Who Are We?

Tonight, two separate stories popped onto my radar, and I asked myself if I really ought to write about them.  They are both about extreme bigotry, examples of the illogical and purposeless hatred spreading across our nation today … more so in the south, but in the rest of the country as well.  And I wonder if my readers tire of these stories. But after I re-read the stories, I decided that yes, I need to write about these stories, for to remain silent would be to add my own guilt to that of others.  I have committed to using my voice to speak out against social injustice, and these both fit into that category.  So …


Jordan Edwards, 15

This first one is a story that has become all too familiar in the past few years:  white police officer shoots and kills young black man.  Only this time, it was a boy … a fifteen-year-old boy.  Jordan Edwards was his name.  Last Saturday night, young Jordan was with his two brothers and two other teens, leaving a party at a house in a Dallas suburb.  Apparently neighbors had called the police because of the noise of the party, which was just breaking up.  As the teens were driving off in their car, Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver opened fire on the vehicle, killing Jordan Edwards who was sitting in the front passenger seat.

Initially, the other officers stated that the driver of the vehicle had put the car into reverse and was ‘aggressively’ driving toward the police officers, but when body cams proved this to be untrue, they changed their stories.  In a news conference Monday, Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber said that he initially “misspoke” and that the vehicle had begun to drive away at the time the officer opened fire. The teens were already in their car when they saw flashlights and heard gunshots.  They drove for about a block before they noticed that there was smoke coming from Jordan’s head. The driver of the car, Jordan’s older brother, stopped the car, and they flagged down an approaching police cruiser for help. But for young Jordan, it was too late.


Roy Oliver

Officer Oliver was initially placed on desk duty, but on Tuesday evening, Chief Haber told reporters, “After reviewing the findings I have made the decision to terminate Roy Oliver’s employment with the Balch Springs Police Department. My department will continue to be responsive, transparent and accountable.”  Assuming that he stands by that pledge, this case may end differently than the notable cases such as Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and others.

Officer Oliver had a history of trouble during his six years with the department.  In 2013, he was temporarily suspended after the District Attorney’s office filed a complaint about his angry outburst and vulgar language during a trial in which he was testifying.  He was ordered to take training courses in anger management and courtroom demeanor and testimony. Earlier this year, Oliver was reprimanded for being “disrespectful to a civilian on a call.” Not major items, but indicative that perhaps he had issues that made police work a poor career choice for him.

Yesterday afternoon, a judge signed a murder warrant for Oliver, setting bail at $300,000. “The warrant was issued due to evidence that suggested Mr. Oliver intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death of an individual,” Melinda Urbina, a public information officer with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, said in a statement.

Time will tell whether justice will be served this time, as it has not yet been in similar cases.  It is time … time to send a message to all police officers that we will not tolerate racism, that indeed, Black Lives DO Matter.

They met in 1965 and had lived together ever since. For a time, in their youth, they traveled around the country, indulging in their mutual interest in Civil War history, tried their hand at growing apples in Wisconsin, but eventually both went on to become special education teachers, dedicating their lives to kids with special needs.  When they retired some twenty years ago, they decided to move south, to a warmer climate, and settled in Picayune, Mississippi.  In all that time, they never married, until 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled that gay couples had as much right as anybody to marry.  Their names are Jack Zawadski and Robert (Bob) Huskey.  Mr. Zawadski is now 82, and sadly, Mr. Huskey died last May at age 86.


Robert Huskey (left) and Jack Zawadski (right)

Mr. Huskey had suffered serious heart problems ever since by-pass surgery some years ago. “Jack cared for Bob through his surgery, recovery and as his condition deteriorated. By August, 2015, Jack was helping Bob with all the daily functions of life, including eating, walking and personal hygiene.” Mr. Huskey moved into a nursing home, and last April it became clear that he would soon die.

The couple’s nephew, John Gaspari, made the arrangements ahead of time with Picayune Funeral Home, the only funeral home in the county with an on-site crematory. Mr. Huskey died on May 11th, and the nursing home contacted the funeral home to let them know.  But the funeral home owners refused to pick up the body, saying that once they received the paperwork and realized that his spouse was also a male, they would not pick him up because they don’t “deal with their kind.”  After being together, loving each other, living a good life together for 52 years, then this.

zawadskiMr. Zawadski has filed a lawsuit and is represented by Lambda Legal, an LGBT rights law firm and advocacy organization based in New York. The owners of the funeral home, Ted and Henrietta Brewer, deny that they refused to pick up the body or that they made the comment, but their attorney offers no other explanation.

This story touched a raw nerve, as I have two very dear friends who are married, Bryan and Brian, as it were.  Brian died last October of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and in his last months, Bryan did everything for him, just as Jack did for Bob.  It was heartbreaking when he died, and this story reminded me so much of them that I could not write it without a few tears. R.I.P., Brian … and Bob.

After reading both of these stories last night, I have to ask myself, who are we, as a society?  When did we stop being kind and tolerant of the differences in people, or were we ever kind and tolerant? When and why did we stop valuing people for their individuality? I thought we were better than this. I really want us to be better than this.

22 thoughts on “Who Are We?

