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Video: Free Marissa Alexander!

Learn about Marissa Alexander and demonstrations to demand her freedom. Sign the petition here.

Justice for Marissa Alexander! Sign the Petition - Join Oct. 5 Speak-Out in D.C.

Marissa Alexander petition image
Sign the petition!
NYC street meeting

On September 28, the NYC chapter of WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend), in conjunction with other organizations, organized a speak-out in Harlem on 125th Street and Lenox focused on demanding freedom for Marissa Alexander. From the moment the event started, people immediately gravitated toward the WORD placards that read “Free Marissa Alexander Now” and “No to Racism and Sexism.” Many community members stopped to learn more about the case and the struggle for justice, even setting up their own chairs near the speaker to listen.

Community organizer Kerbie Joseph highlighted the systemic racism within the justice system, stating: “The same system that let the racist vigilante George Zimmerman walk for the murder of Trayvon Martin is the system that is giving Marissa Alexander 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into the ceiling in order to defend herself and her children. How could that be justice?”  WORD organizer Elizabeth Birriel talked about the need to keep building around Marissa Alexander’s case, stating that “if we keep organizing, we can win and Marissa Alexander will be free.”  

NYC street meeting Marissa Alexander

Organizers handed out over 1,000 flyers with information about Marissa’s case and collected over 100 petition signatures from the community. People were eager to learn more about Marissa’s case and how they could help.

Upcoming events:

Washington, D.C.
Saturday, October 5
Speak-out, 12:00 pm
Tivoli Square: 14th St. between Kenyon and Park Sts NW
Join the Facebook event

New York City, NY
Saturday, October 5
Volunteer Activist Meeting, 1:00 pm
2295 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (at 135th St.), Harlem

Watch and share the new video!

And don't forget to sign the "Free Marissa Alexander" petition and share it with your friends!

Keep the pressure on to free Marissa Alexander!

Join speak-outs in NYC - Sept. 28 and D.C. - Oct. 5
See below for details

In a victory won by popular mobilization, Marissa Alexander will receive a new trial. On Sept. 26, Judge James H. Daniels issued the decision for a retrial. The basis for the retrial is that the lower court erroneously put the burden on Marissa to prove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt; the burden should have been to raise a reasonable doubt.

In reality, the retrial is being granted because of the popular outcry that thundered across the country and the world – in the streets and on the internet – declaring the Florida courts guilty of racist hypocrisy. 

Marissa was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced, under mandatory minimum sentencing laws, to 20 years in prison in the same state that let George Zimmerman walk free.

Marissa unloaded a warning shot into the ceiling to stop her abusive ex-partner in the midst of an assault just nine days after she had given birth. She had a permit and was trained to use the gun, and she hurt no one.  As is widely known, Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old. The same prosecutor, Angela Corey, oversaw both cases.  The same court sent an African American woman who dared to fight back against abuse to prison while freeing a racist murderer of an African American teenager.

The system had every intention of railroading and denying Marissa her rights. But they met with a powerful obstacle – the voice to the people. In cities and states across the country and internationally people created websites, started petitions, published statements and took to the streets in rallies, marches and speak-outs to demand Marissa’s freedom.

The racist court system was forced to make a concession in agreeing to a new trial. But Marissa is still in prison. There is a decision coming on whether she will be released on bail pending the trial. The judge’s decision only agreed that the jury instructions on self-defense were wrong.

This initial victory is not the end of the struggle to free Marissa Alexander. Under a just system, she would never have been imprisoned.  She should be immediately released from prison and home with her children today. We must continue the pressure until that is the case.

Free Marissa Alexander!

Speak-Outs to Free Marissa Alexander

New York City, NY
Saturday, Sept. 28
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
125th St. and Lenox Ave.
 
Washington, D.C.
Saturday, Oct. 5
12:00 Noon
Tivoli Square – 14th St. b/w Kenyon and Park Sts. NW
Metro to Columbia Heights
Join the Facebook event
 
Organize an event in your city. Click here to fill out an Event Listing form so we can help spread the word.
 
