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17
Aug

A National Wildlife Refuge: NOT!

I recently took part in a protest involving the decision to allow – for the first time – hunting in a National Wildlife Refuge, in Loxahatchee, west of Palm Beach County, Florida.

There’s something very wrong with a culture that says it protects animals but allows them to be slaughtered – poached – on the very same sacrosanct part of the earth dedicated to protect them.

To view the photographs and read the story, click here (opens a new window to my photography website):  http://andrea-oconnellphotography.com/2014/08/16/a-national-wildlife-refuge-not/

So, are you wondering where the heck I’ve been?   I’m still here and thriving but not writing as much as I used to.

I’m following another dream of mine:  Photography.  Been working really hard at it, too. 

I hope you’ll check out my work here:

http://andrea-oconnellphotography.com/

And here:

http://www.andrea-oconnellphotography.net/

 

Andrea O'Connell Photography

The United States Fish & Wildlife Service, along with the State of Florida, is allowing, for the first time ever, sport hunting of alligators.  The Wildlife Service “awarded” eleven licenses to alligator sport hunters, allowing each hunter to kill two alligators each.  

The hunt kicked off last night, August 15th, 2014, and runs until the end of October, 2014

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5
Aug

Sharing the Outrage: An Innocent Man Executed

This morning I read this New Yorker Magazine article “Trial By Fire,” on my cell phone, as I was taking my dogs out for their first walk of the day, and my teeth are still clenched. I feel like there’s this vice-grip-like anger pounding in my neck.  It’s like this astonished and futile anger and I would just like to spit.  And curse – really loud.

Shit.

But, see?  Cursing is completely pointless.  So is spitting for that matter.

And then, after reading this insanely sad article, I realize it was written in 2009!

Where the hell have I been?  Todd Willingham was murdered by the state of Texas in 2010!

Another innocent man murdered by the death penalty – murdered by our own US government.   This is the greatest country on earth, we’re so often told, and we do this?   We murder our citizens is what we do.

I sat for a while on my couch, after reading the article, with my dogs on my lap, drinking my coffee, the sun pouring in from the window behind me, and I imagine being hauled away – accused of a crime I didn’t commit.  Dudes with guns coming into my home, throwing my dogs aside and tackling me in my pajamas because they knocked on the wrong door.

And then…What if I had to go to trial with a court appointed hack as a lawyer, in a paltry town in Texas, knowing my lawyer didn’t give a rat’s ass about me because his D.U.I. cases pay his bills?  What if?

And I think – forget what if – that could be me.  I could be Todd Willingham.  It could happen to ANYONE (well, except for the very rich – they buy themselves out of those kinds of outrages).

Our justice system isn’t. Our children are being scooped up – young black children, in particular. Yes,  children, scooped up in a system that isn’t even a system anymore because it only knows quotas and profits because criminal justice is a business now.  It’s become its own criminal enterprise.

See the movie “Kids For Cash” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll understand.

Thinking about the death penalty in this country and thinking about how criminal justice is itself, criminal, is very depressing.

“The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit.”  Cameron Todd Willingham
 

I get so frustrated.  I want to work on this cause (to abolish the death penalty) with my whole body and soul and make it the single most important pursuit of my life.  Except I have a life with bills to pay and a mortgage that I can’t really afford because I live in Florida and got sucked into the mortgage mess.

I want to do something real.  But what?   Well, for now I can share what I read this morning – this insanely well written story in the New Yorker Magazine, by author David Grann,

Sharing the outrage.  It’s the least I can do.

The New Yorker Magazine article tells the story of how one woman, Elizabeth Gilbert, teacher and playwright, befriended Todd Willingham, while he was on Death Row, learned about his story, and fought to save his life.  She would have succeeded, too, if Rick Perry hadn’t intervened by ignoring the appeals and the new exculpatory evidence in the case (evidence which would have exonerated Todd Willingham).

Instead, Texas Governor, Rick Perry, had him killed.

Bastard. Shit-head. Fucking Lunatic.

Excuse me while I go spit.

Resources:

Elizabeth Gilbert’s website:

http://camerontoddwillingham.com/

A Movie about the case:

https://www.yahoo.com/movies/film/incendiary-the-willingham-case

A CNN clip

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