Excuse me, are you listening? 11-9
Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dear Readers,

On Saturday, April 28th, 2012, I was one of three responsible for one of the most emotional events I have ever experienced, the "Keep the P.E.A.C.E. & Stop the Violence" march. It was my first time being involved in the process. I spent countless hours visiting churches and other groups to get support for this initiative and when I woke up the clouds were threatening and it was chilly. I was undaunted.  

I thought if people can sit for hours in the rain, sleet and snow to watch a football game surely they would be undaunted as well. There are no excuses for me. There are no excuses for those who were not present because of weather. Crime does not discriminate.

I love working with people and especially those who have been impacted by crime. It is something I was born to do. I feel so overwhelmed when I hear someone has been murdered, shot, raped or a victim of crime. I am appalled when a victim or witness is victimized. It does something to my core and I can feel the mourning of all that are impacted.

I am sure that of the over 273 people that attended, each had a different perspective of the issue. We are all impacted by violence. All violence. I thank those who stepped outside their box, especially my new friend Emily.  We had an amazing time and I know you were welcomed. There was a sense of peace and while I do not fit into many of the events I go to, I go because I belong where I make myself comfortable through love and understanding. We further separate ourselves by making distinctions.

To the naysayers, the ones who deny, refuse, oppose or are always skeptical or cynical, I feel a sense of self-pity coming for you. Who told you that a march does nothing?  When was the last time you inquired of the loved ones if they felt no one cared or alone? Victims who are no longer here do not have a voice but we do. When you have the opportunity to express your grief, it helps.  When you see many people walking beside you in love, it helps. After the march is over and the families tell you how grateful they are that you have not forgotten their loved ones, relatives or friends; it is priceless and beyond measure.

Light Bulb Moment

On  June 30, 2007, Brandon Williams, 17, was gunned down outside of his apartment. I went to the funeral.  His case is still unsolved. I did not know him. I did not know why I was there or why I cared. I somehow found myself there. It was an out of body experience, watching people in tee-shirts with his picture walking up to the casket. The screams and the cries have stayed with me. As Brandon lay there, I thought why does this happen and someone knows who committed the crime.

I did an interview with The Lansing State Journal, our mainstream newspaper, at the event and finally had a "light bulb" moment.  The night before the march, I was stuffing bags to give to those who attended.  I had nothing to do but stuff and think.  I started thinking about how mundane the job was and that my ankles were killing me from sitting cross legged on the floor.  Back and forth, restocking my piles I sort of become a human machine.  I began to get weary.  I had volunteers who said they would help but I was running around too much and did not have time to call them.  I thought to myself stop being tired and mentally complaining because this is what you do.  I began to review my life in my head and then it washed over me like a wave.

I remembered my father, Alvin E. Haynes, Sr., coming home one night in his uniform.  Recently, joining the New York City Police Department (79th Precinct) it was odd to see him at home not in civilian clothing.  He was with his partner.  I was supposed to be asleep.  I remember how the light eerily cast on be through the crack in the door.  I  was so close I could smell the paint on the door.  I truly disliked the Pepto Bismol colored walls of my room.  I peered closer, trying not to be heard.  My father, who was one of the most unemotional persons that I knew was crying.  He had dealt with a case where a child was a victim of crime.  I remember the silky robe I was wearing with its tiny pink roses and its quilted pattern.  It was my favorite robe.  It had been washed so much that there were piles on it and the thread started to unravel.  I remembered the confusion as I began to rub the piles on my robe probably due to nervousness.  Children are not supposed to die.

I was not sure whether I was nervous because I was eavesdropping or that my father was in his uniform and very out of place sitting in the kitchen with his partner.  His partner was  a huge Polish man (I went to his daughter's First Communion) with curly light brown hair.   I remember him because his last name started with a Z and he always had this stern look on his face.
My father never came home in his uniform and he never brought his partner home with him either.  I could hear the A Train rumbling by our apartment at 578 Jerome Street in Brooklyn, New York.  As it screeched to a halt, I slid back into my bed next to my sleeping older sister, who was not as inquisitive as I.  I was uneasy and fearful.  I knew it was bad.  My father the cop was crying in his uniform and I was only about 7 or 8.  

At the gathering after the march,  I saw that similar look in every mother and father's face. I could see the look in every face that was there.  My father still had all of his children.  I had no worn silk robe to nervously rub between my fingers, no little pink roses to concentrate on when I could not look at the pain in the faces.  At the march, I just started taking pictures to subside the uncomfortable feeling of grief.

I am human even in my capacity as an owner of a newspaper and a working journalist.  My father loved model trains, the Mets, the Yankees, photography and everything electronic!  My father was human as a police officer, as we all are.  He was able to share that in the comfort of his kitchen, still in uniform and proudly served as a New York City police officer for 23 years.  

Quite A Year...

I lost a good friend Robert Busby in February of 2007 to murder and my father to diabetes on September 29, 2007.  Instead of going down the rabbit hole and only peeking out occasionally, I decided that I was going to become more involved.  I took responsibility and starting having health, healing and happiness events.

In March of 2012, I decided to start my own non profit "The New Citizens Press Community Action Network (TNCP CAN).  

TNCP CAN Inc. is kicking off its first fundraising effort to continue supporting these fascinating programs. You have an opportunity to play a vital role in these initiatives by helping to provide the financial resources that are needed to continue this great work. We are asking that you consider being a part of our first ever 222 for $22 Campaign!

We are looking for Two Hundred and Twenty Two people or more to give Twenty-two dollars or more to assist us with officially TNCP CAN, Inc. as a 501 (c) 3 organization to continue the great work that the local community has already been benefiting from. TNCP CAN Inc. will continue the tradition of operating with integrity and accountability. Every dollar raised will be utilized for charitable purposes. Our 501(c) 3 status is pending.

Please make contributions to TNCP CAN, Inc. and mail to: The New Citizens Press Community Action Network, Inc., 503 W. Grand River Ave., Lansing, Michigan 48906.
We would be so pleased if you would help us help others.

I do this because love never dies.  Your kindness and generosity is deeply appreciated.

Love people,

Rina Risper

P.S. Remember to live YOUR  life abundantly and that each person is living THEIR own life.  You live yours with integrity and honesty to yourself! ALWAYS STRIVE TO BE YOUR BEST.

This was printed in the May 6, 2012 - May 19, 2012 Edition


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