Click here to see a report and photos from actions that took place in several cities on Sept. 14, Marissa’s birthday.

Demonstrations demand Justice for Marissa Alexander

New York City, NY
Sacramento, CA
San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA Photo: Andrew Freeman

On September 14, 2013, supporters of women’s rights across the United States marked Marissa Alexander’s birthday by calling for her release from prison. In New York City, WORD organizers distributed information and literature about Marissa’s case. Other WORD chapters organized speak-outs and rallies to bring attention to this case and demand Marissa’s release. See below for reports on those actions and read more about Marissa Alexander.

Sacramento, CA

WORD Sacramento members spoke out for Marissa Alexander and for her release from an unjust imprisonment on her birthday, Sept. 14, at the U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building in Sacramento. A group of WORD and community members picketed with signs that read "Free Marissa Alexander!" and handed out a WORD statement flyer with information about how Alexander should be celebrating her birthday, not sitting in a prison cell. Many cars driving by honked their horns in support.

The Sacramento Observer was at the event, taking photographs of the actions, picket signs and a banner that read "Stop the Attacks Against Women in Our Communities." During the speak-out, WORD Sacramento members talked about domestic violence, as well as sexism and racism in the so-called criminal justice system. 

San Francisco, CA

People gathered at Powell and Market in San Francisco to recognize the birthday of Marissa Alexander and demand that she be freed. People walking through the busy intersection eagerly took the statements of support for Marissa, and stopped to listen to speakers and the performance by Heart of Orion of their song "Free Marissa Now."

Speakers at the event talked about the case of Marissa Alexander, the racist justice system and the lack of support for victims of domestic violence. While waving their placards, participants called out loudly: "One day in jail is way too long, Marissa did nothing wrong!"

Seattle, WA

A spirited crowd gathered at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle on Sept. 14 to demand justice for Marissa Alexander. The demonstration was co-sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander, WORD (Women Organized by Resist and Defend) and Radical Women. The rally opened with an explanation of Marissa’s case and a lively talk by the Rev. Angela Ying, whose ringing condemnation of racism and sexism got the crowd stirred up.

Jane Cutter of WORD and the ANSWER Coalition spoke about how Marissa’s case illustrates the confluence of racism, sexism and mass incarceration. Cutter concluded her remarks with a call for activists to work very hard so that next year on her birthday, Marissa can celebrate it outside of prison. Many passers-by stopped to learn more about the case, get buttons and sign a birthday card.

NYC Celebrates WORD's First Birthday

It's been one full year of organizing and protesting since our first action for Women's Equality Day. New York City WORD held a birthday bash to celebrate our first year of organizing to defend women’s rights and raise funds to continue the struggle. Check out the slideshow from this great event.

WORD speaks out to defend reproductive rights in Albuquerque!

Women and allies flooded Albuquerque City Council to speak out in support of a resolution to protect women’s reproductive rights and declare Albuquerque a pro-choice city on September 16.

The Albuquerque chapter of WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) made the Call to Action in order to intervene on a proposal to allow an anti-abortion bill onto a special election ballot. That bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

The action was joined by several other women’s groups and supporters, including NOW (National Organization for Women), Respect ABQ Women, NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Young Women United and Personhood for Women.

Dozens of women from the community signed up for public comment, dwarfing the barely visible anti-choice extremists. Supporters of women’s rights cheered and applauded each speaker, ignoring the calls of City Councilors to remain silent.

Sydney Hodge, a member of WORD, spoke to the City Council: “Not only is this bill unnecessary and a waste of tax payers’ money, it is a flat out threat to women's reproductive rights and women's equality in general.”

Hodge went on to denounce the group of extremists responsible for the proposal: “Attempts such as these made by Operation Rescue are made out of bigotry and hate, and I personally would not feel proud to say that I am from a city that would succumb to such lowly attempts.”

Operation Rescue is an extremist anti-abortion group based out of Kansas that has used the threat of violence to intimidate both women seeking abortions and physicians who perform abortions.

In fact, Operation rescue is a dangerous group that has carried out terrorist attacks on providers of women’s healthcare. On May 31, 2009, George Tiller, a physician from Kansas known for being one of the few doctors to perform late-term abortions, was killed by Operation Rescue member and supporter Scott Roeder.

WORD and the women of Albuquerque will not stand by while terrorist groups like Operation Rescue attempt to attack women’s reproductive rights. WORD will fight back against any groups that intend to push women back. In the coming weeks and months, WORD volunteers will be active throughout the Albuquerque community to oppose any ballot measure that denies women their basic reproductive rights.

Connecticut Women Fight Back Against Ivy League Rape Culture

Women's Equality Day speak-out, August 26, 2013

At Yale University, one of the most powerful academic institutions in the country, and one that subsequently produces the country's most powerful people, women have been a target of horrific attacks for decades. While some people think Yale is a progressive university, the largely unaddressed behavior of their male students says otherwise. 

In 2008, members of the Zeta Psi fraternity posed for pictures outside the campus Women's Center holding signs that read “We love Yale sluts.” In 2009, an e-mail with the title “pre-season scouting report” rated freshman women based on how many drinks a man would need to consume in order to sleep with her. In 2010, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity marched around campus, chanting “No means yes! Yes means anal!”

That is not where it ends, however. For years, countless female students came to campus authorities, reporting having been assaulted and raped by fellow students. Instead of listening to the complaints, the university discouraged the survivors from taking any action against the rapes, and made promises to look into it on their own. 

Finally, in 2011, the women had had enough. After the “No means yes” marches, it became evident that the university's response was the same to both private sexual assault and public displays of terror against women. The administration responded with no formal disciplinary procedure, requests to not tell anyone and unfulfilled promises of mediation. 

Women have filed multiple formal complaints. The complaints detail the university's history of public sexual harassment as well as individual testimonies of those who faced harassment and received no response after reporting it, and those who had chosen not to report. 

“The University was prioritizing its reputation and the tuition dollars of the offenders over the students who were affected,” said Alexandra Brodsky, who was a lead organizer in the women's efforts against Yale's policies.

The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights investigated Yale under Title IX for over a year before finding that Yale had a “hostile sexual environment” and requesting policy changes. 

The university found evidence of six students having assaulted women on campus – out 16 cases reported in the Title IX and countless more who reported being raped prior to the investigation. The recommended punishment for rape at Yale is a written reprimand. 

Yale and the OCR reached a voluntary resolution agreement. Yale changed some of their reporting mechanisms and added some education on consent, but did not fundamentally change any of the policies or structures that permit rampant sexual violence. One male student described the consent education as “teach-ins on how to get away with rape.” 

Brodsky notes: “Yale saw that it was getting away with it, just like the frat clubs. The government lets Yale get away with it – Yale lets the frats get away with it – there are multiple layers of old boys' clubs.” 

To add insult to injury, Yale has made it a point in their official language to refer to rape solely as “non-consensual sex.” The Yale president's explanation of this was, “People come to very different understandings of what happens.” 

Brodsky responded, saying “Yale thinks it can talk its way out of a problem. They're using language that obscures the violence. If you say you gave a written reprimand to someone who raped their classmate, that would be difficult to ignore ... they might think it was OK if you called it non-consensual sex.”

After these abominable policy changes, women at Yale have continued to struggle against the university's blatant disregard for women's safety. A new group of survivors and allies, Students Against Sexual Violence at Yale, have set up meetings with the president to confront the administration head-on and demand change. The New Haven, Conn., chapter of WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) will be working with these students every step of the way in organizing a strong fightback. 

Yale is not the only campus where similar actions are taking place – at Southern CT State University, women are taking action against their school's refusal to fire David Chevan, a professor who has been the subject of multiple complaints of sexual assault. WORD is working with SCSU students and alums to put together coordinated actions to remove Chevan.

On August 26, 2013, a number of students proudly joined WORD's Connecticut chapter in a speak-out to demand an end to rape culture on campuses and attacks on women's rights across the country. This was part of a Call to Action issued by WORD for a series of nationwide actions for Women's Equality Day. 

