The 'Friends of Marcia Powell' are autonomous groups and individuals engaging in prisoner outreach, informal advocacy, and organized protest and direct actions in a sustained campaign to: promote prisoner rights and welfare in America; engage the Arizona public in a creative and thoughtful critique of our system of "justice;” deconstruct the prison industrial complex; and dismantle this racist, classist patriarchy...

Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"

As of December 2, 2010 (with occasional exceptions) I'm retiring this blog to direct more of my time and energy into prisoner rights and my other blogs; I just can't do anyone justice when spread so thin. I'll keep the site open so folks can search the archives and use the links, but won't be updating it with new posts. If you're looking for the latest, try Arizona Prison Watch. Most of the pieces posted here were cross-posted to one or both of those sites already.

Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Their lives, their hands. Ours, too.

I tried to put the entry below up on the "Davon Acklin Needs Treatment Now!" Facebook page because of the unkind things someone said on the Governor's page, but it wouldn't stick - guess it's too long (I really find Facebook and the petition site too hard to navigate, personally). So I'm just blogging as usual; hopefully folks will find it here. Go visit and like the page, though, and say something nice for Julie. She's had a hard weekend.

The photos below are from my demonstration Friday morning across the street from the ADC administrative offices on West Jefferson St., by the entrance to Wesley Bolin Plaza (which is at the Capitol here in Phoenix, for you international followers). I hung out from about 6am-8am, when I was just too hot and tired to last any more (or I would have stayed until noon). I had to dance a little now and then to stay awake, actually, so I was blaring classic rock from my car (they must think I'm crazy). This is instruction as much as it is an update on protest activity, by the way - there's no need to have someone get permits and organize a crowd to do a demonstration of protest or support. You're supposed to get ideas and run with them now. Then email us your story and photos, like this:

"Bury Hep C, Not Your Prisoners!"

I made that t-shirt I'm wearing just for the occasion, and wore my most ancient, holey jeans for courage (they've seen a lot of direct action, and have been very disobedient with me). I wrote Davon's last name and ADC number in big black, bold strokes on the back of my shirt; I didn't really want to be confused for a prisoner, given the recent escapes, and there are always some out there in the AM as part of the Capitol grounds crew (some were watching, in fact). Official ADC gear is orange like my shirt, but has "ADC" on the back, not the prisoner's number.

(Photo was taken from the roof of my car. Maybe I really am nuts.)

After I chalked the sidewalk up (so it can be seen from the ADC office windows), I hung out with the sign on my car (so the traffic could tell I was protesting too), and guarded the whole thing through morning rush hour. No one bothered me a bit - which tells me they must have seen me and called both the prisoner cleaning crew and the cops off (I don't think I was breaking any laws, though. I was even legally parked). They seem to prefer ignoring us as a first line of defense. That's how they treat their dying prisoners, too.

The view of my car across the street from the ADC.
That's their sign in the background, at 16th St. and W. Jefferson.

By way of explaining the title of this post (which seems to contradict my appeal to Director Ryan, et al): while my message in chalk to the ADC was that Davon's life is in their hands, I know there's a lot more to it than that. Ultimately, even if the ADC did everything they could for him, it's back on Davon to educate and take care of himself. That means telling medical staff (not just his mom) when he isn't feeling well, asking for help, and making sure not to expose others or re-infect himself (there is more than one strain of Hep C, and there's still HIV out there, too).

Davon gets all that - I have no doubt that he's ready to take responsibility for his recovery. He already is. The hardest part for him is asking the ADC staff for help, though. He sees no point in telling them he doesn't feel well. Not only does he not expect them to do anything about it, but it's become such a chronic, daily occurrence (fatigue, waking up with headaches, etc.) that he could be spending all his time sending kites to medical, all to be told to go buy himself some aspirin. They won't even give him a nutritional supplement to stop the weight loss - they want him to get skinnier, first. Furthermore, as he sees it, there are guys sicker than him who need the care a lot more urgently, and frankly, I don't think he wants to be seen as a wimp or a whiner.

That doesn't go over well in prison with anyone.

So there's all sorts of documentation at the ADC from Julie about Davon's symptoms, but he apparently hasn't been hounding them about his Hep C like she has. He's just trying to survive prison life as best as possible (keeping his head down, as my dad would say after a career in the Army), and planning for the day he gets to be a pest to his kid sister again (brothers can be that way, you know?)

With that, here's the note I tried to post for everyone on Facebook earlier tonight. It's really good news, at least for me and my family. I think it is for others as well, because my own big brother still has a lot of love yet to give the world. He was once a prisoner, too. This is why I'm so engrossed in this fight. It's very personal, and Davon - and my brother - give me hope.


Hey, all: I got a call from my big brother tonight. He read the post I made about visiting Davon, and it made him think about what a tragedy it is that so many people in this country have choices but don't take responsibility for their health, while Davon is willing to take responsibility but doesn't have choices. So he decided to contact the Hep C clinic at the local university tomorrow to see if they can do anything this late in the game for him (he's had it for at least 10 years, probably 20). I was afraid that it would eventually kill him in a really ugly way, but I guess he's finally ready to make a long term commitment to take care of himself - largely so he'll always be able to be here for me.

I can't begin to tell you how much this means to me.

For those of you who don't know, my brother was out here to help when we had the candlelight vigil at the ADC in May (he brought over the Capitol gang to bless us), so he got a big dose of reality then, too, and has been following my posts about Davon ever since, educating himself. This fight and Davon's disposition about it all is what helped Bill break through his denial about his own addictive behavior and consider treatment for his Hep C. It’s inspired him.

So, don't give a second thought to hurtful people trying to sabotage your efforts to help your son get well, Julie. The right to health care shouldn't be reserved for only tho folks who hateful Facebook drifters find "deserving" - everyone with Hep C should have access to testing, education, and treatment, in or out of prison. Call me a socialist or communist (I'd rather be called an anarchist), but I feel that way about health care in general. Still, those of us close to Davon know who he really is and that his life is worth more than just prolonging - he has a lot left to give, like my brother does. What strangers have to say won't matter to the Clemency Board anyway - they'll have the bigger picture in front of them, along with you and me and whomever else wants to throw in with us.

And thank Davon for being such a mature and thoughtful soul the next time you talk to him; his willingness to fight may help save my brother's life. I don't know if the ADC will let me back in to see him at Manzanita again after my demonstration Friday, but tell him that in any case, I'll drop him another line soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great work, very inspiring! Maybe copy paste this into "notes" on FB? Or send it round via bulletin. FB is a mystery to navigate, I will alert people to this. Thank you, simply amazing.