Intersectional Injustice

On August 18, 2006, seven young African American lesbians traveled to New York City from their homes in Newark for a regular night out. When walking down the street, a man sexually propositioned one of the women. After refusing to take no for an answer, he assaulted them. The women tried to defend themselves, and a fight broke out. The women were charged with Gang Assault in the 2nd degree, a Class C Felony with a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years. Patreese Johnson was additionally charged with 1st Degree Assault. Three of the women accepted plea offers. On June 14th, 2007 Venice Brown (19), Terrain Dandridge (20), Patreese Johnson (20), and Renata Hill (24) received sentences ranging from 3 1⁄2 to 11 years in prison. This blog is dedicated to supporting all of the women in this case. We hope to serve as a space for discussing ways we can work with the women and their families to bring them home.

We’d also like to thank all the bloggers, writers, families, and concerned friends who have spread the word about this case. The above description, the images, links, and action items (as well as the title of this blog) draw from all of these sources.

Visit the Organize page for updates!

Organizing Strategies

View recent posts and join the discussion on organizing strategies by checking out the Organize page.

Video Responses

Thanks to LickYourGender for the creating and posting the following videos:


6 responses

12 06 2008
Kimma Walker in the Bay Area « free the new jersey 4

[…] Intersectional Injustice […]

3 10 2008


2 01 2009

This open letter is a response to Lauren Smiley’s “Border Crossers” article written in the SF Weekly November 26. We like to refer to this piece as Boundary Crossers. Here is another example of the predatory tactics of the passive harmdoers who build their carreers on our bodies and twisting up our exeriences.

transgender law center’s open letter to sf weekly’s Lauren Smiley
An Open Letter to the Editors of SF Weekly:
The Transgender Law Center (TLC) and the San Francisco LGBT Community Center are deeply disappointed
by the SF Weekly’s recent sensationalistic story, Border Crossers, by Lauren Smiley. While the author may
have intended to increase awareness of the challenges that transgender immigrants face, we found the article’s
language and framing to be offensive and misleading. By choosing to be titillating rather than informative, the
article fails to address the realities of violence, discrimination, and joblessness that transgender immigrants face
in their home countries and right here in our city.
TLC regularly hears from transgender people throughout the world who are experiencing life-threatening
violence and threats in their home countries. This year, we successfully represented a transgender woman who
was beaten, raped and tortured by the police in Brazil. Far from being an easy case, our client had to overcome
incredible, onerous challenges in her quest to find a safe place to live and work. Against all odds (and after
many months of violence), she was able to stay legally in the United States when she was granted withholding
of removal under the Convention Against Torture. More recently, we received a spate of inquiries from the
Middle East, where transgender people are being imprisoned due to their gender identity. State-sanctioned
violence against transgender people is forcing people to flee their homelands for the hope of a better life in the
United States. Instead of reporting on the chronic violence that transgender people face in many countries, the
SF Weekly chose to use hyper-sexualized images, discuss people’s bodies in intimate detail (referring to one
transgender woman as an “altar to silicone”), condemn sex workers, and misleadingly suggest that some of the
most vulnerable members of society are “milking” the impenetrable U.S. immigration system.
Although the article could have told a story of our immigration laws doing just what they were designed to do –
give asylum to people who are not protected by their home governments – it instead told a sensationalized story
framed by anti-immigrant advocates. The author relies on the “expert opinion” of Dan Stein from the anti-
immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR is notoriously biased against
immigrants and has the distinction of being listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The article also failed to adequately explain the many economic barriers that limit work options for transgender
people in the U.S., resulting in relatively high rates of survival sex in the street economy. TLC’s 2006 report,
Good Jobs Now!, a snapshot of the economic health of San Francisco’s transgender communities, showed an
unemployment rate of 35% among transgender respondents – compared to 4.7% among the general population
at the time. More than 57% of respondents reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace.

More recently, nearly 700 transgender Californians responded to a statewide survey TLC conducted this
summer. The results parallel what we found in 2006 – despite solid education rates, transgender people continue
to be isolated from the workforce at alarming rates. About half of the respondents say they have lost a job or
been denied advancement at work because of their gender identity. Fewer than half are working full time – even
though rates of higher education exceed that of the average Californian. This data reflects what we know to be
an epidemic of un- and underemployment, discrimination and stigmatization impacting far too many
transgender people (and disproportionately impacting transgender women of color). Economic marginalization
demands that community members take creative actions in order to survive; as a result, our 2008 survey found
that about 1 in 5 has experienced homelessness and about 1 in 4 has participated in the street economy.
To improve this sad reality, a handful of social service organizations throughout the city struggle to provide
counseling, housing and healthcare services to transgender people while their budgets are cut by the City, and
San Francisco’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative works hard every day to connect our
community with good jobs even in the midst of economic crises.
There are many stories to be told about the issues facing transgender immigrants. There is a grave need for
California to invest in workforce development for transgender people. There is a grave need for our federal
government to continue granting asylum to survivors of unthinkable torture. There is a grave need for public
education about transgender lives. We urge the SF Weekly to tell these complex stories through more balanced
investigative reporting, rather than relying on sensationalist, tabloid-style journalism. To this end, we invite the
editors and author to meet with transgender community leaders and members, especially those from the Bay
Area’s Latina community, to better understand the real lives of transgender San Franciscans and immigrants.

Masen Davis Rebecca Rolfe
Executive Director Executive Director
Transgender Law Center San Francisco LGBT Community Center

Transgender Law Center The Center
870 Market Street #823 1800 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102 San Francisco, CA 94102
415-865-0176 phone (415) 865-5555 phone
877-847-1278 fax (415) 865-5501 fax

30 09 2009
The Fire This Time « Lil Miss Hot Mess

[…] of a friend is working on a documentary about the NJ4 — a group of black dykes who were harassed and assaulted by a man in NYC and then arrested on bullshit charges of assault and gang violence.  This all […]

12 10 2012
Film Review: Criminal Queers | Threads

[…] The New Jersey Four […]

13 08 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder’s Proposed Federal Criminal Justice Policy Changes | Tasasha HendersonTasasha Henderson

[…] women who are imprisoned for murdering their abusive husbands, women like CeCe McDonald an the New Jersey 4 who were imprisoned for defending themselves against racist and homophobic attacks, people who […]

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