Anti-Domestic Violence and Feminist Organizations, Youth Advocates, Anti-Prison/Police Violence Groups, & Community Organizations: ENDORSE THE CALL TO FREE BRESHA MEADOWS!
Bresha Meadows is a 15-year-old black girl in Ohio who experienced a lifetime of domestic violence and witnessed her father physically and psychologically abuse her mother. She and her siblings also experienced violence and death threats by her father. On July 28, 2016, Bresha was only 14 years old when she allegedly shot her father while he slept, using her father’s gun that her family said he brandished to threaten and control his family. The county prosecutor has charged Bresha with aggravated murder and may try her as an adult, meaning she could spend the rest of her life behind bars.
According to an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Bresha’s mother, Brandi Meadows, was sent to a hospital or outpatient facility 15 to 20 times over the years as a result of the violence she experienced from her husband. Police officer Latessa Meadows, Brandi Meadows’ sister, also reports that Brandi Meadows was told by her husband, “I will kill your fucking kids. You will watch your kids die. That is the last thing you’ll see,” while threatening her with his gun.
Recent studies from the Crittenton Foundation and the Women’s Law Foundation, and the Ms. Foundation and the Human Rights Projects for Girls have revealed the powerful pipeline between girls’ experience of domestic and sexual violence and their entry into the juvenile detention system. In effect, girls’ efforts to survive contexts of violence that are beyond their control are the overwhelming reason for being targeted for criminalization.
As anti-violence survivor advocates, feminists, youth advocates, and organizations who care about the safety of Black girls, we cannot stand by and let Bresha’s experience of profound violence be compounded through this punishment-based approach to a complex and devastating family tragedy in which she was a child victim.
We must challenge and end the criminalization of all survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Bresha’s case is one of many that shows us how Black girls and other marginalized survivors are especially likely to be criminalized, prosecuted, and incarcerated while trying to navigate the conditions of violence in their lives. She reminds us how crucial it is for anti-domestic and sexual violence programs to support all survivors—especially survivors who are prosecuted and imprisoned for actions taken in the context of navigating violence—through responsive, holistic advocacy and services that are meaningful to them. Her case also reminds us why anti-violence advocates and activists must work to end mass incarceration, address the intersection of race, gender, poverty and prisons/policing, and seek truly transformative solutions to violence. Freeing Bresha Meadows is a social justice action against domestic violence and mass incarceration, and an urgent call to decriminalize survival.
ENDORSE: Survivors of domestic and sexual violence, anti-violence victim advocates, child safety/youth advocates, and many others support the call to Free Bresha Meadows. Bresha and all child victims of violence should be loved and supported, their well-being should be prioritized, and they should be given the crucial resources that they need to recover. We endorse the call to free Bresha Meadows from juvenile detention, have all charges against her dropped, and support her safety and well-being as she is reunited with her family.
More about the Free Bresha Meadows Campaign: #FreeBresha is a group of individuals and organizations calling for Bresha Meadows’ immediate release. We affirm Bresha’s survival as a child deeply impacted by domestic violence. We call for Bresha’s freedom and reunification with her family. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or @freebresha on twitter and facebook.
TAKE ACTION: Learn more about how to take action to free Bresha Meadows.
SEND LETTERS: Write a letter to Bresha to send her your love and support and let her she’s not alone.
LEARN MORE: Learn more about the relationship between domestic violence and the criminalization of girls.