[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
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 Yorks 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 411" 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: "Ill 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
Johnsons 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 Buckles 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.
Johnsons 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 OReilly
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.
Dandridges conviction was overruled on appeal,
as was Hills; 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 Womens 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 OReilly that the young women were "roving."
Said Dr. Davis, "Its 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 Ive got one better,
Ima still pray for you," the article said.
Davis linked the attack and the medias 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
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.
Copyright © 2003-2008
EDGE Publications, Inc. / All Rights Reserved
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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