#FreeMarissa: One Year Milestone!
Above Photo: From Freemarissanow.org.
Dear supporters of Marissa Alexander,
January 27, 2016 marks one year that has passed since Marissa Alexander was released from prison and sentenced to serve an additional two years of “home detention.” In one more year, Marissa will finally be free from this aspect of the constant surveillance and control by the state. We are excited to share a message from Marissa to her supporters to mark this important milestone:
Send a card to Marissa to wish her and her family love, strength, faith, and freedom:
P. O. Box 23872
Jacksonville, FL 32257
Marissa Alexander has always said that the level of attention given to her case must be used to highlight other cases in which survivors of violence are punished for defending their lives. The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign followed Marissa’s call to action and, in the year since she’s been released from prison, we’ve made important strides. Here is a brief overview:
- Marissa Alexander’s Release: The FMN Mobilization Campaign leads attended the January 27, 2015 hearing before Marissa’s release and, with many others, celebrated with her as she left the courthouse with her family. With gratitude, Marissa Alexander and her mother spoke to supporters who convened by teleconference within days of the hearing to thank them for their epic support that continues to play a huge role in promoting her access to freedom.
- Media: In May 2015, Marissa was featured in Essence Magazine! The campaign also led and facilitated multiple media interviews with Marissa to continue to bring attention to the issues raised by her case and advocate for campaign goals. The campaign continued to connect with supporters via social media to educate and engage communities about domestic violence info and resources, and encourage them to take action.
COV4 keynote panel – The Fight for Our Lives: On March 26, 2015, Marissa Alexander and her mother, Mrs. Helen Jenkins, joined other women who were criminalized for surviving gender violence – including, Renata Hill of the New Jersey 4, CeCe McDonald, and Yvonne Wanrow Swan – for a powerful keynote panel discussion at the Color of Violence 4 conference (COV4) in Chicago, organized by INCITE!. Rallying a deeply engaged audience of over 1,500 people, panelists made sharp connections between race, gender, sexuality, and multiple forms of violence, and reminded us that the movement to free our sisters from prison has a vivid and important history and a very necessary future.
- Connecting with Stand With Nan-Hui: At COV4, members of the FMN Mobilization Campaign & the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander (now Love & Protect) hosted a workshop on the strategies of the national effort to free Marissa Alexander as a case study for building a legal defense committee for survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence who are prosecuted or imprisoned. At this workshop, we met organizers from the Stand With Nan-Hui campaign. This campaign was mobilizing for the freedom of Nan-Hui Jo, a Korean mother based in California who was being prosecuted and targeted by ICE because of actions she took to defend her life and her child from domestic violence. Organizers from each campaign were excited to learn from each other and strengthen solidarity efforts.
#SurvivedAndPunished Project: Building from this connection, members from multiple freedom campaigns and organizations collaborated to launch the project,#SurvivedAndPunished. Together, members of Stand With Nan-Hui, Love & Protect, California Coalition of Women Prisoners, and the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign recognized that the criminalization and punishment of survivors of gender violence is a widespread problem embedded in systems of domestic & sexual violence, prosecution, incarceration, and policing. We organized several twitter discussions to keep the spotlight on these issues and helped advocate for the immediate release of many other survivors such as Tondalo Hall, Cierra Finkley, Naomi Freeman, Rosa Martinez, Eisha Love, Rajeshree Roy, and Kelly Ann Savage. We also launched a key resource website filled with info about survivors’ stories, organizing resources, art-based strategies, and media coverage. We look forward to a convening this coming March to continue to build on this foundation.
- Meeting with Policy Makers & Victim Advocates: In September 2015, members of the FMN Mobilization Campaign and Love & Protect joined other victim advocates and policymakers in Washington, D.C. at a meeting with the Office of Violence Against Women. Bringing a comprehensive analysis of how the prison nation impacts black women’s lives, we strongly advocated for a political vision that prioritizes the safety and health of black women and their communities.
It has also been a crucial year of organizing in support of black women’s lives. We stand in solidarity with the black women who were sexually assaulted and systemically threatened and terrorized by Oklahoma police officer, Daniel Holtzclaw, and we call for the immediate freedom of the victims who arestill incarcerated. Check out this important toolkit demanding justice for the OKC13. We also stand in solidarity with Sandra Bland and her family, the victims of the horrific shooting at the historic Emanuel African Episcopal Methodist Church in Charleston, SC, and so many more, as well as with activists using brilliant, critical, and rebellious strategies to resist violence against black women and girls.
Stay connected to this work through www.freemarissanow.org and on facebook and twitter to learn how to take action. We will need your help in 2016 to keep black women’s lives on the frontlines of community organizing and systems change. What we wrote one year ago still stands: The absurdity in Marissa Alexander’s case was always the fact that the courts punished and criminalized her for surviving domestic violence, for saving her own life. The mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years, and then 60 years, just made the state’s prosecution increasingly shocking. But we have always believed that forcing Marissa to serve even one day in prison for defending herself against her abusive husband represents a profound and systemic attack on black women’s right to exist and all women’s right to self-defense.
Thank you for your ongoing support and solidarity. We look forward to building communities of resistance, freedom, and love in the year to come.
– Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign