There has been a lot more media coverage of her strike and the slow progress of the Sheriff's department, but here is a start:
New Coverage of Athena's Strike:
SF Examiner: Transgender County Jail inmate on hunger strike protesting housing rules
SF Weekly: Trans Woman in S.F. Jail On Hunger Strike To Change Housing Policy
SF Weekly: S.F. Jail's Trans Inmate Problem
(Wednesday, Jun 22 2016)
KPFA Radio: Day 16 of Transgender Woman's Hunger Strike for Inmate Housing Reform
IN RESPONSE TO INCREASED POLICING OF CIVIC CENTER, GRAND MARSHALS, AWARDEES WITHDRAW FROM PARTICIPATION IN PRIDE PARADE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ***PRESS RELEASE***
IN RESPONSE TO INCREASED POLICING OF CIVIC CENTER, GRAND MARSHALS, AWARDEES WITHDRAW FROM PARTICIPATION IN PRIDE PARADE
Multiple Pride honorees state that increased policing and militarized security makes LGBTQI communities of color unsafe at Pride Celebration.
San Francisco, CA – In light of the recent announcement that PRIDE participants would be subject to increased policing, metal detectors and discretionary admittance, several Grand Marshals and awardees of the “racial & economic justice” themed event are withdrawing from participation in the Pride Parade or Civic Center activities because of the unsafe conditions created for our communities by law enforcement. In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting that took the lives of dozens of queer, trans and gender non-conforming people of color, many people in our community are afraid. For us, celebrating Pride this year meant choosing between the threat of homophobic vigilante violence and the threat of police violence. We had a tough decision to make, and ultimately we chose to keep our people safe by not participating in any event that would leave our communities vulnerable to either.
Grand Marshal Janetta Johnson, Executive Director of the TGI Justice Project- an organization by and for trans, gender non-conforming and intersex people in prisons, jails and detention centers - announced her decision to withdraw from the parade at a PRIDE press conference on Friday. “While I am thankful for this honor, and grateful to Pride for bringing our work to the front this year, the decision to add more police to Pride does not make me, or my community, more safe” Johnson said.
While honorees recognized the increased concerns about safety in light of the recent mass shooting in Orlando, several argued that a greater police presence would increase the likelihood of violence against queer and trans people of color. “In the Bay Area, and the rest of the country, Black communities experience real fear and terror at the hands of homophobic vigilantes and law enforcement, and we work every day to find solutions. We know the militarization of large-scale events only gives the illusion of safety. We are choosing to do the real work of building safe communities” said Shanelle Matthews, a member of Black Lives Matter, who also announced their withdrawal from the parade.
The St. James Infirmary, which was slated to receive the Heritage of Pride Award at the main stage on Sunday, echoed the concerns of the Grand Marshals. “LGBT sex workers are often victims of violence and exploitation at the hands of police” said Executive Director Stephany Ashley. “The increased police presence at Civic Center, as well as the ban on shopping carts and items typically belonging to marginally housed and homeless people will only make pride less safe and accessible to our communities. These policies do not reflect the theme of racial & economic justice which we sought to march under proudly.”
The move comes a week after Grand Marshals of the New Orleans Pride Parade, BreakOUT! announced they would not be marching because increased law enforcement made its members- predominantly young trans people of color- feel unsafe to do so. In addition to a 25% increase in local law enforcement (both in uniform and undercover), federal law enforcement agencies are also scheduled to be on site at the Civic Center events.
In closing Janetta Johnson thanked SF PRIDE for their collaboration and understanding, “I am so honored that the community selected me. It is important that other Black trans women, especially younger girls and especially formerly incarcerated Black trans women, know that we matter, our actions matter, that we can work together to create a different future. But I just don’t feel comfortable accepting being in this parade. I walk in my neighborhood and see so many people sleeping on the street. I know come Sunday, they won’t be allowed to be here and many will be in jail. Particularly, in the San Francisco County Jail, where one of my Sisters, Athena Cadence, is on the 24th day of a hunger strike to demand a gender self-determination housing and search policy be implemented. But I can’t even bring myself to call it housing really, the truth is my community needs house keys not handcuffs, needs care not cages, needs jobs and job training, economic power and cultural self-determination. We need safety, real safety. And when Black trans women are safe, in our city, in our society, every single day. When my community is safe, then we can be really proud.”
Update: Late in the night on Thursday May 12, TGIJP welcomed home both Precious and another young community leader. Together with St James Infirmary, TAJA's Coalition, Sheroes, Transgender Law Center, CUAV and El/La Para TransLatinas, TGIJP was able to show community support of more than 50 people in person on Monday and more than 75 people on Thursday. We are truly #InItTogether. We are grateful to have two of our community members home, yet remain committed to changing the conditions of our community that is locked up and fighting for decarceration, re-entry and support out in the "free world" until none of our people are locked in cages. Thank you for your solidarity.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 12, 2016
Gender Violence in SF Jail: #SurvivedAndPunished #LetWomenIntoWomensHousing
SAN FRANCISCO — Precious, a Black woman who is transgender, was jailed more than two weeks ago when she told her abusive husband she was annulling their marriage and he called the police to revoke her probation. Community members from TGI Justice Project, St James Infirmary, TAJA’s Coalition, Sheroes Project, Transgender Law Center and other organizations will be hosting a rally and a press conference about her case today, Thursday May 12, at 12:30 pm outside of the jail at 850 Bryant St in San Francisco.
