Have you ever seen a monarch butterfly? They are spectacular. They flash color through the sky and then after a time so short it’s painful to contemplate they are gone. Their beauty touches our hearts, and the brevity of time we have with them breaks our hearts.
I will remember Draylen for who he was and the life he lived. Draylen touched thousands of lives. I can’t begin to count the number of people who have come to me with his stories. I was at a concert at SXSW two weeks ago. In the middle, a break was taken, and Draylen was celebrated.
Here is what I know of Draylen Mason: He loved. He is loved. He had a rare talent. He worked hard at it. He appreciated his teachers and mentors, and they loved him. He supported his peers. He was kind. He was generous. He was the best of us.
And now, after way too short a time, he’s gone.
But like the Monarch butterfly, he was beautiful.
His parting gift to this city, the legacy of the tragedy of these past three weeks, is that his death has caused our city to look again at who we are, to acknowledge that each of us has a different experience of a life in Austin and that we see our worlds differently based on who we are and where we live.
Draylen has gifted this city an important opportunity, a unique chance to focus and to come to terms with that basic truth. If we accept his gift, we will be a better and stronger city.
I pledge for myself, and for the larger community to honor Draylen with a pledge to reach deep and to find the equanimity and equity that live somewhere in all our hearts, to meet and know and help and ask for help from our neighbors — from all our neighbors — across the street and across the city. We’ve got to get each other’s back.
I will remember Draylen. Like a monarch butterfly, he spent his time on earth dazzling us. He touched so many lives, and now, his embrace will hold a city.
Mayor Adler delivered these remarks before the Council meeting on March 22, 2018:
Before we start the meeting this morning, I just want to repeat again, publicly, what I’ve had the opportunity to say on several occasions on behalf of Council and a very appreciative and thankful community, for the resolution that we’ve had this week. We had a community that was dealing with these explosions, and as they increased in frequency, our collective fear and anxiety continued to grow. Our — everyone’s collective thoughts and prayers were with the families of those that were injured and the two young men that were killed, the six people — four people that are still in hospitals in our city.
And there was a feeling that there was not much that we could do. There’s a collective helplessness. Our community, I think with the increased number, was beginning to fray, and I think that gets exacerbated when you have the world’s media descending on the city and they’re all here and they’re all looking for news stories and things to do, so we were starting to have color stories on color stories, which is never a very good sign. But we had over 500 federal agents on the ground here and several hundred working on this outside of Austin. We had the governor weighing in first with reward money and then giving us state assets and state personnel. We had cities across the state contributing to our effort with resources and with manpower. And then we had our very own finest, Austin Police Department, also our fire department and EMS, all involved in this and all putting themselves in positions of risk and danger, not all of which are publicly known. And I want to thank them.
I also want to thank the community that came together because there were things that we were asked to do. We were asked to be the eyes and ears for that army of people and we were asked to collectively get each other other’s back. And we did that. We identified things that were suspicious and out of place. We called 911 and quite frankly people noticing suspicious things became part of the ability of this city to be able to end this.
And I would just say that one of the things as we look forward from this, and many things I’m sure looking forward, and Manager, you were at every instance that the Council and I were informed, or we saw things, you were present and leading through those, and I want to express appreciation to you as well. An unusual welcome to a new job, only a couple of weeks in.
But I was at a community meeting at Greater Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a community meeting. The police chief was there and he spoke to everybody. There were several people that spoke. And one of the recurrent themes at that meeting has really stayed with me, as I’d go out to other neighborhoods where these incidents were taking place and concerned neighborhoods and other community meetings. We don’t know our neighbors as well as we should, that is something that doesn’t exist today the way it existed in the past. And I pledge to do a better job personally.
But I think each of us need to walk across the street and introduce ourselves to our neighbors and down the street and across the hall, so that, collectively, we know the people that we live with better. You’re less afraid of people around you when you know who they are and you can notice things that are out of the ordinary when things that are otherwise unknown become ordinary to you. And I think that meeting our neighbor is an important thing for us to do.
Again, I just want to say thank you to you, to Police Chief Manley, who I think was exceptional in this. And when you hear the accolades from the federal agencies toward him, well earned. And to the community I want to say thank you as well.