowd, but instead of carrying a poster of Dr. King I will carry one of me and my son. Our pain is real, it is today, it is now, and it appears it will be forever if some are just going to live in the past and dismiss the present-day plight that has left so many of us broken, suffering to live and die in pain.

I appreciate honor and respect Dr. King for having a dream, but while many are reminiscing on his dream, many of us are living a nightmare.

Instead of gathering at the end of the event to speak of history, why can’t we gather to find solutions and make history and change the current state of affairs where too many are losing their lives and losing freedom?

I tried to protect my son when youths armed with guns were shooting at him in my front yard. We wrestled trying to protect one another. I was praying the next bullet would take my life and not that of my son.

I tried to protect my son when he was suffocating in an unjust court.

This city has left both my son and I nearly breathless on more than one occasion. We, and so many others, are suffocating in the city of Sacramento. I don’t believe Dr. King was ego-driven.

I believe Dr. King would have wanted us to acknowledge the current plight where thousands of youth bodies lay prematurely dead on American streets and thousands more are living and dying in California prisons.

I think Dr. King would have been more concerned with our plight than concerned with us paying tribute to him.

I knew when civil rights organizations addressed Jenna Six, the plight of many of us would be overlooked due to the fact our plight is not prejudice-related.

I knew some leaders in America would focus on prejudice versus freedom. But should prejudice overshadow life and freedom in America, a country dedicated to looking into the life and freedom of citizens of other countries?

While it appears this low-income mother’s plight, the plight of my son, is dismissed by today’s civil rights organizations, I do feel Dr. King would have embraced us, supported us and acknowledged us.

I do not believe Dr. King would have expected us to pay homage to him when we are in fact suffering from the great pain of losing our children to death on our streets or to be the walking dead in one of California’s many prisons.

With and through pain I will march on Jan. 16, but I will be the one carrying a poster of my son and not one of Dr. King. And, to be honest, I think Dr King would have wanted it that way.

I hope many others join in carrying a poster of their loved ones, whether they have been murdered in the city of Sacramento or sentenced to be the walking dead in one of California’s many for-profit prisons housing the low-income youth of America.

After all, Dr. King was not singing and dancing of yesterday’s struggles and triumphs. Dr. King was justice-driven, equality-driven, looking and laboring for the end result of change. Dr. King acknowledged, saw and labored for the low-income, the voiceless, the powerless.

Dr. King understood America’s motto of Life , Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for all.

I am not walking for the civil rights of yesterday. I walk for the human rights of today.

I did not bring a child into this money-, political ego-driven world for his body to lay dead on a Sacramento street, gutter, sidewalk or home, nor did I bring him into this world to live or die in a California state prison

We, America’s low income citizens living in communities divided into victims and suspects, can not raise our children from the dead. Nor can many of us afford to visit or receive telephone calls from our children being raised in a California State Prison.

We, the low income community divided into victims and suspects, are missing our children.

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