Tommy Tackett of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization recounts his jail time with Catholic nuns after a civil disobedience action on the human right to water, and how singing is an essential tool for nonviolence.

Tommy Tackett of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization recounts his jail time with Catholic nuns after a civil disobedience action on the human right to water, and how singing is an essential tool for nonviolence.

Tommy Tackett

Detroit, MI

So I'm sitting the whole this big holding cell by myself and you know, holding cells are next to each other but you can't see each other.  It's on the other side of the walls. So one of the nuns they yelled over, “Are you by yourself?” I said, “Yeah,” and then I heard in unison these ten old women go, “Awww.”  Cauze I was by myself and they said, “Well, do you want us to sing to you, honey?” And I said, “Yeah, sing to me.” And so they started singing, “We are a new unsettling force and we are powerful, a new unsettling force and we’re here.”  They sang it I think like four or five, six times. And once they started singing, everybody in the jail cell started singing with us. It became this really high powerful force in the jail cell. And the police officer who booked us ran to the cell and said, “If you don't stop singing we’ll hold you here for 24 hours!” So when they leave, they start singing real low, “We are a new unsettling force and we are here.”  And it was a very powerful thing that we had everybody in the jail cell in unity singing.