If You Don't Serve Justice, We Will and We Did #RecallPersky

Hearing the slap-in-the-victims-face sentence Judge Aaron Persky gave Brock Turner after a jury convicted him of raping an unconscious college girl was triggering for me. It brought me back to 2010 when the teacher who molested my daughter (and two other students) plea-bargained for a sentence of 3 years and 8 months, only having to serve half his sentence. Twenty-two months for molesting three 8-year-olds doesn’t even begin to sound like justice.

I lost all faith in our criminal justice system when I read that Brock Turner will serve only 3 months for raping a girl while she laid on the ground with her face dragging across the asphalt and pine needles. I sobbed as I read the twelve-page victim impact statement from Emily Doe at the sentencing of her rapist.

I was sad and angry, and knew I had to do something, so I took to social media as usual. I don’t have a huge number of followers so a lot of the time if feels like I am just talking to myself. I never know if I am making a difference, but I cannot remain silent in times of injustice. One of my favorite quotes that inspires me is “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” by Desmond Tutu.  

I went searching for others who were as outraged as I was and ready to take action. I was surprised to find that Michele Dauber, the woman leading the charge was a Stanford Professor, after all Brock Turner was a Stanford student and athlete and this privilege is exactly why Judge Aaron Persky gave him just a slap on the wrist. Michele’s daughter is a friend of Emily Doe, but I believe Michele would have fought just as hard for any other woman in the same situation.

I reached out to her and asked how I can help and if she thought about organizing a march. Apparently, there were tons of like-minded people who had done the same and so a movement was created. Petitions were sent out to gather signatures and a march was planned. I posted all over social media and we kept the momentum going for awhile, but you know how the news cycle is, here today, gone tomorrow.

In San Diego, we have a Mom Facebook group that has over 9,000 moms. You are not allowed to post anything political and most of the posts are about every day life, nothing too deep. I thought it might get removed but I just had to take a shot at posting the request for people to sign the petition to get the recall on the ballot. In June of 2016, I posted this to the San Diego Moms Facebook group:

Mamas, I'm begging you! Please don't scroll pass this and not take action. There's no such thing as other people's kids. We're all in this together.

Please don't think this has nothing to do with you. This absolutely has consequences for you/all of us to pay in the long run as human beings.

This is happening daily on our college campuses. We need to rally behind this girl and let the entire world we won't stand for this anymore. Because it's not just this girl. It's for everyone that is taken advantage of by someone who thinks they have a right to someone else's body. Nobody does, I don't care how drunk you are or anything else, nobody has a right to do this to you, your sister, your friends, your mom, your daughter, your aunt, a perfect stranger.

This must be stopped. This judge needs to go down. This family needs to learn not to raise entitled kids who do not pay for their mistakes. This boy needs to learn how to treat women. How to have self-respect.

This is also about our justice system. The jury found him guilty. The jury suggested a sentence. The judge took it upon himself to not even listen to the jury. What does that say to all of those who take time out of their lives to be on a jury? What does it say about our justice system period? It's fucked up and I'm not going to be quiet about it.

#RemoveJudgeAaronPersky send #BrockTurner to prison for 14 years.

To my surprise, my post didn’t get removed and it garnered a lot of likes and comments. The mamas were outraged and signed the petition. Today, I woke up to this message that someone took the time to find my original post from two years ago to say thank you to me. I was pleasantly surprised and honestly forgot I ever wrote that particular post because I write so many posts like that. It restored my belief that one person can make a difference and that I wasn’t wasting my time, people were listening.

my recall persky post.JPG

 

In September 2016, I flew to San Jose to march in protest that Brock Turner was being released from prison. Of course, they let the rapist out before dawn, with heavy security, he jumped into a black suv and drove off a free man. He probably went to have a steak somewhere, since his dad felt he was so deprived of that luxury while in his cushy secure jail cell, safe from the vigilantes the public likes to believe will serve justice.

At the march, I made a new friend from my home town. I didn’t know it at the time, but she is rape victim herself. She drove all the way from San Diego to San Jose alone to protest. I can’t imagine the rage that fueled her to make that drive. We have remained friends and I bared witness when the time came for her to read her own victim impact statement and face her rapist in court. Her rapist was sentenced to fifty-five years to life. I believe there is no amount of time long enough to make up for raping someone but that is a much more appropriate sentence than six months.

Two years passed between the media frenzy of Brock Turner and the election that would determine the fate of Judge Persky. I was worried the outrage would be gone and people would forget. The news is exhausting with daily roller coaster rides, so I can understand how people would forget, especially if they don’t live in Santa Clara County and aren’t able to vote on the recall. The judge claimed it was not wise to let the public decide when justice has been served. Then what is the point of a jury? No, Mr. Persky, it is not wise to let one man decide a convicted felon doesn’t have to pay the appropriate consequence for his crime. Wealthy friends of Judge Persky spent millions of dollars on ad campaigns to try to stop the recall. I was worried money would win the election again. I was afraid to open my laptop this morning.

I cried when I saw the news that our campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky was successful. There hasn’t been a judge recalled in the state of California for 86 years, but we did it! Although I wasn’t able to vote because I don’t live in Santa Clara county, I know I helped by speaking up and sharing. I have a renewed sense of determination. My tanks have been refilled, I can keep going in my fight to seek justice for victims.

Ashleigh Banfield of CNN with Christy Heiskala, Victim Advocate #RecallPersky march 

Ashleigh Banfield of CNN with Christy Heiskala, Victim Advocate #RecallPersky march