Tarana Burke, Black Lives Matter Nashville Launch Petition To Free Cyntoia Brown In Time For The Holidays
#MeToo founder and Black Lives Matter organizer Tarana Burke has spearheaded an advocacy project with other notable leaders and organizations in an immediate call-to-action for the release of Cyntonia Brown for the holidays. Burke is teaming up with Color of Change, The Highlander Center and Black Lives Matter Nashville to petition Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam for clemency.
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The activist reposted a video from Refinery 29 on her Instagram page outlining the details about Brown, who was 16 years old when she was sentenced to life in prison. Brown was a sex trafficking victim forced to perform acts with multiple men. Real estate agent Johnny Michael Allen paid to use her for sex, and upon arriving at his house, Brown saw he owned numerous guns. The young girl feared for her life while in bed with Allen and grabbed one of the firearms and shot him before fleeing the scene.
In 2006, the now 30-year-old was tried as an adult for first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. She was deemed ineligible for parole for at least 51 years.
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Freeing #cyntoiabrown is imperative. It is also important that we use this moment to open up a national dialogue about the INDUSTRY of trafficking *children* in the U.S. It’s happening in plain site in so many of our communities and all too often we make children - like Cyntoia Brown at the time of her assault - complicit in their own abuse. There are THOUSANDS of Cyntoia’s being trafficked and abused right now. They are just as much survivors as students assaulted on college campuses. Beyond the media hype it’s important we know and are proactive about ending all forms of sexual violence especially against the most vulnerable - children. Check out @gemsgirls based in BKLYN. Follow @metoomvmt #Repost @refinery29 with @get_repost ・・・ Last week’s Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years in prison before she is eligible for parole. Brown was convicted in 2006 of the first-degree murder of a 43-year-old man who forced her into sex-trafficking when she was 16. The parole board was previously split about whether to grant her clemency. _ Double tap the link in bio to contact Governor Bill Haslam and encourage him to grant clemency before he leaves office in 6 weeks. The decision is up to him but it's up to you to make your voice heard #FreeCyntoiaBrown
"It is also important that we use this moment to open up a national dialogue about the INDUSTRY of trafficking *children* in the U.S. It’s happening in plain [sight] in so many of our communities, and all too often we make children - like Cyntoia Brown at the time of her assault - complicit in their own abuse," Burke wrote in her post.
In a separate statement sent to Blavity, Burke said Brown's case speaks largely to the nature of our justice system and country as a whole:
“Cyntoia Brown matters because Black women and girls matter. Because if Black women and girls aren’t safe, and then caged for defending themselves from sexual violence, then we cannot with any credibility call this place the land of the free and home of the brave,” Burke said.
The petition highlights the intersection between movements like #MeToo and addressing the vulnerabilities faced by poor and marginalized women of color. A week of action is outlined on the website, which includes targeted tasks leading up to Friday, December 21, a day asking supports to write a letter to Brown and send money to put on her books. Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour of the Women's March are also leading the petition.
Brown's Clemency hearing back in May resulted in a split panel, leaving the final decision up to Governor Haslam. The 60-year-old politician has until January 19, his last day in office, to decide the case.
Join the #Clemency4CyntoiaBrown movement, and sign the petition here.
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