Love & Protect originally began in late 2013 as the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander (CAFMA), which organized to fight for the freedom of Marissa Alexander, a Florida Black woman and mother of three who had been criminalized (receiving a 20 year sentence) for defending herself in a violent attack from her estranged husband. It was during this time of organizing for Marissa’s freedom that CAFMA co-founder Mariame Kaba raised awareness around the fact that women of color, black women in particular, and gender non-conforming people of color, have “no selves to defend” and, therefore, have historically been criminalized for self-defense.

When Marissa Alexander took a plea deal in 2015 -averting a long prison sentence, thanks to organizing efforts – we transitioned the group to become Love & Protect with the broader mission of supporting women and gender non-conforming/non-binary people of color who are criminalized or harmed by state and interpersonal violence. We are also part of Survived & Punished, a national organizing project to end the criminalization of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The support we provide includes teach-ins, letter writing campaigns, court support, Twitter town halls and general awareness raising. In 2018, we launched the Sustaining Survivors Donor Campaign to provide monetary support to incarcerated survivors and to build an emergency fund to support survivors in Illinois who have recently been released from jail or prison. These funds will go towards basic needs such as housing, transportation, and food. We believe that supporting criminalized survivors in this way will remind them that they are not alone and not forgotten.

Through love, we work towards healing and transformation with these individuals and their families. Through resistance, we seek to protect their right to defend themselves.