I have three very different stories of injustice this morning, but all three of them have a common thread – of people abusing their power and privilege. The three stories would seem to be unrelated, but I assure you they aren’t.
First off, I need to give you some important facts and updates about the case of Cyntoia Brown. We often have children listening so I am going to try to break this case down without going into graphic detail – and I need to correct some common misunderstandings about this case.
10 years ago, in the middle of Tennessee, when Cyntoia Brown was just a 16 year old girl, she was a horrible victim of sex trafficking. In a confrontation with a perpetrator, she shot and killed the man to save her own life. Almost completely ignoring the larger facts of the case, and facts about human trafficking and prostitution, Cyntoia was tried as an adult and convicted of first degree murder – and then given life without the possibility of parole.
That was 10 years ago – and over the past year – the injustice of her case and her story has gone viral. And people began feeling like she had a chance to win an appeal because the Supreme Court ruled that giving children Life Without Parole is cruel and unusual punishment – so it is now a banned practice. When that ruling banning Juvenile Life Without Parole came down, the justice reform community was ecstatic, but states, particularly conservative states, started doing something truly gross in response – and Cyntoia’s case is right in the middle of this battle.
Since she was given Juvenile Life Without Parole, her lawyers appealed her case up to the Tennessee Supreme Court, and on Friday, the state said they are giving Cyntoia 51 years in prison, and that since she can be released in 51 years, that no longer counts as juvenile life without parole. Now they know full well that 51 years is a life sentence. Almost no human beings survive 51 years in prison, no matter their age. So it appears at this point that Cyntoia can only be freed in two ways – one is if the Governor pardons her – the other is if the state parole board votes unanimously to commute her sentence. That board is currently split 2-2.
I just want you to know that I am tracking this case and will keep our audience posted on it in the days ahead.
Next, you may have seen an awful video of a one year old baby being ripped from the arms of his mother by the NYPD. It’s absolutely horrendous. That mother, 23 year old Jazmine Headley, is jailed at Rikers right now as we speak. Jazmine Headley is a great mother. She was at the social services offices to renew her childcare benefit. She works full-time and the benefit is what allows her to work. She took the day off of work to renew the benefit. In typical New York fashion, the office was so crowded that no seats were left – forcing her to sit on the floor with her son and wait for her appointment. Several witnesses confirmed this.
The NYPD then demanded that she leave the office simply because she was sitting on the floor. When she explained why she was there and that she took a day off to be there, the officers then got physical and tried to place her under arrest, ripping her baby boy from her arms.
It’s an extreme abuse of power. None of that needed to happen. None of it. I blame the city and the NYPD for this – and Jazmine Headley should be released immediately. Her son, I am told, is currently safe with family, but this is not OK. I am working now to see how we can get Jazmine released from Rikers immediately.
Lastly, I need to update our audience on the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Yesterday, a full transcript taken from the audio of his murder, and translated to English, was released. One, as we already expected, the audio makes clear that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia ordered the murder, it was not an accident, and that it was a premeditated hit squad.
The last words of Jamal Khashoggi, just like the last words of Eric Garner, were “I Can’t Breathe.” And we’ve all heard that Jamal was sawed into pieces by this hit squad, but the audio made clear, that Jamal was still alive when that process started.
The Trump administration has known this now for two months but has continued to protect the Saudi royal family and Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman over this.
Our nation has many scandals brewing, and I know it’s hard to be outraged over everything, but the scandal of Trump & Kushner protecting the Crown Prince over this is one of the biggest, grossest scandals of our lifetime.
I’ve gotta run, but I’m tracking all of these injustices and will keep us posted.