Updates from SF/Flying Over Walls

2017 is happening in full swing! Whether you are out in the streets this week or not, we hope you are finding ways to stand in defense of our communities under siege. Our friend, Dean Spade, just put out a great interview about the ways our gov’t is at war with our targeted communities and resistance movements.

As for Black & Pink specific activities, as we move into 2017, we will no longer be hosting our every other month SF letterwriting events, as our main SF organizer is on hiatus. We will continue to have monthly events, but they will mostly be centered in Oakland for now.

We are also organizing ongoing prison visits to our locally incarcerated members. If you have a penpal and are interested in visiting them, request that they send you a visitation form and then send that form directly into the prison. We can assist, if needed. We will hopefully be doing a carpool to Mule Creek State Prison on Jan 29 to visit a couple members, and are working on getting clearance and getting visits scheduled for San Quentin, California Medical Facility, and CCWF. Be in touch if you are interested in joining.

And please sign this petition – and then call (936) 437-4927 or email prea.ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov & ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov with the following message (or feel free to put your own spin on it): This is in regards to a transgender prisoner named Nicole (Charles) Jacks #1518147 who is under the care of TDCJ’s Smith Unit in Lamesa, TX. Nicole has endured horrific treatment at the hands of both prison staff and other inmates and I urge you to investigate this matter and promptly transfer her to a P2 Safekeeping Unit.

Save the dates!

We will be at Somar Bar for our letterwriting nights on the following Mondays: Feb 27, April 17, June 19.

Support TGI Justice Project with sending in legal and self-help resources  – get updates here.

Recent Developments in 3 Cases involving HIV

Catherine Hanssens from The Center for HIV Law & Policy has provided this summary of recent developments in three cases involving HIV as proof of intent to harm. Two are criminal; one involves indefinite civil commitment based on the finding that the individual is a dangerous sex offender in need of supervision under NY’s Article 10.

Michael Johnson

On May 15, 2015, Michael Johnson, a young Black college student at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, was found guilty in the Circuit Court of St. Charles County of one count of the Class A felony of recklessly infecting another with HIV, one count of the Class B felony of recklessly exposing another person to HIV, and three counts of the Class C felony of attempting to expose another person to HIV.  The complainants in case were men of similar ages, most of whom Johnson met on online hookup apps and social networking sites. Johnson was sentenced on July 13, 2015 to a total term of 30 ½ years imprisonment.
The Missouri Appellate Public Defender appealed Michael’s conviction and sentence, arguing that (1) the trial court abused its discretion by admitting excerpted recordings of phone calls Johnson made while in jail that were not disclosed to the defense until the morning of the first day of trial, (2) the prosecutor’s closing argument amounted to unsworn testimony violating Johnson’s right to confront and cross-examine the witness, guaranteed by the United States and Missouri Constitutions, and (3) Johnson’s sentence of 30 ½ myears in prison was grossly disproportionate to the crime and violated his constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

A friend-of-the court brief, drafted by CHLP and the law firm Gibbons, P.C., with the ACLU of Missouri Foundation serving as local counsel, was filed by twenty-three national and state organizations. Amici argue that the Missouri law 1) violates the constitutional right to equal protection; (2) violates the right to privacy in one’s medical information, and 3) violates prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Amici also argue that Johnson’s sentence was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment because it is grossly disproportionate to Mr. Johnson’s conduct and any resulting harm.

In an opinion filed on December 20, 2016, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded for a new trial.  The Court found that the trial court abused its discretion on Johnson’s first point of appeal, and did not reach the constitutional and federal disability arguments raised in Johnson’s second point and the amicus brief.  The Court based its decision on the finding that the State’s disclosure of jailhouse telephone recordings on the first day of trial rendered his trail fundamentally unfair, as it was “knowing and intentional and was part of a trial-by-ambush strategy.”

On, January 4th, attorneys for the State of Missouri filed a motion for reconsideration by the court en banc, rehearing, or transfer to the Missouri Supreme Court.  The State does not directly dispute that the disclosure was untimely, but argues, inter alia, that the Court misapprehended the record and that a discovery violation did not occur because the defendant had knowledge of the recordings, that the prosecutor did not have superior access to the recordings, and the withholding of the recordings was not “to gain a tactical advantage at trial, but to preserve an avenue of investigation.” A decision on the motion should come from the Court of Appeals in two to three weeks.

There are numerous potential outcomes; the most probable will be, as in most cases, the Court of Appeals will deny the motion.  If a request for transfer to the Supreme Court is also denied, a mandate will issue and the case can be retried by the prosecutor.

Orlando Batista

In October 2016, the Supreme Court of Ohio announced it would review the HIV criminal law at issue in State of Ohio v. Orlando Batista. In July 2014, Orlando Batista was indicted for felonious assault for allegedly engaging in sexual conduct with his girlfriend without first disclosing his HIV status to her.  The trial court found him guilty and sentenced him to 8 years imprisonment, the maximum allowed under the statute. Batista preserved his right to challenge the legality of the Ohio statute itself on appeal, but the appellate court rejected these arguments and affirmed Batista’s conviction. The Hamilton County Public Defender, representing Batista, submitted a brief to the Supreme Court of Ohio seeking review of the Ohio law. In June 2016, CHLP and the ACLU of Ohio Foundation, along with thirteen Ohio-based and national HIV, civil liberties, LGBT, social advocacy and criminal justice organizations, submitted a memorandum in support of Mr. Batista’s request for review.

In December 27, 2016, the defendant-appellant submitted his merit brief, arguing that the felonious assault statute (1) violates the Equal Protection Clauses of the Ohio and United States Constitutions, and (2) is a content-based regulation on speech that unconstitutionally compels speech and usurps the Constitutional right to refrain from speaking in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Additionally, two friend-of-the court briefs were filed on the same date.

In December 2016, CHLP, with support from the Ohio Public Defender and Gibbons P.C. law firm, along with seven Ohio-based and national HIV, LGBT, health professional and criminal justice organizations, submitted an amici curiae brief in support of Orlando Batista to the Supreme Court of Ohio arguing the state’s felonious assault statute: (1) violates the Equal Protection Clauses of the Ohio and United States Constitutions because it singles out people living with HIV for prosecution in response to conduct that is not criminal in the case of other groups, for example those living with other sexually transmitted diseases and (2) violates the clear prohibitions against disability-based discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Jeffrey Gamso, the former Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio Foundation, along with the ACLU of Ohio Foundation and the Center for Constitutional Rights, submitted an additional amici curiae brief supporting Mr.Batista arguing that Ohio’s felonious assault statute compels speech in violation of the Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment and the Ohio Constitution.

