Saturday, January 14, 2023

Love, Justice, and MLK Day

Yesterday, after seven years of incarceration and continual prosecution, Keith Davis, Jr. was freed in Baltimore.

Keith Davis Jr. Released; New City State’s Attorney Drops Charges With Fifth Murder Trial Looming, are Cassie, Baltimore Magazine

Baltimore state’s attorney drops Keith Davis Jr.’s criminal cases, Leo O. Sanderlin Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun

This piece from Baltimore Beat in 2020 will give you some additional background. Baltimore Beat is a weekly. I feel certain they’ll be covering yesterday’s release in their next issue.

Caravan for Keith Davis, Jr. Highlights Prosecutors’ Role in the Problems with Policing , Lisa Snowden-McCray and Brandon Soderberg, Baltimore Beat

Why am I sharing this here? 


Tomorrow Howard County will celebrate the birthday and life’s work of Martin Luther King, Jr. with festivities at Howard Community College. Monday is set aside for participation in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service at the Harriet Tubman Center. 

And just Friday a black man who was shot by police, wrongly accused, and relentlessly prosecuted for a crime he did not commit, was released after seven years. 

Keith Davis lost seven years of his life. His wife and children lost seven years of love and family life as he sat in jail. Davis has ongoing health issues that stem from being shot by police and were exacerbated by poor/inadequate medical care while incarcerated.

Why do we celebrate MLK Day? Why should it be a holiday? 

Not because he said some nice things that white people can take out of context and feel good about themselves, but because his message is bigger than toothless soundbytes and because our work is not finished yet.

Now, we got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. - - Martin Luther King Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here?”

What happened to Keith Davis (or Keenan Anderson) would not have happened to me. Or to my husband, or children: because we are white. We get the benefit of the doubt in interactions with police. We get the benefit of the doubt in school, with future employers, at the bank, with loan officers, with real estate agents, in our childrens’ schools.

For Black people in America there is no benefit of the doubt. There is no guarantee of respect for their civil rights or for humane treatment. No matter what struggles we encounter in our lives, whiteness acts like money in the bank for us in everything we do. It may be invisible to us but it is surely not invisible to the Americans for whom it is not granted.

Keith Davis has a wife and family who have always believed in him. He has a team of supporters who would not quit. He has a lawyer who never gave up. Even so it took seven years for justice to be done.

We do not celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day because he was a nice man who did some nice things and now that era is finished. If we do we are engaging in an act of supreme disrespect. This is a day to recenter our commitment to being the love that implements the demands of  justice, and to being the justice correcting everything that stands against love. 

Image of Kelly Davis and Keith Davis Jr. (courtesy of Facebook/Charlene Rock-Foster)

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