#NoCopAcademy Statement

Love & Protect’s #NoCopAcademy Statement

When we learned of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to devote $95 million to building a new Police and Fire Training Academy in West Garfield Park, we were dismayed, outraged, and eager to join with fierce organizers across the city to fight against this dangerous plan.

As members of Love & Protect, we support survivors of violence who identify as women, trans, and gender non-binary persons of color who are criminalized or harmed by state and interpersonal violence.

Issues of police violence and gendered violence are intricately connected. We know that pumping $95 million into police training will not benefit survivors. In fact, doing so will increase the isolation and marginalization that so many survivors of sexual and domestic violence already experience.

Throughout October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, people will encounter sobering stories and statistics about domestic violence that show its prevalence and clear gendered patterns. What is less discussed is how the police exacerbate gendered violence.

Policing provides neither safety nor protection to women of color, trans, and non-binary folks. Sexual misconduct is the second most common form of reported police misconduct. Women of color are at heightened risk of physical violence and even death when police respond to calls for help in dealing with domestic violence in the home. Calling the police often results in further violence.

The direct violence that women of color, trans, and non-binary folks experience at the hands of police officers is coupled with a general lack of recognition of their need for protection. As Survived and Punished has documented, women of color, trans, and non-binary folks, are routinely criminalized for defending themselves from interpersonal and community violence.

This criminalization and lack of protection is especially evident with sex workers. The National LGBTQ Taskforce reports that “12 trans women and gender nonconforming individuals who engaged in sex work were murdered in the U.S. in 2015, 10 of whom were black and one of whom was Latina.�? Racial profiling coupled with the criminalization of sex work means that sex workers are more vulnerable to sexual and racialized violence at the hands of the police, as we saw with the Daniel Holtzclaw case.

Police responses to domestic violence are complicated by evidence that a number of police officers themselves are domestic abusers. Domestic violence is two to four times more prevalent amongst police families. The increased danger and surveillance victims face when their partners are police officers — with access to information, weapons, and a network of supportive law enforcement personnel — is staggering. Furthermore, officers accused of domestic violence rarely are held accountable for their behavior.

Certain groups of women experience higher rates and intensified impacts of domestic and state violence. Black cisgender and trans women are at higher risk for both partner based violence and murder and at higher risk of being harmed by those from whom they seek intervention. Black women are killed at a rate twice that of white women, and the second leading cause of death for Black women ages 15 to 25 in domestic violence murders.  Yet, reliance on policing and criminalization has not made those who are most vulnerable any safer.

Chicago already spends $4 million each day on policing. Those funds do not protect the countless women, trans, and non-binary folks who live at the intersections of so many systems of violence and oppression. Rather than invest in further criminalization and surveillance, we demand that Rahm Emanuel and the City Council fund resources – like public schools, community mental health clinics, job training, after-school programs, and affordable housing – that will provide actual support to communities and contribute to ending violence.
We invite you to tell Rahm Emanuel to commit to communities, not cops. Will you take action with us? A quick, immediate action is to call your alderperson to demand #NoCopAcademy. For a script and info on how to find your alderperson, check out Assata’s Daughters’ Facebook event. To stay connected and updated with the #NoCopAcademy campaign, visit https://nocopacademy.wordpress.com/.

#StopSESTA Statement

Say No to SESTA
A Statement from Love & Protect and The Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against
Girls & Young Women

We wish to bring your attention to two federal bills that pose an incredible danger to sex workers, trafficking victims, and our freedom of speech: FOSTA (H.R. 1865, Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017)  and SESTA (S. 1693, Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017).

FOSTA recently passed the House of Representatives. SESTA, a related bipartisan bill, has been introduced in the Senate. It was introduced by Republican Senator Rob Portman, and has 66 cosponsors, including Illinois Senators Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth. While these bills purport to protect trafficking victims, in practice, they will subject sex workers to further surveillance and criminalization.

As Chicago-based organizers working to end the criminalization of those that engage in survival, we urge you to take action by calling Durbin and Duckworth. Demand that they vote NO on SESTA!

What SESTA Does:

  1. 1693 will make websites criminally liable if they “knowingly assist, support, or facilitate sex trafficking.” SESTA’s supporters claim the bill will protect trafficking victims by making it easier for authorities to identify and prosecute traffickers. Many anti-trafficking advocates, however, challenge this assumption, noting that SESTA will drive trafficking further underground, making it even more difficult to identify and assist victims. Equally concerning is the likelihood that SESTA will place sex workers at greater risk. SESTA is another bill in a long line of misguided legislation that fails to distinguish between trafficking victims and people who consensually engage in sex work. It disregards sex workers’ right to safety.

How SESTA Harms Sex Workers:

Sex workers rely on online advertising as a harm reduction strategy. They rely on various online platforms to create secure communities, to share resources, and to host ads, which allow them to offer services and to screen potential clients for violence. Through advertising, sex workers have safer access to clients and, therefore, safer access to income. If sex workers can’t engage in these types of harm reduction practices, they’re often forced to the street, where they’re more prone to danger and to criminalization. Anti-trafficking organizer Kate D’Adamo states that this bill will “undermine almost every single thing I would tell people for how to stay alive.”