Nushawn Williams

The Court of Appeals, of New York State denied Nushawn Williams’ motion for leave to appeal (See 2016 NY Slip Op 94324 and 2016 NY Slip Op 94325). Nushawn’s case is, judging by the sheer volume of press, the most notorious HIV criminal case ever, anywhere; He has spent nearly 20 years confined  as a consequence of his guilty pleas to having sex with a 13 year old when he was 19, and for having sex after he knew he was HIV positive with two other women. His appellate attorney raised a number of procedural and substantive challenges to Williams’ commitment. The amici main argument was that HIV status cannot serve as the basis for a dangerous sex offender determination, and the state’s reliance on HIV status violates the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the ADA.

We are reviewing Nushawn’s options in consultation with Nushawn and his appellate attorney. At present, a hearing is scheduled on January 20, 2017 to determine when and whether to schedule an the annual administrative review of Nushawn’s confinement (to which he is entitled by statute).

Letters To Our Family (December 2016)

Hi to All My B&P Family,

I am a positive person. And I do all I can each day to pass that on to others around me. And even though I have spent almost 22 years in prison I can still say that I learn and grow constantly.

Even in the times when I am challenged by the stupidity of some staff as well as some inmates. But I realize that I must lead by example and have the conversation with others in hopes that I can educate them on how to approach trans women.

It is simple to me. I just let others see that I am a human being first. And all I want is to be respected and treated equally as the male inmates are treated. Because it can be difficult being a woman in a male facility – and I don’t allow anyone to treat me as anything other than what I represent.

So no matter how people see me, just doesn’t matter to me. I know who I am and I am secure with myself. I am strong and confident to know that anything I wish to be, I know I can achieve that.

There’s a thing I call keeping your circle closed. If you allow anyone in that circle then you have to take everything that comes along with it. And I know that I am not what everyone loves. But I love myself. So all the decisions I make involving the people I want to be associated with are my decisions only.

I can only be responsible for Lisa. It allows me to be a better person and a better listener and leader in such a dull Place. And this place is only in the right now. I know where my future is, and how to get there. So I follow that path and stay focused in my journey in life when you breathe, you have to exhale. So make the right decision, keep your circle closed and allow yourself to be surrounded by people who are better than you. You will become smarter and a more structured person.

Peace to everyone.
Lisa (CA)

 

Black & Pink Family,

How much more suffering do I have to endure here in Arkansas? The administration is trying to outlaw the LGBTQ community in the Arkansas department of corrections. They tell me there is no such thing as consensual contact between two individuals housed in prison. I got with my “partner” and we fell deeply in love. But I got put in the hole because I was intimate with my husband Joe. I am being punished for being sexually involved with the man I love. That breaks my heart and I’ve had many sleepless nights. I’m so afraid of losing him out of my life. I tell him how much I love him. We are both in the hole suffering from hot temperatures, severe heat, why am I being punished for having sex with the man I love? I am being retaliated against for being a part of the LGBTQ community. I tried to be strong and understand why people hate what they don’t understand, but sometimes I break down and cry myself sick! Arkansas prison systems say P.R.E.A. policy doesn’t allow same-sex sex in prison, they are using P.R.E.A. as a weapon towards homosexuals and transgenders where I am housed. It’s wrong and an injustice. Something needs to be done by this prison abusing P.R.E.A. policies and procedures. P.R.E.A. was implemented to eliminate prison rape, not consensual sex in prison. The unit I’m in is homophobic and transphobic. I need to know how to cope and adjust to these harsh cruel discriminatory tactics and policies. I fell like they treat me like an alien and as taboo for my beliefs and sexuality. They are trying to teach me that the way that I am is wrong. But they are wrong for acting unprofessional towards me and keeping me locked down based on phobias and not facts. I’m treated unfairly and different because of “who I am”. It’s hurtful but I’m staying strong and surviving through this struggle. This is Venus again by the way, torn and hurt emotionally. Hopefully I’ll be able to heal from these scars this prison has put on my heart. Thank you Black and Pink for giving me somewhere to turn to let my voice be heard and my tears to dry. Ya’ll are truly my friends and family. Without Black and Pink’s monthly newsletter, I don’t know where I would be. Mentally, it gives me some sincere peace of mind. To everyone who thinks you are alone in the Solitary Struggle – you’re not! There are thousands more just like us. My heart goes out to everyone who is discriminated against because of who you are. Stay strong and REAL. Never let the police see you sweat. I love you Joe!!!!!

Always your sister in the struggle,
Miss Venus W (AR)

 

Dear Family,

It’s strange for me to say that “family”. My true family had left me alone long ago but I’ve found a new family. I came to prison and was so alone but it was the family that came and showed me I was not alone. I’ve since found the mate of my dreams. This is my first time writing in to Black & Pink but I wish to tell you that I love you. We don’t seem to hear that enough but too this is a call to arms. Though many of you are not in Texas and do not know how badly we are mistreated but we can do something about it. Those of you with pens, they are your swords, you’re the wielder of a power there. Many other states offer access to items like MP3 players and tablets that allow limited access to the internet through sites like J-Pay and Corrlinks. How many of you don’t get mail because frankly your friends and family all use their computers and phones to do all the talking most of them see a stamp as a thing of the past. This puts a lot of us out of touch with them and the state knows this. They don’t want us to have that access. They don’t want us a quick easy way to reach out to our attorneys and advocates. J-Pay offers a tablet called a JP5 tablet. Texas inmates are not allowed access to it but many other states are. Pick up your pens, write to the head of the commissary in Huntsville and ask that we be allowed access to it, that it be made available to Texas inmates. Write your family and friends, have them send emails, beg, plead, threaten. Do whatever you can, we should be given the same access everyone else is. We have the same rights. Join me in this, we can make a difference. I once lost my family, now I have another, I have a mate, and we all have our pens.

With love and affection.
Yours,
Roger (TX)

 

What’s Up Family?

How are you guys doing? I send my love and respects to all my brother and sisters inside and outside.

On May 24, 2016 I was assaulted, cell-extracted, dragged out of my cell and pepper sprayed and given a rules violation report. This is because I am a strong minded black bi-sexual male who has stuck up for my rights on both of my prison terms.

I’m going to end this letter with a few thoughts. I just wanted to touch on the injustice of all the police shooting. It effects me deeply cause I am black and the police are just getting away with murder. The same way as these prison guards around the country are getting away with cruel and unusual punishment and tortuous treatment of our LGBTQ family in prison.

