Statements

Free Cecily McMillan!


Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist prosecuted for defending herself from assault by a police officer, was sentenced May 19 to three months in prison, a period of community service, unspecified mental health treatment, and five years of probation.

The State accused McMillan of elbowing Police Officer Grantley Bovell while he was clearing out OWS protesters from Zuccotti Park in New York City. McMillan had been offered a plea deal without jail time, but decided to go to trial to exonerate herself. In the courtroom, the police lied — as they often do — and the judge clearly was biased towards a conviction.

A photo taken after the incident clearly shows McMillan's breast bruised from Officer Bovell's forceful grabbing and assault. The prosecutor said that such a claim would be as ridiculous as “aliens coming down and assaulting her.” The conviction and prison sentence is a miscarriage of justice, depriving McMillan of not only the right to protest, but also the right to self-defense.

McMillan’s conviction and sentencing represents a larger repression of activism. Occupy Wall Street’s popular nature sparked the consciousness of thousands of people across the country, which frightened those in power. Immediately, the government and police, working together, saw the need to infiltrate and repress any resistance movement coming from the people.

This state repression resulted in the arrest of over 7,000 people, and countless incidents of protesters being beaten, clubbed and pepper-sprayed. Not a single police officer faced a criminal assault charge for any of their excessive force, and not a single one spent even a minute in jail.

This is a reflection of how the criminal justice system operates. In the same city where McMillan was convicted, the police routinely harass, beat, abuse and even kill New Yorkers from oppressed communities — without facing jail time.

Across the country, the police and the courts have cracked down on those who fight for justice and criminalized those, especially women and oppressed people, who defend themselves against racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ attacks and police brutality.

The only way forward is to build a unified movement that fights against police repression, the crimes of Wall Street, and violence against women. Free Cecily McMillan and all those unjustly trapped in this country's hypocritical criminal justice system!

WORD condemns widespread police brutality

Santa Rosa PD officers kill 13-year-old Andy Lopez, Oct. 22, 2013
Albuquerque PD officers kill James Boyd, Mar. 16, 2014
San Francisco PD officers kill Alejandro Nieto, Mar. 21, 2014

971366_485737651508014_270206374_n.jpgThe above-mentioned police murders have all occurred in the last six months. They aren’t isolated incidents. Police brutality is an epidemic in a society where poor people and people of color are criminalized.

Each of these police killings were instances of extreme brutality carried out against people who had committed no crime. Andy Lopez was a middle school student going to play with friends. James Boyd was a homeless man trying to survive in a world where services are being cut. Alejandro Nieto was a student and worker eating dinner in a neighborhood park.

WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) has joined in rallies and protests to demand justice for the victims of police brutality. We have joined in actions against racist stop-and-frisk policies like those implemented in New York City.

We are an organization fighting for full rights for all women. This includes the right to live in communities free of the fear of police repression. Our family members and ourselves have a right to live without the fear of being beaten or shot by armed cops merely for being Black or Latino or for being a poor person trying to survive.

WORD joins with communities across the United States in demanding that killer cops be jailed, that independent investigations take place in all cases of police brutality and that racist stop-and-frisk policies be ended immediately.

The epidemic of police brutality is coupled with increased attacks on social services like public transportation, education and funds for people’s needs. Women—and particularly women from communities of color—suffer the effects of impoverishment at extremely high rates. Our communities need jobs, education, health care and housing, not racist brutality and repression.

Reportbacks from International Women's Day actions

On International Women’s Day 2014, WORD organized actions in cities across the country under the banner of "Women’s Rights Are Under Attack, What do we do? Stand up, fight back!" Across the country, we demanded Stop violence against women - Drop the charges against Marissa Alexander - Full reproductive rights now.

International Women’s Day is historically a day of action for women’s rights that was born out of working women’s struggles for better wages and fair working conditions. It is celebrated across the world as a day of mass mobilization against the oppression of women in all spheres of society. From Los Angeles to Albuquerque to Philadelphia to New York City and elsewhere, people gathered in rallies, marches and forums to defend women’s rights against growing attacks mounted by right-wing forces in the United States.

Below are reports from some of the cities that held actions that day.

IWD 2014 LA
Los Angeles, Calif.

Los Angeles, Calif.

At Pershing Square in Downtown LA, WORD Los Angeles held a street rally to raise awareness about the case of Marissa Alexander and violence against women. Pershing Square is in the middle of one of the busiest streets downtown and is one of the busiest Metro station stops. Holding placards and banners, WORD activists distributed hundreds of Marissa Alexander fact sheets and signed up scores of people to support the movement.

Students from L.A. City College, Santa Monica City College, Rancho Cucamonga, East LA City College, California Institute of the Arts and others were represented. Joined by AF3IRM, MEChA - UCI, ANSWER Coalition, campus feminist groups and more, a speak-out covered the issues that were being highlighted at the action. WORD organizer Jacqueline Villagomez spoke about the case of Marissa in Spanish, and WORD organizer West Seegmiller gave a powerful speech on anti-trans violence, issues facing trans youth and told the story of CeCe McDonald.