The only real solution to this systemic violence against women is an organized women's fightback movement that targets rape culture on every level – from the schools to the courts to Congress. WORD has been and will continue to be at the forefront of this struggle and stands in solidarity with all survivors of assault. 

WORD calls for freedom for Marissa Alexander

Free Marissa Alexander!

Marissa Alexander is in prison, sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot to stop her abusive husband from further assaulting her. She acted in self-defense and injured no one.

Marissa was defending herself from her then-husband, Rico Gray, a man who had beaten her both before and during her pregnancy. One incident sent her to the hospital with head injuries. Gray has a documented record of brutality towards other women. Past girlfriends testified about this abuse at Marissa Alexander's trial.  Yet the so-called justice system has left him free.  

Marissa showed great courage by standing up against her abuser and even further courage by rejecting a plea bargain, boldly stating that she had committed no crime. Her example of courage and strength in the face of brutal conditions speaks to the need to continue the struggle to end all violence against women.

There is no crime in defending yourself from abuse. Marissa is a hero, not a criminal. She should be free to start a new life free of abuse. 

Marissa is imprisoned in the same state where George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old. The same courts that sentenced Marissa to prison gave Zimmerman his freedom. The travesty of Marissa’s imprisonment and Zimmerman's freedom exposes the utterly racist nature of the criminal "justice" system in this country. Marissa is a victim of domestic abuse, racism, and an unjust legal system. 

This is the very opposite of justice.  A just system would not punish Marissa Alexander. A just system would provide her resources to start a new life free from violence and protected from her attacker. 

Today, September 14, is Marissa Alexander's birthday. She should be free to celebrate with her children on this day, not languishing in prison. WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) is joining in the nationwide call for actions to recognize her birthday and call for her immediate release.

Free Marissa Alexander!

Upcoming Actions to Free Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander
Free Marissa Alexander!

Marissa Alexander is in prison, sentenced to 20 years for aggravated assault. Her supposed crime? Firing a warning shot with a permitted gun to stop her abusive husband in the midst of an assault just days after she'd given birth to her daughter.

Marissa was defending herself from a man with a documented record of brutality towards women. Past girlfriends testified about this abuse at Marissa Alexander's trial. Yet the so-called justice system let this man continue to abuse women while Marissa Alexander sits in prison for defending herself.

All of this occurred in the same state where George Zimmerman was freed after murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman made a bogus claim to be protected by Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. The travesty of Marissa's imprisonment and Zimmerman's freedom exposes the arbitrary and utterly racist nature of the so-called criminal justice system in this country.

Marissa Alexander's birthday is September 14. She should be free to celebrate with her children on this day, not languishing in prison. WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) is joining in the calls for actions to recognize her birthday and call for her immediate release.

Actions on Saturday, September 14

Sacramento, CA
Gather at 1pm
at Robert Matsui Federal Court House
501 I Street
Contact sac@defendwomensrights.org
Join the Facebook event

San Francisco, CA
Gather at 4pm
at Powell & Market
Contact sf@defendwomensrights.org or 415-375-9502
Join the Facebook event

New York City, NY
Gather at 1pm
at 149th and 3rd Avenue
Bronx, New York
Contact nyc@defendwomensrights.org or 347-292-WORD (9673)

Seattle, WA
Gather at 2pm
at Westlake Park, 4th and Pine
Initiated by Seattle WORD and Pacific Northwest Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander
Contact seattle@defendwomensrights.org or 206-568-1661

Join us at one of these events, or list an action in your city.

Fight-back women's rally in New Paltz

Below is a report submitted by Mid-Hudson WORD.

WORD organizer Karina Garcia
WORD organizer Karina Garcia

A spirited rally and march in Defense of Women’s Rights took place in New Paltz, N.Y., Sept. 7, organized by Mid-Hudson WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) in recognition of Women’s Equality Day.

A total of 135 people attended at some point during the rally in Peace Park before marching with signs and chanting “fight-back” slogans through the village’s business district before returning to the park for informal discussions among attendees and speakers.

