A Letter from the Editor: Our apathy is killing us, and people are dying because of it.

 In July 2018, this website came to life from an off-handed thought I had in the shower of looking for something to fill the time with during a long six-month summer break from university. As a result, my life has altered entirely.

For many people who write about film, you understand the incredible opportunities we're handed in exchange for our opinion. We get to see dozens of movies for free throughout the year, we get to go to festivals around the world, we see things sometimes weeks in advance of the public, and it is an all-round gift. There are politics to it. Some get favoured over others, some don't receive the same opportunities, regional critics are given next-to-no resources, most of us are unpaid. But if you are Southern, and have some disposable income, you get to do some pretty cool things. 

For many of us, the London Film Festival is the most exciting time of the year. I know how to so many of us that opportunity means the entire world and the collective experience is unparalleled. We love film. It is the thing that occupies most of our brain, the thing that energises us when we wake up, the thing that we want to spend all of our time with. 

Many of you will have known the impact Just Mercy had on its 2019 visit to London Film Festival. I know it caught the heart of so many of you, and it challenged you, the way it did me, to think on topics that had perhaps never crossed your minds. I didn't know the first thing about reform, capital punishment, any of it. I didn't even realise the death penalty still existed. It's hard to know how to word my thought-process without it sounding self-righteous or like I'm waving some kinder of higher thinking in your face, I am not. I am just desperate. 

In July of this year, the sister of a man on federal death row reached out to me because she was putting together a digital exhibition of her brother's artwork. He has been wrongfully incarcerated for 23 years because his lawyer did not present evidence in his case that would've exonerated him of the crime. His name is Billie Allen. I have lived a whole life in the time this man has spent on death row for a crime he did not commit. 

The point of this post is that we're really at the last resort. For seventeen years, federal executions have been on hiatus, and in Trump's final days of office, he is administering the first ones since 2003. Eight people have been executed already, five more are scheduled, and there's likely to be more. There are so many details about these executions which make them unconstitutional and a violation of human rights. The rate at which they are being carried out (in the middle of a global pandemic) is alarming. 

I understand people's reasoning for not wanting to speak out. I know that many of the people on death row have done horrific things, but many of them have not. For every 10 executions, 1 person has been found innocent. 10% of the time they're getting it wrong, and that's just the people who have been found innocent. They have executed innocent people, people who didn't kill anyone, people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, people whose DNA was never tested, people whose retrials were denied. This is everyday life for 2000+ people in America. I understand that is a tiny percentage in the grand scheme of the US population, but in my eyes, if we're on this Earth and this injustice is happening before our very eyes, we have to say something. 

Our apathy is killing us, and people are literally dying because of it, people whose names we do not know, whose stories are swept under the rug. This president, the man who literally spends 24 hours of the day tweeting every inch of thought that enters his brain, is hiding this from you. He doesn't want this to get out. In June, people were in the streets around the world marching against the very thing he is doing now. He would not have gotten away with this then, and the fact is, that our inability to keep up momentum on movements is killing us. The fact that I couldn't see an image on my Instagram timeline for two weeks that wasn't a black square or some kind of performative activism, and yet when it comes down to it, we have been forced to believe our voice does not make a change. 

It makes a change. I promise you, it does. I have seen, even in just a year, where people's executions were halted last minute because enough people stood up for one person's case. What if we weren't selective? What if we said no all the time? 

It's an overwhelming task, and one person cannot carry that weight entirely by themselves, but as a collective, we can do something. Some incredible people are doing life-changing work, and supporting them saves lives. Being part of the conversation and staying close to the issue changes lives. I'm leaving resources in this post, actionable things that take less than a minute. Please share them, please tell the people in your lives that this is happening, please don't waste your time quote-tweeting the president's propaganda with a witty quip, please do something that he would actually dislike; amplifying the voices of those he is trying to silence. 

Sign the petition asking the president to stop the executions: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/president-trump-please-stop-the-federal-executions/

Sign the petition asking Congress to halt the executions: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-congress-abolish-the-federal-death-penalty/

Sign the petition asking Joe Biden to condemn the executions: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-congress-abolish-the-federal-death-penalty/

Read the words of Billie Allen who has to watch his friends being taken from him weekly: https://www.instagram.com/freebillieallen/

Email templates to send to the Attorney General and the Director of Federal Prisons: https://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent-actions/urgent-action-update-three-people-face-federal-executions-usa-ua-26-20/ - THESE DATES ARE OUTDATED, the new dates are as followed: Dec. 10th and 11th, January 12th, 14th and 15th

Read, learn, support through the resources that helped me: http://billiemelissa.com/thecacp

Follow the following accounts on Twitter to stay engaged: 

@Davidleegarlock, @deathpenaltyact, @helenprejean, @TDAbolitionist, @FreeRodneyReed, @BringRodneyHome, @DPInfoCtr, @RDunhamDPIC, @KarineOmry, @EJI, @innocence, @WTIUSA, @DominiqueBarl19, @save_nate, @marshallproj

My Instagram

Copyright © Cinematic Faves. Made with by OddThemes . Distributed by Weblyb