Last June, my friend Wriply Bennet was thrown to the ground, maced and violently arrested at the Columbus Pride Festival after locking arms with three other Black trans and queer activists in a silent protest for Black lives.
Now a judge could punish Wriply for her protest with 10 months in jail. As her movement family, we can’t let this happen.
A two-time Trans Day of Resilience artist, Wriply uses her work to celebrate the beauty and power of her Black trans siblings. In her 2015 TDOR collaboration with Black Lives Matter, Wriply related her own life to that of India Clarke, a Black trans woman who was murdered in Florida. Her piece so clearly expresses the reality of being trans: always aware of the death of our siblings and wanting to honor them with our own lives.
The Black Pride 4 intended to block the Columbus Pride parade with seven minutes of silence—for each of the seven shots that killed Philando Castile, and for the fourteen Black trans women murdered in the first half of 2017. Pride was a march started by trans women of color in solidarity with incarcerated people – but as police took Wriply away in handcuffs, white parade attendees cheered and clapped.
Black activists are branded as criminals and terrorists for refusing to accept injustice. Black trans women in Columbus are living in isolation, targeted by both anti-Black racism and anti-trans oppression. Letting Columbus persecute Wriply and the Black Pride 4 for their peaceful protest could set a dangerous precedent in already dangerous times. We must act now.
The Black Pride 4 legal team has told us messages of support really can make a difference in court. But I also hope your messages will lift Wriply’s spirits in her hour of need. Wriply has shown up for so many of her Black trans sisters. Now it’s time for us to show up for her and all the Black trans women fighting on the frontlines of our movements.
Add your name: Wriply must not face jail time for defending Black lives.
Join the #BlackPride4 Day of Action on Monday, March 12.