We know that sex workers who are most likely to endure these additional harms are sex workers who are poor, women of color, queer and/or trans. We know that sex workers face violence at the hands of police and clients. We know that because of social stigma and discrimination, sex workers have little recourse from the system when they have survived violence, which further increases their vulnerability.

As writer Alana Massey explains, “The problem is that these bills target websites that are widely and inaccurately believed to be hubs of trafficking activity when it is precisely those websites that enable people in the sex trades to do their work safely and independently, at the same time as they make it easier for authorities to find and investigate possible trafficking cases.” We cannot let SESTA take away the safety and survival strategies sex workers have developed.

How SESTA Harms Online Expression

SESTA uses sex workers and victims of trafficking as an excuse to further clamp down on our freedom of online expression. Recall that net neutrality protections are being reversed. Former President Obama actively endorsed net neutrality and enacted a set of rules to prevent major corporations such as Amazon, Comcast, and Verizon, from monopolizing internet access and from controlling online content. SESTA will further limit how we engage and express ourselves in online communities, who gets access, and how that access gets controlled. For this reason, free speech groups and even some mainstream feminist organizations are strongly opposing this bill.

How SESTA Harms Activists and Advocates
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), SESTA bill would “force online web platforms to police their users’ activity much more stringently than ever before, silencing a lot of innocent voices in the process.” This means that grassroot organizations like ours can face criminal prosecution when advocating for the rights of sex workers, defending them from criminalization, or sharing resources that are critical to their safety and survival. Given the conflation between consensual sex work and trafficking, advocacy work easily can be misconstrued as “supporting” traffickers. The EFF echoes this concern, making clear that instead of fulfilling its aims, this legislation would be “a disaster for internet intermediaries, marginalized communities, and even trafficking victims themselves.”

What We Can Do to Fight SESTA

Support sex workers who are leading the fight against S. 1693. Call your senators before Monday, 3/12/18, and demand that they vote NO on SESTA. To our fellow Illinois residents, please call Senator Durbin and Senator Duckworth. Let them know they have made a mistake in co-sponsoring SESTA and urge them to vote NO.

Use these scripts from The Massachusetts Sex Worker Ally Network

Hi, my name is ____________ and I live in ___________ (city in district). I’m calling to urge Senator ____________ to vote NO on SESTA, Senate Bill 1693 because it infringes on online free speech and community harm reduction practices. SESTA does not protect trafficking survivors – it only further criminalizes them and sex workers. I strongly urge the Senator to vote no on this extremely important bill on Monday. Thank you.

I am a [loved one of a/parent of a/service provider to/an ally of] sex worker[s] and this bill would compromise the lives of people who trade sex, including trafficking victims, by taking away the platforms people are using to stay safe. I am calling to ask you not to put [me/my community/my loved one/my child] in danger of  greater violence and victimization. Please vote no on this terribly misguided bill, which is expected to be voted on March 12. Thank you for your time!”

Find your senators’ numbers here.

Illinois folks, call Senator Durbin’s office at (312) 353-4952 and Senator Duckworth’s office at (312) 886-3506. You can also email Durbin and Duckworth or tweet them at @SenatorDurbin @SenDuckworth

Chicago Organizations in Support:

Moms United Against Violence & Incarceration
For The People Artists Collective
Support Ho(s)e
Brave Space Alliance

Bresha Meadows

Solidarity with Bresha Meadows: A Statement from Love & Protect

Fourteen-year-old Bresha Meadows of Ohio is incarcerated and facing a charge of aggravated murder for defending herself and family against the unrelenting terror and abuse of her father. We stand in solidarity with Bresha and demand that she is returned home to her family and that all charges against her are dropped. As an organization that supports trans and cis women and gender non-conforming people who defend themselves from interpersonal violence only to face sanctions from the state, we stand with young Bresha, who confronted her father in an effort to stop the frequent and brutal abuse endured by  her mother, her sisters, and herself.

Bresha, her mother, and her sisters endured years of abuse and threats by Bresha’s father. After continuing to witness this abuse, Bresha sought help from family members and police, but the violence continued. As a young girl with few options, she was rightly scared for her family members’ lives as well as her own. What Bresha faced was not new: countless Black women, girls and gender-nonconforming people face similar matrices of interpersonal violence and state violence. Many, like Bresha, are criminalized for choosing survival.

The incarceration of Bresha Meadows serves no one. Bresha is not a threat to herself, family or community.  Instead, it perpetuates the violence against Black women and girls that is inflicted at both the state and interpersonal levels every day. The state failed to protect Bresha. Now, it has chosen to criminalize her. In doing so, it also has chosen to exacerbate the suffering her family already has endured, as they now are separated from their daughter, sister, and niece and must prepare to defend Bresha’s life.

