From: Free Marissa Now
Aleta Alston-Toure’, 904.631.1674
Helen Gilbert, 206.473.0630
Activists Call for a Mother’s Day Week of Action to Support Marissa Alexander and Mothers in Prison
The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign is calling for a Mother’s Day Week of Action on May 9-18th to build support for the freedom of Marissa Alexander, an African American mother and survivor of domestic violence from Jacksonville, FL. Alexander is being prosecuted again for defending her life from her abusive husband.
On Friday, May 9th at 3pm, Jacksonville members of Free Marissa Now will kick off the Mother’s Day Week of Action by tabling in front of State Attorney Angela Corey’s office at 220 East Bay St. They will share Mother’s Day cards for others to mail to Alexander, opportunities to donate to her legal defense fund, and information about reproductive justice and the movement to end domestic violence and mass incarceration.
Alexander is a proud mother of three, including teenage twins and a 3-year-old daughter. She had given premature birth to her youngest child nine days before she was forced to defend her life after being attacked by her abusive estranged husband. Despite causing no injuries when she fired a warning shot that saved her life, Corey prosecuted Alexander for aggravated assault, sending her to prison for a mandatory sentence of 20 years. The sentence forced Alexander away from her children, including a baby who was still breastfeeding. Alexander successfully appealed the trial last September, but now faces the possibility of spending 60 years in prison if she is found guilty in her upcoming trial scheduled for July 28th.
Mothers are disproportionately impacted by both domestic violence and mass incarceration. According to Barbara Bloom in her testimony before the Little Hoover Commission in 2004, approximately 70% of people in women’s prisons are mothers, and the majority of them were the primary caretakers of their children before they were sent to prison. The Bureau of Justice estimates that 1.3 million children have mothers who are in prison, jail, or on probation. “Mass incarceration devastates families,” said Aleta Alston Toure’, Free Marissa Now organizer. “Black mothers are particularly at risk for being criminalized because of conditions of poverty, violence, and punishment rooted in racism and sexism. We have the right to parent our children in peace and safety, not behind bars.”
Pregnancy can also be a particularly dangerous time for women in abusive relationships. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence cites studiesrevealing that, each year, 324,000 pregnant women are physically or sexually assaulted, and homicide is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths for pregnant or post-partum women in the U.S. “Domestic violence is a reproductive justice and a mothering justice issue,” said Sumayya Fire, also an organizer with Free Marissa Now. “We must understand the connections between domestic violence, mothering and reproductive justice, racism, sexism, and mass incarceration. These issues all work together to entrap Marissa and thousands of other women. We send love to all mothers on Mother’s Day, knowing that mothering in peace requires justice on all of these fronts.”
People all over the world are invited to take action on May 9-18 to support Marissa, mothers who are in prison, and all mothers. Campaign organizers urge supporters to send cards to Alexander (P.O. Box 23872, Jacksonville, FL 32257) and donations to her legal defense fund (http://gogetfunding.com/
project/marissa-alexander- freedom-fundraiser), invite their faith communities to also send their cards and donations, send support to other mothers who are in prison or experiencing violence, organize community events that highlight the issues impacting Alexander’s case, and use social networking to help get the word out. More information can be found here:http://www.freemarissanow.org
Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign is an international grassroots campaign led by a core of organizers representing the African American/Black Women’s Cultural Alliance, New Jim Crow Movement – Jacksonville, Radical Women, INCITE!, and the Pacific Northwest Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander. For more information, see www.FreeMarissaNow.org.