Day 6 - Last Words: Natasha McKenna

Day 6 - Last Words: Natasha McKenna

"You promised you wouldn't kill me."

Natasha McKenna, 1978-2015

Natasha McKenna was taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center on January 26, 2015 on a charge of assaulting a police officer, stemming from an encounter in Alexandria, VA earlier that month. The Alexandria police did not act on requests to pick McKenna up from the Fairfax detention center, so county deputies decided to transfer her themselves on February 3.

The police noted McKenna's deteriorating mental health after one week in jail, and McKenna had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and depression. Doctors who had been treating McKenna's schizophrenia warned law enforcement that she lacked the ability to process verbal orders or make decisions for herself.

In preparation for her transport to Alexandria, McKenna was restrained with handcuffs, arms behind her back, and police shackled her legs and placed a spit mask over her head. She resisted these restraints. During a struggle that lasted over 45 minutes, Lieutenant Lucas Salzman used a stun gun to tase McKenna four times, insisting that she ignored repeated warnings to comply or be shocked.

McKenna suffered cardiac arrest and lost consciousness. She died five days later on February 8, 2015. Her manner of death was ruled “accident” by the Virginia medical examiner’s office. Her last known words are taken from video recorded on February 3, later released by the Virginia Sheriff's Department.

Sources: Washington Post, Fairfax County Government

“Now, what you have to do with all that in order to free yourself from what I referred to as your history is, first of all, accept that history. Learn to accept, for example, that the American people never honored a single treaty that they made with Indians, not one. That means that you are the issue of a very dishonorable people.”
— James Baldwin, interview in Stars and Stripes, 1973

God, the doctors told the officers that she was ill. They told the officers that she couldn’t process their commands, that her health was failing in this godforsaken jail. And they tased her, still. Again and again, until her heart seized, her consciousness left, and her spirit was extinguished. Save your people from such evil “accidents,” Lord. Save us.  

Lord, the bystanders called out to Christ on the cross, saying, “Save yourself!” They spectated your death and still believed themselves honorable people.

Save us all from the fiction that we are honorable people in an honorable nation.

Save us from believing that anyone can let injustices prevail and still boast an upright heart.

Let us see ourselves for what we really are.

Clear our minds, open our hearts, and hold our outstretched hands, so that we may begin the long process of bringing honor and justice where there is none. Amen.
Day 7 - First Steps: Contact

Day 7 - First Steps: Contact

Day 5 - First Steps: Attend

Day 5 - First Steps: Attend