Chants of “Free Marissa—We’ve got to fight back!” and a banner reading "Drop the charges against Marissa Alexander—Fight racism and Domestic Violence" (carried on one end by a six-year-old girl named Sally!) led a march around the park, along LA’s busy downtown streets. The rally continued after speak-outs around Pershing Square demanding the charges be dropped against Marissa. The favorite chant of the crowd was "When women’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!"

Participants joined a social event at the WORD office afterwards and discussed building the women’s movement.

IWD 2014 SF
San Francisco, Calif.

San Francisco, Calif.

A crowd gathered at 24th and Mission Streets to celebrate International Women's Day in San Francisco as part of a speak-out sponsored by WORD SF. Sacramento labor organizer Yeimi Lopez and WORD SF organizer Sarah Carlson emceed the event. Speakers addressed the ongoing issues of violence, racism, poverty and attacks on reproductive rights that continue to oppress women. A significant component of the event was devoted to the recognition of the women who have come before us in the struggle for equality, and the need to continue to organize and fight.

POWER organizer Gloria spoke, saying "This is not a protest, this is a celebration ... but we must continue to challenge sexism, and we must do it as organized women." Members of the community were very supportive of the event. One young woman had never spoken out before delivered an impassioned speech criticizing the system of oppression that denies women full access to health care and allows violent and sexist treatment of women to continue. She noted that a year ago she would never of imagined joining a speak-out in defense of women’s rights but the current conditions had propelled her to become an activist. She encouraged others to do the same.

New Haven, Conn.

IWD 2014 CT
New Haven, Conn.

WORD's chapter in New Haven, Conn., was honored to join the Love-a-Fair, a grassroots community event held on the Green in the center of the city. The event included a broad clothing and food giveaway for the homeless and poor, and a lineup of speakers and performers from local schools and community organizations.

Organized by homeless rights activist and New Haven community member Jesse Hardy, the event brought together hundreds of people from the area to speak about coming together, organizing, and providing and receiving much-needed services. WORD took part in the program by speaking about Marissa Alexander's case, International Women's Day and the importance of community gatherings like the Love-a-Fair. WORD's presence included people from many backgrounds: students fighting against rape on campuses, lawyers, workers, LGBTQ rights organizers, and others from all over Connecticut and out of state.

The action was extremely successful, pooling over a hundred signatures on the petition to free Marissa Alexander, and establishing meaningful connections between WORD and the heart of the New Haven working-class community.

IWD 2014 DC
Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

In D.C., WORD organized a speak-out and rally in a busy area of Columbia Heights, a multinational neighborhood in Northwest. Dozens of people volunteered to carry banners and signs demanding that the charges against Marissa Alexander be dropped and that violence against women end.

Hundreds joined the speak-out, picking up literature and signing petitions demanding justice for Marissa. Speakers from the community and supporters of Marissa Alexander took to a public mic to demand an end to violence against women and an end to the persecution of Marissa. WORD organizer and domestic violence advocate Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture demanded an end to violence against women everywhere, explaining that women in D.C. and around the country are "fighting for our lives."

Dozens of other visited an action table, where people sent letters to Florida State Attorney Angela Corey's office demanding that charges be dropped. People also wrote messages of solidarity with Marissa to spread on social networking.

IWD 2014 - Chicago
Chicago, Ill.

Chicago, Ill.

In Chicago, WORD celebrated International Women's Day by joining Out of the Shadows: No More Deportation Rally. The rally was held at Federal Plaza, where people came out of the shadows as undocumented and stood in solidarity with all oppressed people.

WORD placards read "Full Equality for ALL," which was the sentiment that was shared among those involved in the rally. The rally included musical performances and speakers, including women speaking out to demand an end to having their families torn apart and inhumane treatment by ICE. Speakers also addressed their experiences of being undocumented women. Sara Bruseno shared: "That girl in 2010 was afraid ... I couldn't imagine that that same girl in 2013 would stop a deportation bus."

WORD Chicago attended the No More Deportation Rally on International Women's Day to stand in solidarity with our undocumented sisters and brothers. Many signed a petition stating 'Equality for ALL' because the undocumented struggle is real for many women that remain oppressed with unjust laws and stigmas within the United States. We will continue to stand with our undocumented sisters and brothers not only on IWD, but every day because the struggle for women's rights has no borders.

Albuquerque, N.M.

People gathered at a rally organized by WORD in Albuquerque to speak out for International Women’s Day. The event was also endorsed by Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice, Cop Watch, Feminist Caucus of the Humanist Society of NM, Get Equal, National Organization for Women (NOW), Raging Grannies and the South West Women’s Law Center. A multinational group of women, both young and old, spoke out against sexism, anti-LGBTQ bigotry, transphobia, racism, and in solidarity with the immigrant community. In Albuquerque, progressive forces defeated a proposed abortion ban this past November but the anti-choice forces are threatening the right to abortion yet again—particularly targeting women’s health clinics. This was an important rally for women’s rights attended by women who have been fighting for women’s rights for decades and women who had never been to a rally before.

New Paltz, N.Y.

