Friday night, a small group of people took to the streets in Shadyside, displaying a banner that read “RIP Mike V.” Then some vandalism happened and I’ve spent most of the day fielding inquiries about Mike, anarchists and vandalism. What would he think? (I don’t know.) Who is behind this? (Don’t know that, either.) Do I, Sue Kerr, condone vandalism? (Ahem, really?)
You are asking the wrong questions, people.
I ask – what about the vandalism against the body of Andre Gray? What about the violence that left his already dead body punctured with more gunshot and stab wounds in an attempt to make it sink to the bottom of the Allegheny River? What about his skin and blood and muscles and tendons, tossed about as he made a nearly five month journey from Arnold, PA until he collided with a barge in West Virginia? What about his funeral rites that required cremation because of the condition of his body?
They carried his body to the river, E told police, and then Mr. Wingate “fired two or three gunshots into the body of Mr. Gray in an attempt to put holes in it so he would sink,” according to the affidavit. When that didn’t work, E said, the second witness got into the water, stabbed Mr. Gray multiple times, and attempted to drag Mr. Gray into the river.
What about the destruction of HIS property – namely, his beloved little dog who was killed and whose blood was used to contaminate the crime scene? Dogs are property. His vehicle was destroyed, his personal electronics stolen. Does that hideous sound of glass breaking disturb us much as the final cry of that little dog who had just witnessed his human being massacred and then found himself sacrificed to the ignorance of criminals who watch too many procedural dramas? Can you imagine that sound – the little dog whimpering? What’s worse – the rock against glass or the slash of the knife against the jugular of a five-pound dog?
Mr. Gray’s body was already lying on a sheet. The witness killed Mr. Gray’s dog by stabbing it, mixing the dog’s blood with Mr. Gray’s after Mr. Wingate said, “that this would ruin any attempts by the police to get DNA from the blood,” according to the complaint.
Of course, you don’t want to think about that. It is easier to be outraged about broken windows and the shattered peace of mind, about the assault on Shadyside which wasn’t responsible for the death of Mike V. Those poor business owners didn’t kill Mike, did they? Why should they suffer financial loss? It is an outrage! I’m trying to distract you with unfair comparisons – you are defending Pittsburgh against hoodlums!
Stop asking me to denounce vandalism if you aren’t willing to do more to denounce the slaughter of queer and trans people of color. Stop bringing up small businesses if you aren’t willing to denounce the fact that we crowdfund most of the funerals for these queer and trans people of color. Stop asking me to cosign your capitalism if you aren’t cosigning the inherent value and dignity of people of color, of queer people.
And you aren’t, doing enough that is. The week in Pittsburgh began with the funeral of Andre Gray and ended with the funeral of Chris Richardson. Mike V’s memorial was in the middle. Maybe, just maybe, you are worried about the wrong broken things. Maybe we all are.
You can donate to the memorial fund for Andre Gray here.
You can donate to the burial fund for Chris Richardson here.
You can learn more about Mike V. here.
Let me add a little update – I was a friend of Mike V, although I did not know him very well. I was very proud to be his friend and grateful for what he contributed to my understanding of the world (and my personal life.) I don’t speak for him, his family, his friends or the people who marched in his name. I just speak for me. Rest in power, Mike.