There have been some positive developments in the cases of the New Jersey 4. The New Jersey 4 is Patreeese Johnson, Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge and Renata Hill. In August of 2006 these four women, along with three other friend’s, all of who are African-American and queer, were on a regular night out in New York City when a man sexually propositioned Patreese Johnson. When she refused his advances he became enraged and assaulted the women. Naturally they acted to defend themselves and a fight ensued in which their attacker was injured. The women were charged with gang assault, and a Class C felony. One woman, Patreese Johnson was additionally charged with first-degree assault. In June of 2007 the women were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3.5 to 11 years.
Solidarity efforts for these women has been strong. In June 2008 Terrain Dandridge’s conviction was overturned, and she is now free. This past fall, fundraising efforts enabled both Renata Hill and Venice Brown to be released on bail while they await their appeals. Final arguments in the appeal cases of Venice and Patreese were heard on November 14, 2008, and the judge’s decisions on the cases are being awaited. An extension to Renata’s appeal date was granted, due to a successful letter writing campaign. Her new court date was set for November 20th. This court date hearing was pushed back a second time until after winter holiday recess, which gives us more time to send letters in her support to the DA’s office. Her charge of gang assault was overturned on appeal, and Renata along with the NJ4 support campaign is seeking an end to her unjust prosecution through a campaign directed at the New York DA Robert Morgenthau, asking him to drop the remaining charges.
Patreese Johnson and Venice Brown have had their appeals heard on November 14th. The decision has not yet been returned, and it is hard to tell what the outcomes will be. The women ask for our ongoing support, courage, organizing and prayers. We will alert folks as soon as we hear the decision.
To support these women you can donate to cover their incarceration fees. Checks can be sent to Bay Solidarity, P.O. Box 11281, Oakland, CA 94611. Also, our sister Renata is in need of housing, as the system continues to deny her access to basic needs. Until she has housing, she will not have the stability that she very much needs especially in these times of deliberation. Winter is almost upon us, let’s keep each other warm and safe.
Write to Patreese Johnson, who remains inside, to let her know you stand with her; Patreese Johnson #07-G-0685, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 1000, Bedford Hills, NY 10507. You can also send her money or items in prison through the following website, upnorthservices.com.
In the struggle,
Bay NJ 4 Solidarity and Critical Resistance Oakland
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