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This past Mother’s Day, a group of activists, most of them women, gathered outside the Alameda Courthouse in Oakland, Ca. to “call attention to the harm of mass incarceration on generations of Black women, families, and communities,” according to a press release by the California nonprofit Essie Justice Group, which organized the rally.
“The justice group is a loving and powerful community of women with incarcerated loved ones,” describes Essie Justice Group founder and executive director Gina Clayton-Johnson.
“We are the mothers and sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, grandmothers of people who are behind bars. We’re black-led, black-centered, multicultural organizers that believe that a black feminist future in which we end mass incarceration is to everyone’s benefit. And so we are fighting on multiple levels for that reality.”
The Oakland event was part of the “#FreeBlackMamas” annual National Bailout Campaign by the National Bail Out Collective, which coordinates “Mama’s Day Bail Outs,” for Black women incarcerated in pre-trial detention around the country, and of which the Essie Justice Group is a founding member.
The Essie Justice Group has bailed out over a dozen California women at the cost of a whopping $1.9 million—money the group raises itself through large and small donations, and recoups once a case is resolved, allowing them to fund the next bailout. (The National Bail Out campaign has bailed out more than 400 women incarcerated across the country.)