Five of the eight speakers were in their upper teens or twenties, to the delight of local WORD organizer Donna Goodman, who viewed youth participation at that level as a positive sign for the future of the women’s movement. Among the speakers was Karina Garcia, who traveled upstate from New York City where she is a WORD organizer. She delivered an upbeat speech about building the movement.

Goodman spoke about the “the failure of the U.S. political system” to provide adequate social services for the people, pointing out that 35% of American women are more likely to be poor than men. She noted in particular the paucity of programs for single-mother families and the absence of a national paid parental leave policy. “Out of 173 countries,” she said, “only four do not provide some form of government-guaranteed leave with income to women in connection with childbirth: Liberia, Swaziland, Papua New Guinea and the United States.”

WORD was helped in organizing the rally by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter and Mid-Hudson ANSWER. Some two dozen groups endorsed the rally, including: New York Civil Liberties Union, Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Upper Hudson Central Labor Council, Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, United University Professions (AFL-CIO), and various movement and left groups including PSL.

WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) is a new grassroots feminist organization that is dedicated to building the struggle for women’s rights and equality for all.

Join us in building this new movement for our rights – and for a better world for all women.

Join WORD in upcoming actions!

Women march in Los Angeles, August 31, 2013

This is a critical moment for all progressive people to stand against the U.S. plans for war on Syria. Based on lies, the U.S. government is charging ahead to open up a full-scale attack that will be disastrous for the Syrian people. WORD has joined in demonstrations across the country over the last week to say "No war on Syria!"

In the midst of the struggle to stop the war before it starts, WORD will also be supporting the call to free Marissa Alexander by organizing events and actions on her birthday, Sept. 14. 

WORD has consistently advocated on every front in the struggle for full rights for all women. This means standing with our sisters in Syria as they face the threats of the most dangerous, most brutal war machine on the planet--based right here in the United States. It also means standing with our working-class sisters in prison, a number that grows every year. It means standing with Marissa Alexander in the face of a racist system of injustice that would sentence a woman defending herself from violence to 20 years in prison for discharging a registered gun with NO intent to kill. Her intention was to warn her attacker--a man with a history of violent behavior toward women. See below for more information on both fronts in our struggle.

No war on Syria! Take action against U.S. intervention!

The ANSWER Coalition -- an anti-war organization with which many WORD members have volunteered -- has been spearheading protests against the war in Syria across the country. This Saturday, September 7 there will be a major march from the White House to the Capitol Building to tell Congress "Vote NO on war against Syria!" Click here for details about the D.C. demonstration and here for a list of demonstrations taking place nationwide on September 7. Join WORD at these important protests to stop the war on Syria before it starts.

Free Marissa Alexander!

Marissa Alexander is in prison, sentenced to 20 years for aggravated assault. Her supposed crime? Firing a warning shot with a permitted gun to stop her abusive husband in the midst of an assault just days after she'd given birth to her daughter.

Marissa was defending herself from a man with a documented record of brutality towards women. Past girlfriends testified about this abuse at Marissa Alexander's trial. Yet the so-called justice system let this man continue to abuse women while Marissa Alexander sits in prison for defending herself.

All of this occurred in the same state where George Zimmerman was freed after murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman made a bogus claim to be protected by Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. The travesty of Marissa's imprisonment and Zimmerman's freedom exposes the arbitrary and utterly racist nature of the so-called criminal justice system in this country.

Marissa Alexander's birthday is September 14. She should be free to celebrate with her children on this day, not languishing in prison. WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend) is joining in the calls for actions to recognize her birthday and call for her immediate release.

Saturday, September 14 Actions

Sacramento, CA
Gather at 1pm
at Robert Matsui Federal Court House
501 I Street
Contact sac@defendwomensrights.org
Join the Facebook event

San Francisco, CA
Gather at 4pm
at Powell & Market
Contact sf@defendwomensrights.org or 415-375-9502

Seattle, WA
Gather at 2pm
at Westlake Park, 4th and Pine
Initiated by Seattle WORD and Pacific Northwest Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander
Contact seattle@defendwomensrights.org or 206-568-1661

Join us at one of these events, or list an action in your city.