March 2015 Updates

Our next letterwriting night will be back in Oakland at Rock Paper Scissors in March. They are in the final stretch of their Indiegogo campaign, with 4 days left. They have agreed to be our new homebase for Oakland letterwriting nights, and their members have long histories of supporting prisoners and prisoners movements. In April or May, we will be working with them to organize another stampmaking workshop and inviting local youth to join. If you can support them, to make sure we continue to have this resource, great! If not, at least check out their promo video because it features our project!
Next Letterwriting Night Details:
 
Thursday, March 19 7-8:30pm
Rock Paper Scissors Collective
2278 Telegraph Ave in Oakland near 19th St BART
Be in touch if you want us to send your letter to you or coordinate another way to get it to you, if you can’t make it on the 19th! We’ll check the po box again the week of the event.
There are a few great other events coming up, that you might want to support:
Friday, March 6 from 6:30-11pm in Downtown SF – Beats Against Bars: A hip hop benefit for BlackOUT Collective & TGIJP (Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project).
 
Sunday, March 8 from 5-7pm in Oakland – CeCe McDonald on racism, mass incarceration and trans liberation: Community event & fundraiser
Sunday, March 8 & Monday, March 9 at UC Berkeley – Disability Incarcerated/Disability Liberated Symposium, with Angela Davis, performance by Sins Invalid, the three editors of Disability Incarcerated, many more great speakers, and film showings of “Deaf in Prison” (H.E.A.R.D.) and “Bethel” (Karen Nakamura).
Sunday, March 15 from 4-7pm in Oakland – Justice Now’s 1st Annual Karaoke Challenge
Wednesday, March 18 from 7-9pm in Oakland – Oakland Premiere: Tales of the Grim Sleeper: A new film by Nick Broomfield that highlights the devaluation of Black women’s lives and the lives of sex workers, with a lens on police neglect of Black women’s lives in LA. (We’re co-sponsoring this event!)
We’ll let you know next steps in the fight against a new jail in SF as they arise! Thanks to everyone who showed up and spoke up at the “community meeting” and rally on Monday at 850 Bryant.
In struggle,
FOW

Thanks to everyone who joined last night’s letterwriting night in support of Marissa Alexander and Standing Our Ground Week!

We had at least 20 folks come through the event, raised $68 that we just sent to Marissa, wrote 9 cards and letters to send her, 3 one-time cards to B&P folks and started 6 new penpal relationships!

If you want to offer further support to Marissa, please check out the freemarissanow.com site.

Also this fact sheet about Marissa’s case fills in some of the holes from our discussion last night: Click here.

See you in August in SF, and then back in the East Bay in September. Details soon!

Standing Our Ground week – In Support of Marissa Alexander

marissaalexanderFlying Over Walls stands in solidarity with Marissa Alexander and the Standing Our Ground Week, a celebration of exercising our civil and human dignity rights.  Hundreds of national members and organizations collaborating with Free Marissa Now will attend week-long festivities in Jacksonville from Friday, July 25, 2014 until Friday, August 1, 2014.

Please join us in Oakland this Wednesday, as we discuss her case, send postcards, and raise money to send to the organizations offering her direct support.

So many are already in support of her and we cannot possibly speak more eloquently, so we have included statements of solidarity below:

 

SOLIDARITY STATEMENTS

Below is a list of powerful statements sent by individuals and organizations who stand in solidarity with Marissa Alexander and demand her freedom. Send your statement to freemarissanow@gmail.com!

There are times when one woman represents all. Today it is Marissa Alexander who represents those millions of women who every day face continued violence from a brutal husband or partner, who seek desperately for ways to save their children and themselves, who do not want violence in their lives but must do something to defend themselves and their families. For the sake of all of us, the state of Florida must honor her appeal and set Marissa Alexander free.
     – Suzanne Pharr, anti-violence and racial justice community organizer and strategist, political educator, trainer, speaker, and writer


Especially in light of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin, we must mobilize to end the injustice of the criminal legal system and it’s targeting of Black women and men. The lack of protection for those who are victimized and the unchallenged systemic violence in both of these cases is a call to action. The movement to end domestic violence must include a demand for Marissa Alexander’s freedom from prison.
     –  Beth E. Richie, veteran black feminist anti-violence activist and scholar, and author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation


