Cody Lee Miller, the man who climbed a giant sequoia tree in downtown Seattle on March 22, was arraigned on April 11. He appeared in shackles before a judge, his unruly hair and clear need of psychiatric care seemingly of no consequence. The judge’s order mandated he stay away from the tree but that’s only relevant if he can make the $50,000 bail placed on him.
In other words, if Miller can ever afford his freedom again, he just needs to stay away from a tree. There was no mention of addressing his clear and urgent needs. This is our justice system.
In a society where more concern is expressed for a tree than a human, where flocks of people take to Twitter to make jokes at Mr. Miller’s expense, it isn’t hard to see how people’s minds and spirits get broken. Rather than examining the various ways we are creating belonging for each person, we post mocking memes about one of our community’s most vulnerable.
It’s not that we’re unwilling to talk about mental illness, it’s that we, as a culture, don’t know how to support or show compassion to those who are suffering. And that isn’t something any law, court order, or amount of bail money is going to give us.
Megan Wildhood, Seattle