Carlton C. (CA)

Message from Jason (December 2016)

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you all as well as possible. As I write you this note Donald Trump is preparing to become president of our country. Over the last few weeks we have watched as he nominated white supremacists, bigots, banking executives, and Islamophobic lovers of war to different cabinet positions. You all may have paid particular attention to his nomination of Jeff Sessions to Attorney General. This is a man who helped create and expand the War on Drugs. He is violently racist, homophobic, and anti-immigrant. What feelings are coming of for you? Are you anxious about what a Trump presidency will bring? What do you think his administration will mean for prisoners? For LGBTQ people? For people of color? For Muslims? For immigrants? For HIV positive people? For disabled people? For our planet?

As an abolitionist organization, we at Black and Pink know that neither the democrats or the republicans want to bring about the changes we believe in. We know that democrats and republicans have both helped growth the prison system. We know that democrats and republicans ignore our demands to get our people free. We know that democrats and republicans both push forward racist policies that attack our communities. We know all of this, but we can also recognize that there are unique challenges that we will face under a Trump administration. There have been some policy changes over the last eight years that increase access to care for transgender prisoners. The Department of Justice is currently investigating the Georgia Department of Corrections for their discriminatory treatment of LGBT prisoners. There have been negotiations to get the Federal Bureau of Prisons to move transgender women, who have requested it, into women’s prisons. President Obama has also commuted more sentences of federal prisoners than any president in history (though he should obviously do thousands more). There are challenges ahead that we must be ready to meet with organizing and resistance.

As we prepare for the Trump presidency it is important to remember that whenever there has been oppression and there has always been resistance. The election of Trump is not, in fact, the worst moment in American history. We have a history of genocide and slavery, the impact of which continues today, regardless of who is president. Just as the Water Protectors in Standing Rock are resisting today, Indigenous people throughout this nation resisted colonization. While the colonizers won in many ways, there are still millions of Indigenous people fighting to protect their sovereignty. Just as the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-prison movement resists white supremacy today, Black people who were held in chattel slavery resisted plantation owners, fought back on ships that were stealing them from Africa, and escaped. Those of us who are white also have ancestors to turn to who joined in the struggle for liberation. There were those like John Brown in the 19th Century and Anne Braden in the 20th Century who were willing to put their lives on the line to act in solidarity. As we celebrate those who survived, we also know that countless people suffered and died during these struggles. We honor all of our ancestors’ legacies and deaths by continuing the struggles that they started.

During these tough times there are those who quote Joe Hill, who said, “don’t mourn, organize.” My response is that I think it is okay for us to do both, let us mourn where we are as a nation, let us mourn the spread of right wing politics, let us mourn our losses, and at the same time let us be moved to build our power so that we may organize and win. We do all of our collective work knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,
Jason

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT! National Organizer for Black and Pink!

national-organizer-job-announcement
(download announcement and job description HERE)

Application Deadline: January 6, 2017

Start Date: March 15, 2017

To Apply: Please send cover letter and resume to Jason@blackandpink.org


Summary

Although Black and Pink provides many direct services to LGBTQ and/or HIV+ prisoners and court-involved people, the goal of our work is to strengthen the movement towards abolition of the prison industrial complex. The role of the National Organizer for Black and Pink is to support local outside chapters in their grassroots efforts, provide support and resources to prison-based chapters, develop and lead a national strategic organizing plan with clear goals and concrete actions to take. The organizer is also responsible for some direct advocacy work with prisoner members who are in crisis. Black and Pink only hires individuals with a history of incarceration and we strongly encourage applications from individuals most impacted by the prison industrial complex.

Hours and Compensation

This is a full time position, 40 hours per a week. This is a salaried position, $40,000 a year, paid on the 15th and the last day of each month. There are four weeks of paid vacation annually, and compensation time is accrued if working over 40 hours a week (though working more than 40 hours a week is strongly discouraged). Black and Pink full time staff have 12 sick days per year. Black and Pink does not provide staff with health insurance at this time, though monthly / annual premiums for healthcare obtained through Mass Health will be paid for through Black and Pink (state funded healthcare in Massachusetts). Black and Pink will also provide a $60 a month membership for either Massage Envy, $60 a month for a gym membership, or $60 a month for another form of other self-care practice.

Qualifications

The ideal candidate for this position will have some experience with organizing and a willingness to get training on effective organizing tactics. The ideal candidate will have strong, compassionate, communication skills. Given the intensity of the work required by staff at Black and Pink, the candidate must have the ability to be compassionate and empathetic with prisoner membership and others directly affected by the criminal legal system. The candidate must be able to demonstrate effective time management, attention to detail, and prioritization of tasks as the position requires managing many different and even conflicting needs. A background with computer skills is a must, as the candidate will also have to learn Black and Pink’s data storage systems, utilize Gmail and Microsoft Office, and know how to navigate social media appropriately. The candidate must also be willing to travel regularly, primarily by plane.

Job Location:

Black and Pink’s national office is located in Boston, Massachusetts. The ideal candidate would either live in the Boston area or be willing to relocate (with financial assistance from Black and Pink to do so). There are possible exceptions. For individuals with extensive organizing experience and a history of working remotely for another organization, considerations for remote employment could be made. That person would, however, be required to come to Boston for 3 weeks of training and relationship building at the start of the employment.


Primary Tasks and Responsibilities:

Outside Chapter Support:
Coordinate national chapters’ call
Ensure resources are distributed between chapters and from the national office to chapters
Volunteer management and volunteer development
In person meetings with every chapter at least once a year
Provide guidance for grassroots efforts being done by local chapters.

Inside Chapter support:
Respond to letters and requests from inside chapters
Support development of new inside chapters
Ensure inside chapters submit reports about their work
Track and respond to retaliation against prisoner organizers

National Responsibilities:
Ensure that national working groups are meeting and help with coordinating them
Workshops, presentations, and public speaking for organizations around the country
Supporting and planning national gathering of B&P members (every 2 years).
Develop new initiatives that increase the effectiveness of organizational work

Resource Development:
Design outside chapter starting tool kit (with the support of existing chapters)
Update inside chapter starting tool kit as needed
Support National Director with resource development as needed

General Administrative Tasks:
Respond to prisoner letters in a timely manner
Respond to emails in a timely manner
Communicate with Office Manager and National Director about needs and work issues

Supervision:

This position is supervised by the National Director. Supervision should occur for one hour every week. During supervision the National Organizer should communicate about upcoming goals, needs for training or support, obstacles in the work, and emotional support needs due to the severity of the work.

 

 

 

We recommit to fighting for liberation!

