[Ppnews] SF Women Rally to Support Incarcerated NJ Lesbians of Color

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 28 15:14:07 EDT 2008

SF Women Rally to Support Incarcerated NJ Lesbians of Color

by Kilian Melloy
EDGE Contributor
Thursday Aug 28, 2008

Dr. Angela Davis spoke at a San Francisco rally in support of a

Dr. Angela Davis spoke at a San Francisco rally 
in support of a group of lesbians of color in New York
Lesbians in San Francisco came together to 
support on of their own, a New Jersey woman they 
believed to have been wrongfully imprisoned 
following an assault in New York’s West Village.

In a Jul. 18 article, the 
Bayview Newspaper recounted one version of what 
took place on a fateful evening in 2006.

The newspaper account said that a group of young 
lesbian women were walking in the West Village 
when they encountered a young man named Dwayne Buckle.

Buckle reportedly propositioned one of the women, 
Patreese Johnson, whom the account described as 
standing 4’11" in height. The 29-year old Buckle 
was quoted as saying to Johnson, "Let me get some of that."

Thinking Buckle was talking about her soda, 
Johnson offered it to the man, only for him to 
rephrase: "I’ll fuck you straight, sweetheart" he 
reportedly told the young lesbian woman.

At that point, the account said, the group of 
women--Johnson and her six friends, Venice Brown, 
Khamysha Coates, Terrain Dandridge, Lania 
Daniels, Renata Hill, and Chenese Loyal--began walking away from Buckle.

Buckle, however, began following the group. One 
of the young women, identified in the article as 
Johnson’s girlfriend, made a disparaging remark 
about Buckles’ shoes; Buckles subsequently 
grabbed one of the women and bore her down to the 
pavement, an action the article said had been 
documented by a nearby surveillance camera that 
also caught Buckles yanking a fistful of hair out of her scalp.

Further details were offered at a 
<http://www.amyewinter.net/nj4/>Web site in 
support of the women, including the fact that the 
group of friends had been acquainted with another 
young woman, Sakia Gunn, who was killed by two 
young men who had initially harassed her verbally 
before physically attacking her.

As Buckle fought with Hill and another of the 
women, Johnson produced a pocket knife to 
discourage Buckle’s attack. At this point, the 
surveillance recordings show, three other men 
becoming involved in the fracas, with one of the 
men allegedly carrying a knife of his own. Buckle 
was stabbed in the ensuing scuffle, suffering 
lacerations to his liver and spleen.

Johnson’s knife was not tested for DNA to confirm 
later claims that it had been the weapon used in 
the stabbing; nor were the three men who 
intervened questioned. Buckles himself initially 
confirmed that one of the other men had stabbed 
him, but then changed his story and claimed that 
it was one of the women who had given him the wound.

Buckle was quoted as telling the papers, "All I 
said was, ’Excuse me, how are you doing?’"

Added Buckles, "I thought it was the natural thing to do."

The media then took off with the story, the 
account said, with print publications referring 
to the women as "Killer Lesbians" and saying that 
the group was "howling" as they assaulted Buckles.

Right-wing Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly 
also picked up on the story, saying that the 
women had been "roving" when they encountered Buckles.

Despite the video evidence, the seven women were 
taken into custody, confined in a facility at 
Rikers Island, and charged with third degree 
assault and attempted murder, the article reported.

The account also related that attempts were made 
to coax the women into providing a statement, on 
the promise that if they did so they would be released.

The women refused. Coates, Daniels, and Loyal 
entered pleas of not guilty, and were sentenced 
to five years’ probation; the remaining four 
women remained incarcerated, and became known as the New Jersey Four, or NJ4.

Of the four women who were sentenced to jail 
time, Dandridge received the lightest 
sentence--because, the article suggested, she 
seemed the most compliant with the charges brought against the group.

Dandridge’s conviction was overruled on appeal, 
as was Hill’s; Hill, Johnson, and Brown remain in 
jail, with Hill required to stand trial once more 
and the other two also scheduled for appeals trials.

Dandridge, however, went free, and the following 
day, June 24 of this year, flew to San Francisco 
to meet with her West Coast supporters.

At a June 24 event at the Women’s Building in 
support of the seven women, former Black Panther 
and noted speaker Dr. Angela Davis denounced the 
sensationalistic language the news media had used 
in reporting the incident, particularly the 
characterization made by Bill O’Reilly that the young women were "roving."

Said Dr. Davis, "It’s degrading to animals and to 
human beings to use it in that way."

In other speeches, Dr. Davis has noted other 
instances of what she characterizes as 
institutional abuses of people of color in the U.S. penal system.

The NJ4 received further support from Bay Area 
Solidarity, a grassroots organization, at the 
annual San Francisco Trans March and the Dyke 
March, both of which took place later the same week.

Dandridge herself spoke at the June 24 rally, the 
account said, reading a poem in which she offered 
forgiveness to Buckles as well as to the justice 
system. Read Dandridge, "But I’ve got one better, 
I’ma still pray for you," the article said.

Davis linked the attack and the media’s alleged 
reversal of events and actions to racism, sexism, 
and homophobia, saying, "This is 2008, and when 
we think about racism we cannot imagine it as 
being un-gendered; we cannot imagine it as being unsexed."

Davis questioned the way the story was handled in 
terms of the race of those involved. "Because 
[Buckles] was [also] Black, you may not think of 
this as a racist assault, but I want to talk this 
evening about expanding our notion of racism," said Davis.

"I want to talk about the structural 
characteristics of racism and homophobia and misogyny," she continued.

"And I say this because there is no institutional 
mode of resisting homophobic attacks; there is no place to turn."

Because she saw incipient racism in the 
institutions that dealt with the case, Davis 
encouraged the crowd at the June 24 rally to 
become involved in changing the culture at large, 
in part by creating an education Web site, the 
article said, and to contact the relevant 
officials as well as by sending letters and 
contributions to the still-incarcerated Brown, Hill, and Johnson.

The article provided several addresses:

Renata Hill, #6000800726, Rose M. Singer Center 
(RMSC), 19-19 Hazen St., East Elmhurst, NY 11370

Patreese Johnson, #07-G-0635, Bedford Hills 
Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 1000, Bedford Hills, NY 10507

Venice Brown, #07-G-0640, Albion Correctional 
Facility, 3595 State School Road, Albion, NY 14411-9399

A sample letter and other information is 
available at 
or also at 
Further information can also be obtained by 
sending an email to freenj4@ yahoo.com

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, 
and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he 
also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

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