A new approach to old problems!
Monday, February 9, 2009
Leon E. "Chief" Frazier is a 27-year retired law-enforcement professional with a Sociology degree from the University of Dayton, Ohio breaks down on theory he came up with he calls 60-20-20 a great incite on the problems we have with police officers on the wrong side of the law.
Learn more about Chief at www.therevealer.com or check out his work right here on www.youtube.com/lefrazier
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I was way off my route but I knew it was for good reason. We bid our see you laters to Teresa and quickly drove to meet another comrade Judy who I had met before. I met Judy and her husband in La Grange, Georgia at the march I had participated in there. I met Esther through Judy. We ate dinner with Judy and her husband which was really good. It was so good I went for seconds but had to take it to go. I was staying at Esther's house and she had to get to her home to catch an important phone call. No she did not do the cell phone thing. Understand when I say I took my dinner to go, I mean it. I had to just grab the plate. I even took Judy's silverware. We were in such a hurry I even took her cloth napkin which made for a good laugh.
We got to Esther's house in time for her to get her phone call which she passed off to me. The important phone call was from Jeff. Jeff sits on Alabama's death row. After speaking to Jeff Esther and I spoke for a while then went to bed. It had been a long day and day 30 seemed like it was going to be a long one as well.
I woke up pretty early considering I didn't sleep many hours. I couldn't get right to sleep thinking about Jeff and the conversation we had. It wasn't a long conversation but we covered a lot, he also drilled me for what I was about to face this morning, a classroom full of teens and pre-teens.
I really wished I had been able to record the conversation I had with Jeff or better yet I wished that every member of society that was pro death penalty would find the courage to speak to at least one human being that has been condemned to die. Men and women on death row are always made out to be monsters. Well I'll say this much, Jeff is no monster. Here this brother sits waiting to die, nothing to lose in truth and all he wanted to talk about was his concerns for kids out in the free world. Jeff's compassion was definitely heart felt. He wanted nothing more from me than to make sure I would do what ever I could to reach as many kids as I could so that they wouldn't wind up in the belly of the beast. I had never spoken to Jeff before in my life but let me tell you, we spoke as though we had known each other for years. I instantly had love for this brother.
I had enough time to for a brief walk in the morning before eating breakfast then we were off. Judy had set it up so that I could speak to a class of 8th graders at Five Points elementary school in Five Points, Alabama. As I walked I prayed like there was no tomorrow and I reflected on everything Jeff had told me the night before. This lecture meant the world to me. I love kids. I love kids so much I would do anything to steer them clear of the path in life I fell upon. It's a big part of my mission, to keep as many kids as possible out of the grips of our system, out of the mouth of the beast.
I was a bit nervous entering the school that was up until we made our way into the office. I spent more time in school offices in my days than I had in actual class rooms so I felt at home. There were kids in there as well and being around kids makes me feel good. I could tell they knew who I was already, the big smiles made me feel real welcome. I was ready.
About 30 8th graders, four teachers, Judy and myself hung out for about an hour and a half. I could have hung out there with them kids for hours no problem. As I said before I love kids.
When I was asked to come to Five Points I was told there had been some racial tension. I was asked if I could possibly speak on this to see if maybe I could calm things down. I am no expert on racial issues but I had a number of situations in my life that definitely had prepared me for such a talk. I had just walked in La Grange, Georgia trying to ease racial tensions there so I shared about that. I also shared my first hand accounts of dealing with racial discrimination. I had dealt with racism as a child and also in prison I had been in a prison riot that was all about race.
The kids were open to every topic I touched upon. I first just gave them a brief about my life. How I ended up on the streets, in prison and how I ended up there in front of them. This brief covered an array of topics such as racism, drugs, violence, gangs, prison life, the culture of hip hop, the importance of education and yea capital punishment.
Some may be thinking what did speaking at an elementary school have to do with walking against capital punishment. Some may also think the kids were to young to be hearing about such a topic which couldn't be furthest from the truth. I really believe speaking to kids in this age range is vital seeing statistically a number of the kids in this classroom I stood in would inevitably wind up caught up in the web of the system. At least two of them would be facing capital punishment unless they could be reached.
The walk was about unification and with high racial tensions unification at Five Points was needed badly. The walk was also about educating people on the truth about the death penalty. Seeing these kids are at the moment directly affected by this inhumane act meaning money that should be going to our educational system is diverted into the criminal justice system. They have a right to know this. They also had the right to know the statistics. That at least one of them would wind up on death row unless they took action now. They listened, they asked questions and in the end we all learned something.