Marissa Alexander has suffered a profound injustice, one that makes a mockery of the criminal justice system in Florida. George Zimmerman – who had a history of violence – was allowed to walk free after “standing his ground” and killing an innocent, unarmed black teenager. By contrast, Marissa Alexander, an African American mother from Jacksonville, Florida, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot in a desperate attempt to halt an attack by her abusive husband. Alexander had no prior arrests, was licensed to carry a gun, and had a restraining order against her husband. And unlike George Zimmerman, she harmed no one. Her husband wasn’t even injured. She simply fired a warning shot to try to protect herself and deter an attack by her husband. Yet despite the restraining order she had obtained and the history of domestic violence, Marissa was denied a self-defense plea under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Her twenty-year sentence shocks the conscience, and speaks volumes about the extent to which racism and sexism have warped Florida’s justice system. The time is overdue to end Jim and Jane Crow justice in Florida. Marissa Alexander should be set free now.
   – Michelle Alexander, author of the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness


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.  Mandatory arrest policies and deportation programs like Secure Communities do not recognize the intersectional realities that women of color and immigrant women face.  These policies and programs often do more harm than good in terms of protecting survivors of domestic violence, who are simultaneously overpoliced and underprotected.  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 trail. 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. We call for the development of transformative community-based responses to violence as alternatives to current criminal systems that continue to harm our communities. We urge you to join us and mobilize towards the vision of a community free from all forms of violence.

– API Chaya, anti-domestic violence organization in Seattle that serves API and South Asian survivors; full statement here


 The treatment of Marissa Alexander is a consequence of the growing crisis of prisons and policing in the US as well as a product of anti-black racism and sexism which drives individuals and institutions to punish black women when they defend themselves from violence. Her case is one of many that shows us how black women and other marginalized people are especially likely to be blamed and criminalized while trying to navigate and survive the conditions of violence in their lives.  We call all members of anti-violence, reproductive justice, and anti-police/prison movements and our allies to also support the call to Free Marissa Alexander!
– INCITE! Women of Color & Trans People of Color Against Violence; full statement here


Women of all races who fight back against abuse find little sympathy from police, courts, or media. The Battered Woman Syndrome defense, which has been successfully used in court to justify why a woman killed or took action against an abuser, is often denied to Black women. The racist and sexist double standard exists at every level of U.S. society. Radical Women demands the immediate release and pardon of Marissa Alexander and an end to race and sex discrimination in the criminal justice system. In addition, Radical Women calls for massive increases in funding for jobs, aid to families, and shelters and services for everyone fleeing domestic violence regardless of their sexual orientation or immigration status.
– Radical Women; full statement here


As much as the system has tried to break her, we know Marissa stands unwavering. Like so many survivors, she is tenacious in spirit. She is made of courage and conviction. We know she has not lost hope and has not given up. We have not and will not give up either. We will remain steadfast in our fight for Marissa until justice is served and she rightfully returns where she belongs… to her home, her children, her family, and her community.
– Miami Workers Center/Sisterhood of Survivors; full statement here

Upcoming events and updates!

A Few Upcoming Community Events and Actions in June!

 

6/11 = tonight!: Passage & Place Letterwriting Night! We won’t be having a B&P letterwriting night this month, so please consider supporting the Passage & Place letterwriting night this Wednesday, June 11, 7-9pm at Alley Cat Books (3036 24th St, SF). They’ll be sending letters to the 100 incarcerated queer/trans folks who contributed to their anthology.

 

By 6/13: Stop Jail Spending! In the battle over whether to allot up to $500 million to building jails, Senator Hancock said “If there are no alternatives to incarceration, there will be no alternative but incarceration!” Call your legislator!

 

6/14: Support From Outside the Walls – Training on Advocating for Incarcerated People. Organized by the NLG, as part of their conference, this training will happen Saturday, June 14 at 3:45pm at the Woman’s Building in SF. It will focus on practical skills development for activists, legal workers, and lawyers to understand the nitty gritty methods and best practices for supporting and advocating for people inside prisons.

