How do you react when you know someone commits murder?

When someone you know and/or love is the victim of a murder, it sucks but you know how to respond. You may be sad, angry, confused and feel a host of other emotions. But how do you react when you know someone who has murdered people?

Kivi Ellis has been charged with murder
Kivi Ellis, 26, charged with two counts of muder

Things in the news happen to other people

Before I moved back to Stony Brook, New York, I was in Gainesville, Florida. From time to time, I look through the local news down there and may check out the Gainesville Sun. On two occasions this year, I have seen new articles that made me think, I am glad I don’t know those people or something similar. The first time was when I read that a family from the Gainesville area had been killed in a plane crash. A counselor I had seen, Jody Lamont’s family was going to a funeral when they were killed. I still have a hard time accepting that.

Saw a murder in the news and thought, I think I know that guy.

The second time was this week when I read that Kivi Ellis shot and killed his girlfriend, Shelby Mathis, and their three-month-old son, Gideon. I know Kivi, 26. I have met his girlfriend and older children, who were found hiding under a bed. I have met his family. I am not going to claim to have known them all that well but still. Kivi always seems like a decent guy. He certainly didn’t seem like someone who would murder anyone.

While I didn’t see Kivi as a violent person, the signs were clearly there. In 2014, Kivi beat the same woman so badly her liver was cut and she suffered a broken rib as well as other injuries. For this, he was given a year of house arrest and four more of probation. Some people have criticized the judge for not sending him to prison then but from what I can tell, this was Kivi’s first arrest and this country does not take domestic violence as seriously as it should or could.

The problem is that he violated both his community control (house arrest) and probation. While he did complete an inpatient substance abuse treatment program, it doesn’t look like he got the real help he needed to control his anger. That’s one drawback of the criminal justice system. Violating probation and/or community control only gets you more punishment, not better treatment.

After Kivi was arrested in 2014, Shelby’s parents wrote the court and asked them not to revoke a no-contact order. Shelby herself wrote asking for the opposite. This is one of the issues with domestic violence cases. As someone who has experienced this in a different way (parental abuse), I can attest to how hard it can be to go against a person who has hurt you. The rest of my family was less supportive than Shelby’s parents but I am sure they are wondering today what could have been done to prevent this tragedy.

I could go into the statistics showing when women are murdered, the most common culprit is a significant other but I am not going to do that today. All I know today is that someone I know and liked has done something horrible. Two people are dead and the lives of many more have been changed. This is a tragedy for all of us and I am not sure how to feel about anything right now.

I have written about murder on a large scale as in genocide. You can read that here.

Thirteen months on Long Island & Owls

A thousand years ago, I moved away from Long Island. About a year ago, I moved back. Like the kids in It, being away from here conferred some kind of amnesia about this place. I don’t that’s really a Derry-specific thing, I think when you move away from where you grew up, you lose your connection to it. This is especially true if you do not maintain personal ties to the region.

I grew up in Stony Brook. While I didn’t live full time in the house that I am in now, I was here enough. My house was half a mile from here and my grandmother lived here.

Not only was moving back at all a bit like jumping into cold water, but I have also learned a lot since becoming a homeowner. I have always rented and didn’t realize how good I had it! Something breaks down and all I did was call the landlord. Now when something breaks down either I fix it (sometimes I do!) or I call someone who charges me a ton to do the work. I worry about wind, trees, bees, the septic system and roof. I swear if the town of Brookhaven told me they were putting in a sewer system, I would orgasm on the spot.

The wildlife has changed quite a bit since I was growing up here. Deer are everywhere. There must be more ducks because there is a duck hunting season now. And the last new creature I have found is the Burrowing Owl.

One night over the summer, I shot up in bed terrified because of the noise I heard. It sounded like rattlesnakes were in the trees all around the house. While I never knew them to live on Long Island, nor did I think they climb trees or fly, it is 2020 and maybe flying rattlesnakes were the new murder hornets.

For several days, I heard the noises and was stressed out. The cat heard the noises and was stressed out, too. Turns out it was just the Burrowing Owls.