I told every child in that class room that I loved them and I meant it with all my heart. I wondered how many of them had never been told they are loved and cared about. See I was never told I was loved and cared about when I was a shorty coming up. When it comes to kids I am no expert, didn't go to college to study child psychology or anything like that. What I do is try to give kids everything I felt I needed as a kid growing up. I give them attention even if brief cause trust me, a brief moment can go a long way. Besides telling them I loved them and cared about them I hugged every kid in that classroom. Hell I scooped up a few and gave them seconds, a couple got thirds. Physical affection, yea I starved for it as a child. It was a great morning.
I was probably older then a number of these kids parents yet we connected. That is the beautiful thing about the hip hop culture. Hip hop breaks down racial barriers as well as age. I did a couple of accapella's for the kids. Even those that may not have been into hip hop listened closely with eyes wide open. A bond was built that was strong. I thought about Jeff the entire time I was up there. I also thought to my self, politicians, our leaders should be doing this like all the time. Not go into fancy schools but poverty stricken schools like this one. Ones with metal detectors and guards at the entrance. They should walk into these schools on a regular seeing these schools are a direct product of their decisions. If they used half the money and effort they use to lock human beings up towards better education, alternative education we would have have the problem solved. But they rather run around acting like tough guys shattering lives.
It was hard to say goodbye to the kids without question. I just wanted to stay and build with them but we had to go. They were going to lunch I believe. On the way out though I was asked to slip into another class room. I didn't have a lot of time but I got to spend like 20 minutes with a room filled with 7th graders. it was my pleasure. I could still see all them smiling faces.
I know some of the kids I got to meet will go on to high school but some will still be at Five Points next year. I hope to return and I'll tell you what, I would go to the high school to see the kids again. I love them for real. I think of them daily and pray for all of them daily.
It was hard to leave Five Points. The kids just showed so much love for real. We were on a schedule though. After leaving the school we rushed back to Esther's house where I had stayed. Esther set up a meeting with Charlotte Clark Frieson from the People's Voice newspaper. Before Charlotte arrived I had time to grab a bite to eat and talk to Jeff on the phone again which was good medicine for me. I actually got to speak to Jeff for nearly a half hour or at least it seemed so. I liked kicking it with Jeff we just had that connection.
Charlotte arrived shortly after I got off the phone. What a joy it was to meet and build with this woman. She was intelligent and her energy was incredible. The interview lasted nearly an hour I would say. She took some photo's and then we bid our see laters. She was awesome.
After the interview I only had moments left to build with Esther before heading out to my next stop. Words are hard to find to explain what Esther meant to me. She was simply amazing; another angel walking the earth. Esther really touched my heart. She gave me some great food for thought and she made one mean cup of coffee.
After one last cup of coffee Judy was set to bring me on to my next destination. A great example as to the direction the walk was taking took place in these moments. Though we were a bit behind schedule Judy got the idea to stop in on a local paper that hadn't responded to her announcements that I would be in town. We walked into the offices of The Valley Times. Judy quickly briefed everyone in the room where we stood and turned the floor over to me. I said my piece and in an instant we were appointed a young journalist. We went into an office and did the fastest interview I have ever done. I could tell what we were doing touched this young writer. His eyes really lit up as I rapped a verse for him. After answering a barrage of questions we stepped outside where I walked for him as he took some pictures. We bid our see you laters and Judy and I were off and running.
This is the direction the walk took. It wasn't that I lost control, the fact is I never controlled it from the start. I felt guided from the very inspiration of the walk so I didn't fight it at all, I just went with the flow. My willingness to go with the flow, to except everything as a blessing made the walk what it was up until this point and I could be nothing but grateful.
The press at times were not there for the walk as they said they would be but for the most part they were good about it all. We got more press than we had expected. The people themselves were coming out of the wood work. What we lacked in numbers was made up for by the efforts of those that did come out and help.
After this last interview Judy rushed me off to my next stop. I was to meet with a man they called Chief. Chief agreed to put me up for a night and being he was a film journalist he agreed to interview me. The only catch, I had to go to Tuskegee, Alabama.
Judy and I had great conversation on the way to Tuskegee. Before I knew it we had arrived. I quickly took my gear out of her car loading it into Chiefs car. I quickly was made to realize why they called this man Chief, see he was the retired chief of police. Judy bid her see you laters and was on her way.
After retiring from law enforcement Chief started his own TV show called the Reveler. I was actually dropped off at a location where he was filming a political debate. Chief put me to work right away helping him with cues. Funny even holding up cues the politicians wouldn't stop talking go figure that.
As I sat listening to these politicians debate and talk themselves I wondered what on earth I was doing there. My mind started running. I had been off my route for days and though it had been productive and I felt I was following God's lead I began to feel anxious but relief did come.
