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Celebrities Are Calling For Chrystul Kizer’s Prison Release — Here’s Why

January 02, 2020DMT Beauty

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KENOSHA, WISCONSIN – NOVEMBER 13: Chrystul Kizer is pictured during a hearing in the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 15, 2019. Her lawyers, public defenders Larisa Vargas Benitez-Morgan, left, and Carl Johnson talk during the hearing. Kizer was 16 years old when she met Randal P. Volar III, 33, at a bus stop. He offered to give her a ride home, then got her number. The next time they met, according to Chrystul, he took her to dinner and shopping then made clear what he expected in return. For two years, Volar regularly engaged in sexual abuse of Chrystul, and without her knowing it, filmed their interactions. Little did she know, Volar was under investigation by local police for abusing and filming many more girls but they had not yet arrested him. One night, after resisting his advances, Chrystul shot Volar in the head. She lit his house on fire and fled in his car. After posting about the crime on Facebook Live, she was arrested and charged with his murder. Now, her case is at the center of a nationwide debate, taking place in the post Me Too era, about what it means to be a victim, which women are believed, and who should be held accountable. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of supporters, including some well-known activists and celebrities, are rallying behind and demanding the release of Chrystul Kizer. The young Wisconsin woman was 17 when she was arrested and charged with killing her alleged sex trafficker, Randall Volar. At the time of his death, 34-year-old Volar was under active investigation for charges of child pornography and human trafficking. Although the district attorney of Kenosha, WI has electronic evidence — including videos — of Volar abusing Kizer and other Black girls, the now-19-year-old still faces charges of homicide and a possible sentence of life in prison.

According to The Washington Post, more than 90,000 people have signed a petition arguing that she acted in self-defense and that all charges against her should be dropped. 

“The punishment that Chrystul is facing for defending her own life signals that Black women and girls have no selves to defend,” reads the petition page. “Right now Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley has the power to drop all charges against Chrystul immediately. We are urging Graveley to do the right thing and drop all charges now so that instead of enduring more violence, Chrystul’s healing can begin with her family and community.” 

Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, shared Kizer’s story on Instagram and urged her followers to sign the petition. 

“The case of #ChrystulKizer requires our attention *before* she is convicted and given a life sentence,” Burke said. “I will keep you updated as we have more information about how to support Chrystul, but for now share her story and the stories of others like her and sign the petition launched by @colorofchange to have all charges dropped.”

Actor-activist Alyssa Milano also described Kizer’s case as “appalling” and tagged Kim Kardashian in her tweet. Milano, who is strong advocate of the #MeToo movement, hopes to bring awareness to Kizer’s case in the same way that celebrities recently called for the release of Rodney Reed.

Tagging Kardashian was certainly an effort to bring visibility to Kizer’s case — and this wouldn’t be the first time the reality star spoke out about incarcerated women. Kardashian helped bring visibility and legal resources to the case of Cyntoia Brown-Long, who served 15 years in prison for the murder of the 43-year-old man who trafficked her when she was 16. Brown-Long was still tried as an adult and sentenced to 60 years, with the requirement that she serve 51 before being eligible for parole. But just last year year, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted clemency to Brown-Long, and Kardashian publicly thanked him on Twitter.

Brown-Long herself has come out in support of Kizer. In December, she posted a photo wearing a hoodie that read: “Justice 4 Chrystul Kizer.” And in her first op-ed since being released, Brown-Long defended Kizer and critiqued the criminal justice system for failing victims like her. 

“There can be great power in putting a name and a face to injustice. When we hear a person’s story, it becomes that much easier for us to put ourselves in their shoes, to empathize — and to mobilize,” Brown-Long wrote. “But how we respond determines whether the faces we see can serve as representation for the ones we don’t. For every name we know — for every #freecyntoiabrown campaign — there are countless others who will never be heard. Unless we work to change the laws behind the injustices, identical injustices will follow.”

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Mekita Rivas, Khareem Sudlow

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