The Journey for Justice

As I write this it has been one day shy of a month since you were taken from us. The killers have been apprehended, their lies spinning in the media, the pain of still not knowing the real reason why they did this, and continuing life without you are all washing over us in the most surreal of ways. We see people living while we are all still on that corner in disbelief. It feels like we are trapped in some time continuum while the rest of the world moves on. It has been very difficult to get back into living while we are really still waiting and wanting to wake up from this nightmare.

While we mourn the loss of you, we also acknowledge the blessing of knowing your killers were captured and now must face the consequences of their actions. As we attended the Vigil for Homicide Victims Families for 2011, we met many families who did not even have this peace. We are thankful for that at least. My prayers are with these families holding out hope that someday they too will be able to have justice for their families and their loved ones who were taken from them so violently.

Sadly the job of defending these killers has now begun. As painful as what actually happened, the lies and the demonizing of Andrew as if he asked for this somehow are sickening. Creating and conjuring up stories to try and justify the taking of a life of another human being makes no sense to me. If they were forthright about what occurred that night we could begin to heal and move forward. However the journey for justice and the work of honoring Andrew for who and what he was is now a daily task that is liken to reopening the wound over and over again while putting  more and more salt in that wound. One day we hope to make that wound clean and heal from it. However we are busy with the task at hand, the task of not letting the lies and stories take root and flourish. We want answers, we want truth, and we want justice!

It seems in the last few days new accounts of what happened are released to the media. A new day, a new story, a new lie, a new pain.

Here is one example of the new and ever changing stories we have had to endure:

Sorry but I cannot look at them anymore nor see the names and claim to have full control over my anger at the lies and artful storytelling that replaces fact from fiction. I simply do not have the space or capacity right now to even have their names share space with Andrew’s. I simply don’t. I am praying and working on it.

Not to mention Andrew did not create music or rap or need or want the items they claimed he took from them. They simply lied. Andrew was no rapper, nor claimed to be a musical artist in any way, shape, or form. He owned a few game consoles that he purchased from Wal-Mart (in his possession for quite some time) and I am certain any number of employees from Wal-Mart would be happy to prove he worked hard and earned everything he possessed. He simply was not this person the killers would have people to believe. But it still leaves us wondering why they did this?

With the addition of taxpayer-funded legal counsel aiding the killers, they are now feverishly recreating the circumstances of that fateful night so they can find a way to freedom. Lying is not a way to freedom! However anyone that knew Andrew can read the stories and know they certainly are lying instead of manning up and taking accountability for their choices. Playing God, no matter what the reason is, is not our role to take. If you should choose this path, you must also be prepared to live within those decisions even though you may regret them. When you put a gun in your hand, you also claim a power that cannot be reasoned away with lies and fallacies. You decided to take an adult action when your mindset was that of a child’s. You will answer for that as an adult and lying will not make it any better. In fact you cannot get the redemption or the freedom you seek until you make it right with God, your community, and those you impacted directly, including your own families who now also must experience some loss and grief of their own. The best defense for you now is to choose truth. For my sister Karin and Andrew’s daughter Alayna, I hope this one thing you will give them as it is what they deserve to have in order to start healing.

In the last month we have all been through an array of emotions. One can get tired from a 24 hour stretch. In those hours you go from joking with Andrew about something he would have done or would have said, to becoming very angry he is not here to share it with you. You tell a story or remember something, a smell, a picture, pick up the phone to call him and it just hurts to your soul.

Anger, hate, revenge, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding all run the gambit each day in this quest for the justice we seek. In order to heal we must address these feelings and then pray on them so that we have power over them and not the other way around. I know my soul is tired; I can only imagine how Karin must be feeling. It must be overpowering and overwhelming. However I am so very proud of her and am learning from her how to be a survivor, a fighter, and a good mom even though time and space separate you from your first born child. She is advocating for Andrew and Alayna as well as for herself and for Symona, Alec, Micah, and Amira. They are all going through hell, shear hell.