IWD 2014 New Paltz
New Paltz, N.Y.

International Women’s Day was celebrated in New Paltz March 6 at an exciting public meeting in the auditorium of the State University of New York, organized primarily by Mid-Hudson WORD. An audience of 120 people, about half students, attended the two-hour meeting that produced 92 signatures to free Marissa Alexander. The event began with the video of a five-minute feminist version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” depicting the long struggle for the right to vote.

Among the speakers were three women members of the 30,000-strong United University Professions (UUP) representing academic and professional staff in the SUNY system. They included Donna Goodman, an elected union delegate and chair of the WORD chapter; Ilgu Ozler, Professor of Political Science and International Relations and chair of Mid-Hudson Amnesty International; and Lydia Johnson, of the UUP Stony Brook chapter and president of the local Coalition of Labor Union Women. Other speakers included Leah Obias of the Filipina activist organization Damayan; Himali Pandya of Grace Smith House (a women's and children's shelter in the region); Daniella Monticciolo of the campus Feminist Collective (and campus rugby team); and Kelvin Then of the campus slam poetry group Urban Lyrics.

Goodman led off with a discussion of the long, hard struggle to win past victories in the quest for female equality and the need for even sharper struggles to win new gains while protecting earlier advances from being dismantled by the right-wing War on Women. Calling for building a fighting independent women’s movement, she identified future targets including pay equity, ending violence against women, and demanding that the political system come forward with significant social programs for women and all working people. Ozler reported on the international struggle for women’s rights, and Johnson reached back from the 1800s until today to name a dozen women who made important contributions to building the union movement, concluding “A woman’s place is in her union.” Obias told a hushed audience about the super exploitation and cruelty that is the lot of so many low-wage Filipina workers who emigrate to the United States in search of jobs and income to help support their families back in the Philippines. Few if any of the students seemed aware of the suffering of these virtually trafficked women and they loudly applauded a brief film depicting the work of Damayan in organizing and standing up for these workers.

Over two dozen organizations endorsed the indoor rally, including New York Civil Liberties Union, Mid-Hudson Valley Planned Parenthood, Working Families Party, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Upper Hudson Central Labor Council, and United University Professions (UUP, SUNY NP chapter), as well as student and local groups.

New York, N.Y.

IWD 2014 NYC
New York, N.Y.

On March 8, over a 150 people gathered at St. Nicholas Park in Harlem to celebrate International Women’s Day in struggle. At the rally WORD members and their allies in Association Pro-Inmate Netas, Damayan Migrant Workers, Planned Parenthood, New York State Youth Leadership Council, Marea Violeta and the ANSWER Coalition addressed many topics, including the history of International Women’s Day, demanding justice for Marissa Alexander and against attack on women within criminal justice system, the inequality that still presents itself for women in the workplace, and the need for reproductive justice and access to healthcare, to name a few.

An inspiring march form Harlem to the Bronx ending at Hostos Community College following the rally. WORD organizers held a banner that read “Stop the Violence Against Women Everywhere” and handed out flyers demanding that the charges against Marissa Alexander be dropped. The community was very receptive as the march passed through the streets chanting “Marissa means we got to fight, no justice means we got to fight back, racism means we got to fight back, sexism means we got fight back." Many onlookers joined in the march.

In her closing remarks, WORD member Graciela Pichardo stated: “It is our duty—as we stand here and think about Cece McDonald, Marissa Alexander, Islan Nettles and the many other women whose attempt to defend themselves was dismissed, whose attempt to defend themselves was ignored, or who did not know they could defend themselves—to exercise our right to self-defense. And when I say self-defense I just do not refer to our right to fight back with guns and fists, but also to fight back as a collective body, to fight back in the form of building a militant women’s movement that will destroy this racist, patriarchal, anti-LGBTQ and transphobic system. We cannot continue to wait for the system to work for us, because the truth is that we cannot reform a system that was never made for us. The time to organize and defend ourselves is now.”

IWD 2014 Syracuse
Syracuse, N.Y.

Syracuse, N.Y.

People gathered in Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse on a sunny Friday afternoon to celebrate International Women's Day. Maddie Horrell, a Syracuse WORD organizer, gave a speech about the three demands that they would make: to drop all the charges against Marissa Alexander, to stop the attacks on reproductive rights, and to stop violence against women. Her speech also emphasized the relationship between race, class, and gender in the women's struggle, touching on the need to include trans voices and stories in the struggle around domestic violence and reproductive health.

After the main speech, Maddie opened up the floor to comments in an "open mic" style, and three speakers from the crowd shared their own thoughts and stories. During this time, a workers' rights activist from Syracuse shared a tearful story about young migrant women who come to Upstate New York to work on dairy farms, and the many ways in which they are exploited.

The event was quite interactive; in addition to the "open mic" period, tables also stood around the plaza at Clinton Square with paper and markers, inviting participants to share their own answers to the prompts "I'm Here to Resist ..." and "I'm Here to Defend ..." as well as to add to the stated list of demands. Overall, the event proved very successful, rousing and inspiring, attracting new students who expressed interest in getting involved, and attracting passers-by to join the struggle.

Philadelphia, P.A.

In Philadelphia, WORD members co-sponsored an interactive forum with the Black Student Union at Temple University. The discussion focused on making the connections between women’s oppression and issues impacting the community, and the need to organize around these issues. Students and community members attend the event. During the discussion period, those present made the connection between the struggle for justice for Marissa Alexander, mass incarceration and this system's failure towards providing women true justice. All the students agreed that women should be organized in every community and especially on the Temple University campus.

Justice For Michelle Byrom

Michelle Byrom was set to be executed by the State of Mississippi on Thursday, March 27. In 1999, Michelle was convicted of conspiring to kill her abusive husband, despite the fact that her son confessed to the shooting. Byrom’s son now walks free. Until Monday, March 31, the State of Mississippi refused to even commute her sentence. On that day, the State Supreme Court reversed the capital murder conviction and ordered a new trial. This is a real victory for Byrom’s supporters and legal team. However, Byrom really should be freed and offered treatment for her mental illness.

Byrom’s case is just one more exposé of the sexism in our so-called justice system, and our society as a whole. She was coerced by police to falsely admit involvement in a conspiracy to murder her husband in order to save her son, who had confessed to the shooting. At trial, the prosecution wove a tale of the greedy, vengeful wife who conspired to profit off her husband’s life insurance policy, and invoked procedural rules to prevent the jury from seeing proof of her innocence: her son’s confession. Michelle was then sentenced to die by a judge who had personal knowledge of that confession.

Despite all of this – the police coercion, the ineffectiveness of her defense attorneys, the judge’s preclusion of exonerating evidence at trial and during sentencing – the Mississippi Courts refused to free Michelle Byrom.

She is a victim of an unjust court system. The State of Mississippi viciously pursued and prosecuted her, seeking the death penalty while simultaneously offering plea bargains and lesser sentences to her alleged co-conspirator and also her son, the confessed shooter. Those two men have been released from prison, but Michelle has remained imprisoned for 14 years and was scheduled to be put to death. The State of Mississippi was trying to execute her rather than acknowledge its sexist and unjust actions.

But Byrom also is a victim of an unjust society that allows a woman, mentally ill from suffering a lifetime of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, including at the hands of her husband, to be prosecuted at all, let alone sentenced to death. After keeping her son’s confession from the jury, the prosecutor closed his case by arguing, “Why didn't she just leave him? Why didn't she divorce him? Why didn't she seek sanctuary somewhere else?”

Byrom is a victim of a society where a jury can hear details of years of abuse suffered by a mother and her son and yet still be swayed by sexist arguments, a society where sexism is so pervasive that a judge believes strongly enough in the 'vengeful wife' theory that he sentences a woman to die despite knowing she is innocent, a society that would execute an innocent woman rather than admit that sexism.

WORD stands with all victims of this unjust system. The State of Mississippi should be providing treatment for Michelle Byrom’s mental illness, not leaving her on death row for 14 years before forcing her through a retrial.

What you can do to support Marissa Alexander

DC Free Marissa Alexander Event
Washington, D.C

Now is the time to unite and intensify our efforts in spreading the word about Marissa's case and demanding her complete freedom.

Marissa is a survivor of domestic violence, and is only facing charges because of this racist and unjust legal system. There is no crime in defending yourself from abuse. Marissa acted in self-defense and injured no one. She should not be subjected to a second trial. All charges against her should be dropped immediately.

Get involved!

Sign-up to receive emails from WORD to find out about future actions!

    Take to the streets on International Women’s Day – Sat., March 8


    Take to the streets on International Women’s Day – Sat., March 8:
    Women’s Rights Are Under Attack 
    What do we do? Stand up, fight back!

    Stop violence against women
    Drop the charges against Marissa Alexander
    Full reproductive rights now

    See below for an updated event listing

    Women's Equality Day LA action
    Women's Equality Day of Action in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, 2013.

    Take to the streets on International Women’s Day – Sat., March 8
     

    On March 8, International Women’s Day, WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) will hold actions in cities across the United States. We will be taking to the streets in defense of women’s rights, which are under attack on many different fronts.

    Violence against women is an epidemic in U.S. society. One in three women will experience violence from their partner in their lifetime. But the epidemic isn’t limited to sexual assault. 53 percent of anti-LGBTQ homicides are against transgender women. Domestic violence is a widespread problem that is not remotely addressed by the sexist, racist, and bigoted (in)justice system.

    International Women's Day MarchMarissa Alexander’s case—among many others—highlights the contradictions of a society that punishes victims of abuse when they defend themselves. Marissa Alexander is a 33-year-old African American woman, mother, and survivor of domestic violence. Under mandatory minimum sentencing laws, Marissa was sentenced to 20 years in prison for defending herself against an abuser in the same state that let George Zimmerman walk free. Though the original sentence was thrown out by the judge, Marissa is still being prosecuted and State Prosecutor Angela Corey has announced she intends to seek a 60-year sentence. All charges against Marissa should be dropped! We must stand with Marissa, demand her freedom, and fight to end all forms of violence against women!

    The society we live in not only condones and minimizes sexual assault and all violence against women, but blames and criminalizes the victims. Last year, in Stuebenville, Ohio, authorities covered up rape until the community protested. Two years prior, school authorities and the police colluded to punish 17-year-old Rachel Bradshaw when she reported being sexually assaulted. We must stand up against this system that protects the attackers and isolates the victims.

    The treatment of women in a society is a direct reflection of their position in that society. In this society, women are not guaranteed full rights, either to equal pay or to control over our own bodies. At the same time that violence against women is condoned, reproductive rights are under heightened attack. The year 2013 nearly broke the all-time record for the most new restrictions on abortion passed in a single year.

    International Women's Day March in LAMore anti-choice laws have been passed in the last three years than in the entire previous decade. While Roe v. Wade still stands, in many places women are unable to actually get a safe and legal abortion. Focusing particularly on Southern and Midwestern states, the right-wing campaign is trying to chip away at the rights won by the Roe v Wade decision. They were defeated in Albuquerque in November but have been successful in other states and have introduced new legislation that will be considered this year in North Dakota, Ohio and elsewhere.

    We must unite and fight the economic, political and social attacks on women’s rights. It is up to us to make 2014 a turning point for women’s rights! We will not allow the politicians to define 2014 as a year of continued attacks on women’s reproductive rights, which is why we must take to the streets to stop these attacks. International Women’s Day—a day of protest and celebration across the world that originated with the protest of women against exploitation in the factories—is an important day for us to gather and take action to resist these attacks and defend women’s rights.

    Join us in saying:

    Women’s Rights Are Under Attack - What do we do? Stand up, fight back!

    • Stop violence against women! 
    • Drop the charges against Marissa Alexander!
    • Full reproductive rights now!

     Join WORD on March 8 in a city near you or call an action in your city and add it to the list!

    Updated Event Listing:

    Los Angeles, Calif.
    Saturday, March 8
    Rally
    12:00 Noon
    Pershing Square
    Spread the word on Facebook
    Info: la@defendwomensrights.org or 323-394-3611

    San Francisco, Calif.
    Saturday, March 8
    Speak-out
    2 p.m.
    24th and Mission Sts.
    Spread the word on Facebook
    Info: sf@defendwomensrights.org or 415-375-9502

    New Haven, Conn.
    Saturday, March 8
    Speak-out
    1:00 p.m.
    Amistad Memorial on Church St.
    Spread the word on Facebook
    Info: ct@defendwomensrights.org or 203-787-8232

    Washington, D.C.
    Saturday, March 8
    Speak-out
    12:00 Noon
    Columbia Heights Civic Plaza (14th St NW between Kenyon and Park)
    Info: dc@defendwomensrights.org or 240-487-WORD (9673)

    Chicago, Il.
    Saturday, March 8
    Join WORD at the "Coming Out of the Shadows: Not One More Deportation!" Rally
    12:00 Noon
    Federal Plaza 50 West Adams Street
    Spread the word on Facebook
    Info: chicago@defendwomensrights.org or 773-828-9205

    Albuquerque, N.M.
    Saturday, March 8
    Speak-out
    1:00 p.m.
    South entrance of UNM (Central and Cornell)
    Spread the word on Facebook
    Info: abq@defendwomensrights.org or 505-249-1768

    New Paltz, N.Y.
    Thursday, March 6
    Public forum
    6:30 p.m.
    SUNY New Paltz - Lecture Center 108
    Info: np@defendwomensrights.org

    New York City, N.Y.
    Saturday, March 8
    Rally
    2:00 p.m.
    Nicholas Park: 135th and Nicholas Sts.
    Spread the word on Facebook
    Info: nyc@defendwomensrights.org or 347-292-WORD (9673)

    Syracuse, N.Y.
    Friday, March 7
    Rally
    5:00 p.m.
    Clinton Square (W. Genesee St. side)
    Info: syracuse@defendwomensrights.org or 315-288-3908

    Philadelphia, P.A.
    Saturday, March 8
    Join WORD at "Women Against Repression & Occupation: Rock, Rap & Speak-out vs Poverty, Prisons & War" presented by Global Women's Strike
    1:30 p.m - 6:30 p.m
    Tabernacle United Church 3700 Chestnut St. W Philly
    Info for WORD: philly@defendwomensrights.org

    Philadelphia, P.A.
    Monday, March 10
    Justice for Marisa Alexander: A Sign Making Event
    Presented by Temple Black Student Union Collaborating with WORD (Philly and NYC)
    5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
    Temple University Student Activities Center Room 200A
    Info: philly@defendwomensrights.org

    Get involved:

    WORD Organizers Lead Workshop at Raza Youth Conference

    WORD - LA organizers at UCI Raza Youth Conference

    On February 1st, WORD organizers from Los Angeles participated in the Raza Youth Conference held by M.E.Ch.A (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) at the University of California - Irvine. The mission of the conference was to empower high school students who will one day be the leaders of their communities. WORD - LA organizers led a workshop to empower girls titled: “What Do You Know About the Revolutionary Woman?”

