Failing to protect the people who need protecting the most in Ferguson

Marcia Olivo – WNN SOAPBOX

August protester Chloe Powell with banner.
African-American Chloe Powell from Indianapolis, Indiana (U.S.) sits with a protest banner that says, “Stay Human” as she tries to bring the issue of racial discrimination and strife to Americans everywhere in August 2014 following the announcement of the death of black teen Michael Brown during an incident with police.

(WNN) Miami, Florida, U.S., AMERICAS: This has been a somber week for African-American families across the country. The same day that the Grand Jury in Ferguson decided not to indite officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager named Marissa Alexander has been forced to agree to an unfair plea deal for defending herself from her abusive husband.

Once again, the criminal justice system has failed the people it is supposed to protect. And has turned its back to the values of justice, freedom and equality it is supposed to uphold.

In less than two years the country has cried under the deaths of unarmed youth like Trayvon Martin (Sanford, FL) and Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO). It has also tirelessly asked for justice without results.

“A justice system that cannot protect our youth while walking down the streets and cannot prosecute armed men who unnecessarily shoot and kill unarmed teenagers, is a failed system. On top of that, a system that questions the innocence of our youth and instead criminalizes their appearance and their living conditions, is a system we can no longer trust or respect,” says Saraí Portillo, Interim Executive Director for the Miami Workers Center (MWC).

That same system has proven it also fails to protect women victims of domestic violence like Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot to stop her husband from beating her.

After years of being away from her children, this week Marissa Alexander agreed to a plea deal to put a closure to the unfair criminal case against her.

An actiivist rally supports in Oakland, California supports U.S. prisoner Marissa Alexander
Activists rally in Oakland, California (U.S.) to support African-American mother Marissa Alexander who has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, and denied the use of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law in the State of Florida on July 20, 2013. Image: Steve Rhodes/Flickr

“As a woman of color and a mother, my heart understands the reasons that lead Marissa Alexander to accept the unfair charges against her and re-victimize herself. But the fact that our justice system gave her no other option, is cruel and inhumane. No woman who has been a victim of domestic violence should be forced to chose between justice and her children,” says Marcia Olivo, Gender Justice Coordinator for the Miami Workers Center and Co-founder of Sisterhood of Survivors.

“The justice system has failed to protect black and brown mothers and their children, and we cannot accept that anymore,” added Olivo.


The Miami Workers Center (MWC) is Miami’s leading social change nonprofit organization that fights for social, racial, economic and gender justice in Miami, Florida.

“We work to unite and grow the power of low-income Latinos and African-Americans from some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods of Miami, such as Liberty City, Wynwood, Allapatah and Little Havana. We fight  for good paying jobs, affordable housing, immigrant rights, the protection of domestic workers and victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse,” MWC outlines.


A quick note from WNN – Women News Network:

Issues surrounding proper court procedures and police conduct continue to fester for those who live today in the U.S. under what they describe as ‘increasing levels of discrimination and vulnerability’. WNN – Women News Network does not support any form of global discrimination or mistreatment of people of color. With that said, we also do not support violent protest. But we do support the rights of those who hope for a better world to gather in public and stand up for their own human rights.

“A riot is the language of the unheard,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who worked tirelessly as he set his compass to follow the non-violent teachings of Mahatma Gandhi during the U.S. black civil rights movement that is responsible for ushering in school integration and the right to vote for all African-Americans living in Selma, Alabama in the 1960s.


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