UPDATE Rusesabagina Wrongly Taken and Arrested in Rwanda

UPDATE: For the second day in a row, Paul’s lawyer in Kigali was denied access to see him in the jail.  The Rwanda Investigation Bureau has said that someone called on behalf of Paul Rusesabagina to say that they had a team of lawyers for him but that is not true. He has had no Consular visits. While the Rwanda Government said that they talked to his sons about visiting him, that is not true. Paul’s wife has called the jail and has not been allowed to talk to him. 

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Kitty Kurth, Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina FoundationEmail: kittykurth@me.comPhone: 312-617-7288 Rusesabagina Wrongly Taken and Arrested in Rwanda 

Paul Rusesabagina, the humanitarian famous for saving 1,200 refugees during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, whose true story was told in the film Hotel Rwanda, has been arrested while traveling.

“We believe Paul Rusesabagina was kidnapped and taken by extraordinary rendition to Rwanda,” said a spokesperson for the family. “We knew he was flying to Dubai for a meeting from San Antonio and return to San Antonio on Tuesday per his flight bookings. (He took Emirates 236 from Chicago to Dubai on Thursday, August 27 and was scheduled to return from Dubai to Chicago on Emirates 235 on Wednesday, September 2 Confirmation JYJQF6. He had a separate itinerary from San Antonio to Chicago and back.)  We have read press reports that he got on to a plane that traveled from Dubai to Kigali. We do not know whether he walked on to the plane misled by the destination, or was dragged on to plane. Either way he was a Belgian citizen being taken against his will in to Rwanda. Paul Rusesabagina would never knowingly get on to a plane bound for Kigali.

President Kagame’s forces have attempted to harm Rusesabagina repeatedly over the last fifteen years. Rusesabagina would know that if he went to Kigali he would end up dead, disappeared, or in prison. 

Rusesabagina ended up under arrest in Kigali. He is being held by President Paul Kagame’s government on false charges. He is a regular critic of human rights violations in Rwanda, and the Rwandan government regularly brings false charges against all critics in order to try to silence them.

The Rwandan government has been attempting to discredit Rusesabagina since the movie Hotel Rwanda appeared in 2004. He is seen as a famous Rwandan in exile who is embarrassing to Kagame and his authoritarian government. The various charges against Rusesabagina were shown to be false on many occasions, but Rwanda continued to pursue him. Rwandan agents have regularly followed Rusesabagina for over a decade, including invading his home, threatening his life, and frequently attempting to disrupt his public and private speeches.


Where will you be on Election Day?

My mother has a habit of saying, “I hope they…” The ellipsis can mean “get rid of Trump,” “do something about AG Barr”,”make sure the Post Office isn’t destroyed”, or a host of other things she thinks need to be done.

Who is she talking about?

I always have the same question: Who are they? In republic like ours, there is no they, there is only us. If we are waiting for the cavalry to come in and save us, we are fucked. It makes me think of the song in Hamilton, “What comes next?

So what comes next? It’s not just about Election Day

This is what we all need to do.

  1. Register to vote. Every election, we are told “this is the MOST IMPORTANT election EVER.” It might be easy to think that it is hyperbole this year but 2020 is not like other elections. Go to and either check your registration or register.
  2. Vote. If you are going to vote by mail, please get your ballot as soon as you can and get it back immediately. As you probably know, President Trump is trying to weaken the Post Office enough so that either the ballots won’t make in on time or people will have such little confidence in the system that they just don’t bother. Don’t give away your power. If you do not know where your Board of Elections is, go here.
  3. Volunteer on Election Day. In most election years, most of the volunteer poll workers are older. This year, that is problematic because of Covid-19, which can be more dangerous for older adults. Help is needed. You are needed. Go here if you need more information.
  4. Volunteer before Election Day. There are a ton of places working to get people out to vote or helping get people registered.
  5. Write letters to the editor. Your voice is important. Read the local paper and respond to its content. No one will hear your voice if you do not use it.
  6. Contact your electeds. If your electeds are not representing you in a way that you like, let them know! If they only hear from people who agree with them, they will think they are doing what their constituents want. If you don’t know who represents you in Congress, check this. You can also use a web search engine to find your local peeps.

The only thing more patriotic than voting is protesting

I love that so many people have come out to support and take part in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It is wonderful to see so many people coming together to say, “No, this systematic and endemic racism is not something that we can allow to continue.”

