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Kicking The Darkness

Elijah McClain - A Heartbreaking Story of Tragedy

The year 2020 has proven to be monumental in so many ways.   The entire world has experienced tremendous upheaval due to Covid-19, and also because of systemic racism towards racialized individuals and communities.

Many of the protests in the U.S. and other countries are driven by anger and frustration resulting from police injustices towards black Americans.  My personal views are well rounded and strongly influenced by many factors.  I worked alongside police officers in a supportive role for eleven years as an auxiliary constable and I've worked as a by-law enforcement officer who has to interact with the public on a daily basis for nearly eight years now.  I know how difficult and challenging it can be when you are in a position of authority and have to tell people what to do or take punitive action against them.

But my perspective is also countered by other factors.  I have friends, colleagues and family members who are racialized - most notably black, mixed-raced and first nation - and their insights and experiences provide a viewpoint that is much different than mine... that of an older middle-class white male living in Canada.  But the one thing I try to avoid is jumping to conclusions of any kind because I don't want to become an arm-chair quarterback who is simply adding another voice to the chorus of negativity.  And even though there have been a number of high-profile incidents in the last few years, there is one police-involved fatality that has affected me like no other.  

The more I discovered about the case of Elijah McClain, the more heartbroken and disgusted I became.

His death was avoidable in so many ways. He was initially questioned by police for acting suspicious because he was wearing a face covering and listening to music...and it quickly deteriorated into a terrible tragedy.

As I sat and contemplated the entire scope of this incident - the way the police reacted, the administering of ketamine, the fact that this story generated very little public outcry - I immediately thought of the John Lennon song Imagine, which envisioned a better world that was free of injustice.  

And in that moment of contemplation and sadness, I wrote my own version below as a testament to this innocent young man who has touched so many around the world.  In the moments he was essentially fighting for his life, he told the police officers that he was not a fighter and that he loved them.  He was so sweet, he didn't even kill flies. He played the violin for stray cats at an animal shelter because they enjoyed it and he served as a glimmer of light in their miserable existence. And then this sweet and angelic soul was brutally extinguished for no reason at all.  I think any fair and reasonable person would agree that this incident requires additional scrutiny.

Authorities in Colorado are now reviewing the circumstances of his death to determine if any persons should be held criminally responsible. This review is taking place a year after his death in August 2019.

My sincere hope is that the eventual outcome will lead to a closure that is fitting for Elijah and his family.

Imagine Elijah

Elijah went to heaven

And waited for the time

To tell his story

The details of a crime

Imagine all the people

Crying out a name

Elijah you're the memory

That would not be erased

Nothing will hide the fact that

It's such a terrible waste

Imagine all the people

Crying out your name

You may have been a dreamer

But you’re not the only one

I hope one day there’s justice

So that truth has finally won

Elijah you're the angel

Turning darkness into light

Their lies will be revealed

As wrong turns into right

Imagine all the people

Singing out your name

You may have been a dreamer

But you're not the only

The whole world has awoken

And the lies shall come undone