Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 29 Walk 4 Life. Welcome to Alabama

I woke up early as most days and hit the computer. As important as I felt keeping up with my blog here and my video blogs on http://www.onloq.com/ was answering all the personal e-mails was more important. I got a lot of mail from people that were dealing with the system and just didn't know what to do. They at one time were people that thought "not me". With larger portions of society becoming criminalized daily with new laws being put forth thousands of Americans are daily being forced to face off with the system of injustice.
After going through a number of my e-mails Teresa showed up to pick up my gear. We planned that she would pick up my stuff, go to work and meet me later that afternoon. I planned on pounding the pavement in the area all day till the afternoon when we hoped we would be met by a news team.
Teresa went off to work and I hit the streets. I noticed right away that Columbus, GA was not Atlanta. I got a little bit more opposition meaning more dirty looks and people using sign language to tell me I am number one. I didn't walk in circles but I pretty much just cover all the higher populated streets as I held my sign "End the Death Penalty" high. In my other hand I held my cell phone trying to solidify my meeting with the media.
As a number of states and media outlets I was contacted by a news reporter in Columbus. He was actually one of the first to respond to the announcement of the Walk 4 Life. Now here I was getting the run around. To make a long story short I was basically snubbed. It wasn't the first time and was sure it wouldn't be the last. The death penalty is a very sensitive issue and the media tends to play the fence. Some stand firm for the death penalty, others against but most play the fence jumping on what ever side they feel is appropriate at the moment. I guess it's all about timing.
When the press conference was looking like it wasn't going to happen I called Teresa at work and we quickly moved on to plan B. She would meet me near the border where I was going to cross into Alabama. She would walk with me for a bit and I would interview her for my "From the Frontlines" show.
As I walked I lost track of time. Teresa called me and told me she was on her way to our meeting point. I kicked into high gear. At one point I jumped onto this river front bike path. The scenery was breath taking. It was a beautiful which had first started with a down pour. The sun broke through and I didn't mind at all, even when I learned I had walked in the wrong direction for about 3 miles.
Teresa and I went back and forth as I made my way to our meeting point the Dillingham St. bridge which I finally got to. I crossed into Phenix City, Alabama which was about the half way point of the walk. It felt good, real good to cross that state line.
I was joined by Teresa as planned. We walked a bit and the decided to stop at a park near the Dillingham St. bridge I had crossed where she had parked her car it was actually the parking lot of the Phenix City Amphitheatre. We found a place to sit so I could interview her about Tony. S and his case. It took us only about 10 to 15 minutes and then we made our way back to her car. She was going to drive me and my stuff to my next resting place.
When I went to get into the car I noticed the passenger window in Teresa's car was broken. Glass was still falling telling me it had just happened. Keep in mind all my gear was packed in this car, some in the trunk but I had three bags in the back seat. Right on top of the pile in the back seat was a back pack with one of my lap tops but thank God it was all still there, we didn't get it.

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.
Teresa called the police as I checked the perimeter seeing I didn't think who ever smashed her window could be that far away. There was nobody in sight though so I just waited with Teresa for the police to get there.
I was really grateful this was nothing more serious because let me tell you it took the police a long time to get there. As we waited we realized why the window got smashed. It wasn't because someone knew I was in town. Teresa had left her purse in the car in between the seats. I was still surprised though because it was quite and nearly no one was in sight. How they rolled up, happen to look into the car and see the purse then actually smash the window and all in such a short amount of time still baffled me. On a good note Teresa's purse only had a few dollars in it. Her license and ATM card were in her pocket. They did get her house keys though and a blank check that had her address on it. It was pre-printed check that is given to you by you bank when you open a new account. When I checked the perimeter for a second time basically looking for the discarded purse which thieves do a lot after they take the contents I found 2 of the 2 checks. This had us concerned because they had her house keys and address.
The police finally arrived. The officer was cool he filled out a report and said they had a problem in the area with kids crossing over the bridge from Georgia just to steel. They would basically steel what ever cross back over the bridge into Columbus where they would cop drugs. His opinion was Teresa had nothing to worry about besides losing the few dollars and the purse itself.

The situation was messed up seeing here we were trying to do good and we have this happen but there was still a lot to be grateful for. They thief or thieves could have took one extra second and reach into the back and taken my backpack which contained a really expensive laptop or my camera bag. Gos was definitely looking out for us. The thieves could have also grabbed Teresa's jacket which had her license, military ID and ATM card.
After spending about 45 minutes with Alabama's finest we cleared all the glass off the passenger seat and headed out to meet with Esther from Project Hope who was to host me for the night.
On this day I walked for Eric Houston, California Death Row. And I walked for Troy Davis on Georgia's Death Row.

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