The Louisville-based Buddhist Justice Collective (BJC) held an hour-long vigil last night at Jefferson Square Park — which activists often refer to as Injustice Square or Injustice Park — to advocate for criminal justice reform and remember the five people who died in a six-week timespan in the Louisville Metro Jail in late 2021 and early 2022.
There were multiple “rounds” to the vigil: After a welcome and an introduction to the event, a small group did a “seated meditation” in a circle around electric candles as others stood nearby. When BJC member Brian Monsma rang a singing bell to signal a transition, others in the circle rang bells of their own. Then, the entire group of about 40 got up and did a “walking meditation” along the sidewalk –– right across the street from the front of the Metro Jail itself.
There were three periods of seated meditation and two periods of walking meditation.
Members of the group gave readings about social and criminal justice before each round of the vigil. They exhorted city officials to bring back the Living Room program, reinstate citations as an alternative to arrests for low-level offenses and lower the number of people in custody, among other “urgent, compassionate, and life-saving steps.”
In a statement sent out before the vigil, the BJC said: “Militarized policing and detention is the antithesis of justice and public safety. As Buddhists, we must respond to injustice, pain, and suffering in our communities.”
“BJC believes that Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color suffer on account of White supremacy, economic exploitation, and violence,” they said. “Such systemic factors are impermanent, and we can transform them.”
02/01/2022 | Photos by Carolyn Brown • [email protected] • @cebrownphoto