Given that some adults with voting privileges in the U.S. elected a man who deeply threatens our family members, we recommit to fighting toward our goals and values laid out in our analysis:

Our goal is liberation. We have a radical view of the fight for justice: We are feminist. We are anti-racist. We want queer liberation. And we are against capitalism. Prisons are part of the system that oppresses and divides us. By building a movement and taking action against this system of violence, we will create the world we dream of.
We also celebrate the beauty of what exists now: Our love for each other. The strength of our planet. Our incredible resiliency. All of the power we have to continue existing. While dreaming and struggling for a better world, we commit to living in the present.

Abolition is our goal, and our strategy for action. Any advocacy, services, organizing, and direct action we take will remove bricks from the system, not put up more walls. We want revolution. And we will work on reforms too, even if they are only small steps at ending the suffering caused by prisons.

Our work is based in the experience of people who are or were in prison. We also raise up the voices of formerly incarcerated people as our “free world” members of the Leadership Circle. We know that those most hurt by the violence of the prison industrial complex have the knowledge of how to tear it down.

Black & Pink’s “free world” membership started in Boston and has spread across the country. We will support one another, share the work of our organizing efforts, and grow our family inside and outside the walls. We would like to increase our national and international membership, creating chapters in more cities, towns, prisons, schools, and neighborhoods.

 

Letters to Our Family (October 2016)

Dear Black and Pink family,

Hello to all my sisters inside & outside those walls. My name is Michael AKA Mike Mike. I am a long time reader and will start writing more. You know I was not too big on Relationships while in Custody of NCDOC. They never really worked for some reason or another, But, when I left Avery Prison to go to Hornet for Dart Class I could not help but fall in love at first sight of this sexy one whose name is also Michael who goes by “Lakisha”. Little did I know he felt the same for me. So after being at hornet for a week I asked if he knew anyone willing to jump out the window and get into an intimate Relationship. Lakisha says “yeah, me.” for the next 3 months I forgot I was in prison. I’d wait at the Block at 3pm + wait for him to get out of the Barber School. In the mornings we’d walk together to class, on the weekends he’d play Ball + I’d work out then we’d spend the rest of the day hanging out, plus church on Sunday.

Well, as my class finished and his rolls on I tried to stay. Staff said no. So on January 24, 2016 I asked Lakisha to marry me. Yes, was the response, and with it came a silver ring. (Staff took it at the next camp). Well with any love story goes a sad ending. Jan 28th, 2016 I was put on the Grey Goose to go to “The Rock.” Needless to say I cried that morning because I could not give my love a goodbye hug or kiss. He was in the Block across from mine. I gave him my info as he done too. Needless to say no luck there. I been at the rock for 3 months now and now on Protective Custody trying to get away from here.

Lakisha, if you’re reading this, don’t cry, I’m coming home soon. I may not make it back to Hornet but I get out 7 months after you Boo-Boo. I wear a ring I got off the yard. I brought for 10 stamps. Engraved on it is † Eternal Love † which clarifies to everyone here, “Hands off I am spoken for.” To show my ever loving Support I got ⚣ tattooed on my Right side. One Black, one white for My Boo Boo Lakisha.

To Black and Pink family I love the Cards, Postcards and Letters on the Holidays. Thankyou ALL. Much Love your Brother,
Michael, NC AKA Mike Mike, NC

 

Hi Black and Pink,

I am writing to tell you all about my story and experiences of what I have faced in the streets along with being in prison and I apologize if this is not written correctly. I am a high school dropout and this my first time stepping out of the darkness to show myself to the world.

Anyways… Hello to those Black and Pink and to anyone that might be reading this. My name is David Lyons. I am a bi-sexual male, I am 24 years old, I will be 28 on November 17th of this year. I am from a little town called “Newark” located in Ohio. I am a proud bi-sexual county boy I think lol…

I am a registered sex offender, I caught the case in 2011 when I was lied to by a female that claimed she was 20 years old but was not. I got charged with a felony of the 4th degree and that charge was unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. I am a father of 3 possibly 4 children and their mothers refuse to allow me to be part of my children’s lives because I am a sex offender and they believe that it is a law I am allowed to be around my children with a sex offense.

I was sexually molested as a child and have hid that fact from everyone. I noticed I was a bisexual when I was age 13 but I hid my sexuality from then until last year when I decided to slowly come out about my sexuality to a small group of friends that I had but they ended up abandoning me shortly afterwards because they were “homo-phobes”.

I am currently in prison on my 3rd number because of making stupid choices and getting back on drugs. I’ll be honest, I really let myself go this time. I could hardly find a job. I was homeless and could not find a place to lay my head. I couldn’t even get any help from anyone. I can’t count on my family because they only care about their selves, my mother can’t and couldn’t help me because she is about to be homeless herself and she is now just got approved for SSI because she has to have multiple surgeries for her back. I felt and still somewhat feel like the world and is and was against me. I was denied of so many things because of me being a sex offender (although I know none would admit it on paper to cover their own butts) so I get depressed and just gave up and started using meth again.

I was staying with my cousin’s before the last time I got arrested. I got “rail-roaded” by the law and my own cousin’s wife. But when I finally was able to stay with my cousin, I had re-registered my new address with the sex offender registry detective. And while I was gone one day trying to find a job, the registry detective came to my cousin’s house and asked my cousin if I was living there and then pulled my cousins wife outside and asked the same thing and came to find out in my discovery she stated that I never lived there. She did not like that by then I also had drug addictions. So the detective asked me to report him a few days later in which I did because I had nothing to hide, I did nothing wrong.

Once I showed up and he asked me where I was living and I stated to him, “at my cousin’s house.” He stated that “No you don’t, I spoke with them, they say you have never lived at that residence.” I argued with him and told him that I did live there and even requested that I could prove to him that I lived there. So after a few months of arguing, he stated, “Well Mr. L–, I see too many inconsistencies with your story, so you’re under arrest.” So me being high on meth at that time, I panicked and took off running on foot because I didn’t want to lose my freedom for something I did not do. They just did not want to check to see if I was telling the truth. So upon running I collided with another detective and they finally arrested and jailed me. I was charged with a felony 3 escape, a felony 4 assault on a peace officer, and a felony 4 failure notify change of address. I was sentenced to 18 months and I’ve seen a couple of stories in your newspaper of people experiencing similar problems. So I figured I would put my story out there with you and all and I am open to any and all comments or suggestions. I hope to be able to be part of your fast-growing ad caring family. I hope to be able to a voice among the many for those of us facing problems like all of us. Thank you for your time and for listening.