    Eman Khaleq discussed the history of women’s militant struggle throughout history and how women have fought to gain rights. Eman presented on the importance of women during the labor movement of the industrial revolution, coving how it was women who went on strike at the historic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. It was these women who were successful in their strike which led to the 8-hour work day, and safety and labor laws we have today. In addition, Eman discussed the importance of other female organizers, such as Dolores Huerta who was a leader in the farm workers' movement, Alice Paul who fought for a women's right to vote, Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer who fought for civil rights but are rarely mentioned in high school history books. The presentation reminded everyone attending the workshop that the rights we have today were not handed to us by politicians, but were a result of women organizing and demanding those rights.

    Gisela Santiago presented on the issues women are still facing today. Women are still getting underpaid. There is an estimated $12,000 wage gap between what women working full-time year round earns compared to men. Not only are women being underpaid, but they continue to be victims of violence from domestic violence, rape, hate crimes against the LGBT community, and police brutality. Gisela also spoke about how cuts to social services affect working-class women the most and how we have to stand up and continue fighting for equality.

    Sarah Lee Samonte discussed tools in organizing and how everyone can become involved to fight back. Sarah urged all those in attendance to participate in a group like WORD and shared her personal experience of being motivated to organize with a feminist organization to win struggles for her daughter.

    Pictures showing different actions WORD has led and participated in were shown throughout the workshop. Organizing tools like outreach, banner making, and marches were discussed.

    Sarah ended the workshop by covering with students a list of revolutionary women like Celia Sanchez, Leila Khaled, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis and Frida Kahlo, and asking if students recognized any names. A student raised her hand and stated she knew Angela Davis was an advocate against the school-to prison pipeline and a political activist during the civil rights movement. Another student raised her hand and mentioned recognizing the name of Frida Kahlo and her art work which redefined expected female gender roles.

    The workshop was attended by over 10 female high school students ranging from ages 14-17. In addition, M.E.Ch.A organizers were also present and participated. Students spoke about women who have inspired them in their lives as well as issues affecting women today. One 14-year-old girl spoke about being raised by a single mother whose strength and hard work has fed her and taken care of her throughout her life. All those in attendance walked away with a packet with information on WORD and how to participate.

    WORD - LA is holding a weekly Feminist Study Group through the month of February. Click here for details!

    Nationwide actions demand: Drop all charges against Marissa Alexander now!

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter  
    DC Free Marissa Alexander Event
    Washington, D.C

    Across the United States, supporters of Marissa Alexander took action January 18-20 - Martin Luther King weekend - to demand all charges against Marissa Alexander be dropped.

    Contingents marched in MLK parades and outreach took place in Asheville, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; New Haven, Connecticut; New Paltz, New York; New York City, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Sacramento, California; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Washington, D.C.; and other cities.

    Now is the time to unite and intensify our efforts in spreading the word about Marissa's case and demanding her complete freedom.

    Marissa is a survivor of domestic violence, and is only facing charges because of this racist and unjust legal system. There is no crime in defending yourself from abuse. Marissa acted in self-defense and injured no one. She should not be subjected to a second trial. All charges against her should be dropped immediately.

    Read below for reports of some of the Jan. 18-20 actions and get involved:

    WORD DC Free Marissa Alexander
    Washington, D.C.
    Philly Free Marissa Alexander Outreach
    Philadelphia, Penn.
    NEW_NYC_Outreach.jpg
    NYC Free Marissa Alexander Outreach
    New York City, N.Y.
    SF Free Marissa Alexander Event
    San Francisco, Calif.
    Asheville Free Marissa Alexander Event
    Asheville, N.C.
    CT Free Marissa Alexander Event
    New Haven, Conn.

    Washington, D.C.

    The Washington, D.C., chapter of WORD marched in the eighth annual MLK Peace Walk in a joint contingent to Free Marissa Alexander on January 20. The contingent included the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign and the National Congress of Black Women, as well as community supporters. The contingent was led by women of all ages with the demands “Drop the charges, Free Marissa Now!”

    The Peace Walk began at the United Black Fund in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast D.C., where community organizations and representatives participated in a rally and services tabling. The march went from the United Black Fund to a community church, where there were additional speakers and presentations.

    The Free Marissa contingent attracted much support throughout the walk. Onlookers chanted “Drop the charges! Free Marissa now!” Women of all ages took to the mic to chant against domestic violence and in support of a woman's right to self-defense. The Peace Walk was part of an escalating movement in D.C. and across the country to express public opposition to the sexist and racist prosecution of Marissa Alexander.


    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    On January 18, the newly formed Philadelphia chapter of WORD carried out our first outreach effort. The weather was unforgiving; it was freezing cold and very windy. However, we were determined to spread the word about Marissa Alexander’s case, and so we went to the intersection of Broad St. and Cecil B. Moore Ave. The area was less busy than usual, probably because of the cold, but to our surprise, despite the weather, people were extremely receptive to our message and many signed the petition.

    People were stopping in their tracks, missing their trains and even waiting in line in the cold to sign the petition and share their outrage with us. We passed out tons of flyers, one to a cab driver while he was still in the cab. We even got a signature after we left our post and went to get something to eat. We are extremely proud of our work that day, and are especially thankful to the New York City chapter of WORD for their guidance and support.

