JUSTICE WAS NOT SERVED IN ALABAMA
Only three days have passed since the State of Alabama murdered Darrell B. Grayson and perhaps it is too early for me to say anything but all I write I have been saying for at least six years since I first investigated Darrell’s case: the so called evidence and the confession were bogus and we had the signed affidavits to prove it. Very few heard us although the Innocence Project did take on his case and I ask you, would they have done that if there were no evidence to suggest that justice had not been done?
I have grown tired of the oft-repeated statement that Darrell never said that he had not done it. My answer to that is simple: if he had no memory of that night, then he had no memory! Is that so hard to understand? A journalist asked me whether I wished Darrell had found his memory to state that he was not guilty. My answer was no, that integrity remained important to Darrell until the end and that new-found memories are for politicians. The other part of my answer is that the world did not know Darrell. They did not understand that once he came to terms with the inevitable, that he would never know whether he was guilty or not because his co-defendant would not tell him what happened that night, he realized that he needed to begin the work of leaving the world better than he found it. And we know that he did that. Did he, in the process of acceptance and moving to higher ground, neglect to insist on a thorough investigation? We know that he did that too. But tell me, how could a death row inmate insist on anything anyway? In this way of not advocating for self, as in many others, Darrell with the soul of a poet was no doubt unique.
I want you all to know that Darrell did leave a strong legacy and that Jeff Rieber the new chairman of PHADP and also Darrell’s best friend, as well as the board will carry on the mandate of our organization. Our name states what that is! When the state murdered Darrell a momentum began in our state and we honor him best by keeping it going. By the time you read this, the state will likely have also murdered Luther Williams whose mental retardation and psychiatric issues are denied because the state denied funding for comprehensive testing and a missed filing deadline. Once more money all about money, a leitmotif that most Alabama death penalty cases have in common! Please tell me, what is the price of a life? Are different lives worth more than others? Are you comfortable that the state by far outspends the defense? If you are, please do not dare to recite the pledge of allegiance and talk about justice for all. One of my legislators told me recently that to save money we should just take them out and shoot them all. Interesting for the Alabama history it brings to mind! I would say that if Alabama cannot afford the death penalty, and obviously it cannot, it is time to get rid of it now and while you are at it please ask forgiveness of Darrell Grayson and all the others where justice was not served and who were murdered in our name!
Greetings from the Editor’s desk:
This is a sad time for PHADP and a sad time for Alabama as well. This issue is dedicated to our fallen brother Mr. Darrell B. Grayson. As you all know, the state of Alabama executed him on July 26th. What you mayor may not know is the caliber of man he was. He was not only my best friend, he was the model of the kind of man that I hope to be one day. Everyone on the row who knew him, admired and looked up to him. No man is perfect in this world but Darrell was kindness personified. He was a poet, he was smart, and yet he was never the kind to think he was better than someone else. He shared his wisdom with the young men here at Holman in order to help them deal with life and death on the row. He was gentle and kind, and his accomplishments for Project Hope are too many to list here. He led PHADP into a new age of effectiveness and renown. Our job now is to keep up the momentum that has been generated over the last 7 years. His execution has created a fervor of activity that needs to be capitalized on. It’s what he would want. I promise to do my very best as the new Chairman of Project Hope. I have a Board full of dedicated men who will Âall do their best. I have the utmost confidence in them all. We have an Executive Director that has no equal in any organization. With dedicated people like this, along with our wonderful supporters, “Hope” will survive and prosper. I grieve with all of you who knew Darrell and those of you who knew of him. Let us do what he would want and stay focused on our objective of abolition. My brother, you will be remembered and honored always. I can’t improve upon his customary benediction at the end of his editorials, so I will copy him unashamedly and say simply this: PEACE
-Jeff Rieber, Chairman, PHADP
Z~540 cell H1-8a
Memory of a Mentor:
On July 26th, we lost our dear brother Darrell Grayson to the executioner. It was a sad day for all of us, especially as we were taught to keep hope and were hopeful for a positive outcome. Darrell, even while drawing closer to his execution, continued to encourage us all to keep our focus. Darrell was and will always be a shining example for us all.