With much love,
David L, OH

 

Hello family,

I have read about the abomination that occurred in Orlando’s Pulse club maybe six times so far and my soul aches so terribly that it is still difficult, even now, to formulate a coherent message without the urge to yell, scream, and gnash my teeth in rage and lamentation. I’m not at a loss for words, but rather my mental filter isn’t working quite right. I’ll start slow and simple, my name, for those who don’t know me, is Ti’Anna Analise Delarosa. I was born June 30, 1993. I’m 23, HIV positive, transgender, and am Creole.

Okay, now that I’ve calmed myself down some I’ll set to the point. I’m deeply affected and wounded by the events that took place. I know almost firsthand how horrible the immigration laws are, having made the acquaintance of many amazing men of Puerto Rican, Mexican, Honduran, and Guatemalan descent and having been in a county jail where out of the 8 pods, 7 were for immigration and overcapacity and being emptied and refilled/overfilled every day. They are treated in a contradictory manner: 99% of the materials in the law library are en Espanol or all about immigration/deportation laws, which blatantly says they are top priority, while they are housed in overcrowded, unpleasant, and altogether unsanitary pods, leaving the message that “non-Americans” (in the words of racists and bigots) are less than beasts in their eyes.

I’ve also experience homophobia firsthand. My father was a heavy-handed alcoholic gay basher. Suffice it to say 2008 to 2012 were NOT my best years. Here is what I really want to talk about: since first reading the article about Pulse’s Latinx night, I’ve been contemplating what I like to think of as my “counter attack”. My plan is to build/have built a large (aka MASSIVE) facility of 10 stories for the main targets of senseless brutality and bull schnozzle laws. I call it the “TPOC Rainbow Palace”. (TPOC = Truly People of Color) It will house a club on the first and second floor: a cafeteria on the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors; and housing on the 6th thru 10th floors. A few details: 4 queen-size bunk-beds per room; internet and Wi-Fi; 2 phones per room; intercom’ emergency call buttons’ interpreters/translators; each window will be 3 layers of 2-inch thickness of bulletproof glass-shatter proof glass-crystal mixture; the exterior walls will be 8-inch thick titanium-steel-iron alloy sheets to promote bullet proof metal-style resistance; metal detectors and super heavy security.

It’ll take me close to about 18 months to gather the appropriate funds in surplus of what is needed for construction, wiring, plumbing, etc. and get the initial structure built to the 6th maybe 7th floor. I am a financial genius (self-proclaimed and titled by others). I actually have a plan of accumulating the funds with very little financial support (loans, etc.) that will place me in Bill Gates’ seat in a timely fashion.

Back to the point. The TPOC Rainbow Palace is intended as a safe haven for LGBTQ and TPOC. The housing is intended exclusively for LGBTQ immigrants, TPOC immigrants and TPOC LGBTQ who either have no home, can no longer afford their home, wish to leave their home or are afraid to have one. There will be space reserved for those who don’t fall in the above stated categories, though they are not my top priority. My main worry is the LGBTQ immigrant community, TPOC immigrant community, TPOC LGBTQ immigrant community, and the TPOC LGBTQ community. That doesn’t mean others are not important to me, they just aren’t my main concern. They’re not being senselessly murdered and/or deported. One of the main objectives of the TPOC Rainbow Palace is to help shelter those considered to be immigrants (though this county was founded by immigrant who enslaved immigrants and made laws to keep other immigrants from following them on more righteous paths and for better reasons than to rebel against their home because they were self-centered, self-serving, greedy, lazy, undeserving, arrogant, deceitful, and outright cowardly flurps and ninnies. I’m not racist. I’m just highly prejudiced against the stupid people who did the stupid things that lead to the even more heinously stupid things that are happening now! Rant over.) and also to help them gain citizenship and temporary student visas and green cards so that the highly ignorant government can’t send them away or hurt them anymore.

My question is this: who is going to join me? I’m going home in a little less than 12 months and when I touch down, I’m setting this plan in motion. I’m not scared to admit I’m going to need a lot of help. I’m only one woman you know. I need to know that I’m not doing this alone and that we deserve this. The sad truth is that so many people are willing to march and rally and protest and write letters, but when it comes time to physically sacrifice oneself: time, money, energy: working, building, laboring, sweating and even bleeding (work does that to people, believe it or not). About ½ to 1/3 of those speaking up actually act out. I’ve seen it in here prison-side. Everybody complains, but only 3 out of 50 (there 2,100 inmates here) people will peak up and act out. Here’s the thing: I’m a born warrior, I know how to battle, survive and WIN. What I’m planning will put a huge target on my head. I’m ready for it. I’ve been raped, beaten, gay bashed, jumped twice, contracted HIV (4 years ago), survived jumping off of a car, and multiple suicide attempts. I welcome death at every turn, we play the game of Life every Friday and chess every Tuesday. As you can see, I haven’t lost. I truly think I’m going to live to be a 120-year-old crone mother. (Great!  … NOT!) If I do I’ll love ever millisecond.

In the case of the TPOC Rainbow Palace (I love that name  ), a great many feathers will be ruffled and a war will be waged. In the end, purple wings and pink flames with black swords and periwinkle halos will fill the sky. Rainbows will be seen all over the world and techno music will rain from heavens. Translation: WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS! If you wish to be apart for that which is being planned or have suggestions, drop a couple hints to me via your poems and letters to Black & Pink if they’ll be a good sport about it. Keywords: #RAINBOWREVOLUTION, #TRP (which is the palace I mentioned), and #RAISETHEPULSE. BTW: I just want to say that Trump can kiss my purple wings, periwinkle halo and sit on my pink tail. The guy’s a jerk and a rich jerk at that. I KNOW we can do butter. I was born and raised a southern Bayou Belle and in my family, every person is loved. Has a home, and has a family, whether blood or not, undocumented, citizen, interplanetary, or multidimensional doesn’t matter. You are LOVED and you are FAMILY-PERIOD. God bless you, blessed be, Goddess keep you, and my love engulf you. Peace, Blessings and

Love,
Tianna D. “Mommy T” IL

 

 

Hey all you fabulous Divas, Dykes, T-Girls, & Studs!!! This is your sister <Ms. Jayde Moonshadow> and I wanna send a shout-out to all my totally fantabulous fellow “T-girls!” Hay ya’ll!!!

I also want to embrace all the recent additions to our “family.” It takes an unimaginable amount of bravery & courage to be all that we are; despite the fact that in doing so, we often are rejected/ridiculed by the very ones we hope will accept & love us (for being us/as we’re meant to be).

I, myself, have had a lot of trouble with this. I am totally “out” (& proud of it), and have been for a while now. However, I’ve lost a lot of those I’d thought were “friends”, simply because they were not able/willing to accept me as I truly am (as a trans-woman).

