Supporters of Marissa Alexander have organized a Mother’s Day “Week of Action” to raise awareness about Alexander’s case and the harsh realities of Black mothers behind bars.
As previously reported by NewsOne, the 33-year old Jacksonville mother of three spent 2 years behind bars serving time for a domestic violence dispute during which she fired a warning shot at her estranged husband, Rico Gray, Sr. who admitted that he had threatened to kill her.
“If my kids weren’t there, I knew I probably would have tried to take the gun from her,” Gray said. “If my kids wouldn’t have been there, I probably would have put my hand on her.” When Alexander’s defense attorney asked him what he meant by “put my hand on her,” Gray replied, “probably hit her. I got five baby mammas and I put my hands on every last one of them except for one.”
After rejecting a 3-year plea deal offered by Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, Alexander was sentenced to 20 years to life in jail. She was granted a pretrial release with special conditions on the night before Thanksgiving last year.
Corey, the same prosecutor who was unable to get convictions for child killers George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn, is retrying Alexander after a judge decided that the first trial put the burden of proof on Alexander to prove that she was abused.
Alexander now faces up to 60 years in prison for the same crime.
Alexander’s supporters are using this week of action to 1.) build the movement to support Marissa Alexander’s freedom and 2) highlight how domestic violence and incarceration are critical mothering and reproductive justice issues.
Read more from FreeMarissaNow.org:
Mothers are disproportionately impacted by both domestic violence and mass incarceration. According to Barbara Bloom in her testimony before the Little Hoover Commission in 2004, approximately 70% of people in women’s prisons are mothers, and the majority of them were the primary caretakers of their children before they were sent to prison. The Bureau of Justice estimates that 1.3 million children have mothers who are in prison, jail, or on probation. “Mass incarceration devastates families,” said Aleta Alston Toure’, Free Marissa Now organizer. “Black mothers are particularly at risk for being criminalized because of conditions of poverty, violence, and punishment rooted in racism and sexism. We have the right to parent our children in peace and safety, not behind bars.”
Pregnancy can also be a particularly dangerous time for women in abusive relationships. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence cites studies revealing that, each year, 324,000 pregnant women are physically or sexually assaulted, and homicide is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths for pregnant or post-partum women in the U.S. “Domestic violence is a reproductive justice and a mothering justice issue,” said Sumayya Fire, also an organizer with Free Marissa Now. “We must understand the connections between domestic violence, mothering and reproductive justice, racism, sexism, and mass incarceration. These issues all work together to entrap Marissa and thousands of other women. We send love to all mothers on Mother’s Day, knowing that mothering in peace requires justice on all of these fronts.”
Read more at FreeMarissaNow.org.