Darrell was a positive influence in my life and the lives of others. He had the ability to see in others what they didn’t see in themselves. Before prison I never took time to pick up a book and read. I never concerned myself with politics, or even envisioned that I would one day be able to hold the position of editor of a newsletter. Darrell challenged me to do better myself and push myself to do things I felt I was incapable of doing. I learned first that I have a voice and should take advantage of that voice. Since then, I have encouraged others to do the same, while stressing its importance. All this I owe to my brother, friend and mentor, Darrell Grayson.
The shining example has passed on through the PHADP family of insiders and outsiders. Each and everyone of us has a reflection of Darrell within us. It shows through in all that we do and focus on. The words Keep Hope Alive will forever be in my memory as Darrell instilled that in us. His positive reflection will continue to shine, as the memory of his ideas continue to mentor. So to the family of PHADP, our supporters and sister organizations, we must continue in the direction Darrell has set for us, and in all things, KEEP HOPE ALIVE!
In Love and Peace,
Nicholas Acklin, Sec./Treas. PHADP
How do you say goodbye to someone you love and care for? How can you look into someone’s eyes knowing that he is about to be killed? Those questions have haunted me for over 13 years. Every execution gets harder and harder for me. Brothers that are fathers, uncles, counselors, mentors who changed me! Brothers with big voices that have never been heard! Why are all these brothers getting murdered?
My brother, I want to let you know how much you mean to me. I want you to know how you have been the reason I thirst for knowledge. My brother, I will never let anyone shame your name or character. I want you to know that I won’t let their actions towards you turn my mission into one of anger and revenge but into one of truth and justice. I know you want me to be strong, keep fighting and keep carrying the torch on. My brother the state killing you has brought so much hurt to my soul but I will never show them my tears and I promise my voice will be bolder.
My brother a lot of people don’t even know your life, past or present. They don’t even know how talented you are. They don’t know how you took lost men and women that society not only gave up on but threw into a cage called prison and forgot about. And you made them see the power in themselves that has scared powerful people all across the nation. My brother I want you to know that you have shown me things about myself no college could have brought out in me. The sad part about this article is I’m saying all of this after they’ve taken you from us all. I love you brother and you will always be in my heart.
Jimmy Davis Z 557, cell I1-28A
A Christian Perspective:
Dear Family and Friends,
We have just recently suffered a terrific blow to our organization, in the loss of our Chairman, Darrell B. Grayson. But, many of us suffered a far greater loss as Darrell was also our brother, friend and neighbor. At the beginning of each Christian Perspective I address my editorial to family and friends. Well, family and friends we have lost a member of the family and his loss will be felt for many for quite some time to come. How will we go on? We will go on as Darrell or Gritty Bear would have wanted us to. As God guides and leads us we are to follow. Following is not always easy especially if you are not exactly sure of the route. For Christians, our destination is heaven, but the route, though straight and narrow, never promises to be without pitfalls, stumbling blocks and/or obstacles. Not to mention the strange characters you will meet along the way.
G.Bear was one of the strangest characters I’ve met on this journey called life. We share little in the way of past experiences as he was born black in the oppressive and racist South, while I was born white as an Army brat with what most would consider a traditional education. So, what do you suppose would happen if these two diametrically different individuals met and became neighbors? (At the time, all we had in common, as far as we knew was the fact that we had both been sentenced to death by the State of Alabama). The first time we met was during my orientation to PHADP. And in the mid-90’s we often played basketball against each other. (The Bear could rebound and shoot the short jumper on me like few of our peers even though I had the height and weight advantage.) But our relationship really came together after Darrell became my next door neighbor. We were both on the Board of Project Hope and he was soon to become our Chairman. We were allies but, we really became friends shortly after he moved next door to me. You can really get to know a person after sharing mutual pains and suffer together. But, we also shared laughs and good times. We had late night talks about family, religion, literature, music and sports. We also shared stories of our childhoods and our hopes for the future. No topic of conversation was off limits (including race relations.) Gritty Bear loved a good debate. And I remember one between Bear and his best friend Jeff Rieber that lasted approximately three hours. The topic was automobiles and Jeff who is from Michigan was if course very pro-Detroit while G.Bear was expounding on the virtues of some of the foreign car manufacturers. The memorable thing is that they agreed on just about everything but, if a passerby had stopped to listen they would have sworn a heated argument was taking place. I actually turned off the T.V. just to listen and when they were done the entire tier was quiet. Until Jeff asked Gritty Bear for some coffee and Grit gave it to him then asked me why the tier was so quiet. I just broke out laughing and asked them both if they realized there were actually agreeing with each other the whole time. Bear just replied that he was bored and that conversations with a friend are much more interesting than anything on day time T.V. Chuckles broke out through the tier. I had to explain to Bear and Jeff that everyone thought they were fighting. That was how he was and how he expected you to be with him. It was satisfying to know that he was my friend. That no matter what trouble I was facing, he would be there and that he trusted me to be there for him too. He could be trusted to get your mind off whatever distraction was stealing your energy and focus from what is really important: life and leaving the world a better place than it was. He was successful. And I am grateful to have called him friend. He made this place easier to stand and challenged me to be better myself. Brother, you will be missed.