Those of “us” that’ve experienced this first-hand, are fully aware how “traumatic” these losses are/can be.

That’s why I’m a very firm believer in “HOPE;” hope that I’m strong enough to make it each day, hope that I am being true to myself, hope that I am always there for those who need me, hope that each new day is a bit better than yesterday, and hope that we will all be accepted & loved for being the way we choose to be…>

Speaking of “Hope,” I’m very hopeful that I will get a positive ruling from the “courts.” I’m fighting for a “legal name change,” a “bra (female undergarments),” and “electrolysis/laser hair removal.”

I finally got approval for the “hormones” (in May/2015) and am making steady progress in that area. Though, I’m still absolutely clueless. as to how to measure my “cup/breast-size!” Does anyone know how to do this?! Unbelievably, there’s not one female staff/doctor/nurse that’s willing to tell me how it’s done, like I’m some creepy-ass freak for asking…>!!!

Well, before closing this out, I want to give a loving shout-out to the following “family” members: to L’Don Rose (in CA), all my love & hugs (keep fightin’ girl, I’m right here with ya, honey); to “A.J.O” (in CA), hang in there sweetie. I know it’s lonely and hard, but I love you and accept you for the glorious & perfectly awesome person you are!; to Robin (in Las Vegas, NV) I love your spunky-style/philosophy about all these hater-ass fools! Haters gonna hate, while lovers stay lovin’!!!; to Lexi T. (in MA), I love that you wrote about “making a difference,” not “being different!” Stay strong and know that life is always worth living, no matter how difficult the path laid-out before us is!; and finally to Cassie (in TX), keep being true to yourself girl! You’re so brave and deserving of acceptance <no matter what your chances are in life>!

Lastly, I want to send my love & adoration to “Luna Umbra” (in MA); you’re my light in this dark & lonely world! Thanks for being a “True Friend!” All my love and hugs, cutie!!!

Stay strong, united, and loving always,
Ms. Jayde, CO
(<3 “kisses” ya’ll)

 

 

I write to my GLBT family because I have nowhere else to turn to. I am housed in the Bible belt of West Texas, arguably the most anti-gay place on Earth. For 4 years, I have endured TDJC’s practices of hyper-surveillance and targeting of homosexuals. I really hate that the system focuses more on me writing kites to my partner than all the violence/extortion.

For over a year my partner Shane “Loose Screw” and I have been madly in love. We enjoyed life, supported/encouraged each other, etc. Then one day, out of nowhere, we get a “lover’s interest” flag put on us. We were moved apart from each other. This is 2016! “Homosexual conduct” is no longer against the law, there is nation-wide same sex marriage, and “don’t ask/don’t tell” was abolished. However, TDCJ doesn’t keep up with the times & still has homophobic disciplinary rules. You would think the system would encourage peer-to-peer support. The need to feel loved, wanted, and appreciated is a basic human need. Denying us meaningful relationships hurts our rehabilitation! Love gives us a purpose. And with purpose comes goals and aspirations, I know personally, I feel calloused and bitter that TDCJ has stripped me of my joy by moving my partner.

Screw, if you are reading this, I love you. “Till the wheels fall off.”

B&P family in TX – my heart is with you.
Eric “Angel” (aka YOLO), TX

 

 

 

Hello, Black and Pink family,

This is my first letter to the family, but surely won’t be the last. I just wanted to take time out and send love to this family that has given me strength and power in the recent years of my life. My name is Brandon, and I am a 29-year-old bisexual male from Missouri. I am currently serving time in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. I’ve been down for over six years.

I have been involved in same sex relationships since I was 14, however I’ve only been open about it for about 4 years. Up until recently, I have always been afraid of being who I truly wanted to be mostly out of fear of what my mother and two brothers would think of me. Father was never around, so mama worked extra hard to provide for her three boys. I didn’t want to hurt her by letting her down despite her doing her best, her son still turned out gay. I didn’t know how to tell my little brother who looked up to me so much the I wasn’t the idol he thought I was, or how to tell my big brother that his little brother (me) has sexual experiences with other men. I couldn’t bring myself to hurt my family like that. So, I continued living a lie. I would be in relationships with women when I’m thinking about, dreaming about being with a man. I would hang out on the block with the fellas, wishing I was up the street at my “play sister’s” slumber party. I lived this lie until it eventually landed me in prison.

I was still hiding who I was when I first came into the system out of fear of being taken advantage of. Then one day, a friend of mine who also happens to be gay, approached me on the yard and said “check this out” while handing me a newspaper. I waited to get back to my cell during count before I opened up the newspaper and started reading. At first, I thought “this some type of scheme to get gay people to spend money”. Then I continued to read. Not only was this paper free, it was filled with stories and articles of people that fared the same adversities I faced as a gay male. I was thunder struck! Never in a million years did I imagine that there could be such a large group of people that not only understood my problems but have lived and overcame them. I immediately subscribed to Black and Pink that very same day, and started receiving this wonderful blessing of a paper shortly after.

After receiving Black and Pink for about a year, and witnessing all our family members come together and help each other live our lives in peace and happiness, through positive words of encouragement, consistent dispersing of useful resources, and honest, non-judgmental feedback between one another, I made the decision to come out.

So, I asked my mama and brothers to come up to visit. During that visit, through many tears and emotional despair, I poured my heart out to my family. I told them of my sexuality and how sorry I was for keeping it from them all this time, my mother grabbed my hand and through teary eyes stated “Brandon, you are my son, and there is absolutely nothing you can do that will change or take away the love I have for you.” My little brother hugged me and said “big bro, this just made me look up to you even more,” my big brother also hugged me and said “I love you little bro, and you got my 100% support…but don’t think I hooking you up with any of my homies (lol).” I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. I’ve never felt so alive…I’ve never felt so loved…I’ve never felt so free.

I wanted to share that special moment with this Black and Pink family because I was through you all…the love, the support, the unity, and the understanding that I found the courage to be who I am today. A proud gay man, full of love and joy from the bottom of my heart…I thank you, and I wish everyone under this magnificent rainbow…love, peace and happiness…

Your brother,
Brandon, IL

Message from Jason (October 2016)

Dear friends,

I hope this note finds you as well as possible. By the time you get this October will likely be almost over. Did you know that this autumn month is considered LGBTQ History Month? Did you know that October 11th is considered National Coming Out Day? I wanted to take a moment to share some reflections about both of these things.

