Things That Matter

Cyntoia Brown Will Be Released From Prison Next Week And Supporters Have Already Started A GoFundMe

After spending half of her life behind bars, Cyntoia Brown will be released from prison on August 7.

The 31-year-old was sentenced to life in prison in 2004, when she was 16 years old, for killing a 43-year-old man who solicited her for sex. At the time, she was a sex trafficking victim under a pimp named “Cut Throat.” While Brown was a minor, she was tried as an adult.

The case made national headlines last December when a Tennessee Supreme Court ruled she would have to serve 51 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

At the time, celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian West, Lebron James, and Cara Delevingne, among others, expressed their outrage on social media, with some advocating for her release and others funding legal support.

“Something his (sic) horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life,” Rihanna captioned a post on Instagram in November 2017. 

Kardashian West, who shared the singer’s post on Twitter, added: “The system has failed. Its heartbreaking to see young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right.”

In January, former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) granted her clemency following the mounting pressure.

At the time, Haslan called the sentence “too harsh,” especially considering the “extraordinary steps” Brown had “taken to rebuild her life” in prison.

Derri Smith, founder, and CEO of the nonprofit End Slavery Tennessee agreed.

“She is light years today, as a woman, different from the traumatized 16-year-old that she was,” he said in January, according to CNN. “She’s mentoring … troubled youth, working on her college degree, she is planning a nonprofit so she can help other young people.”

Brown earned her associate degree from Lipscomb University in 2015 and, as reported by The Tennessean, obtained a bachelor’s degree in the Tennessee Prison for Women in May. She’s also been working with the state’s juvenile justice system to help counsel young people at risk.

For many, Brown has been a “model inmate” throughout her incarceration. 

“I learned that my life was — and is — not over,” Brown said in a documentary, “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.” “I can create opportunities where I can actually help people.”

In 2004, a then-16-year-old Brown was living with a 24-year-old pimp named “Cut Throat,” a man who she said physically and emotionally abused her as well as forced her into sex work. According to court documents, on August 7 of that year, Nashville real estate agent Johnny Allen brought Brown to his home and paid her $150 in exchange for sex. While at his residence, Brown said that Allen showed her multiple guns in a cabinet. At one point, she alleges that the man reached under his bed, seemingly grabbing a firearm. Believing he was going to kill her, Brown said she took a gun out of her purse and fatally shot Allen.

Brown long claimed the killing was self-defense. However, the prosecution argued that the motive was robbery since Brown took Allen’s wallet after she shot him. She was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder and aggravated robbery.

The convictions carried two concurrent life sentences and eight additional years.

According to Refinery29, during Brown’s original trial, she was not allowed to testify. As such, she was unable to present evidence of her traumatic childhood history, including her time under the care of the state Department of Children’s Services, and her neurodevelopmental disorder. 

For her supporters, Brown, a survivor of sexual and physical violence, has been doubly wronged, first by men who assaulted her and again by a state who locked her up in an adult women’s prison for more than a decade instead of protecting her. Many have taken to social media to express their joy over Brown’s impending freedom.

“15 years too long for self-defense the whole world is waiting on your release August 7th you will be free,” wrote one Twitter user. “Freeing #CyntoiaBrown is the Greatest thing I’ve heard all Year!!! She never should’ve been Locked up in the first place,” added another.

Additionally, Brown’s representatives are raising money through a GoFundMe campaign to ensure an adequate start to her new life upon her release.

At the time of writing, the so-called second chance fund has raised nearly $16,000.

As part of the terms of her commuted sentence, Brown, who will be freed on Wednesday, will have to report to a parole officer regularly for the next decade. She is also required to stay employed, participate in counseling and perform community service with at-risk youth.

“With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people,” Brown said in a statement shortly after her sentence was commuted. “My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been.”

Read: 5 Things To Know About Latina Girls And The Sexual Abuse-To-Prison Pipeline

A White Woman Called The Police On A Man Who Asked Her To Put Her Dog On A Leash

Things That Matter

A White Woman Called The Police On A Man Who Asked Her To Put Her Dog On A Leash

Christian Cooper/ Facebook

A confrontation about a dog leash has resulted in yet another video displaying the use of police as a weapon and threat against Black people as well as the surrendering of an adopted dog.

On Monday, a white woman by the name of Amy Cooper had been walking with her dog through Central Park. She and her dog were in an area of the park where her dog was supposed to be on a leash. Cooper’s dog was off-leash when it came upon a man named Christian Cooper (not related to Amy Cooper) who was bird watching n a wooded area of Central Park called the Ramble. Their confrontation escalated when Christian Cooper asked the woman to put her dog on a leash and she refused. When the woman began to become upset and claim that she was going to call the police, Christian Cooper turned on his phone and began to record.

In the video, Christian Cooper remains calm and relatively quiet while Amy Cooper frantically tells police he had threatened her and her dog.

