Tags: Lowell, Tavaryna Chouen, UTEC
UPDATE: The Lowell Sun’s Police Line Blog by Robert Mills posted a couple videos from the rally. I embedded one of the spoken word performances at the end of this post, and you can click here to see the other two. (At the 2:12 mark of the middle video, look for the sexiest bitch in Lowell on a leash held by a dirty hippy. Thanks to Robert Mills for posting these.)
Yesterday afternoon, Ashlee strapped Nola Jane into her hippy-mom papoose device, and along with Lucy the Dog, we attended our second peace rally/vigil thingie in as many years.
The event was organized by members of the United Teen Equality Center, in response to last week’s murder of 17-year-old Tavaryna Chouen.
As with the first vigil, held after a gay man was savagely beaten downtown, I didn’t know what to expect or why I was even going. I generally recoil at such demonstrations, but even after a weekend of relaxation, I was still quite angry about Chouen’s death, and I wanted to be around other people who were equally angry.
We walked down Moody Street through the public housing projects, and Lucy the Dog decided to take a dump right next to two women who were loudly threatening to rip each other from fat-laden limb to fat-laden limb. Apparently, minutes earlier, one of the women had walked in on the other whilst she was boning the first woman’s husband. They were both hideous monsters, and it’s a wonder that either of them ever got laid by anyone, much less the same man. He should be given a medal of valor for performing such a noble charity.
We tried to swiftly pass the ladies before they brought out the heavy artillery. But Lucy had made an uncharacteristically soft, shall we say, bowel movement. So, as the two women exchanged their “bitch this’s” and “bitch that’s,” I stood by unassumingly, trying to pick the shit up with a Quizno’s bag, but instead just smearing it all over the grass.
Meanwhile, Ashlee walked ahead unfazed, threading the needle between the crazed ghetto queens, with one hand over Nola’s head and the other raised in a dismissive ‘talk to the hand’ gesture. She is cooler than Trombone Shorty sitting inside a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine.
When we got to City Hall, there was a decent crowd, comprised mostly of Lowell teens and UTEC organizers. I’d guess it was 150 people, but it may have been 18; I’m horrible with numbers as they relate to measurements or quantities. If you told me, for example, that I walked 400 yards from my apartment to City Hall, I would believe you. And I would also believe you if you said that I walked 4,000 or 40,000 yards from my apartment to City Hall.
I can say with certainty, however, that the weather was indisputably gorgeous, which made it a challenge to maintain the simmering rage that had brought me there in the first place. It was like a pleasant reunion, seeing some of the friendly faces who had helped with Ashlee’s Lowell Teen Portraits show last fall, including two of the teens that she worked with, Kim and Eddie. I also got a delicious oatmeal cookie.
In the same week that Chouen was killed by bullets intended for someone else, and in the same week that her “friends” dumped her lifeless body on a Suffolk Street curb, UTEC learned that state budget cuts could put an end to its Lowell Teen Coalition program, which, according to the Lowell Sun, “has reached hundreds of city youths, ages 13 to 20, getting them into after-school programs, arts, gang-prevention programs, and putting them to work organizing anti-violence activities.”
Thus, some of the signs and speeches at the rally called upon investments in peace and, more specifically, support for the threatened programs. But most of the language was geared toward the Chouen incident and the urgent need to “Silence the Violence.” Three teens addressed the crowd in a commendable fashion, though none of them displayed the level of aggression that I personally yearned for. I realize it was an anti-violence rally, but I wanted blood, goddammit.