There are lots of different feelings that people have about National Coming Out Day. For some people this day is a celebration and a day to tell stories about how they first knew, who they first told, what the first kiss was like, how the first dress felt, or any number of other funny or heart breaking stories. For other people it is a day that ignores their experience. Not everyone chooses to come out. Not everyone has a choice not to come out. Visibility, being seen, is not what everyone is looking for. When it comes to policing in queer communities of color, being seen often then means being arrested. Coming out, or being known, turns into repression. Closets are not only places people choose out of fear, closets can also be places of survival.

I think a lot about the stories many have shared here about coming out. Telling others you are LGBTQ while in prison can be a big risk. Sharing your status as being HIV+ can bring harassment or isolation. Yet so many of you still choose to do so and doing so can take great courage. This is not to say that all coming out is intentional though. Sometimes other people can tell, sometimes we get clocked, sometimes we are forced out of the closet because prisons lock us in a prison that does not match our gender.

Coming out can look different for everyone. Some of us sashay into a crowd and proclaim ourselves as if we were fabulous divas on a stage. Others of us come out quietly in whispers with our closest friends, sharing something that feels precious. There are those of us who come out with our fists in the air demanding our rights be respected. There is no wrong way to come out. There is no wrong way to be an LGBTQ person. While we are part of a larger community, and as Black and Pink we are part of a big family, we are also very different from each other. Each one of us has our own unique needs. As people with differing races, genders, abilities, religions, and other identities, we have different experiences of privilege and oppression. These are differences we must not ignore and these are differences we must understand so that we can be stronger together.

What about your story? Have you ever come out about your gender or sexual orientation? Have you come out to others about another part of you? Have other people ever “outed” you without your permission? Have you ever felt like the closet might be your safest option? Has anyone ever come out to you? How did you respond? How would you want someone to respond to you?

One of the tricky pieces about LGBTQ History Month is that it requires us to know the stories of people who are known to be part of our community. It requires us to know stories of those who have come out in some way or another. As such, LGBTQ History Month will always be incomplete. There are countless people throughout history who were attracted to people of the same gender or who identified as a gender they were not assigned at birth who we will never know about. While we may know the stories of people like Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk, Audre Lorde, Christine Jorgensen, Rock Hudson, Sylvia Rivera and so many others there are even more of our LGBTQ ancestors we will never know about. Their spirits may be watching over us, seeing how we make a path for liberation and justice today. I like to imagine that their spirits may be part of what gives us the strength to keep up our struggles, knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.

In loving solidarity,
Jason

Intimate Partner Abuse & LGBTQ Prisoners

intimate-partner-abuse-excerpt

domestic-violence-awareness-monthGiven that October is observed as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight stories from LGBTQ prisoners, people ignored by the movement to end domestic violence.

Many leaders in social service organizations working with survivors of domestic violence push for tougher laws that will incarcerate abusive partners for longer periods of time. Abolitionists have critiqued this idea, drawing attention to this as a form of carceral feminism. The truth is that the criminal legal system does not care about the healing of survivors of domestic violence. Even when we look at the resource allocation from the Violence Against Women Act, the far majority goes to law enforcement and prosecution, not to services for survivors. The critique of carceral feminism is an important one, prisons are not actually ending intimate partner abuse, but instead give a liberal face to imprisoning people.

There is, however a missing piece of the critique. Not only do prisons not put an end to intimate partner violence, the reality is that intimate partner abuse continues inside the prison walls. Just as people engage in intimate relationships outside of prisons, so to do people in prison create intimate partnerships. People in prison have boyfriends, girlfriend, fuck buddies, wives, husbands, partners, intimate relationships of all kinds with other prisoners locked inside the walls. People in these relationships then try to navigate the dynamics of their relationship while also surviving in a violent and traumatic environment, one that actually forbids their relationship from existing. There has been inspiring work done with survivors in refugee camps that would actually be helpful to apply to these situations, navigating intimate violence within a larger violent system. When abuse happens in an intimate partnership in prison, there is, essentially, no where to turn. It is difficult to turn to prison staff for many reasons. Firstly, if one admits to a prison staff person about being in an intimate relationship with someone they might find themselves thrown into solitary confinement for violation of the rules. Secondly, telling prison staff about any kind of harm by another prisoner will get one labeled as a “snitch” and that label can lead to even greater violence from any number of other prisoners. This leaves survivors with very few options.

We asked respondents to the Black and Pink National LGBTQ Prisoner survey about their experiences with sexual violence.

One third of respondents reported that they had experienced abuse in one or more of their romantic relationships in prison.

This is a similar rate or higher than what most anti-violence organizations highlight for relationships outside of prison. LGBTQ prisoners need more appropriate services that actually meet their needs when they are trying to navigate and survive an abusive romantic relationship. Hopefully this data from prisoner, these stories below, can push a conversation forward so that new programs can be developed and a strong commitment can be made to include the needs of prisoners as we come up with authentic solutions to ending intimate partner abuse.

Download PDF of factsheet HERE

October Update from Chicago

Greetings family!

We’re writing as the season begins to change.  Leaves haven’t quite changed colors, but the sticky heat and humidity are on their way out, and cool fall breezes are on their way in.  While there’s much that’s beautiful about this time of year, it’s also a scary political climate as the presidential elections are less than two months away.  We’ve seen terrifying increases in hate crimes against people perceived to be Muslim, driven by the racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric of a certain presidential candidate, whose name rhymes with dump.  In Illinois, we are still reeling with the effects of severe budget cuts, despite a stop-gap budget agreement that was finally put into place earlier this summer (after over a year without a state budget).  The war on the poor, the war on Black lives, and wars abroad continue – but so does beautiful, people-powered resistance.   

In Chicago, this summer gave life to a 41day encampment of what become known as ‘Freedom Square,’ just across the street from a CPD torture site called Homan Square.  Led by the young Black organizers of the #LetUsBreathe Collective, they gave out free food, free water, free clothes, free books and held space in North Lawndale for envisioning what a world without police could look like, on a formerly abandoned grassy lot.  Numerous Black & Pink volunteers brought food, volunteered in the kitchen, played with children, and helped with the upkeep of the encampment. While the overnight occupation came to an end at the beginning of September, hundreds of people across Chicago no doubt learned lessons that they’ll carry with them for a long time about what it means to practice building the world we want to see.

Our Black and Pink chapter has also been hard at work on a number of other projects.  At the beginning of the summer, we tabled to sign up new volunteers at the Chicago Dyke March, and had a photo-booth encouraging passersby to share messages against solitary confinement.  One of our volunteers also made fantastic new shirts that say “Solidarity not solitary,” which debuted at Dyke March.  In August, we hosted a hopping community dinner with the Chicago Community Bond Fund, a grassroots organization that raises funds to get community members out of Cook County Jail, and organizes for an end to cash bail, for the ways that it unfairly criminalizes people without access to money.  We also partnered with ‘Love and Protect’ for a letter-writing night to incarcerated women and girls – including 15 year old Bresha Meadows.  She is currently in jail pre-trial facing murder charges, for defending herself and her family against her abusive father.  

