Action Alert: Things You Can Do to Advance the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act!

New York State is poised to become the first state in the nation to effect justice for domestic violence survivors who, in defending themselves from abuse and violence, hurt or kill their abusers. The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (A.4409) would allow judges to factor in a survivor’s self-defense and domestic abuse in sentencing. Sponsored by NY Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry and Senator Roxanne Persaud, the bill has already passed in the Assembly. It now needs to be passed in the Senate in order to move forward. Community support can make this happen — can you help??

The facts:

75% of women in NY’s prisons suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner during adulthood. The NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision found that 67% of women sent to prison in 2005 for killing someone close to them were abused by the victim of their crime.

And yet all too often, the criminal justice system’s response to DV survivors who act to protect themselves from an abuser’s violence is to send them to prison, often for many years. This represents a shameful miscarriage of justice. Instead of giving survivors who have suffered life-shattering abuse compassion and assistance, we give them harsh punishment and prison.

The DVSJA allows judges to sentence domestic violence survivors convicted of offenses caused by that violence to shorter sentences or to alternative-to-incarceration programs instead of prison at their discretion. It also gives survivors sentenced prior to the law’s enactment the opportunity to apply for resentencing.

What you can do:

1. As an Organization— Send a letter of organizational support by drafting a letter on your group’s letterhead and emailing it to Please feel free to adopt any of this text as a template. For more information, please call Gail Smith at 646-539-5931 or Anisah Sabur at 212-254-5700 ext. 344 (both of the Correctional Association’s Women in Prison Project).

2. As an Individual–Call (use this talking points memo) and write (using this individual support letter) to let your elected officials know you support this bill! Look up your Senator here if you aren’t sure.

3. Invite other individuals and organizations in your networks to lend support to this bill.

4. Follow The Correctional Association on Facebook to keep informed of updates

5. Read and share this report by the Correctional Association’s Women in Prison Project &
Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law school: From Protection to Punishment: Post-Conviction Barriers to Justice for Domestic Violence Survivor-Defendants in New York State.

Members of the Correctional Association will be lobbying in March 2017 so taking action soon will make a difference, especially support from folks living in Upstate New York and on Long Island!

Thank you for your support of this legislation that, if passed, could provide an invaluable chance for survivors to return to or stay with their families and community support systems while they try to heal.

Join Us to Send Some Holiday Love to Queer Folks in Prison! 12/15/16

flyer-draft-3-thursday-updateFor the Birds is honored to host our second annual Black and Pink holiday card making party for LGBTQ folks in prison!

December 15th from 7 to 9 pm @ the National Lawyers Guild National Office. 132 Nassau St, Suite 922.

Cards and addresses are provided, as long as all the art supplies you need to make your cards look festive!  Holidays can always be hard, but especially if you are locked inside away from your community. Sending any kind of mail to people in prison can make a concrete contribution to their safety as well, as mail calls are usually public and your mail tells guards and other inmates that the recipient of your card has support and people who care on the outside. This event offers a very easy way that you can push back against the dehumanization of the prison industrial complex, which impacts queer folks particularly hard. We will also be collecting book donations for Books Through Bars (check out the list of what they need most).  More details on our FB event page, hope to see folks there!


#FreeBresha: Days of Action for Bresha Meadows on October 5-6, 2016

Fourteen-year-old Bresha Meadows currently incarcerated in the Trumbull County Juvenille Detention Center in Ohio. She is facing a charge of aggravated murder for defending herself and family against her abusive father, who had physically and verbally terrorized Bresha, her mother, and sisters for years.  Organizers have learned that she was recently placed on suicide watch, so rallying support for her is crucial.


Bresha’s case also matters because it is part of a larger pattern in which women who commit crimes in the act of defending themselves from abuse are prosecuted and incarcerated for doing so, with little consideration for the failures of larger systems and communities to protect them. Survivors are thus doubly punished: first by the abuse they endure and secondly as they attempt to push back against it.


“The incarceration of Bresha Meadows serves no one. Bresha is not a threat to herself, family or community.  Instead, it perpetuates the violence against Black women and girls that is inflicted at both the state and interpersonal levels every day. The state failed to protect Bresha. Now, it has chosen to criminalize her. In doing so, it also has chosen to exacerbate the suffering her family already has endured, as they now are separated from their daughter, sister, and niece and must prepare to defend Bresha’s life.”


