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Community poetry site honors police officers killed and citizens killed by police

“Lament for the Dead is an online community poetry project which will mark the death of every person killed by police this summer, and every police officer who loses life in the line of duty, with a poem.”

“The first lie that hate tells us is that any other person is not as human as we are. This project resists that lie by recognizing each other’s humanity, even in the most difficult places. Some people believe all people killed by police are criminals.  Some people believe the police are criminals. Many people believe no criminal deserves lament. But this project asks us to seek the humanity in all people, even when we have committed terrible crimes. At heart, it asks whether we hope someone might offer grace to us, at our ugliest or most difficult moments. When poets join, they do not know whether they will be lamenting the death of an officer or someone who is killed by police. Poets commit to writing on a specific date, and compose each poem in less than 24 hours, based on the events of the previous day. Death notices are posted as they are reported in the press, according to the time of each death, and then replaced by a poem. The community includes poets from Texas to Michigan, Southern California to New York City: college students and grandmothers, children and spouses of police, award-winning poets, lawyers, psychiatrists, editors, professors, social workers, and the poet laureate of New York. Argument, strategy, and reckoning are all crucial for change. But to heal, we must also mourn. Poetry provides us with a language beyond news reports and legal doctrine, a place where we can ask questions instead of taking refuge in easy answers or cheap blame. It asks us not to judge, but to listen. It gives us the time and space to weep. And as it does, it may help us imagine another way.”

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