Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Free Marissa
Activists Urge Florida to Free Marissa Alexander as a Domestic Violence Awareness Month Action
In recognition of October Domestic Violence Awareness Month, anti-domestic violence activists all over the US are calling for the freedom of Marissa Alexander, an African American mother of three and survivor of domestic violence from Jacksonville, FL. In 2010, Alexander was attacked, strangled, and threatened with murder by her abusive estranged husband. To defend herself, she fired a single warning shot that caused no injuries. Florida State Prosecutor, Angela Corey, is prosecuting Alexander for aggravated assault, and pursuing a 60-year mandatory minimum sentence for Alexander. The trial is scheduled to begin on December 8, 2014.
Beth Richie, author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation and veteran activist in the movement to end domestic violence, said, “The ongoing prosecution of Marissa Alexander is a devastating example of how the criminal justice system has become an urgent problem for many battered women, especially black women and others who are more likely to be criminalized for self-defense. The vast majority of people in women’s prisons are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault prior to incarceration. Anti-domestic violence groups around the US and the world must demand Marissa’s freedom on behalf of all survivors behind bars. They must not be left behind.”
Supporters of Marissa Alexander emphasize that October is also the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration. They urge both anti-domestic violence and anti-mass incarceration activists to make the connections between the issues.
Priya Rai, a staff member of domestic violence victims’ advocacy organization API Chaya, explained, “Instead of protecting women in our communities, particularly from domestic violence, women are subjected to unjust policies that result in more barriers to their safety and well-being, as well as that of their families. Women of color are more likely to be arrested or detained themselves for acts of self-defense that are interpreted from a viewpoint of stereotypes and seen as aggression. Therefore, it is vital that we call attention to the plight of Marissa Alexander as she awaits her new trial. We call on our partners, our allies, and our communities to be vocal and visible in supporting Marissa, and joining the call for the State of Florida to drop the charges against her.”
Over 60 local, state, and national anti-domestic violence organizations have endorsed the call to free Marissa Alexander. Marissa’s supporters call for all anti-domestic violence advocates, movements addressing institutional racism in policing and prisons, reproductive justice advocates, survivors of violence, and all those who believe that all women have the right to self-defense, to take more action to free Marissa Alexander in the coming months. They stress the need for fundraisers, direct action, community education, and media advocacy to build a base of support for Marissa Alexander in time for her December trial. Details and statistics can be found at http://www.freemarissanow.org/october-action.html