May the Good Lord send someone across your path that will benefit your life and lead you to become a better person. Keep us in your prayers in these trying times. God bless you all.
Ronald B. Smith Jr.
Editor Z 586 H1-6A
I recently was reading an e-mail that was sent to our friend Esther Brown, about the Catholic Bishops of the south, challenging the criminal justice and injustice in the south. But just as I was reading through the article I got a prison e-mail, what we call a “scribe”, little pieces of paper with a note written on it. “Tyson, did you know they were trying to set three people dates And one is G-Bear” to you, all the readers, G-Bear is our headstrong leader and Chairman, Darrell B. Grayson. As I read the scribe, I put my article on the back burner, and just dropped my head into my hands. I’m a devout Christian but man, I’m tired of this. I can’t even digest this, not at the moment anyway. Yes, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of men’s death since 1999. And the effect of them all was different. But Project Hope is like family. And this is our leader, another brother fighting the injustice of this system. The same system the Roman Catholics are saying in this article, that needs to reflect more on Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration. Well, while these types of articles are being written and debated with very valid points, men are being executed rapidly. Notice I stated: They are trying to set dates for three men, one being our leader while all of the arguments go on about a halt to executions. Well, how long will we have to argue? How many will have to die? How much injustice has to go on before someone stops debating and says STOP! Wait! let’s look at what we are doing. We are responsible as a community, to see that men and women are not on death row because of the color of their skin, the amount of money they have or don’t have. This is supposed to be a free country. We lead the entire world in the rate of incarceration. And as we have seen in the news over the last month or so, racism is still a big problem, and more so in our criminal justice system. Racial profiling is terrible in the state of Alabama and other southern states. Do you know my lawyers in Washington D.C. didn’t know that WE here in Alabama celebrated a racist Holiday? What’s to be celebrated about a civil war? If our state is celebrating this holiday what does that say about our Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration? I’ll give you my opinion: We are afraid to face a tomorrow that calls for change.
“Who will be the Good Samaritan” I was hungry and you formed a humanities club to discuss it. I was imprisoned falsely and placed on death row but you just complained about the crime rate. I was naked, and you debated the morality of my appearance. I was sick and you thanked God for your health. I was homeless and you seem so holy and so close to God. But I’m still hungry, lonely, condemned and on death row. Who will it be and does it matter?
We lost a very good man, Darrell Grayson who was executed by the State of Alabama. A system that is slowly drifting towards despotism. The Governor turned down Darrell’s clemency, ignoring the idea that he could very well be killing an innocent man. All he could see was blood as he went after Darrell’s life. Darrell Grayson fought for true Justice. What happened to him was not Justice. Anything that is loved is never lost or forgotten. When I spoke to Darrell he had such a true sincere hospitality and an overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood. The loss of such a good person left me utterly speechless. As his friend, brother, and fellow member of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty I will do my best to end state sanctioned murders. The death penalty is a plague that is running through the Justice system like an incurable cancer. It is a tool that is used for revenge and not Justice. The writings are on the wall and shouldn’t be ignored or overlooked. The people that are running this country don’t want to admit how arbitrary and capricious this legal system really is. Although, America is a Christian nation they don’t seem to understand that murder of any kind is wrong! I am honored to say I was able to get to know Darrell. And if you readers would have know him,then you too, would call him brother just as I did. If Governor Riley had taken the time to get to know Darrell, then he would have seen him in a different light because that is what kind of person Darrell was. Although Darrell Grayson is no longer with us, he will be immortalized in the hearts and minds of all the people he touched.
