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Recently, Congresswoman Corinne Brown revealed that white legislators from Florida’s redistricting body changed her district to include the state’s overcrowded but under-represented prisons. If the Congressional Black Caucus had fought for and prevailed on prisoner enfranchisement, Rep. Brown would have no viable argument against her redistricting, for prisoners would be allowed to vote as everyone else.
An Ohio grand jury has declined to indict the white police officer who fatally shot John Crawford, a 22-year-old African American, who was killed inside a Wal-Mart store last month after a caller phoned police to accuse him of brandishing a gun. In fact, Crawford had picked up an unloaded BB air rifle on a shelf, an item that is sold in the store. Newly released surveillance footage shows major discrepancies between a 911 caller’s account and what really happened.
Marissa Alexander did not get a chance to see her youngest daughter take her first step, to hear her say her first word or blow out the candles on her first birthday cake. These and many more memories that mothers are excited to photograph or catch on film weren’t possible for Alexander because she was living behind bars – all because she fired a warning shot in the air, harming no one, to ward off Rico Gray.
This is the voice of a mother crying for the freedom of her child, Anthony Leonard Bottom, aka Jalil Muntaqim, who has been swallowed up in the New York penal system for 37 years, 1977-2014. My child has been held captive in the belly of New York state prisons without any regard for his constitutional human rights. Consequently, as a political prisoner, he has become a forgotten, disenfranchised citizen of the United States of America.
A jury in Sanford, Florida has found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. I know I am not alone in my outrage, anger and heartbreak over this decision. When a teenager’s life is taken in cold blood, and there is no accountability for the man who killed him, nothing seems right in the world, but we cannot let these emotions alone rule.
On May 11, 2012, Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison, because she fired a warning shot to halt her abusive husband from trying to kill her. In her defense, her lawyers cited the Florida “stand your ground” law, which months earlier made national headlines when it was cited by George Zimmerman’s defense team, after he killed unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin.