Matthew Part VI: What is Justice Epilogue

Portrait of Matthew Avery Solomon

On January 31, 2019, Anthony Ginez, the Mitigator for Community Resources Initiative, who is working on Luis Rojas’ case with defense attorney Alexandria McClure and Harriet, the CRI videographer, came to Portland to interview me. They had interviewed members of Luis’ family and they wanted to talk with me again. They were making a presentation for the Federal Department of Justice, explaining why the death penalty was not appropriate for Luis. During the course of the afternoon, as Anthony and Harriet posed questions to me about my relationship with Matthew, I was forced to think about our entire history, about the actual limits of our connection when he was alive and how his murder and my sense that I was actually, quite literally, responsible for his death, allowed me to become aware of how centrally important Matt had become to my entire life. You might say that Matt’s murder, the… Continue reading

Justice Holds the Broken Tenderly

Lisa Montgomery is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, January 9th. Her crime seems to me to echo the extreme brutality she endured throughout her own life. She experienced rape more times than can be counted, including gang rapes by her stepfather’s friends, sodomy, and being sold for sex with people such as the plumber and electrician by her mother when work was needed in their home. Her stepfather built a special room where she could be raped more often and more easily. She was smothered to silence her screaming, she suffered a concussion, was beaten with cords, and urinated on. Her mother put a gun to her head. She would also duct tape her daughter’s mouth shut as punishment, and Lisa was required to be naked and silent among her parent’s friends. As a young adult, she was forced into a marriage by her mother where she continued to… Continue reading

THE GEORGIA JUSTICE PROJECT — Family Restoration after Prison

Timothy with his children

by Ross Brockway of the Georgia Justice Project. Artwork by Kim Vanderheiden. Reprinted from The Conscious Lawyer magazine’s special feature of the work by members of PISLAP (Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law and Politics.) If you feel moved by this story, please support the work of the Georgia Justice Project and PISLAP, and sign up to receive The Conscious Lawyer where you’ll find many more articles inspiring and informing us to practice law with awareness and intention. Continue reading

When, America, Will There Be Liberty and Justice for All?

When, America?

“Liberty and justice for all” is an idea we’ve never lived up to, –never even have come close. A year or two ago, when the Pledge of Allegiance was led in assemblies in my children’s school, I stopped saying the words, and instead, with hand over heart, decided to pray that someday it will be true. The featured artwork is a Tenderly Project piece on the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, police brutality, and racism in America. The Tenderly Project is a meditation on the sacred value and beauty of all beings. The thick, jumbled tangle of botanical illustrations represent the chaotic, exuberant, too-much-to-comprehend fullness of life in our world. The intention is to work in a state of prayer, holding the subject tenderly, and extend healing and justice to the subject and those touched by similar life experiences. This piece may be copied and shared… Continue reading

In Addition to Protest, 10 Actions in Response to the Death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, & Ahmaud Arbery

Three abstract figures

Some of these are things you can do on your own. Some are things that are easier if working in a group for support and dividing up tasks. 1. Contact your local leaders to insist that a community review board of police complaints be created where you live. If one already exists, how are the members selected? Is it made up of a diverse membership, not only racially but economically, and of people with diverse life experiences? Does it have enough power to sufficiently respond to a harmful occurrence? If not, discover what steps you can take to have one formed. 2. Communicate with local officials and police department to find out what training local police receive regarding sensitivity to stress and trauma, de-escalation, building community relationships, restorative justice and restorative practice techniques. 3. Push for a review of the nation’s police forces to remove officers who repeatedly exhibit racial… Continue reading

Shelter in Place without Shelter

As people in America and around the world are being told to shelter in place in response to the rapid spread of Covid-19, the unhoused remain exposed, without access to shelter, medical care, and are losing access to food and places to wash hands or shower. Some government officials have promised hotel vouchers or trailers, but they have been stalled, and are not reaching local municipalities. Some people among the unsheltered communities are frantic, others are becoming hopeless. People are very scared. In the past week, I’ve personally worked with families with children who had nowhere to go but the street (who thankfully are now being sheltered by a local non-profit), and a person with cancer who still has nowhere to go. In the past few months I’ve jumped on Nextdoor a number of times to support others in my community who were active in finding solutions for the local… Continue reading

Drones, Betrayal, Truth & Complicity: A Conversation

A rich and very personal conversation took place surrounding a concern that arose in the publishing of Matthew IV: Compassion – A Radical Critique. Of the two speakers in the beginning, Kim is the artist who began this Justice Conversation site and has been publishing the articles. Bill is the author of an extended essay, “What is Justice?” which has been running on this site as “Matthew,” a reference to Bill’s stepson who was murdered on the street in San Francisco in 2008. Kim and Bill have a 15-year relationship and used to work together in her studio, and it is due to this, that the conversation was able to take place with such detail and honesty. The final speaker at the end is an unnamed person, A_____ who was asked to respond to the piece, in order to help evaluate the concern. BETWEEN BILL AND KIM: KIM, Feb 21… Continue reading

Matthew Part V: Imagination

“Even the quest for justice can turn into barbarism if it is not infused with a quality of mercy, an awareness of human frailty and a path to redemption. The crust of civilization is thinner than you think.”                              – David Brooks, The Cruelty of Call-out Culture, NT Times, January 14, 2019 “Under the new outlook multiplicity of material wants will not be the aim of life the aim will be rather their restriction consistently with comfort. We shall cease to think of getting what we can but we shall decline to receive what all cannot get.”       – M.K. Gandhi, Young India, 3-9-25, 305 “I do not believe in the doctrine of the greatest good of the greatest number. It means in its nakedness that in order to achieve the supposed good of fifty-one per cent, the interest of forty-nine percent may be, or rather, should be sacrificed. It is… Continue reading

Lunch with Looms: Connecting Programs to Create Community

loom with weaving

Middle school – what does it bring up in your mind? For me, and most of my friends, those days were a struggle. I felt awkward, insecure, and was bullied throughout my 7th and 8th grade years by both girls and boys, so much so that I often pretended I was sick just to sit in the peace and quiet of the nurse’s room. Though it was really tough, there were certain realities that I didn’t have to deal with: phones were at home and still attached to cords and there was no internet. School shootings were non-existent in the early 1980’s in Wisconsin and Ohio. Now a parent of a middle school boy, amidst the constant news of school shootings, my troubled memories mix with the new realities. Certain questions are brought to the forefront of a parent’s mind these days: How do we keep our kids safe on… Continue reading