    Power to the people! A woman's place is in the struggle.


    New York City, New York

    On January 19, New York City WORD organizers hit the trains to do outreach around Marissa Alexander’s case. While going train car to train car, WORD organizers gave short speeches regarding the injustice being committed against Marissa, handed out hundreds of flyers and urged people to sign the petition to demand all charges be dropped. The crowd was overwhelmingly receptive to the speakers and expressed their outrage about the case.

    One passenger, who was eager to sign the petition, asked “How is it possible that they let George Zimmerman walk for the murder of Trayvon and they are still trying to prosecute this innocent woman for defending herself against her abuser. … This is ridiculous!” That was the sentiment of hundreds of people riding the train that afternoon, making it easy to gather petition signatures even on moving trains in the NYC subway system.

    Marissa’s case hits home within the Harlem and Bronx communities, in particular because of the injustices committed within the criminal “justice system” against Black and brown people. There is a strong sense of urgency to fight back, to demand that all charges to be dropped, to and fight for Marissa’s freedom.


    Sacramento, California

    WORD in Sacramento marched with the ANSWER Coalition in the annual MLK parade and festival at the Capitol on January 20. Organizers passed out flyers and statements on Marissa's campaign and case, as well as information on cases connected to Marissa's on the basis of class injustice and how poor people are treated by the so-called justice system.


    San Francisco, California

    Hundreds marched in San Francisco's SOMA District to commemorate the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 20. A contingent of WORD organizers participated in the march, carrying signs that demanded freedom for Marissa Alexander, and an end to racism and sexism. As the crowd poured into Yerba Buena Gardens, WORD passed out hundreds of flyers to spread the word about Marissa’s case and the struggle against anti-choice banners posted in downtown San Francisco.


    Asheville, North Carolina

    Asheville WORD met downtown at the Vance Monument on January 18 to raise awareness about Marissa Alexander and her trial. We passed out flyers, asked people to sign petitions, and spoke out about Marissa’s mistreatment in the "justice" system and the challenges she is currently facing.

    We got an excellent response. Almost everyone we spoke to signed the petition and expressed an interest in further involvement in the movement to free Marissa Alexander. We got emphatic support from the community.


    New Haven, Connecticut

    On January 20 outside New Haven's City Hall, WORD-CT joined members and supporters of Decarcerate CT, a large new statewide coalition, in a powerful rally to end mass incarceration. Speakers from local social justice organizations, churches and student groups brought back the true legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and decried the new Jim Crow from a variety of crucial perspectives.

    The action incorporated militant chants as well as talks delivered by community members. Many of the speakers had experience inside the prison-industrial complex, and spoke about the racism and exploitation that it is comprised of. Creighton Chandler, an organizer with Seminarians for a Democratic Society, read a powerful letter to the event from a veteran currently behind bars for a nonviolent offense who reminded those in attendance that the only answer to ending the epidemic of mass incarceration is to fight back together.

    WORD's signs, which featured Marissa Alexander and CeCe McDonald, were very popular at the action. A local teacher asked to take some of the signs to put up in her classroom to show her students examples of real fightback. Many people signed WORD's petition and pledged to take part in future actions and organizing efforts.


    New Paltz, New York

    Volunteers in the Mid-Hudson region made presentations, handed out flyers about Marissa Alexander’s case and collected petitions demanding the charges against her be dropped at three events on Sunday and Monday of MLK weekend: in Woodstock at the 24th annual MLK birthday event, co-sponsored by Town of Woodstock; in Kingston at a film showing and discussion on The New Jim Crow at the Mid-Hudson LGBTQ Center; and in Kingston at an MLK event at New Progressive Baptist Church, co-sponsored by ENJAN, End the New Jim Crow Action Network.

    Many people were familiar with Marissa's case and a number had signed online petitions. People easily made the connection with the work they are doing to stop racist mass incarceration and end violence against women. People also made the connection with Trayvon Martin, whose killer went free in the same state that imprisoned Marissa.

    Get involved!

    Sign-up to receive emails from WORD to find out about future actions!

      Donate to support WORD

      CeCe McDonald Released from Prison

      Cece McDonald with Laverne Cox, just after her release

      Following a determined effort by community members, organizers and supporters, CeCe McDonald's racist, sexist and anti-trans 19-month-long prison sentence ended today. Communities are cheering across the country as our sister finally walks free.

      A group of violent bigots assaulted CeCe, a young transgender woman of color, smashing glass in her face and threatening her life. She defended herself and was charged with second-degree murder. After both her assailant's neo-Nazi affiliations and his history of violent crime were found inadmissible in court, CeCe was forced to accept a plea bargain, reducing her sentence to 41 months in a men's prison for second-degree manslaughter.

