The Miami Workers Center responds to the Grand Jury's decision in Ferguson and recent developments in Marissa Alexander's case
Miami, FL - This has been a somber week for African-American families across the country. The same day that the Grand Jury in Ferguson decided not to indicte officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, Marissa Alexander is forced to agree to an unfair plea deal for defending herself from her abusive husband.
Once again, the criminal justice system has failed the people it is supposed to protect, and has turned its back to the values of justice, freedom and equality it is supposed to uphold. In less than two years, the country has cried for the deaths of unarmed youth like Trayvon Martin (Sanford, FL) and Michael Brown (Ferguson, OH), and has tirelessly asked for justice without results.
"A justice system that cannot protect our youth while walking down the streets and cannot prosecute armed men who unnecessarily shoot and kill unarmed teenagers, is a failed system. On top of that, a system that questions the innocence of our youth and instead criminalizes their appearance and their living conditions, is a system we can no longer trust or respect," says Saraí Portillo, Interim Executive Director for the Miami Workers Center.
That same system has proven it also fails to protect women victims of domestic violence like Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot to stop her husband from beating her. After years of being away from her children, this week Marissa Alexander agreed to a plea deal to put a closure to the unfair criminal case against her.
"As a woman of color and a mother, my heart understands the reasons that lead Marissa Alexander to accept the unfair charges against her and re-victimize herself. But the fact that our justice system gave her no other option, is cruel and inhumane. No woman who has been a victim of domestic violence should be forced to chose between justice and her children," says Marcia Olivo, Gender Justice Coordinator for the Miami Workers Center and Co-founder of Sisterhood of Survivors. "The justice system has failed to protect black and brown mothers and their children, and we cannot accept that anymore."