#FreeMarissa: What Does Justice Look Like? #Marissa418

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory ~ Matthew 12: 20 & Isaiah 43: 3

untitled Marissa Alexander

Imagine for a moment that you are a woman, who has regularly endured violence from a husband or partner. You have been frequently slapped, punched and beaten. You have been throttled, assaulted and verbally abused. Often, the abuse has occurred in front of your children, and almost always within their hearing. You might be trying to leave, which is one of the most dangerous times for domestic abuse victims. You may even have sought assistance from the law and taken an injunction against your partner.

What would justice look like to you in those circumstances?

The baby you have been carrying is born prematurely – your tiny, fragile baby is laying in an incubator, it’s every function from heartbeat to breath monitored by machines and her food delivered via a tube that is inserted in to her belly or her nose. You don’t know if she is going to be okay, you are suppressing the fear that somehow her fragile hold on life is your fault. And your husband or partner is still hitting you.

What would justice look like to you in those circumstances?

Nine days after giving birth – nine days of stress and worry, nine days of not being able to hold your new born child, of wires and monitors and fear – your husband or partner attacks you and you are terrified for your life. You can hear your children screaming. This time you decide that will no longer tolerate the violence – you want it to end, for your sake, for your children’s sake. You legally own a gun, so you reach for it: you fire it in the air, hurting nobody but shocking your husband or partner enough for him to stop.

What would justice look like to you in those circumstances?

It was a warning shot only and you made it in self defence, to protect yourself and your family. The place you live even has a law that says that’s okay. The police arrive and arrest you.  Your partner has falsely reported to them that you shot at him and you are put in prison and told that the law that allows you to defend yourself doesn’t apply to you.

What would justice look like to you in those circumstances?

For Marissa Alexander, ‘justice’ is the very thing which tries to erase her: the system which has told her that she ‘wasn’t afraid’ at the time of firing the warning shot; the same system which is more likely to incarcerate battered and abused women than protect them – and most importantly, the same system which is more likely to do so because she is black.

Marissa Alexander matters. Like Ce-Ce MacDonald, she has been criminalised because she is a black woman who chose to defend her life. When a system expects you to die rather than live, unless you are white, male and cis-gendered, that system is a tyranny and a tool of the abuser.

I urge you to lend your support to Marissa Alexander and those who are helping her fight for freedom: there are many ways you can do so. Visit freemarissanow.org – there is a wealth of information about the case on there, as well as details about how you can help in some way. You can contact @KilljoyProphets, tweet using the hashtag #FreeMarissa and spread the word amongst your friends. Educate yourself about the failures of carceral justice and follow twitter accounts like @CheifElk and @PrisonCulture to find out more about that discussion.

It matters – wherever you are, it matters. Please do what you can to help. Thank you.

 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free ~ Luke 4:18