Immigrant Women’s Vulnerability to Domestic Violence

13 May 2015

In 2009, Nan-Hui Jo left the U.S., following the orders of Immigrant Customs Enforcement (ICE), who denied her visa application after her abusive estranged husband refused to sponsor her green card. She took her one year old daughter, Vitz Da, whom she had with her new partner, Jesse Charlton, because she was afraid for her safety, as Jesse was also physically and emotionally abusive. In July of 2014, Nan-Hui and Vitz Da returned to the U.S., landing in Hawaii, where Nan-Hui was immediately arrested, charged with child abduction, and placed under an immigration hold. At her April 28th retrial on child abduction charges, she was found guilty, and sentenced to 175 days served and 3 years of probation.

As noted in RH Reality Check, stories like Nan-Hui Jo’s are not uncommon among immigrant women; thousands of people apply for the VAWA Cancellation of removal, which allows immigration judges to cancel deportation proceedings and grant permanent residency for people experiencing abuse. Multiple systems failed to protect and support Nan-Hui and her child, causing separation and trauma of mother and daughter. Immigrant women, particularly undocumented women, are extremely vulnerable to experiencing domestic violence. In addition to common abusive tactics such as isolating the victim, and controlling their whereabouts, abusive partners use women’s immigration status to control them. Because of language barriers, lack of knowledge of legal rights and laws, and separation from friends and family, immigrant women experiencing abuse often feel trapped (Futures Without Violence).

Luckily, there are committed individuals and organizations advocating for Nan-Hui. The Sacramento Korean community, spearheaded by Misun Yi,  supported her by fundraising for her legal defense and attending her trial. Also, young queer Korean and other Asian American women started the Stand With Nan-Hui Campaign, fiercely advocating Nan-Hui’s behalf. To stay up to date with and find out how to support Nan-Hui’s case, visit the Stand With Nan-Hui Campaign’s website or follow them on Twitter.

Tondalo Hall: Solidarity Statement

Solidarity With Tondalo Hall: A Statement from Love & Protect
28 September 2015

Love & Protect condemns the denial of Tondalo Hall’s petition for clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. We call on Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to pardon and release Tondalo Hall, and to issue a statement denouncing the parole board’s unmerciful decision. With the opening of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month today, we call on the Oklahoma justice system to reform its understanding of domestic violence, and we call on the Oklahoma legislature to reform the “failure to protect” laws that too frequently punish and incarcerate victims.

In 2004, Tondalo Hall took her baby son to the hospital for care, where doctors found he had internal injuries, as did her toddler daughter. Hall said that she and her children had suffered violent verbal and physical abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, Robert Braxton, Jr, which he admitted. Braxton was sentenced to only two years, and has been free since 2006. Hall, in contrast, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for “failure to protect” her children from Braxton’s violence. Last Wednesday, September 23, 2015, the Oklahoma Prison Parole Board denied her petition for clemency by a vote of 5-0, giving no explanation and leaving Hall to remain in prison until she can seek parole in 2030.

Tondalo Hall was criminalized for her partner’s violence against her and her children. She has spent years behind bars while suffering the continued trauma of separation from her children and family, while the abuser himself walks free. Hall committed no violence against her children, and sought medical help to save them. At her hearing this week, the parole board shamed her for her inability to protect her children from her abuser, overlooking the shame and fear that haunted Hall as a victim of violence. We contend that the continued separation of Hall from her children is violence by the state against her and her children.

The day after Hall’s petition was denied, the state of Wisconsin opted not to pursue charges against Cierra Finkley for fighting back against her ex-boyfriend in defense of herself and her child, which resulted in his death. This announcement came in part due to public pressure led by the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, and the increasing national attention to the many cases of Black women caught between the violence of their abusers and the violence of the state. We encourage the state of Oklahoma to take Wisconsin’s decision as an example of justice for their future conduct.

We stand in solidarity with Tondalo Hall and her family. We ask the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board: when will compassion, mercy, and respect for the selfhood of Black women guide your actions? Whose lives are made better by Hall’s continued incarceration?  

With Love and Solidarity,
Love & Protect

Cierra Finkley: Solidarity Statement

Solidarity With Cierra Finkley: A Statement from Love & Protect (formerly the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander)
22 August 2015

Defending oneself from abuse and violence should never be criminalized. Love & Protect condemns the arrest of Cierra Finkley and calls for all charges against her to be dropped.

On August 18, 2015, in Madison Wisconsin, 24-year-old Cierra and her 5-year-old daughter were almost killed by her abusive boyfriend, Terrence Woods. Although he had been court ordered to stay away from Cierra, he showed up at her home, and after trying to run her and their daughter over with his car, he kicked in the door to her home and lunged at her. Fearing for her and her daughter’s life, Cierra stabbed him in self-defense.

Like Marissa Alexander, Cherelle Baldwin, Paris Knox, Tewkunzi Green and too many other Black women, Cierra is being criminalized for defending herself against life-threatening violence. Cierra was arrested, and finally released on bond with GPS monitoring on August 21.

Next Thursday, August 27, in a court hearing, the District Attorney will introduce charges against her. Instead of receiving support to heal from not only the trauma of having to defend herself, but also from past abuse, Cierra is being further victimized by the criminal punishment system. We ask the state: What option did Cierra truly have? Had she been unable to protect her daughter, she may have met the same fate as Tondalo Hall or Arlena Lindley; being imprisoned for failure to protect their children from abusive boyfriends.

Love & Protect calls for all charges against Cierra Finkley to be dropped. Through love, we resist this act of state violence. The state yet again refuses to properly identify victims and abusers in situations of domestic violence, and fails to protect the lives of the victims.

We stand in solidarity with Cierra, her family, and the Young Gifted and Black organization. We urge everyone to sign this petition, telling District Attorney Ismael Ozanne not to bring charges against Cierra Finkley.

With Love and Solidarity,
Love & Protect