After the debate the politicians left quickly. Before the attendees could get out of the door Chief announced who I was once again and let me briefly explain why I was there and how I got there. This was enough to get the attention of a few people that seemed to be involved in the struggle I am fighting in. Meetings were set up and everyone went there way.
We got to Chief's house a bit late but I stayed up first talking with him for a while and then I got some work done before passing out for the night.
On this day I walk talked and worked for Larry Rush (On death row for over 20 years.)
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Teresa thought it could be the enemy, proponents I had to laugh some. I'm saying proponents do tend to be violent but the truth was no one really knew where I was except for the news people in Columbus. Teresa was well aware of the numerous death threats I had received so I didn't totally laugh away her concerns, I assured her that no one actually knew where I was. I was in truth supposed to cross the Alabama border some 200 miles away from where I actually had.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
On this day I worked and walked for Frankie Harris - PA death row.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
The rest of my walk back to Open Door was great. I just processed everything I had experienced. It was an intense day to say the least, filled with blessings, I had even received a phone call from an angel named Mary who volunteered to help me moving my gear in the morning. It was a perfect day all around and it wasn't over yet.
Today I walked and talked for Paul Reid - Tennessee death row.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
As I said I woke up early like 3am and I worked on my blogs and answered the never ending e-mails till about 7:45 am. I was then invited to a morning church service. My hearing was really bad but it didn't matter the spiritually in the room was strong and very heart felt. It ended with everyone in the room hugging each other it was just amazing. I was then invited to breakfast at the home of Don and Carolyn Mosley who live at the Jubilee Community.
Don Mosley was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia and a regional director in South Korea. With a background in history, math, engineering and anthropology, he helped launch Habitat for Humanity during the 1970s. He has been on its international board of directors a total of 10 years, a record length of service that reflects his enthusiasm for building homes for poor people around the world. He and his wife, Carolyn, are leaders of the Jubilee Partners community in Georgia, which has hosted about 3,000 refugees from more than 30 countries around the world. The main goal of the Jubilee community is to express Christian beliefs through compassionate service to others.
Don had to be one of the most interesting people I have ever met in my life. At breakfast he talked about his friendship with former President Jimmy Carter. He had just returned from a trip to the Middle East with Jimmy Carter. A trip that was making headlines at the moment. I was speechless. This man had some incredible stories. I could have talked to him for days but he had a meeting to attend and I had some walking to do.
I didn't do any filming at the Jubilee Community at all because I chose to just take in the scenery as I meditated and prayed. I basically walked around the property which was deep in the woods of Georgia, it was beautiful with a lake and gardens all over the place. I used this time to regroup. I processed a lot of what I had experienced thus far on the walk.
At lunch time I was asked to speak about my past experiences in prison and to share about the walk which I was honored to do. I gave a brief history of what lead me to a life on the streets and behind bars and got deeper when I spoke about the Walk 4 Life. As I spoke about the brothers and sisters waiting to die in cages I couldn't hold back my tears. I appreciated everyone that was there lending me their support. It felt good to be amongst compassionate, loving and caring people that understood how I felt. They respected me for who I have become, who I am. Understand I am not used to this at all. I am more often times than not still looked at as the way used to be, still looked at as a criminal.
I was empowered and charged up after my time spent at Jubilee. I vowed to return which I will most definitely do in the near future. I think what they do there is incredible and I would love to volunteer to help for a time.
As arrangements were being made to drive me to where I was supposed to be, (back onto my route) I was informed about a different walk that was taking place in La Grange, GA. Don Mosley and his wife were attending this walk and seeing they volunteered to drive me back to my route I decided to put my route off a bit more and attend this walk in La Grange that was about trying to bring harmony and peace back into a racially divided community. I felt it had everything to do with what I was trying to do with the Walk 4 Life, trying to unify people. I was pumped up about attending this walk and I was also charged up about getting to spend more time with Don Mosley.
Don Mosley in action!
On the drive to La Grange which was again way out of my way Don and I talked non-stop, he was truly an amazing person. He had dedicated his entire life to helping others, his wife standing strong by his side and doing the same. He has even went to prison for what he believes in. This man is someone I will look up to for the rest of my life. Don not only blessed me with his company and his kindness helping me out on my walk, he gave me a gift I will cherish. He gave me a signed copy of his book I am so looking forward to reading when I finish this walk. God bless Don and his wife Carolyn.
When we got to La Grange I got to meet another amazing couple that ran another Christian community there in La Grange. Anton Flores and his wife greeted us with open arms upon arriving to La Grange let me to tell you I felt very welcomed. They were truly amazing people. I was speechless at the work they do for immigrants in this country. Anton like me is originally from Brooklyn, New York. He is also Puerto Rican like myself. If you know anything about Brooklyn, New York you know we Brooklynites stick together no matter what. It's a bond that is talked about world wide.