The video begins with Amy Cooper pulling her dog by the collar and asking Christian Cooper to “Please don’t come close to me.” At one point she moves closer to Christian Cooper saying “Sir, I’m asking you to stop recording me,” In response, Cooper asks the woman to keep her distance. (It’s important to note that it’s unsure as to whether he was doing this for safety measures because of Coronavirus or something else.)

Amy Cooper then tells Christian Cooper in the video that she plans on calling the police saying “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life. Soon she gets on the phone saying “He is recording me and threatening me and my dog.” During the call, Amy Cooper appears to struggle to restrain his dog while she puts him on a leash. At one point, the dog even appears to be choking. “I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble,” Amy says in the phone, growing increasingly distraught. “Please send the cops immediately!”

The video ends with Christian Cooper telling the woman “Thank You.” Soon after taking the recording, Christian Cooper posted it on Facebook.

In an interview with CNN, Amy Cooper apologized. “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way.”

The New York Police Department also told CNN that when officers finally responded to the scene, neither Christian Cooper nor Amy Cooper was present. “I videotaped it because I thought it was important to document things,” Christian Cooper told CNN. “Unfortunately we live in an era with things like Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are seen as targets. This woman thought she could exploit that to her advantage, and I wasn’t having it.”

According to CNN, Christian Cooper stressed the importance of keeping dogs on leash saying.

Central Park attracts over 230 bird species. Christian Cooper explained “That’s important to us birders because we know that dogs won’t be off-leash at all and we can go there to see the ground-dwelling birds…People spend a lot of money and time planting in those areas as well. Nothing grows in a dog run for a reason.”

Speaking to CNN, Amy Cooper said that her “entire life is being destroyed right now” explaining further that she was “was just scared.”

Amy Cooper has since been placed on administrative leave by her employer and her dog has been surrendered to the shelter he was adopted from years ago until the dispute is resolved. In a Facebook post related to the incident,  Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue Inc. confirmed that the dog had been voluntarily surrendered. “Thank you to the concerned public for reaching out to us about a video involving a dog that was adopted from our rescue a few years ago. As of this evening, the owner has voluntarily surrendered the dog in question to our rescue while this matter is being addressed. Our mission remains the health and safety of our rescued dogs. The dog is now in our rescue’s care and he is safe and in good health. We will not be responding to any further inquiries about the situation, either publicly or privately. Thank you for your understanding,” they assured.

Black Mother, Amber Isaac, Tweeted Concerns About Hospital Care During Childbirth Before Her Death

Fierce

Black Mother, Amber Isaac, Tweeted Concerns About Hospital Care During Childbirth Before Her Death

GoFundMe

COVID-19 isn’t the only epidemic that should have you feeling alarmed. Across the globe, Black women continue to be mistreated, overlooked, and undervalued in the hallways of medical facilities and amongst medical professionals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are “three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.”

Described by some medical professionals as a public health and human rights emergency the increasing number of birth-related deaths amongst Black women are preventable.

Just like the death of Amber Isaac.

Isaac was a 26-year-old black, Puerto Rican New York mother-to-be who passed away on April 21st.

While news of her death began trending last week on social media, most major news outlets have failed to report on the young mother’s death which occurred at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. According to ESSENCE, Isaac’s death stemmed “from complications in delivering her son Elias who was born after midnight.” Isaac’s partner Bruce McIntyre, 28. In an interview about his partner’s death, McIntyre said that Isaac died less than four days after she’d tweeted about wanting to write an exposé on dealing with incompetent doctors.


Isaac, who died alone due to current measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in hospitals, was pronounced dead due to complications with her cesarean section.

“All of this was 100% preventable. All of it,” McIntyre told The Guardian in an interview. “I feel like she would have got more attentive care if she was a white mother, to be completely honest with you.” According to The Guardian, McIntyre described Isaac’s pregnancy as being “riddled with neglect by rude and unprofessional staff at the Montefiore Medical Center,” who ignored Isaac even when she looked to them for help with her concerns during her final weeks of pregnancy.

Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative described Isaac to The Guardian as being a healthy woman who had done all that she was supposed to during her pregnancy. “And she’s not the only one. That’s the story of the black maternal mortality issue across the United States,” Dr. Crear-Perry said about Isaac.

According to the Guardian “In New York City, black women are nearly eight times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Latinas in the metropolis – especially Puerto Ricans – also face higher risks of life-threatening complications during childbirth.”

“Unfortunately, what I see when I look at Amber Rose’s case is a beautiful young woman who fell through our big, gaping hole of a healthcare system,” Crear-Perry told the outlet.

Isaac’s death has sparked an outcry over the unnecessary deaths of Black mothers online.

Friends and family of the late mother have created a GoFundMe page to help support Isaac’s son and to give her a funeral service.