before i'd read about the new jersey four on a fellow afrospear's blog, i knew nothing about their plight. why? i hadn't heard anything about this on the local or national news. if it was talked about in the black blogosphere, i missed it. even the lesbians i know weren't informed. that's not a cop-out on my part, or theirs. it's the truth.
contrary to what anyone may assume, i don't have an internal rss newsfeed that's race and gender specific, automatically informing me of any and every injustice that applies to me as an african-american and as a woman. where would i -- or anyone for that matter -- have heard about this incident if it weren't publicized ad nauseum somewhere?
when something horrible happens to people of color nowadays, a media-savvy publicist is almost as necessary as a good lawyer. you have to climb to the top of the heap of news items and wave your flag of information as high as you can, and you have to keep waving it until your situation gets the attention and the coverage it deserves. i'm sure that any major media outlet in this day and age would mark this as a story on non-interest but as a black female, i have to disagree. anytime a black woman anywhere defends herself against a male attacker and goes to jail for it, you have my full and undivided attention.
and anyone who's warped enough to believe that this country and its legal system is just and fair to everyone needs to have their head examined.
the details are right here but the story in a nutshell is this: on august 16, 2006 four african-american lesbians walking through the west village were verbally harassed and physically assaulted by a black man, so they did the unthinkable: they defended themselves.
all of this was captured on video from a surveillance camera at a nearby store, including the two men who finally came to their rescue and proceeded to beat living crap out of the guy -- dwayne buckle -- that started the whole thing in the first place. later as mr. buckle recovered from his hospital bed, he said that the two men were responsible for his injuries. visual proof didn't matter, either. on june 14, 2007 all 4 of them -- venice brown (19), terrain dandridge (20), patreese johnson (20) and renata hill (24) -- received sentences ranging from three-and-a-half to 11 years in prison. none of them had previous criminal records. two of them are parents of small children.
do i have to tell you that they were convicted by an all-white jury? hm. i guess not.
the updates are promising. according to the new york times article, ms. dandridge's conviction has been reversed and her indictment dismissed because there wasn't enough evidence to support a guilty verdict. ms. hill has been released because her conviction couldn't be upheld, either. ms. brown and ms. johnson are still in prison, awaiting appeals.
this clip is a testament to the way things are coming together in a grassroots way all over the country to suport this cause.
the new jersey 4 blog has the latest updates, benefits, concerts and anything else you'd need to know about them -- including their contact information, to send donations, letters of support and encouragement.