Say His Name, Eric Hash

Words by Kokayi Nosakhere

Despite all the talk about individualism in America, we all feel it. HBO is releaseing the Sandra Bland story in December. No one police-related national tragedgy fails to command our attention. We lose count of who has been killed, trying to remember their names. We feel it, those of us who see ourselves reflected in Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown or Nia Wilson. You, I or someone that we know can be the next victim.

 

When police brutality is a national headline, it is shocking. Compassion demands we feel something for those who are suffering the loss of both a loved one and any hope for justice, despite the lamentations of the neoliberals.

 

When it happens locally, it remains shocking. The shock has a greater impact. The social ill is hitting closer to home, to where your children play. The questions start flowing in your mind. Are you able to protect yourself from the emotions of another human being?

 

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On July 6, 2018, police brutality stopped being abstract for Anchorage resident, Samuel Johns. He read in the news:

 

“Eric Hash was staying temporarily with his mother and had arrived at her apartment intoxicated sometime after 2 a.m. and began acting belligerently. Evelyn states Eric pushed her onto the couch but never hit her. However she and the other family members present were frightened. Eric was yelling and damaging property. Evelyn says she called the local Alaska State Troopers office in the nearby town of Glennallen thinking they would take Eric to jail for the night to sleep it off.

Eric left but then returned before Trooper Leigh got there. Family members barricaded themselves inside the apartment while they waited. When Trooper Leigh arrived at approximately 3:15 a.m., Eric was outside the small apartment complex apparently holding the can of lighter fluid. According to Evelyn, the trooper immediately opened fire on Eric without any warning.” – words by Frank Hopper, Indian Country Today, September 3, 2018

Unlike the national headlines, Trooper Leigh is African Americana and Eric Hash is/was Ahtna Athabascan Native. Not a white man in sight! Unfortunately, the lack of pre-programmed emotional responses doesn’t change the wave of emotion. Regardless of race, a man lay dead at the hands of law enforcement.

Samuel Johns knows the name Eric Hash. He grew up with Eric in Copper Center. They enjoyed best friendship. For those who have never visited Alaska, Copper Center lies approximately 100 miles north of Valdez (which is not said the way it is spelled.) Valdez is a warm water port where the pipeline ends. Copper Center is small, like 300 persons small.

Police brutality is shocking at the relationship level. The shock wave is enough to break hearts. It broke Samuel Johns’ heart.

One week later, on his Facebook wall, Johns wrote:

 

“The funeral for Eric Hash will be tomorrow in Kluti-Kaah.

There are 2 things that I hope you all reflect on while we all lay him to rest because we do not want what happened to him to be forgotten.

  1. Trooper Leigh fired at Eric immediately after arriving.

Meaning he pulled up and fired immediately after getting out of his car without providing any verbal warning hitting Eric twice.

  1. There is a possibility that Eric could of survived his gunshot wounds.

But Trooper Leigh remained in defense mode holding his left hand up telling everyone to back off the crime scene with his right hand over his holster.

Trooper Leigh did not allow anyone near Eric.

Eric laid there for almost 45 minutes and received no medical attention.

Trooper Garcia got to the scene about 45 min after the shooting and immediately provided first aid and did all he could.

This is not a post debating “native lives matter”, “blue lives matter” or “all lives matter”.

I just want to let you all know that what happened with Eric will not be forgotten.

I apologize to everyone who I haven’t got back to who have been reaching out to help.

This just has been hard to process.”

 

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Samuel Johns with drum in hand.

 

Yet, that is exactly what Johns does. In Alaska, he is a popular MC, staged named AK Rebel, with a reputation for crafting “conscious”, or more message-orientated lyrics. MCs translate the pain of the people into words that bring healing. He is frequently seen in the community at cultural events and political rallies supporting Native values and lifestyle.

 

It didn’t take long for the words to come. On Indigenous Peoples’ day (October 8), Johns released a new song in honor of his fallen friend.

 

“My lyrics come from emotions. Whether its through feeling mad, depressed, sad or feeling love. I use those to form the art; to channel those feelings,” Johns said. “I feel like I can’t waste time using this platform speaking on irrelevant stuff and I know in my heart that acknowledging the trauma that still exists today is something Elders would want me to do.  So, when I make music and speak truth, people of all colors can feel it.”

 

 

 

Listen to the musical track here: https://m.soundcloud.com/samuel-johns/vent-for-indigenous-peoples

Vent!!!

I just wanna know, can I cry mama
I just wanna know, will I survive mama
They don’t know my ancestors pain
They don’t even see what their ancestors gained

When I first saw Black Panther
It almost brought me to tears
Cuz I always wanted a Wakanda
In my younger years
We never wanted to snitch
But then we feared ourselves
And the problematic people
Always got throwin in cells

Systematically oppressed
From seeing our brothers taken away
Growing numb to seeing them cuffed Like it’s just another day
& whenever they get cuffed
There’s no rehabilitation
All them papers are signed
By misinformed generations
Ya we know how it goes
When they get locked up for years
Some self medicate
Some drown in them beers
Institutionalism creates
A neurological scar
That’s why you see so many
Convicts and veterans livin at the bar Numbing the pain
Trying to heal with an eraser
And sooner or later
He ain’t gonna need that chaser
Cops called on a brown man
With some aimless aggression
I already knew to pray for his family
Before they cops came to “arrest him”
If these obstacles were like water
Then I’d be feeling like I’m drowning
You wondered why I look so stoic
But never asked why I’m frownin
Check our brain waves
You’ll see the same as war zones
Cuz we been losing so many
In our assimilated homes
Self-sustainability
Replaced with welfare
We been searching for some healing
Since they cut off our hair
Since they changed all of our names
& took our mothers language
We gonna self medicate
& they gonna label us as dangerous
Shit just doesn’t add up
And it’ll never make sense
But if you’re searching for some change
Let the youth give their 2 cents
A non-native asked
How to say “SUICIDE RISK”
I looked him in the eyes
& said those words never had to exist
Colonized, orphanized
Assimilated to the fullest
With a low population
With high numbers with the bullets
There’s been so much trauma
It’s time to heal with some truth
So to all you John Waynes
Keep your fuckin boots

I just wanna know, can I cry mama
I just wanna know, will I survive mama
They don’t know my ancestors pain
They don’t even see what their fuckin ancestors gained

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