 

By 6/17Please submit a statement opposing the proposed CDCr regulations on “obscene” language. We encourage everyone to send a statement individually and/or sign the petition. These regulations are a blatant attempt at censorship across prison walls and are another aspect of the attempted retaliation against the hunger strikes.

 

6/25: Bay Area Anti-Prison Happy Hour! Join CURB members, allies, friends and other anti-prison activists at our upcoming anti-prison happy hour mixer.  Meet, share stories from these past exciting months, hang out and affirm our ongoing fight to end the caging of our communities! Wednesday, June 25th from 6-8pm @ SomaR Bar (1727 Telegraph Ave, Oakland). RSVP here.

 

6/27: Bustin’ Out 2014! Party Against the Prison Industrial Complex!  Join the annual Trans March after party and TGI Justice Project fundraiser at El Rio! Get there early, cause the line gets long!

 

Now until 6/28: Stop the Prison Party! If you haven’t heard yet, a darker cloud than usual will hang over Pride this year. Several promoters are banding together to throw a prison-themed party. This party disrespects the real suffering of incarcerated people, especially since our LGBTQ+ communities have historically been (and continue to be) the targets of police and state violence, are disproportionately criminalized and incarcerated and face higher percentages of violence and rape once in prison. The decision feels especially insensitive given that three of the SF Pride grand marshals, Chelsea Manning, Jewlyes Gutierres, and Miss Major are trans women who have been directly affected by the Prison Industrial Complex. See local press coverage or our recent blog to read more about it. Then, please sign this petition in opposition and sign onto our ThunderClap campaign to spread the word.

May Updates & Events

Hello & Happy May!

Upcoming Events & Updates (including our first workshop – at the very end!): 

Our study group met on May 8 – focusing on intersections of religion, queerness and criminalization. This group is currently closed to new members, but will re-open for a new round in the fall. Check out the reading list & email us to hear about the next round.

We are supporting a local queer arts and prisoner solidarity book project, PASSAGE & PLACE, that will be including voices of B&P and TGIJP members on the inside. Check out their indiegogo! There are 60 hours left to pledge and secure a copy for you and someone on the inside.

This Wednesday, May 14 from 5-7pm: LGBTQ Prisoner Solidarity Project: Letterwriting, Dinner and Discussion with the Pacific School of Religion (1798 Scenic Ave, Berkeley, CA). This evening will include a penpal orientation, letterwriting, and an overview of the work of Black and Pink, an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and “free world” allies who support each other. There will also be information about current prison abolition campaigns and discussion about theological theory & practices related to prison abolition.

We are also working on collectively writing two pieces to submit to local and LGBTQ news media – one drawing attention to the Global Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth on May 19-25 (including Tuesday, May 20 – National Day Against the Criminalization of Queer Youth and Youth with Disabilities) as well as a piece looking at the newly proposed CDCr regulations to ban “obscene material,” which no doubt will include leftist media and our queer mail/letters. We are encouraging everyone in our community to write in to the CDCr by June 17 to oppose these proposed regulations. Let us know if you want to help with these drafts.

We are also endorsing the upcoming Formerly Incarcerated People’s Quest for Democracy Lobby Day on May 19th in Sacramento, CA. This will be an event focused on supporting “formerly-incarcerated people, our family members, and other community leaders to show our support for pending legislation affecting the quality of life of people directly impacted by incarceration, but to also assert ourselves as leaders, experts, and contributing members of our communities in a space where we are normally considered statistics, storytellers, and seat fillers.” Get involved!

A few of us are also usually there every Tuesday evening from 4:30-8pm at the new TGIJP office (1372 Mission St. SF, CA): Legal support clinics at TGIJP to provide information and self-advocacy resources for incarcerated queer and trans folks. Training & dinner provided each week. RSVP to Janetta@tgijp.org if it’s your first time.

And… Our first workshop!!

Thursday, May 29 from 7:30-9:30pm: Intro Workshop on the Prison Industrial Complex & Queer Resistance at Wicked Grounds Cafe (289 8th St, SF, CA). Our workshop will explore the underlying framework of the prison industrial complex. Participants will develop a historical analysis of the policing and incarceration of LGBTQ people while exploring alternatives to incarceration. RSVP here.

 

Hope to see you somewhere!