This week, we learned that yet another Black woman, Symone Marshall, died while in custody at a Texas jail. In a case disturbingly similar to those of Sandra Bland and Gynnya McMillen, Symone died from a lack of medical attention after she was taken to jail rather than a hospital after a terrible car accident.1
Although it is often left out of the mainstream narrative, the lives of Black girls, women, and trans women are being consistently lost to our violent and traumatizing corrections facilities. Yet, amongst all of their investigations, the federal government has refused to take action on these in-custody deaths. That's why we are standing with Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter, Ferguson Action, Project South and activists across the country to #SayHerName.
Tell the Department of Justice to investigate the deaths of Black girls, women and trans women from state violence.
As we saw with the deaths of Gynnya McMillen, Kayla Moore and Joyce Curnell, violence toward Black girls and women receives significantly less mainstream media coverage. Even the death of Sandra Bland didn't initially receive the coverage it deserved. It was the advocacy of ColorOfChange members and activists across the country, that pushed Sandra’s case to the forefront of mainstream media.
Yet, the DOJ has still failed to open an investigation into Sandra's death or any other. We must continue to lift up the stories of Black girls, women, and trans women whose families are calling for accountability until our government recognizes that this is a crisis in our criminal justice system.
Demand the Department of Justice acknowledge and investigate systemic violence experienced by Black women.
#SayHerName is a national movement that began in 2015 to bring attention to violence against Black women, girls and trans women. With Black women making up the fastest growing population in our criminal justice system, the trend of unnecessary deaths of Black mothers, sisters, daughters in jails, prisons, and detention centers appears destined to continue unless there is a massive intervention.2 By acknowledging and investigating instances of state abuse that Black women experience, the Department of Justice can give this crisis the attention it deserves.
Like #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName started as a Twitter hashtag but soon spilled into the streets. ColorOfChange joined with Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter, Ferguson Action and Project South to make Thursday, May 19 a National Day of Action to end domestic and state violence toward Black women, girls, and trans women. In coordination, we are delivered over 193,000 petition signatures to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevincalling for justice for Gynnya McMillen, but it's time to take it to the next level. Will you continue to advocate for Gynnya, Sandra, and others ?
Please tell the Department of Justice to investigate the deaths of Black women, girls and trans women in the criminal justice system.
Arisha, Rashad, Scott, Enchanta and the rest of the team at ColorOfChange.org
1. "22-Year-Old Mother Dies in Police Custody" BlackYouthProject.com, 5.18.16, http://act.colorofchange.org/go/6323?t=8&akid=5823.1942551.wAps8K
2. "Facts about the Over-Incarceration of Women in the United States" ACLU, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/5161?t=10&akid=5823.1942551.wAps8K
ColorOfChange is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.