“Whether that was local men joining the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War to fight against fascism, our close relationship with the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa or on the streets of Belfast today as our community rallies to support refugees," he said.
“I am delighted that Fáilte Feirste Thiar and Féile An Phobail have joined up with local artists to paint a mural expressing our community’s continued solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and those campaigning for rights, economic inclusion and an end to repression in the United States."
Today, we also publish for the first time in Ireland a new work from Irish American poet Ethna McKiernan who grew up in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. She is the author of three books of poems, the most recent of which is Sky Thick With Fireflies (Salmon Poetry, Ireland). Widely anthologized in collections diverse as The Notre Dame Anthology of Irish American Poetry, 33 Minnesota Poets and Beloved on this Earth, she has twice been awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship. She is employed by a Minneapolis non-profit, working with the long term homeless population.
I Can't Breathe
for George Floyd
The helicopters whirred and droned
relentlessly for 72 straight hours
until they felt like wasps inside my head,
until they lodged inside my ribs,
until I was back in Vietnam and Jeff
was dying high above the gauzy clouds
in one of them.
Sirens with their high whines
screamed down the streets every five minutes
and we smelled the smoke curdling down
from the torched buildings. This is America
in 2020, no different right now
from America when Emmett Till was lynched in 1955.
When grief and rage mix, they
become a different element,
something larger and more potent
than themselves. Strip rage
and underneath a feral cat waits
to pounce. Strip grief and there is only more
grief that goes on forever.
Fused together, they
become a weapon.
Today I mourn the death
of George Floyd, whose neck
was pinned for nine minutes
beneath a white cop's knee
until the only thing that could be heard
was “I can't breathe.” I mourn
the officers who didn't try to stop
him, I mourn everyone
who didn't get the news in time
to intervene or yell “stop!'
For the systems of racism and thuggery
that killed him, for the brutal fires
and looting that succeeded him,
for my dear neighborhood ruined,
for the agent provocateurs whom I know
contributed, for the small businesses that just
couldn't bear the weight,
I toss my own Molotov cocktail
of grief to the sky.