Monday, October 02, 2006

Lipsmackin' Thirstquenchin' Acetastin' Motivatin' Goodbuzzin' Cooltalkin' Highwalkin' Fastlivin' Evergivin' Coolfizzin' Kaunda

Two fun and useful Web tools: The title for this post came from The Slogan Generator. It was overloaded when I visited just now, but the sardonic folks at The Surrealist suggested I might want to check out some of their other Web toys and you might too. The picture is of a magnetic tape cassette, an antiquated data storage device. The title and credits pictured were selected by me at Cassette Generator. The bulk of my music library actually still is on cassette. I always loved that format.

Well, well, it's been a long time since I've written here. I suppose I've been having a crisis of faith about this blog. For one thing it's easy enough too think and not far off the mark that nobody reads this blog. But I was surprised to discover that a few posts caused a little trouble for people I know abroad. Also there was quite a lot of activity in the African blogosphere over a controversy about The Digital Citizen Inbada held in South Africa earlier this month. While I read the commentary with interest, I don't have anything to offer about that. It's old news. Nonetheless the controversy made me question whether it is appropriate that this blog is listed on Blog Africa and even more fundamental musings about the validity of the blog itself.

Oh, I'm so lazy, so it's not as if I've come to any conclusions. The easiest thing to do seemed simply to stop writing here. That maybe what happens after all. But below the fold on the front page of the newspaper today was an article on the trial of the accused killer of David Agar, a Sudanese immigrant shot to death here in January. My heart is hangin' heavy.

While Mr. Agar's friend and an eyewitness to the shooting testified that the accused Todd Akrie fired the shots, two defense witnesses testified that another man did it and "Common Pleas Judge Donald Machen acquitted Mr. Akrie of homicide, robbery and a fire arms violation." I gasped when I first read that, and had to pause now as I copied it. It is unlikely the killers of David Agar will ever face punishment meted out by a court in his murder. It is very difficult to try two people at different times for the same murder, so probably the person identified by the defense witnesses will never be charged.

A part of what makes the story of this trial so painful to me is my own brother's murder and the ensuing trials. I don't remember which Billy Bragg song, but there's a Billy Bragg song where the prisoner complains about justice and the judge bellows, "this is a court of law not justice." Ouch, the distinction is rather lost on the majority who operate their lives with every intention of staying out of courts. I was rather taken aback how difficult it was for me to sit on a jury as an alternate. Next time I'm called for jury duty I'm sure I will tell the court that I'm not sure of my ability to be impartial, not at an intellectual but gut level.

Still the greatest sadness comes from knowing that David Agar fled invading troops in Sudan and then spent several harrowing years in refugee camps in Kenya before coming to the States. And that here refugees are expected to "sink or swim." There are networks of people to help, not the least other Africans here, but the transition to life in America is enormously difficult. David Agar was composing a life. He regularly sent money home to his family in Sudan. He kept in regular contact with the family in Eastern Pennsylvania who sponsored him. He was and active guy who helped others. There's no good way to end this post. David Agar's murder was terrible.


Beth said...

Don't get discouraged. You never know who is reading. Just blog for yourself. I found that it has helped clarify my thinking, summarize, and connect with other people/resources - take for your example your blog and the slogan generator. And, here, I was only gonna just check email and take the day off. Now, I've been playing for hours ..

Liza said...

I read your story about David Agar. I personally knew David, he was friends with my boyfriend Lucio who was also a victim in this horrible crime. I was saddened to see that his killer will continue to walk free and David can no longer fulfill his dream of seeing his family in Africa again. His mother will never be able to say goodbye to her son. This is not fair. I sat through the trial and I felt uncomfortable because the defendant's family would look at me with horrible looks. I felt as those I was on trial. Todd Akrie was no saint, he had previous robbery and gun possession charges against him, he was not an innocent main who was wrongly accused. At the time of the trial in 10/06, he had other robbery and gun possession charges pending against him. Lucio knew 100% that Todd Akrie killed David. I asked him how sure he was and he said Liza, I saw that guy open the door and demand money. I don't know why David got out. He saved my life by doing that. Lucio has recurrent nightmares about what happened. He suffers from PTSD. Lu continues to feel guilty that he lived and wasn't able to help David. He told me that he did his best for David and asked for his forgiveness because he wasn't able to get the justice he deserved. I believe that Lu knows without a doubt that Todd Akrie killed David. This was not a case of misidentification. Lu felt that he had to leave Pittsburgh due to the negative feelings he has for the city and for his own safety. May justice for David happen one day, those who commit violent crimes against others, often are repeat offenders and he will be in jail again. I hope that time the judge will make the right decision, so another family will not have to go through what David's friends and family has and continues to go through every day without David. I appreciate your story and am touched by your sympathy for David. God Bless.

John Powers said...

Liza thank you for writing. I really appreciate it because I don't think many people really understand how many people are touched by violence. It's not just murder statistics it's families and friends who are hurt too. I do hope that Lucio can get some help. Surely that you understand is some comfort.