Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading can’t stop won’t stop.

When the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson came through, Frankie told me what he thought: “I’m outraged and the people that I hang around are outraged because they keep getting away with certain things. We not finna let them get away this time…Missouri is the show-me state. We ain’t doing no talking. We’re gonna show them…Muhfuckas ain’t gonna keep taking this bullshit. I know I ain’t gonna keep taking no bullshit. They keep killing our brothers out here. This is our race.”

All Frankie knows is black people are either dying or disappearing. His cousin: in prison with two life sentences. His brother: killed a week before our second interview. Michael Brown, Vonderrit Myers, Tanisha Anderson, Eric Garner, Kajieme Powell, Tamir Rice, and John Crawford III, over the span of a few months. I ask Frankie how he’s doing. “Hurting,” he says, looking down at his hands, his shoulders hunched. “Hurting real bad.”

It’s a feeling shared by a lot of protesters, who refused to suffer in silence. If they had to feel the pain, the rest of the world should feel it, too. Or as someone borrowed from Katniss and tagged on a St. Louis landmark in the Shaw neighborhood, “If we burn, you burn with us.”

Local-level organizations are left to take the initiative. One of the first meetings between anti-Balaka and Séléka leaders was organized by Pareto, a local nongovernmental organization that promotes reconciliation, and took place in May and June at a restaurant in Bangui… Those first meetings paved the way for the cessation-of-hostilities agreement signed in July, the sole road map toward peace followed by the international community and interim government. In the accord, anti-Balaka, Séléka and other armed groups agreed to put down their weapons and begin a process of reconciliation. None of this happened, nor did the agreement have a meaningful impact on the level of violence in the country — at least yet. The cease-fire is a baseline that the international community can use to hold belligerents accountable and without which international donors would be reluctant to commit assistance to rebuild the country, according to a U.N. peacekeeping official.

[…]

Some view the local interventions between anti-Balaka and Séléka fighters, though undertaken out of necessity, as a hopeful sign — or at least as a new tack toward quelling CAR’s conflicts — which could, in turn, trickle down to encourage reconciliation at the average citizen’s level and for victims like Lucresse.

“Each time we’ve had a rebellion, people at the top reconcile, but those at the bottom — the victims — just sit there, watching them,” said Oumar Kobine Layama, the Central African Republic’s chief imam, who lives in Bangui. “There have been so many rebellions, wars, mutinies, but the victims have never been really considered. The base was ignored during reconciliation.”

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