We recently hosted a highly attended new volunteer orientation, with nearly 30 new people wanting to get involved in our chapter’s work. Two of our working groups, Penpal Support Team & Re-entry Support Group, are able to get re-started now that new people have joined. Earlier this summer we also received our first ever grant as a chapter. It was for $3,000 from the Crossroads Fund and it will largely go towards operations and political education. We’re very excited to have funds to pay for postage and printing, as our inside membership has grown to nearly 600 people in Illinois alone. Operating costs for this volunteer effort are significant.

We also want to acknowledge that two of our formerly incarcerated members, Afrika and Eddie, have been doing well and continue to support B&P fam in Chicago by regularly speaking out at events and protests.  We also send love for our fam who’s been entrapped by the system again, and miss having them on this side of the walls.  We’ll continue to match penpals, teach folks on the outside about the violence of incarceration, and offer what support we can to our ever-expanding family, and hope that you’ll continue to stay in touch and let us know what’s happening on the inside.  Here’s some other news that we think you might find interesting:

Update on Anti-Solitary Bill HB5417

The bill to limit the use of solitary confinement in Illinois made it out of the House Restorative Justice Committee but did not get called for a vote on the House floor last session, at the end of May. Many are committed to continuing to organize and lobby for it this coming legislative session starting in January, 2017. In the meantime we are working with a budding coalition of prisoner solidarity organizations to build more of a grassroots campaign to end solitary confinement in Illinois. 

If you have family on the outside who you think would like to help us, please have them visit http://torturesurvivorsagainstsolitary.com/  or e-mail Blackandpinkchicago@gmail.com to find out more information about upcoming actions and events.  The more connections we have to family and friends, inside and out, the stronger we will be. We’ve continued to gather ideas and testimony from inside members about why we need to stop solitary, which we’ll share with community members and legislators. 

On September 9th, our coalition organized a march in solidarity with the national prisoner work stoppage day. In memory of the prisoners of Attica, dozens of people gathered from across Chicago to speak out in front of the Thompson center and march to the Metropolitan Correctional Center for a noise demo in solidarity with those inside.

Recent Victory – Prison Phone Justice Bill!

A bill was recently signed into law, HB6200: The Family Connections Bill, that will cut in half the cost of phone calls from Illinois prisons. Under the measure, prison phone call rates will be cut in half, or a maximum of 7 cents per minute, starting January 1, 2018. For years, Securus, one of the two largest prison phone providers, has profited from overcharging those incarcerated and their families. As part of the contract, IDOC makes $12 million annually in “commissions,” or kickbacks to the state, which is the highest in the nation. This bill will stop prison profiteers from picking the pockets of poor families. If you know someone on the inside who would like to share their story of paying the high cost of prison phone calls, have them contact: Illinois Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, 202 S. Broadway, Urbana, IL 61801.

#NoDAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline)

Open Letter of Solidarity with Standing Rock and Everyone Resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline – 7.14.16

Today, on this global day of action against the Dakota Access Pipeline, Black & Pink Chicago shares this letter of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all people in the struggle to save our water. Water is life. Our work towards abolition requires us to ensure that all people have their basic needs met: housing, food, air, water. The Dakota Access Pipeline stands in the way of our vision of a world without police and prisons, a world that values life over profit.

Time and again, we have seen that prisoners are often the last to get access to clean water under disaster capitalism. We saw it after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy and so many other “natural” disasters. We saw it in Illinois a couple months ago after Gov. Rauner’s refusal to pass a budget in Illinois left some counties with exorbitant water bills and threatening to cut water off to thousands of people locked in state prisons. This pipeline is a threat to hundreds of our Black & Pink family, thousands of other incarcerated people, and millions of non-incarcerated people in its path.

In addition to the environmental destruction this pipeline will create, we abhor the militarized violence that water protectors have faced while resisting its construction. In North Dakota, security guards working for the pipeline company have attacked indigenous water protectors with dogs and pepper spray. We must resist the ongoing genocide of native peoples through toxic polluting and theft of sacred lands, as well as the brutalization and incarceration of those who resist. May enough of us be enraged and moved to action by this to stop state and corporate violence, to stop this pipeline, and to disarm the police. No to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Not at Sacred Stone. Not in Illinois. Not anywhere.

Free Bresha Meadows (Taken from FreeBresha.wordpress.com)

Bresha Meadows is a child survivor of domestic violence who just turned 15 while incarcerated at the Trumbull County Juvenile Detention Center. Bresha is charged with aggravated murder for defending herself, and her family from a father who had a long history of abusing them. We demand that the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s office drop all charges against Bresha Meadows and release her immediately. Like Bresha, an estimated 15.5 million children in the U.S. are exposed to domestic violence each year. Girls and women incarcerated for actions taken in self-defense are disproportionately Black. 84% of girls incarcerated in the US experience family-based violence prior to being criminalized. Three women are killed per day in the US by a current or former partner, and 75% of these women are killed within hours, days or weeks after attempting to escape the abuse. Bresha’s father was also five times more likely to kill his victims because he owned a gun. Criminalizing Bresha in this context sends a harmful message to survivors and their children—that even in the most desperate of situations, they will be punished instead of helped.  

Open Letters Project: Bresha Meadows is still in jail. It’s likely that she’ll be in jail until at least 10/6 which is the date of her next hearing. That means that she will have spent over 70 days in a cell for defending herself and her family against he abusive father.  It’s terrible. We invite those of you who would like to help to please join the “Open Letter to Dennis Watkins” project. Dennis Watkins is the prosecutor who has the discretion to decide to drop charges against Bresha and to release her.  The organizers hope to publish at least one open letter a day on their site.

Letters can be anonymous but they’d have more impact if they are signed and if you’d be willing to include the state you live in. Elements of a good letter: 1. Explain why you think that Bresha should be free. 2. Do you have a personal story about domestic violence and its impact(s) that you would be willing to publicly share. 3. Include information about the impact(s) of detention and incarceration on children.4. Make it personal.

If you want to participate, send us a letter to us at Black & Pink Chicago / c/o Bresha Open Letter / PO Box 577942 / Chicago, IL 60657 by September 25 or sooner. Together we will help to #FreeBresha. **We cannot promise all letters will be published, and there is no compensation for participating.

 

 

Older posts «

» Newer posts