  1. Dear Jill,
    Jordan Edwards was a straight A student and a fine young man. The rogue police officers seem to have a standard playbook scenario for these types of situations. First the victims were doing something wrong like underage drinking, smoking pot or taking drugs, the victims as in this case were driving towards the police where they were in fear of serious bodily injury which explains their firing of a gun. If it were not for the video body cams, the truth would have not been revealed.

    Mr. Zawadski deserved to be better treated in his time of immense grief and I can only hope that the Picayune Funeral Home suffers some bad publicity. It doesn’t deserve to be in business. Cruelty is never acceptable.

    I admire couples like your Brian and Bryan who have stuck together in love, through thick and thin and I am so sorry for your loss of your friend, Brian.
    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Gronda. Brian had been suffering for a number of years, and he was, by his own admission, ready to go. Though Bryan misses him greatly, I think he was ready to see the suffering end also.

      Yes, you are right … if not for the body cams, I am certain the officer would have gotten away with it and it would have been ruled ‘justified’. The officers really weren’t too smart, were they? Wouldn’t you think they would have realized that the video would disprove their lies?

      Yes, cruelty is NEVER acceptable, but too many fail to understand this. I wonder how they manage to sleep at night?

      Hugs, my dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jill, it makes me so sad and sick to read these stories. I honestly don’t understand why these unfortunate incidents have become a recurring decimal? By the way, who are the owners of the funeral home to be the judge of other humans?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, my friend. It is sad, and seems to be gaining momentum in the era of Trump. Why? I think it is a number of things, the rhetoric of hate and vitriol during last year’s campaign, the ‘smug righteousness’ of the evangelical “Christians”, lack of education and understanding, and who knows what else. As to the owners of the funeral home? Southern, white, “Christian” bigots. It is old, y’know … I’m tired of seeing these stories and people acting as if one group is better based on superficial differences. This is not a happy country these days, my friend … you would do well to stay where you are. 😥

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    … both stories bring sadness to my heart! The first one because it continues to show the behavioral pattern of some police departments/officers.
    The second one hits right home … I met my spouse in 1969, my first love. Life separated us until 1996 when we reunited; have been together since. We married in 2015 … I wonder about the end of our lives!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for re-blogging!!! Yes, this one made me sadder than any, because this isn’t politics per se, this is the reality of our lives. If we are black, we must always be looking over our shoulder, afraid to trust those who are supposed to protect us. And if we are gay, there will, seemingly, always be those who hate us for no other reason than we chose to love someone they don’t approve of. Why cannot people simply live and let live? Love, rather than hate? Ignore rather than attack? Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. To be the parents of a child taken by violence must be awful but the anguish of knowing the killer was someone you actually pay to protect you and your children must be unbearable. Well done those offices which are finally refusing to support these killers and this Police Chief for sacking the man. This has to become the policy of all police departments and it should be that if body cams and car cams cannot bear out the officers story, they should be treated as guilty.
    As for the poor couple and the funeral home. I’m so tired of those who will not accept that being gay is nothing new and it has been tolerated in the past. Love comes where you find it and doesn’t choose a sex. Funeral homes are supposed to e considerate of the feelings of others but this one has proved otherwise. I hope a lot of people find another funeral home to deal with.
    It’s time the world learned tolerance and compassion.
    xxx Cwtch Mawr xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • So very true … tolerance, compassion, love … humanity. Why are these so hard for people? Even the usual answer to why people do most of the things they do … greed … doesn’t explain this one. The only answer I can come up with is that they were born with a piece missing … something missing in their brain or heart that keeps them from being able to care about others. Even among my friends, there is a mindset of “I’ve got mine, why should I care about anybody else?” I’m tired of having to keep writing these stories, yet in a way it’s cathartic for me to voice my frustrations with the human race. Still, I wish I were seeing progress, but I’m not. A new study shows anti-Semitic crimes have risen by 86% in the last few months! Guess those of us who care just have to keep on fighting, yes? Thanks for your humanity, dear David! Cwtch Mawr! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It makes me so sad to hear these stories which seem to happen on a daily basis these days, but even sadder to read the despair and hopelessness people (including me) feel with who we are as human beings. It doesn’t help all the time, but I try to remember to be true to myself as human, and to recognize that there are many people who also live their beliefs in humanity (as you do every week) and try to believe that it could just as easily be those people who will eventually win out in the end.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, my friend! Yes, I believe there are more genuinely good people than bad, but of course the ones like Officer Oliver are the ones we hear about every day, the ones who make the news. It is discouraging, but I must admit that writing my Wednesday morning posts about ‘good people doing good things’ forces me to go out and search for good people. I always find them, and it does help to restore my faith in humanity. For a day, anyway! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. both of these stories are so sad and I’m sorry for your loss as well of a dear friend.

    These police officers are out of control and here’s an album I put out last year which was my response to civil unrest. I hope you’ll find the liner notes to be balanced as I tried to address both sides of the debate with so many shootings of both cops and civilians by officers alike.


    I hope it’s okay to say if you like my music, please consider supporting independent artists.

    Thanks for listening and have a great weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you … I listened to a bit, and liked what I heard … I will listen to more later on when time permits. Yes, it is fine to say that … I believe in supporting independent artists of all sorts, including the Indie pu;blishing world. Thanks again … have a great weekend!


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