We broke bread together as we spoke about the racial problems in La Grange. There had been a wave of home invasions targeting the Latino community seeing a large number of Latinos are illegal and tend not to report crimes to the police out of fear of being deported. Some African Americans homes had been targeted as well and it was suspected that young Black youths were responsible for the invasions. The community was on edge and the racial tension was mounting and Anton decided to take action. He called for unification. He was asking everyone to meet on the streets to try and find solutions to the problems. He had printed up cards to hand out and briefed all the volunteers as to what we were to do. We were to greet people on the streets and speak about the issues. We were to knock on doors inviting people to come out and meet each other and talk about the problems at hand.
Anton Flores in Action!
We weren't many, but we were ready to hit the front lines. Armed only with flashlights, reflective vests and cookies we hit the streets. Understand that though we were walking in peace our lives were on the line. Those that were taking part in the home invasions were armed. A young brother had just been recently shot during a home invasion right where we started this walk. We visited him and he showed up his bullet wound with a smile on his face, I was amazed by this brothers spirit.
I personally took action first approaching a small group of Spanish brothers hanging out in a parking lot drinking some beers after a hard days work. At first I thought they could care less, but I was wrong. I talked to these brothers for like an hour, rapping for them in Spanish and talking about unifying the people of all poor communities. At one point I stepped away from our little cipher to approach two African American brothers I spotted walking to their car. I started telling them who I was and what I was doing there speaking fast on George L. Jackson and the Black Panthers. I spoke on the struggle that lead Huey Newton to build the Panther Party to battle oppression and racism. I spoke on how this struggle was still very much alive and how we needed to come together instead of killing one another. I spoke on how the Brown and Black struggle is one and the same and how this struggle was now also a struggle that included Whites and all races really. It's a struggle of class. These brothers listened and also agreed with much I had to say. I kept their attention for some time with my fast New York speech. I rapped a bit for them and they knew without a doubt I was real with mines. I gave them End the Death Penalty buttons and a hand full of material and asked them to spread the word, that we needed unity to overcome. We exchanged pounds and embraces and they headed out smiling. God is good let me tell you. He was working through me.
I approached a number of people as did all the other volunteers. There were a number of happenings that night walking in La Grange such as the police being called to check out a possible home invasion ready to take place. We were truly on the front lines risking our lives for we all felt was right. I definitely believe this walk had everything to do with what I was trying to do with the Walk 4 Life. Seeing there were casualties already in the crimes taking place, someone could very much so end up sitting on death row. My hopes was avoiding this from happening. I hoped what we were doing would reach one of the young brothers partaking in these home invasions and have him think twice before it was too late. Even more so I hoped maybe some of the young brothers would be inspired to protect their community along with Anton instead of being an addition to the problem.
See I know what it's like to become desperate on the streets. Desperate enough to arm yourself and desperate enough to pull out that weapon and use it. I have been there. People that have never been put into a life situation where it makes you so desperate find it difficult to understand how someone can turn to such extreme measures, I find it very easy to understand seeing I lived it. I was a kid that was left to slip through the cracks. I took to the streets because that was the choice I was left with. Once on the streets options are very few to the eye. There is help out there but honestly it took me over 20 years to find it. Even when I did find the help I desperately needed it wasn't an easy path to walk. With the lack of compassion and forgiveness in this country it makes matters all the worse let me tell you. People are to hung up on punishment, payment and individual responsibility instead of correcting and rehabilitation. Well when I see a grown man with a 5th grade reading level sitting in prison waiting to die by execution I wonder where the responsibility taking is. Did this individual fail or did we as a society fail; to busy to care for our children leaving them to make choices seeing we have free will when the fact is they haven't been taught properly as to how to make sound choices. I know I didn't have the proper tools to process the situations life handed me as young man growing up. I was treated less than human as far back as I can remember then was told I needed to except responsibility for my choices and actions when every choice I could see would have had the same end results. I have over time excepted responsibility but I can't over look the fact that I was failed, I was a victim of a cold society that is geared more towards profit over anything else including human life.
Anton and his wife were kind enough to put us up after a night of walking. I had a hard time sleeping thinking about the people in La Grange. Talking to the young Latinos that shared their incredible stories with me had a huge impact on me. How they work their asses off to send money to their families back in their impoverished countries as they try to survive here in America a country they look up to yet treats them like they were less than human, treats them like criminals. I learned a lot from these compassionate men who even in their dire situations reached into their pockets and insisted I accept donations to help me continue my fight. God bless them. We could all learn something from these brothers that seldom think of themselves. Yea I thank them and give thanks to all the beautiful people I met on this day. God bless us all.
We constantly fail our children here in America. Who will except responsibility for this fact?