Today as I came into work I could have sworn I saw you driving up for school. I raced to park my car and greet you and was tear-filled thinking I was waking up from a very long and realistic nightmare. However the person in the car was not you. The horrific wakeup call sounds again, Andrew is gone and this is real. The sun is shining on my face but I cannot feel its warmth. I get angry with God and ask for understanding and a word, but it is hard to hear Him when your heart is heavy burdened.  So I go back to my office filled with pictures of you and boxes of tissue to hide and cry until I can muster up the courage to walk amongst the living even though I feel so empty inside.

Anger is the toughest emotion to deal with. And in dealing with anger, I am asking God to forgive me for doubting He will see us all through this. I have anger for the killers who decided to act like cowards and then lying on top of it, making it that much worse. I was angered that the only law enforcement officer that attended the Homicide Vigil was Sheriff David Clarke. Where were the police chief and the mayor? Why were they not hearing and seeing these people and consoling these families? Anger at people who show hate and the utmost of disrespect for the sanctity of human life and saying or writing hurtful words knowing a grieving and suffering family will receive them. Anger for not being a better aunt and somehow protecting my family, and failing to protect Andrew.

One last ride, one last hug, one last lunch together, one last laugh at something. God please just one more time. I am so angry for taking for granted the time we had together. This was a gift I failed to respect and now it is gone forever.

And lastly dealing with anger that nothing you do will ever change this one thing no matter how many bargains you make with God to restore Andrew’s life.

However it is in voicing this anger that you find out exactly who and whose you are. While the anger can be distracting or comforting for a moment, it is not empowering nor is it going to bring Andrew back. No amount of vengeance or evil to those who trespass against us can ever replace what we have lost nor will it make it any better. It just gives the devil the victory he seeks. It is also in this anger that one realizes the pain and hurt you are feeling are not anything you would wish on your worst enemy including these murderers or their families who have done nothing wrong to have pain thrust upon them now as well as our family. This anger must pass so that we can move forward and seek justice and act according to God’s will. It is a tough task.

Seeing this vicious cycle of hatred and violence in Milwaukee inner city living for so many years also compels me to be even more renewed in my own mission to help stop senseless violence. As adults we must be better role models and act like Christian adults at all times for our youth. Only then can we start to give them any hope for a better future.

We know that the leading cause of death for young black men Andrew’s age is homicide at the hands of another black man. We must be now even more vigilant about getting Andrew’s story out there, the real story. If it can reach even one hardened heart, open one closed mind, give someone pause before picking up that gun,  cause someone to reevaluate their anger and the consequences of acting upon that anger, then Andrew will have saved someone and that is the hope that gives me strength to even share this pain with you all today. Somehow someone might live through the night instead of dying violently. No good byes, no chance to say one last I love you; just an immediate halt to a life lived out loud and vibrantly. Andrew and Karin deserved this and it was taken from them for no reason other than anger and hate.

At some other time I will share more of what I have been experiencing. Now I hope we all can focus and look at how we can move forward together and save our children. Those of you, who know me, know how lengthy I can be. And as sure as I hear Andrew telling me to get to the point just because he has a date with his most precious baby girl Alayna, I will stop here and welcome you to share your thoughts and feelings as well. They have been empowering and so thoughtful we appreciate them all.

I want to end by taking time to thank all those people who took the time to send cards, call and uplift our family, share this story, pray for us and with us, deliver food, flowers, a word, or a hug. We thank you very much for sharing so unselfishly.

Thank you to Alderwoman Coggs for her support, leadership, and guidance. She has always stood for the needs of the inner city and all of the residents of this city. We need to acknowledge her for her leadership in the community and her work with our youth and Tracey Dent as well for his tireless work with our youth.

For those in the community who took the time to stand with all the families at the vigil which I know meant a lot to all of the families and for those who host this somber occasion faithfully each year. MICAH and Northcott Neighborhood Association along with Mothers Against Gun Violence, Glenda Campbell work very hard call our attention to this matter each year and help the families cope and survive. Thank you!

