Chesie's Journal: Free at Last!
Words of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela of “Free at last” echo as Anderson Antelope, Jr., was released yesterday from Wyoming’s prison in Torrington. His release is a long time in coming after his having been arrested in December 2019 soon after his father was killed by a Riverton police officer at the very same Walmart.
Tragically, the Fremont County Attorney combined shoplifting of clothes that were returned to Walmart undamaged and restocked for sale with trespassing and called it a burglary that resulted in Anderson being incarcerated from the date of his arrest until now, totaling more than 30 months.
Another RPM volunteer, Tina Jayroe, and I had the privilege of traveling to Torrington and bringing Anderson back to Fremont County. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have been incarcerated that long beginning with unresolved grief from his father’s unnecessary death nearly 3 years ago and the unexpected death of his mother 3 months ago and his being unable to attend her funeral.
While in prison, Anderson studied the evidence of the shooting of his father, not only trying to make sense of something that never should have happened, but also the efforts to prevent public scrutiny by blocking a public inquest, undisclosed investigation reports, and a Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) report that left unanswered questions.
Now that Anderson is out of prison, we likely will learn more about what Justice4Andy will look like, not only for the benefit of the family, but for the community. There is no healing without justice. Anderson being “free at last” can allow a stronger voice for “Justice4Andy” connecting multiple issues including police accountability, racism, mental illness, alcoholism, poverty, homelessness, and rape victims, all into one story.
What will Anderson say on Saturday, August 6 at the Riverton Peace March and Rally where he will be the keynote speaker? I definitely know what he will not say. He will not say that he has given up on finding justice for his father.
Fear not. Be humble. Have faith. Be bold. Build Relationships. Do justice.