Sunday, March 01, 2009

An Update on the NJ4 and a Call to Action

via free the new jersey four:
For Immediate Release February 27, 2009

Contact: Kimma Walker 973.676.9813

Queer and Trans Demonstrators Confront District Attorney
One of the NJ4 Appears in Court Next Week
National NJ4 Solidarity Committee Demands and End to All Prosecution Against Renata Hill and Immediate Release of Patreese Johnson from Prison

What: RALLY: The National NJ4 Solidarity Committee rally in support Renata Hill and self defense for all marginalized queers, transfolks, women and people of color.

When: 12:00 Noon

Monday, March 2 2009

Where: Office of the District Attorney

1 Hogan Place

Manhattan, NY

Who: The NJ4 Solidarity Committee, comprised of such groups as FIERCE, Gay Shame SF, LAGAI — Queer Insurrection, Bash Back, Resistance in Brooklyn and Queers for Economic Justice.

Why: On August 16, 2006, seven young black lesbians were in New York’s West Village and were accosted by Dwayne Buckle, who eventually grabbed one of them, and a fight ensued. The seven women were arrested and charged with crimes such as “gang assault.” Three of them took plea agreements.

The other four lesbians Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson, and Venice Brown were put on trial in 2007. In the trial and the surrounding media they were dehumanized, villified, and called a “lesbian wolf-pack.” The prosecution and trial were so biased that in an unprecedented move the First District Appellate Court reversed all of Terrain’s convictions, and dismissed the indictment with prejudice, although by that time she had served almost two years in jail/prison. In October of 2008, a retrial was granted on the felony gang assault charges against Renata and Venice, and they both got out on bail after serving more than two years. Patreese’s sentence was reduced to 8 from 11 years, but not overturned. Assistant District Attorney Lanita K. Hobbs is demanding that Renata be returned to prison, or face another trial.

Many diverse communities have rallied to the case, seeing the DA’s prosecution of the lesbians as a denial of their right to defend themselves and each other. “If we are killed or raped, we are mourned as victims, or supported as survivors. But if we fight back successfully, we are imprisoned. The district attorney is leaving us no options when we are attacked on the street,” said spokesperson Ralowe of the NJ4 Solidarity Committee. “It is time for the district attorney to stop persecuting these lesbians and let them get on with their lives.”

The Committee will be not only be demanding that the D.A. drop the case against Renata, but also to help secure Patreese Johnson’s immediate release.
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