Free Cyntoia Brown!
The match is lit.
By now, you’ve likely heard of the injustice being endured by Cyntoia Brown, and an estimated 2,000+ women and non-men in the United States currently incarcerated for killing their abusers.
Cyntoia’s case is startling for both its outrageousness and pervasiveness.
Detractors, including the lead detective who originally investigated the case, have been actively pushing for Cyntoia to remain in prison—even going so far as to petition the governor to deny clemency.
That should remind you the level of hate and vileness we’re up against.
Cyntoia’s circumstance resonates with many of us, because her story is so familiar. The product of rape herself, Cyntoia was exploited by abusive men throughout her early teens. She was convicted for murdering a 43 year old white man who purchased children for sex, and sentenced to 51 years to life in prison.
The State has argued that her actions were not committed out of self-defense. The reality is, Black women and girls are in a constant state of self-defense, and the moment that predator approached Cyntoia, he deserved to die. That is not hyperbole. What Cyntoia Brown did on the night of August 6, 2004, was a heroic act of mercy, because the man who sought to purchase her deserved far worse. "The legal age of consent in Tennessee is 18 years old. Close in age exemptions exist for minors ages 13-17 only if their partners are within 4 years of age. If convicted of statutory rape I Tennessee, the offender can receive up to a 60 year prison sentence. Consequences may vary depending on the age difference between the minor and offender."
Cyntoia’s actions likely saved countless more victims.
The State fears Cyntoia’s case, because if she is released it may cause society to re-examine American mass incarceration—especially of Black women and children. Releasing Cyntoia as a response to public pressure would set a precedent of justice not typically seen within our system. And it is for that reason that we must not back down.
Through this injustice, however, we find ourselves presented with certain opportunities.
We have an opportunity to show abusers that survivors can and will be supported by the masses. We have an opportunity to show the criminal justice system that communities will unapologetically organize and resist injustice, and not back down. And we have an opportunity to learn from the deaths of Black women like Sandra Bland, Korryn Gaines, Kiwi Herring, and countless others killed by the State; and do something different this time.
The precedent has already been established to free Cyntoia. We’ve heard time and time again “Assata taught me.” Young activists and scholars flock to pose in pictures with Angela Davis. Let us not forget that the masses advocated for the freedom of not only former political prisoner Davis, but that with her freedom she in turn uplifted Assata, Gail Madden, and more.
Do not let the lives of those who’ve been snuffed out by white supremacy and patriarchy have been lost in vain. Fight for Cyntoia Brown like you’re fighting for every Black woman and child abused by this system. And when she’s free, keep fighting for those still facing abuse.
The match is lit.
Please participate in these quick and tangible actions promoted by Tarana Burke, Color of Change, Black Lives Matter Nashville and The Highlander Center:
"We want Cyntoia to feel our collective love and spirit during this struggle as we continue to demand her clemency. Here’s what we need you to do:
1. Send a letter or postcard to Cyntoia:
Ms. Cyntoia D. Brown #410593
Tennessee Prison for Women
2 North, B49
3881 Stewarts Lane
Nashville, TN 37218-3302
2. Put money on Cyntoia’s books via JPay or Moneygram.
JPay: Visit JPay.com. Enter Tennessee for state and use ID #00410593.
If you receive an error saying payment didn’t go through, try again later or give via Moneygram.
Moneygram: Go to a physical Moneygram location. Request to “Pay a Bill”. Have the agent enter 6188 for Tennessee Department of Corrections. Use her name, “Cyntoia Brown” and account number, “410593Brown”.
3. Follow @BLM_Nashville and hashtags #FreeMySis, #Clemency4Cyntoia to join in.
Part 1: “Hi, my name is ____ and I am would like to speak to Governor Bill Haslam in reference to Cyntoia Brown.”(Response from office worker)
Most likely, you will not be able to speak to Haslam. Ask for the name of the person you are speaking to (for our records) and ask to leave a message.
Part 2: In 2004, Cyntoia Brown, a 16 year old victim of sex trafficking, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her assailant, Johnny Allen.
In June of 2012, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juveniles convicted of murder cannot be subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Last week, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years before she can be eligible for parole. This goes against the research and ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court when it comes to child offenders of violent crimes.
As a concerned citizen, I demand Governor Bill Haslam to grant clemency for Cyntoia Brown.
As a minor and a victim of sex trafficking, she should NOT have been sentenced to life in prison.
As a current survivor of the heinous act of Johnny Allen, she should not be forced to serve one more day behind bars because she feared for her life.
Again, I demand Governor Bill Haslam to grant clemency for Cyntoia Brown!
With effective phone slams / mass phone banking, lines are bound to get jammed and busy. That is perfectly okay!
5. Visit FreeCyntoiaBrown.org and make sure that you are signed up to receive updates.