The problem is attending a rally or protest, as great as that is, is not enough. We have one day when the government has to listen to us. Again, you giving away your power when you stay home (or vote for a third-party presidential candidate).

But Alyson, do you do these things? Oh. My. God. YES! You can find my letters to the editor in papers ranging from the Washington Post to the Gainesville Sun. When I am upset or interested, I call & email my congresspeople and local officials. I am registered to vote and have written asking for an absentee ballot. I will never ask people to do something I don’t do myself. I also plan to volunteer before and on Election Day.

Ahh… I miss the good old days when we fought about abortion

Back in the day, Democrats and Republicans fought but we fought about abortion, domestic spending, war and whatnot. We had real differences of opinion. Sometimes had a different sense of what happened and why. Our issues were based on a shared reality. Gosh, I miss those days.

The rise of the irrational

Conspiracy theories are as American as apple pie, as I wrote the other day my piece, This is how genocide progresses. The same can be said about distrust of government. You don’t rebel against a government you like and trust.

But now that desire to believe in these theories is tearing our nation apart. It has been reported that as many as 30% of us believe the coronavirus is a hoax. That is terrifying because the more people who believe President Donald Trump is right, the more won’t wear masks, and may rely on unsafe and ineffective medical treatments. More people with the virus means its spread will continue to climb. We will never crawl out of this pandemic and economic recession.

This alone is not the reason I am feeling depleted, defeated and depressed this evening.

The rise of Qanon

I wrote about this in the aforementioned piece but I just can’t wrap my head around this idea. Or rather, I can’t get my head around this group of ideas.

From what I have read and been told, there is a group of reptilian aliens who worship satan. They have infiltrated the highest levels of the United States government and probably governments all over the world because they control everything on earth.

If being a cabal of reptilian, alien, pedophilic Satanists wasn’t bad enough, they also like to eat babies. They do something to keep them alive until cabal members can suck out their bone marrow for its life-extending qualities. Members include Bill & Hillary Clinton, Bill & Melinda Gates, Barack & Michelle Obama and pretty much anyone with power, anywhere on earth. I know people who have claimed to have fought these alien beings (seriously).

Now, who or what is “Q”? When this started Q was one person, high up in the United States government. Today it is a group of people. Followers of theory believe that they have been in contact with Trump and that any day now, he is going to unmask the whole plot, arrest the leaders, end their reign of tyranny and peace and utopia will cover the planet.

This is where things get scary

When Trump ran for office, he attracted a very loyal kind of person. The people who flocked to his side were angry, white, and upset that the America they grew up loving is disappearing. Minorities, the LGBTQ community and women have moved ahead where white, straight men have languished or been sent to the back of the line.

Americans, as was mentioned, love conspiracy theories and more and more Trump supporters are learning of Qanon and like what they are hearing. No longer is Trump just the defender of their beloved way of life, he may have been sent to save all of us.

Move over Jesus, there’s a new religion in town

The Atlantic has called Qanon “the next American religion.” According to their reporting:

1. It’s a real-time participatory conspiracy theory.

The eventual destruction of the global cabal is imminent, Q prophesies, but can be accomplished only with the support of patriots who search for meaning in Q’s clues. … Surely there are people who know that Q is a fantasy but participate because there’s an element of QAnon that converges with a live-action role-playing game.

2. It’s a mass rejection of reason and Enlightenment values.

In the face of inconvenient facts, it has the ambiguity and adaptability to sustain a movement of this kind over time. For QAnon, every contradiction can be explained away; no form of argument can prevail against it.

3. It’s not going anywhere. In QAnon, we are witnessing the birth of a new religion.

Among the people of QAnon, faith remains absolute. True believers describe a feeling of rebirth, an irreversible arousal to existential knowledge. They are certain that a Great Awakening is coming. They’ll wait as long as they must for deliverance.

Now, what will happen if their prophet loses in November? You have millions of people, many armed to the teeth, angry and dedicated to their cult leader. It it impossible to reason with them now, I worry what will happen in November.

Also, this is my idea of hell. I never used to be this way but I like some rules. I like grammar and punctuation — because they make communication better. I like our Constitution because it makes our government better. I like science because it makes our life better. I like facts because they make everything better. Now, none of those things matter.

This is my idea of hell.