by Joycy Ann Lacombe
Before I begin I will share that I have contemplated editing out this next paragraph, because it is important to move forward and focus on what is good and right and purposed. But I can’t. I feel compelled to echo what has already been spoken, but also to amplify what should never have occurred for the sake of others.
To the Defense Team:
Objectively, I could see you stepping into your role as a public defender unable to choose whom you are assigned to defend. That was understood. But at some point, it appeared to become personal for you. This wasn’t a game to win. You were required to defend, to the best of your ability. But the disrespect you showed the injured, the families and their loved ones was a choice you made outside of the scope of your role. You were defending an individual, who in 5 years, has shown no remorse. Yet there’s laughter at your table & entertaining him throughout. It was odd behavior on your part. I don’t share this to condemn, I just hope you’re able to reflect and reset on the job you signed up for the citizens of our county. And if this stirs anything productive in you – you will move towards the work to repair.
Okay now we can begin.
To the courthouse BSO officers & bailiffs: The complexity of the space you held daily for the families did not go unnoticed. You maintained a consistent sense of physical protection, while acknowledging the ebbs and flows of the lack of emotional protection from what would occur in that courtroom – thank you.
To Judge Scherer: You hold many notable qualities as a judicial court judge. Yet, it is the humility you held in your position while presiding over these proceedings I will hold onto the most. In fact it is in consideration of your other strengths that your humility shines brightest.
To the Prosecution: Only the families will be able to be able to fully attest to the care you gave them throughout. Up close, I saw the most impressive display of executing the strongest case possible. For someone that has a great appreciation for the details – you are impeccable at your craft. From a distance, I witnessed an immeasurable level of humanity and care as you quite physically and emotionally walked side by side with each of these families with the patience and willingness to remain attuned to their pace and needs as you journeyed. Your kindness, integrity and commitment to doing what was right and just will forever be engrained in my memory.
To the readers, with respect to the Families: As I reflected on this chapter, I felt the need to highlight the families you may have come to know from a distance and provide a bridge to direct us all towards the passions they now hold so dear. No words could ever supersede the words they have shared and continue to communicate since the day their lives changed. If you have taken the time to get to know their loved ones through their stories and the words of others who love them, your life has been changed. You learned of their individual drives, their gifts, kindness, leadership, sense of humor and their ability to already have made movement towards changing our world.
In honor of the families’ expressed desire to put this season behind them and look forward, I encourage you all to get to know their missions a little more intimately.
As I quote the title of Fred Guttenberg’s book, you won’t have to look far, just “Find the Helpers”.
They are the ones fighting for our families every day of their lives.
They are in our congresspeople’s offices, presidents’ faces, and demonstratively protesting on top of construction cranes just outside the White House, insisting on our protection. They are organizing fundraisers, swim-a-thons, dance-a-thons, 5Ks and Ocean Races.
They are providing additional golf carts to local schools so that if danger arises help can arrive sooner.
They are studying current legislation, investing countless hours to draft, push and pass laws on local and federal levels to keep your children safe in schools, theaters, mosques, churches and synagogues. They are providing athletic and academic scholarships to our families in honor of their loved one’s passions.
They have created healing spaces through beautifully cultivated community gardens and playgrounds. They are providing support to victims of gun violence by personally walking alongside families in their wake, amplifying their stories, and providing additional longterm emotional support by way of pups.
They are now elected officials serving on our school boards.
These are people that you will want to support. These are people that you would be honored to know. They are the goodness and hope in humanity, the goodness & hope we could all aspire to hold.
And to the Families: May the support you feel from this chapter forward solidify even more that you are loved, you are loved, you are loved.
How will you carry the hope forward?