February 2, 2017
Marissa Alexander is finally free after five years of detention for an act of self-defense. In 2012 Alexander, who is African-American, was sentenced to 20 years in jail.
Her “crime”? Firing a warning shot over the head of her estranged husband who was threatening to kill her. Alexander had given birth only nine days earlier in Jacksonville, Fla.
Alexander’s case gained national attention after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2013. Zimmerman used Florida’s Stand Your Ground law to claim self-defense.
But when Alexander’s legal team argued she also had a Stand Your Ground claim of self-defense, the courts rejected her, exposing the “justice” system’s racist and anti-woman bias.
In response to this denial of justice, a historic grass-roots campaign rose up to Free Marissa Now! This militant movement mobilized mass support to reduce Alexander’s sentence, make her case part of burgeoning Black Lives Matter marches, and win justice for other scapegoated survivors.
The Forgotten Majority, a Florida prison advocacy group, recognized the struggle to free Marissa Alexander with a #SurivedAndPunished week of action that began Jan. 28, the day she was released. The week highlights survivors of domestic and sexual violence who have been criminalized, including Bresha Meadows in Ohio, Tondalao Hall in Oklahoma, Rasmea Odeh and Alisha Walker in Illinois, Ky Peterson in Georgia, and Ny Nourn and Kelly Savage in California.
In a press release celebrating Alexander’s freedom, the Free Marissa Now Movement stated: “The vast majority of people in women’s prisons, and many in men’s prisons, are survivors of domestic and sexual violence before they are incarcerated. There is a crucial pipeline between abuse and prison/detention centers that must be disrupted.” (tinyurl.com/hxg5b6x)
(Graphic: Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign)