Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Richmond Reconciliation

Approaching Richmond yesterday was very cool. The Civil War history of various military arches pervades the air from Petersburg into Richmond. Instead of a military march, however, here we were marching against violence and for nonviolent solutions to violence.

On the South Side, as they call it here, two Richmond police officers pulled over near me (after one of them literally screamed from their passing car in response to my 'abolish the death penalty' sign and did a u-turn) and asked why I am against the death penalty. It was a frank and respectful exchange with some folks who have a very difficult job and who see things people shouldn't ever see. I listened. They listened. People have consistently shown some respect for the convictions which lead us to walk so far. They advised as to how dangerous they consider that neighborhood to be. I thanked them for their concern and prayed for them safety, alertness and wisdom as I walked away.

There were more conversations along the road into the South Side, then an envigorating crossing over the beautiful James River into the city! But the best was yet to come.

For the three days leading into Richmond, we were aided by a woman whose son is serving a long sentence after conviction for murder. While her son is not on death row, her story of heartbreak and perseverance reminded us of so many families of people on death row. At the end of the day, we were met by our host for the evening in Richmond, Georgi Fisher, a murder victim family member and board member of Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation. While in the South Side, we had actually walked by the site of her sister's murder.

While prayerwalking around the legislative building and governor's mansion was powerful, the highlight of the day, and one of the highlights of this Pilgrimage, was the meeting of the mother of a son convicted of murder, and Georgi, the sister of a murder victim. They talked about their experiences, found a deep connection with each other and, I suspect, will make a point of staying in contact with each other. That's an example of what we mean by Reconciliation.

1 comment:

Delia Perez Meyer said...

Hello! My name is Delia Perez Meyer; I am the sister of an innocent man on Texas' death row. I just wanted to say thank you so much to each and every one of you who have particpated in this 'walk' across the country to bring attention to the atrocity of our death penalty system. May God continue to bless you all; stay strong; stay hydrated; we love you!!!! See you in Washington, DC!!!!!!!!! xoxoxoxo dm
Best Regards,
Delia Perez Meyer
Louis Castro Perez