Our hope is that Bresha and her family are swiftly reunited without the threat of future separation by the state that they may begin to heal as only they can do with one another.  We must bring Bresha Meadows home now.

In Solidarity,
Love & Protect
Project NIA
Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Women & Girls
Lifted Voices
Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration
The Illinois Clemency Project for Battered Women
For the People Artists Collective
Survived & Punished
Free Marissa Now National Mobilization Campaign
Liberation Library
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Black Lives Matter: Chicago
Assata’s Daughters
Community United Against Violence
Between Friends
Black on Both Sides
Tanuja Jagernauth
UIC Campus Advocacy Network
UIC Women’s Leadership and Resource Center
Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network
Apna Ghar, Inc. (Our Home)
A Long Walk Home
Project Fierce
Black and Pink: Chicago
Stand With Nan-Hui
San Francisco Asian Women’s Shelter
Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse (KACEDA)
Clarke Connections
Center for Financial and Human Dignity
Rose C.
New Voices Cleveland
Rosie Knight

Cierra Finkley: Solidarity Statement

Solidarity With Cierra Finkley: A Statement from Love & Protect (formerly the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander)
22 August 2015

Defending oneself from abuse and violence should never be criminalized. Love & Protect condemns the arrest of Cierra Finkley and calls for all charges against her to be dropped.

On August 18, 2015, in Madison Wisconsin, 24-year-old Cierra and her 5-year-old daughter were almost killed by her abusive boyfriend, Terrence Woods. Although he had been court ordered to stay away from Cierra, he showed up at her home, and after trying to run her and their daughter over with his car, he kicked in the door to her home and lunged at her. Fearing for her and her daughter’s life, Cierra stabbed him in self-defense.

Like Marissa Alexander, Cherelle Baldwin, Paris Knox, Tewkunzi Green and too many other Black women, Cierra is being criminalized for defending herself against life-threatening violence. Cierra was arrested, and finally released on bond with GPS monitoring on August 21.

Next Thursday, August 27, in a court hearing, the District Attorney will introduce charges against her. Instead of receiving support to heal from not only the trauma of having to defend herself, but also from past abuse, Cierra is being further victimized by the criminal punishment system. We ask the state: What option did Cierra truly have? Had she been unable to protect her daughter, she may have met the same fate as Tondalo Hall or Arlena Lindley; being imprisoned for failure to protect their children from abusive boyfriends.

Love & Protect calls for all charges against Cierra Finkley to be dropped. Through love, we resist this act of state violence. The state yet again refuses to properly identify victims and abusers in situations of domestic violence, and fails to protect the lives of the victims.

We stand in solidarity with Cierra, her family, and the Young Gifted and Black organization. We urge everyone to sign this petition, telling District Attorney Ismael Ozanne not to bring charges against Cierra Finkley.

With Love and Solidarity,
Love & Protect

Tondalo Hall: Solidarity Statement

Solidarity With Tondalo Hall: A Statement from Love & Protect

Love & Protect condemns the denial of Tondalo Hall’s petition for clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. We call on Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to pardon and release Tondalo Hall, and to issue a statement denouncing the parole board’s unmerciful decision. With the opening of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month today, we call on the Oklahoma justice system to reform its understanding of domestic violence, and we call on the Oklahoma legislature to reform the “failure to protect” laws that too frequently punish and incarcerate victims.

In 2004, Tondalo Hall took her baby son to the hospital for care, where doctors found he had internal injuries, as did her toddler daughter. Hall said that she and her children had suffered violent verbal and physical abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, Robert Braxton, Jr, which he admitted. Braxton was sentenced to only two years, and has been free since 2006. Hall, in contrast, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for “failure to protect” her children from Braxton’s violence. Last Wednesday, September 23, 2015, the Oklahoma Prison Parole Board denied her petition for clemency by a vote of 5-0, giving no explanation and leaving Hall to remain in prison until she can seek parole in 2030.

Tondalo Hall was criminalized for her partner’s violence against her and her children. She has spent years behind bars while suffering the continued trauma of separation from her children and family, while the abuser himself walks free. Hall committed no violence against her children, and sought medical help to save them. At her hearing this week, the parole board shamed her for her inability to protect her children from her abuser, overlooking the shame and fear that haunted Hall as a victim of violence. We contend that the continued separation of Hall from her children is violence by the state against her and her children.

The day after Hall’s petition was denied, the state of Wisconsin opted not to pursue charges against Cierra Finkley for fighting back against her ex-boyfriend in defense of herself and her child, which resulted in his death. This announcement came in part due to public pressure led by the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, and the increasing national attention to the many cases of Black women caught between the violence of their abusers and the violence of the state. We encourage the state of Oklahoma to take Wisconsin’s decision as an example of justice for their future conduct.

We stand in solidarity with Tondalo Hall and her family. We ask the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board: when will compassion, mercy, and respect for the selfhood of Black women guide your actions? Whose lives are made better by Hall’s continued incarceration?

With Love and Solidarity,
Love & Protect