My name is Marcia Olivo. Last Thursday, I was arrested with seven members of the Dream Defenders at the Department of Justice’s offices in Miami after we refused to leave the lobby.
We were there to protest the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, but also the death of Israel “Reefa” Hernandez in Miami, both at the hands of police officers. I was also there for my own kids. As an immigrant from the Dominican Republic with a son in middle school, another in fourth grad, and a nephew I helped to raise in college, I could have been Michael Brown’s, Israel Hernandez’s or Trayvon Martin’s mother. That’s why I insisted on being a part of this civil disobedience. That’s why I risked arrest. I was one spunky, loud, native-Spanish-speaking, hurting woman joining a rambunctious and overwhelmingly college-age and younger crowd, together reclaiming our integrity and dignity. Participating in that action was my moral responsibility to my children, and the children of other women who suffer as direct and indirect victims of police brutality and state violence. As a mother of three black boys, I live in fear of the possibility that they may become victims of police brutality in this country. As a woman who has worked with and for survivors of domestic violence, I feel the need to stand with other women who have to endure violence from our decision to have or not to have children and then again to keep them alive and healthy.
Women are not only mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, girlfriends or friends of the male victims of police brutality, we are also direct victims of police abuse as well. Countless undocumented women are victimized for simply working, driving a car to get to their workplace or to take their children to school, or even seeking help in situations of domestic violence because of their legal status. Women are the number-one growing prison population. I am part of a group of women in Florida who are saying enough is enough, who have come together to form a network of women of color leaders, to work together on solutions that will allow us and our children to fully participate in every opportunity and aspect of society including civic participation, economic security and reproductive health. Central to this are concerns over safety and protection of our reproductive rights: safety for ourselves, our bodies, and our children’s future and protection to our rights to have children and to raise them in safe and healthy environment or not to have them.
My name is Daniela Saczek. Before I could even cry, scream or process the murder of Michael Brown, my body went into autopilot to organize a response and a call for justice.
I did so because, as a 23-year-old college graduate growing up in a low-income immigrant neighborhood, life taught me that police represent threats to the well-being of black and brown communities every day. But also as a young feminist I believe that is time for the feminist movement in the US to connect the dots by raising the visibility of the issues impacting the lives of poor women of color. The killing of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Israel “Reefa” Hernandez and many more is a violation of women’s reproductive rights.
Reproductive justice emphasizes women’s deep contributions to the family, the community, all work, and every important aspect of life. It’s a perspective that realizes that nothing happens in a vacuum, and as a woman I am connected to the death of Mike Brown and other youths whose dreams and futures have been brutally taken. That could be my brother, neighbor, friend, boyfriend. How am I supposed to feel safe when I know any interaction with the police can quickly escalate to violence? How is anyone to rely on the cops to “protect and serve” when they are the same people responsible for so many deaths?
Despite our age difference we stand together as women, to fight injustices, and to take action to end the racial and gender-based violence in our lives, our bodies and our communities. We will continue to respond to the call for leadership in holding the police accountable for the crimes they perpetuate on our black and brown brothers and on all people of color.To learn more about Marcia’s and Daniela’s story, check out the Storify!