      The victory of CeCe's prison time being cut down to 19 months is definitive proof of the power of organized fightback movements. This is the same power that won Marissa Alexander a second trial and allowed her to come home to her family as she awaits it. It is the same concerted effort that forced the police to investigate the murder of Islan Nettles, a young Black transgender woman beaten to death just outside a police station in New York. People of color and transpeople – particularly transwomen of color – find themselves criminalized by the “justice” system every day. In order to defend our communities and our sisters against these attacks, it is crucial that we stand together.

      The struggles of all women are inextricably tied together. CeCe McDonald herself and her entire network of supporters are now putting effort towards fighting for Marissa Alexander's freedom. Women who have faced the “justice” system know that as long as one woman is in prison for defending herself, no woman is free or safe. We stand in firm solidarity with our transgender sisters and brothers, who are constantly under attack from both system and the bigots that knowingly go unpunished by it. It is through building a united fightback movement that all women will have justice and equality.

      Drop all charges against Marissa Alexander now!

      Despite the fact that the original guilty verdict was overturned, Florida State Attorney Angela Corey is again moving ahead with the unjust prosecution of Marissa Alexander.

      A new trial is set to begin March 31, 2014, and will take place in the same venue where she was originally convicted of aggravated assault. Marissa was sentenced, under mandatory minimum sentencing laws, to 20 years in prison in the same state that let George Zimmerman walk free.

      There is no crime in defending yourself from abuse. Marissa Alexander acted in self-defense and injured no one. She is a survivor of domestic violence, and is only facing charges because of this racist and unjust legal system.

      Marissa Alexander should not be subjected to a second trial. All charges against her should be dropped immediately. Now is the time to unite and intensify our efforts in spreading the word about Marissa's case and demanding her complete freedom.

      Across the United States, supporters of Marissa Alexander will be taking action January 18-20 - Martin Luther King weekend - to demand all charges against Marissa Alexander be dropped.

      Marissa Alexander petition image

      Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Contingent in the MLK March and Rally for Justice
      Sunday, January 19
      Gather at 2:00 p.m. on MLK Blvd at University
      March to Civic Plaza for a rally
      For more information, contact 505-268-2488

      Asheville, North Carolina

      Outreach downtown
      Saturday, January 18
      2:30 p.m.
      Meet at the Vance Monument
      For more information, contact asheville@defendwomensrights.org or 828-348-7955

      Jacksonville, Florida

      Contingent in the Jacksonville MLK Day Parade
      Monday, January 20
      8:30 am, Metropolitan Park, 1410 Gator Bowl Boulevard
      Sponsored by Free Marissa Now, working with Jacksonville Progressive and New Jim Crow Movement
      Join the Facebook event

      New Haven, Connecticut

      Contingent in Decarcerate CT rally
      Monday, January 20
      Rally begins at 5:00 p.m.
      Amistad memorial statue at City Hall on Church St.
      For more information, contact ct@defendwomensrights.org or 203-787-8232

      New Paltz, New York

      Woodstock's annual birthday tribute to Martin Luther King
      Sunday, January 19
      2:00 p.m. at Woodstock Community Center, Rock City Road
      *WORD is supporting this event and will participate in the program.
      For more information, contact np@defendwomensrights.org

      New York City, New York

      Train Outreach
      Sunday, January 19
      Meet at 2295 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. (at 135th St.) at 12:30 p.m.
      Outreach will begin at 1:00 p.m.
      For more information, contact nyc@defendwomensrights.org or 347-292-WORD (9673)

      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Outreach at Temple University
      Saturday, January 18
      2:00 p.m.
      For more information, contact philly@defendwomensrights.org

      Sacramento, California

      Contingent in the MLK Day Parade
      Monday, January 20
      Meet at Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Blvd, Sacramento, California 95822, at 8:00 a.m.
      March departs at 8:30 a.m.
      Parking at the City College is $1.00
      Sacramento Regional transit's BLUE LINE goes directly to the campus and is accessible
      For more information, contact sac@defendwomensrights.org

      San Francisco, California

      Contingent and outreach at the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade & Festival
      Monday, January 20
      10:30 a.m.: Meet up with WORD at the Caltrain station
      11:00 a.m.: The march and parade begins at the Caltrain Station and goes 1.5 miles to Yerba Buena Gardens
      12:45 p.m.: Tabling during the festival at Yerba Buena Gardens
      For more information, contact sf@defendwomensrights.org or 415-375-9502

      Seattle, Washington

      Contingent in MLK Day Rally and March
      Monday, January 20
      Table from 9:30 am-11 am
      March starts at 12 noon
      Assemble at Garfield High School on 23rd St.
      Sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Free Marissa Alexander Committee
      For more information contact FreeMarissaPNW@gmail.com

      Washington, D.C.

      Contingent in the 8th Annual MLK Peace Walk
      Monday, January 20
      Assembly: 9:45 am. - 11:00 a.m.
      United Black Fund: 2500 MLK Jr. Ave. SE (Metro to Anacostia Station - Green Line)
      Destination: Covenant Baptist UCC: 3845 South Capitol St.
      12:30 p.m.: Program
      For more information, contact dc@defendwomensrights.org or 240-487-WORD (9673)

      List an event in your city!

      Also, be sure to sign and circulate the online petition demanding all charges against Marissa be dropped!