“Precious is a beloved community member and a survivor who was annulling her marriage and was sent to jail as a consequence. My question is: would this have happened if she were rich? If she were white? If she wasn’t trans?” said Vanessa Warri, Recruiter and Facilitator of the Sheroes Project at The Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, UCSF. “Precious needs to be released to our community immediately where she can heal from this whole traumatic experience and SFSD needs to provide housing in the jails for transgender and intersex people where the people feel they will be safest, including letting women into women’s housing.”
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department has come under heat recently for racism, transphobia, and violence within the jail system. Despite the fact that gentrification has reduced San Francisco’s Black population to 3%, 56% of the jail population is Black. A 2015 SF LGBT Center and San Francisco Human Rights Commission report states that one in two Black transgender women experience jail in their lifetimes. The Sheriff’s Department recently attempted to use this as a justification to build new jail space and was defeated by significant opposition from TGI people and their communities and yet has repeatedly received press coverage for movement towards a gender selfidentification based housing policy while in fact those behind bars are harassed and mistreated by jail custody staff and remain vulnerable to violence and are endangered.
“Precious’ case is representative of so many overlapping problems with the jail system. She’s Black and trans, so she’s much more likely to be vulnerable to intimate partner violence and police harassment. She’s getting punished for trying to leave her husband. She got cited for a probation violation, which should not be reason for incarceration. Once she’s in jail, she’s more likely to face violence, particularly sexualized violence, from guards or to be thrown into solitary confinement, which amounts to torture. She can’t get out of jail because she’s low income and the bail is too high. Basically we’re looking at a system that subjects her to violence at every step of the process,” said Janetta Johnson, Executive Director of TGI justice Project.
People from TGI Justice Project, #SurvivedAndPunished, and other organizations will speak at the press rally. They are demanding that Precious be released on her own recognizance, that the SFSD immediately implement a housing policy centering gender selfdetermination, and finally that the systems that trap people, most frequently women, between situations of domestic violence and realities of state violence be eliminated.
This week the California Board of Parole Hearings denied Rickie Blue-Sky parole for the 5th time. We come together outraged by how the State of California continues to punish Blue-Sky for maintaining his innocence and criminalize him for existing as a Native American transgender elder. Blue-Sky told us that they used his “refusal to admit the crime” and his “unstable childhood” to argue that he lacks insight and is therefore a threat to public safety. He said that when the board assessed him under the “Elderly Parole Program” they found that even though he is 70 years old, “he looks so young” and therefore is still a public safety risk.
Thanks to your support with Blue-Sky’s petition, the DA did not use transphobic arguments against him. However, Blue-Sky is still caught in a system designed to keep people endlessly caged.
We ask for your continued solidarity with imprisoned trans people. Please stay in touch with our coalition of legal advocacy & organizing groups listed below for updates on how to keep showing up for the survival and freedom of Blue-Sky and other imprisoned trans people in California and beyond.
From Blue-Sky: “I wish to thank everyone who supported me by signing the petition, and a special thanks to all those who wrote personal letters of support. I hope you will continue to support me.”
TGI Justice Project
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
National Lawyers Guild, Prisoner Advocacy Network
Transgender Law Center
Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project is in Solidarity With the People of Ferguson
The leadership team of TGI Justice is in solidarity with the family of Mike Brown and the people of Ferguson, who have endured unspeakable human rights abuses at the hands of law enforcement including and following the police murder of Mr. Brown on August 9th. TGI Justice Project is a group of transgender people—inside and outside of prison—creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom. We work in collaboration with others to forge a culture of resistance and resilience to strengthen us for the fight against imprisonment, police violence, racism, poverty, and societal pressures. We seek to create a world rooted in self determination, freedom of expression, and gender justice.
We share your pain and outrage at the loss of yet another young Black man’s life and the subsequent assault on your community by police, and call these assaults out as clear and irrefutable examples of the deep, systemic racism that informs the Prison Industrial Complex in this country. This is a system that leaves our brothers, sisters, and loved ones dying in the streets or locked up in unconscionable numbers in a dehumanizing network of jails, deportation centers, and prisons. This is a system deeply rooted in a long and consistent history of gendered racial injustice in the United States. This is a system that seeks to rob us of our most essential dignities as humans, and we are here to say that we join you in the struggle against the racist police state and towards a future of self-determination for our communities.
As an organization led by formerly incarcerated Black transgender women, we are certainly no strangers to police profiling, systemic criminalization, and brutality at the hands of law enforcement. We are with you in heart, spirit, and action as you push back against those in power who would try to kill, harm, degrade, and silence you. The revolutionary work you are doing in the streets of Ferguson, standing tall in the face of what must be unbearable grief, empowers and emboldens us.
We want you to know that the eyes of the world are on Ferguson, and that your sisters, brothers, and loved ones in the San Francisco Bay Area join you in demanding justice.
Be safe and stay strong,
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Executive Director
Janetta Johnson, Program Director
Woods Ervin, Administrative Coordinator
danni west, Development Coordinator, Leadership Team
StormMiguel Florez, Leadership Team
Malachi Garza, Leadership Team
Billy Chen, Leadership Team
Paper Buck, Leadership Team