For MoWoods Designs for taking the time to help me design and recreate some great memories in pictures and helping bring my words to life. Thank you!

Brother Frederick Alexander Meade, a very big thank you for using your voice and power to get this message to the right people and for your support and dedication to our family. More than we could ask for you sacrificed without a hesitation or moment’s pause.

Those people from Andrew’s other family at Wal-Mart; the shirts, the pins, the food for the repast, the donations, the flowers, money, and everything you all gave even in these tough economic times, THANK YOU. I now see why Andrew went to great lengths to keep you protected and loved you all like family. You all are truly a very special community and have been a great inspiration.

To those I am forgetting excuse my tired mind and accept my apologies and please know I am thinking of you and thanking God for you and your connection to us and Andrew. His friends and those who offered up stories that shared who Andrew really was and those who did not know him at all and took time to share your support, compassion, and concern, God bless you! This is the beloved community Martin envisioned for us. We are in relationship with each other and what happens to one happens to us all. God bless you continuously.

Humbly I want to ask you all a few favors, as if I could, but I must:

There are some very angry young people in this community who have said and written some very hate filled remarks in the past month directed at Andrew and our family. Their comments are unspeakable and misguided. Instead of meeting them in hate, I ask everyone to pray over them with a strong force that will move them to be compassionate people instead of what they are becoming. They only know what they have been taught or have seen. Possibly somehow we have forsaken them or failed them in some way. We must give love to them now more than ever. They are truly a bitter group and it is in their hate that we must be an example and show them the real power of unconditional love to remove that hate from their hearts and stop them from becoming the next perpetrators of violence and devastation. Please reach out to these young people and help them.

Secondly if you know of a young person without a mentor or positive adult in their life, or are in need of a mentor or positive adult for yourself, can you reach out to us someway and let’s get these relationships going? Our young people are in a war that rivals the wars overseas. They are fighting to get to school, to get home, to get to work, to achieve and succeed and we are not doing enough to help them safely to a better outcome. Let this violence start coming to an end and let us work together to give our young people some hope and care. They need us and we are not responding in every way we could.

Thirdly, the preliminary trial starts January 9th at 1:30 pm Room #146 of the Criminal Justice Facility located at 949 North 9th Street. We are asking people to come join us to take a stand against violence, to stand up for our young people, to let the community know we have had enough of the violence, we have had enough of the lies and less than fair penalties that often communicate to people that human life is not valued, to stand up for Alayna as she approaches her 3rd birthday without her daddy by her side, and as always for Andrew and the person he really was and will always be. And simply for Karin as she needs our strength and our power in number to be her strength and her voice until justice is given to her. Please if you can come be with us, we would appreciate your help in showing this city we matter, Andrew matters, our young black men matter, all human life matters!!!! WE MATTER!

As always if you want to help with Alayna’s fund or help Karin as she seeks to pay for Andrew’s Home going and for legal aide, you can make donations at Educator’s Credit Union to either fund.

The Andrew Damone Tyler Memorial Fund

The Alayna Marie Tyler Benefit Fund

Both Funds are at The Educator’s Credit Union

414-325-2500 Toll Free 1-800-236-5898

P O Box 081040 Racine WI  53408

 Again we thank all of you who have made donations to assist Karin and our family. Your actions are prayed over as well. God bless you.

Family please take time to just love each other like tomorrow is not promised. Call your family, make up with your friends AND especially your enemies, call that person who you feel trespassed against you and make it right no matter what. If there is a “hater” in your life let it go or give them the gift of peace which is strong and unselfish. Walk away if you cannot make it right and forgive yourself of your own trespasses. Use life’s lessons to make you stronger and learn from them. Most importantly learn how to be peace (make it a verb-ACTION), learn how to forgive, learn how to love, learn forgiveness and compassion for all God’s creatures. Love conquers all even death. I love you all and may His peace be upon you all always.

Peace Family,