August 4, 2011

In memory of Karenzo Audace

Courier Journal photo of the late Karenzo Audace
On August 1, 2011, local activist Karenzo Audace was murdered by a neighbor while moving his family out of an apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, due to threats from that neighbor.

The alleged murderer was arrested last Thursday on disorderly conduct charges (he was making sexual advances against Mr. Audace's wife).  Released on his own recognizance, he was re-arrested Saturday when he threatened several people with a knife. He was released from jail on Monday morning. A few hours later, without provocation, he shot Mr. Audace to death.

The killer turned himself in to police last night shortly after the eleven o'clock news cycle.  He was accompanied by social activist Christopher 2X, who works continuously to avert violence in the city and to assist its victims.  2X quoted the killer in today's Courier-Journal as saying he wanted to "[resolve the issue] in a peaceful way."

I don't understand the concept of peaceful resolution when the first party is in a morgue because of the actions of the second party.  I fear I'm morphing into Anne Coulter in front of my own eyes.

I've been fantasizing about the death penalty for the killer, and so today I'm reviewing things I learned my former personal and professional roles within the institution of Christianity.

Unbeknownst to some, Christianity opposes murder in any form, including murder by the state and physical violence by anybody.  Some will recall that Jesus went so far as to chastise a disciple the night before the crucifixion for cutting off a soldier's ear.

Why, in a city where murder is not uncommon, am I spending so much time thinking about this particular murder?  Because late last week my compadre met the Audace family. I think he said he got to pick up the baby; I know he also met the two little girls, and Mr. Audace's wife, Riziki Aliette.  He also met Mr. Audace.

"Was his smile really as radiant as the photo in the paper?" I asked.

"Yes," was the reply.

My compadre also met the future murderer. { Alleged. } At the time, the man had a knife in his hand and the desire to use it in his eyes. Crisis was averted when the police arrested him, again. On Monday, he was released from jail. A few hours later, he shot Mr. Audace to death. 

 "Multiple gunshot wounds," says the Courier-Journal.

The funeral will take place Saturday, August 6, beginning at 10 a. m. at Light Mission Pentecostal Church, which is in Tabernacle Baptist Church, 4205 Indian Trail.  Memorial gifts may be made to the Karenzo Audace Memorial Fund, 969-B Cherokee Road, Louisville KY  40204.

A refugee from Burundi, Karenzo Audace worked assiduously to learn English, to find a job, to care for his family, and to assist other refugees.  The community -- the entire Jefferson County / City of Louisville community -- has suffered a grievous loss. We mourn along with his family.

We feel helpless, but we are not helpless.  The murderer is responsible for his actions, but we as a society chose to close most mental hospitals in the 1970s and 1980s to save money -- money we now spend housing those same people in prisons, where nobody has to treat them decently or tend to their mental and emotional needs. We as a society (locally, statewide, nationally) vote for politicians who cut funds for programs -- slurringly referred to as "entitlements" -- that provide medication and physical and mental care for people with low IQs; for people victimized by violence as children; for adult women brutalized.  Lone gunmen take actions, but communities either empower such actions or belay them.

I have to remind myself that the bad guys don't win. Killers? All they have are bullets. People like Karenzo Audace and others who live with courage, dignity, bright smiles, strong families, faith in country, faith in each other, delight in community? Even as we grieve their loss, we retain their power. Love, commitment, peace: it's not as though they evaporate. Rather, they persist in our memories, our stories, our communal understanding, and our intentions. May the power of Karenzo Audace's legacy comfort and empower all of us in these bitter hot days.


Anonymous said...

i read this, all the while thinking of the picture you sent me of you as a zombie. ;-D

nice post.

Mary said...

Thanks, superhero. The zombie photo doesn't show my intellectual and/or spiritual side very well, now that you mention it. Sort of a dissonance there --

Anonymous said...

i am Burundian, and i would like to tell of u, who has badly heart. so far i am survivor from genocidal of Burundi we have the ability to kill you back, for strength and power to fight we could do, is not very hard to kill, is not valuable, but we want to show our smell enemies love, we pray our lord God to save our life day and night, please we beg the GOVERNMENT to tare of us , we need more of security, we have come to America to find peace, if peace is hard for us, please return us where we been. we ran gun and we meet gunshot in the peace country.

Mary Jo Cartledgehayes said...

Thank you for posting, Anonymous. To face persecution in country after country and then to come to the United States, only to meet with more violence, is shameful on our part. The case of Mr. Audace, whose killer was arrested twice in less than a week preceding the murder, reflects your comments. What can one American do to bring forth change?