Legal team working on release of Black pregnant mother held for ‘violating’ Stand Your Ground law
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 3/6/2018, 1:52 p.m.
Siwatu-Salama Ra, a 26-year old pregnant, Detroit mother and community leader, has been sentenced to two years in prison, reports the Grio. Last July, while she and her toddler were visiting her mother, Siwatu was confronted by a neighbor. The neighbor allegedly rammed her vehicle into Ra’s car while her two-year old was inside and then tried to use the vehicle to run Siwatu and her mother over. Fearing for their lives, Ra, who is a licensed concealed gun owner, held her weapon in plain sight, hoping it would stop her neighbor from running them over. The weapon was unloaded and no one was hurt. Ra say she had no intention of using the gun. She says all she wanted to do was to protect herself and her family and defend herself without causing injury to another person. Michigan has a specific law, known as the Stand Your Ground law, to protect people who act by using a firearm to defend themselves from another person who they believe is going to cause unlawful harm to them if there is “an honest and reasonable belief that force is imminent.” However, instead of the law working for Ra, it was used against her, reports the Grio’s Patrice Cullors, who is also a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and a fellow at MomsRising.org. Rad was charged by area prosecutors. Before she was sentenced, Ra said, “The prosecutor convinced the jury and judge that I lacked fear and that’s not true. I was so afraid, especially for my toddler and mother. I don’t believe they could imagine a Black woman being scared, only mad.” Ra is now incarcerated. Currently five months pregnant, she is not only fearful of having to serve time but also giving birth while in prison. After already going through one high-risk pregnancy, her doctor warned the judge of the serious health threats she will face while in prison. In the few days since her trial, Ra has already reported that she has not received water after asking for it multiple times. Her legal team is pursuing various tactics, including requesting she be released pending appeal, reversal of the conviction and a commutation and/or pardon. Local Detroit activists that have known the young mother through her environmental justice and youth organizing work for years are demanding the abolition of all mandatory penalties, which remove all discretion by the sentencing judge. This is a developing story.