I MISS MY NEIGHBORS:
Darrell Grayson has only been gone a little while but I miss him already. He was executed by the state of Alabama as scheduled for a crime of which he had no knowledge of because he was passed out in a state of intoxication at time the crime occurred. Darrell will be forever missed like all the rest taken from my neighborhood here on the row, especially those like Darrell whom I knew well and shared a daily sociable relationship. Then there are those I never got to know as close friends but certainly acquaintances whose faces, voices, gabs, quietness or something else made deep enough impressions to be forever remembered and greatly missed. Never again able to ask what do you think of this? Or that? Why you think this or that? Never again able to share ideas as death penalty opponents in the midst of memorable smiles or critical laughter so desperately needed by the souls of this dark place. Hardly, if at all, are we ever sent here fastened securely in handcuffs and leg irons under armed guard already knowing each other; but once we are here, this place becomes our neighborhood, our residence and our everyday livelihood, and so does everything and everybody surrounding. Despite the individuality it is all the same neighborhood and what affects one affects all. Therefore, we all share the commonality of a community where everyone shares another’s pain and suffering. Some may share more of another’s pain and suffering than others, depending on the closeness, friendship, etc. When one of us is placed back into the restraints of hand and leg irons under armed guard and taken away by force if necessary, to never gasp another breath it is felt by the whole neighborhood. It is no different than on the outside, so we all share the grief and the pain. Neighborhood is still neighborhood and when one falls everyone stumbles until strengthened to walk again without the limp. We are presently facing even darker days with so many appointed to be executed soon. So not only do we cry out for your sincerest prayers but also for every possible echo of our cries to be heard in hopes of creating enough compassion to stop the madness.
Coor. PHADP, Z 505/ I1-8A
How Can I?
Ever since the day it happened, July 26th, I’ve been asking myself how I can best remember our beloved brother, friend, and leader Darrell B. Grayson? To this day, (a few weeks later) I’m still struggling to come up with the best solution. It’s hard to come up with one when you can’t seem to accept the fact that Darrell is no longer with us in the flesh and you still want him here with you doing things you always did together. It’s hard to come up with the right format when you still have a lot of (beep) anger looming over you and inside of you because of a few (beep) politicians who are more concerned with a damn vote than doing what’s (beep) right. They could have granted him a DNA test, but they didn’t.
No matter what I come up with, when I’m able to think clearly, I feel as if it’s not enough. The last thing I want to do is cheat Darrell out of his glory because then I’ll have to answer to a lot of people, among other things. Darrell truly meant a lot to each and everyone of us, and I can see how people will be quick to let me know that I left too many things out. Yes, Darrell was a very bright man, loving, dedicated, giving, athletic, as well as a leader, a poet, and the list goes on. But how can I best remember him?
So as I’m struggling to come up with the best solution I must turn the table. How will you best remember Darrell B. Grayson? Will you remember him by continuing the fight against injustices that he was so very passionate about to the very end? Yes, that is part of how I will remember Darrell, but I still feel that I can do more.
The scratching nib confounds the fates.
To re-cork a nightmare you must traverse it.
Some days gestate with the pace of ones years.
Our senses dictate urgency to live legend
Where Brutus broods in the dark, there
Are bones supporting their heartless home.
Perennial dream: the soliloquy of deceit crawls
Over icy lips of a dead man, to hang ‘fore eyes
Become lamps in existential nursery rhyme.
The liquidity of insanity floods sacristy of consciousness.
Once enthralled by selective memories and mendacity,
All lose their powers to torment the fevered mind.
Some sons are mined as jewel encrusted meteors.
Others, Samsonesque, are conveyed as curses
Brought to heel in these penned wastelands.
Everything under time’s keen calculus succumbs.
Absent power of suggestion, the kindred, and
The Wicker Man will debark mid-harvest.
Darrell B. Grayson
Written by Darrell during his last days the poem describes his coming to terms with the betrayal by Victor and of being sacrificed like the Wicker Man for the false belief of others who in his case believe that the death penalty is a deterrent. This poem should be understood as Darrell’s spiritual victory over bitterness, his transcendence of the evils that took his precious life.
Usually Darrell wanted individuals who read his poetry to mine for its meaning on their own. He wanted to challenge them. In this case, however as we discussed it in depth during the last days and because I see the message as too important not to be understood, I know he will forgive me that I added this footnote.