Here’s a list of ways you can intervene to help Bresha and her family:


SIGN the petition to demand that Trumbull County Prosecutor, Dennis Watkins, drop the charges against Bresha and free her now.bresha meadows

WRITE letters of encouragement and support to Bresha and send to:
Bresha Meadows, c/o Ian N. Friedman, Esq.,
Friedman & Nemecek, L.L.C., The IMG Center,
1360 E. 9th Street, Suite 650, Cleveland, Ohio 44114


JOIN the “Open Letter to Dennis Watkins” project. Send an open letter to Prosecutor Dennis Watkins, who has the discretion to decide to drop charges against Bresha.


DONATE to the fund to support Bresha Meadows’ freedom and help her family.


ENDORSE the call to free Bresha Meadows. Urge your campus, organization, union, faith community, or collective to endorse the statement posted by Love & Protect.


And most importantly, join the movement to EDUCATE communities about the criminalization of black girls and survivors of domestic violence! Organize discussions and workshops about domestic and sexual violence, explore community strategies for safety and support, resist the criminalization of our communities. Use the hashtag #FreeBresha in social media posts to amplify your message.
Educational Resources:
#FreeBresha curriculum template
*  fact sheet on domestic violence and the criminalization of girls
* educational tools at survivedandpunished.organd No Selves to Defend

NYC Events:

October 5 — CONNECT Healing Drumming Circle — 6 to 8 pm — 127 W. 127th St. Ste. 432, Harlem, NY 10027

October 6 – BMCC Teach-In and Letter Writing Event – Noon to 3 pm — Borough of Manhattan Community College Cafeteria, 199 Chambers Street (2nd Floor)

October 6 — #FreeBresha Community Dinner — 6 to 7 pm — Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), 30 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY, 11217

FLOCK TOGETHER with us!! Now Accepting New Members

Flying V

For the Birds is a feminist collective organizing in NYC since 2008. Over the years we have loved reinventing ourselves through the addition of new members, and it’s that time again! We are a member-driven group using consensus and inter-group support to engage with feminism together.


For the Birds is a NYC-based feminist collective working to combat social inequality and challenge all forms of oppression through an intersectional feminist analysis of power both within our collective and in our larger society.


As a collective we value collaboration, shared knowledge, self-expression, and meaningful communication. We seek to combat transphobia, sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, capitalism and other forms of oppression, and to reflect on our own privileges. Our activism emphasizes the need for accessibility, safer spaces, and support within our communities.

Interested in joining the flock and live in the NYC area? Take a look at our new member questionnaire to learn more about our collective and share some information about yourself!

Marissa Alexander Accepted a Plea Deal, What’s Next for the Movement?


Image created by Jennifer Kernica of Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander.

On Monday November 24th, Marissa accepted a plea deal with the State of Florida, to serve 3 years in prison for 3 counts of aggravated assault.  Because the 1030 days she had already spent in prison could be applied to this sentence, she was taken into custody in November 2014 to serve the remaining 65 days.  The deal also carries two years of probation while serving house detention and wearing a monitor.

The plea offer came shortly after the judge agreed to allow testimony from several of Rico Gray’s exes, who each shared evidence that he was a serial abuser.  It is believed that this exposure of his pattern of abuse is what prompted the state to offer Marissa a plea deal that would drastically shorten her sentence.

At Marissa’s upcoming hearing on January 27th, there is a possibility that she will be sentenced to an additional 5 years in prison because the second count of aggravated assault remains “open.”  However, all parties have been instructed not to comment on the case until that hearing, so information on this has been scarce.

For the Birds was able to raise over $400 for Marissa’s legal expenses, in preparation for her expected trial.  However, Marissa will still need financial support in the years to come, as she has been prevented from working to support her 3 children.  We will continue to sell t-shirts as long as we have stock, and the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Now webstore remains open.

For the Birds stands firmly with other Marissa organizers to unequivocally support Marissa for making the decision she felt she needed to make to protect her life and her family from a looming 60 year jail sentence.  However, the sickness of the justice system is clear when survivors of domestic violence are forced to plead “guilty” to actions performed in self defense.

Alisa Bierria of the Free Marissa Now mobilization campaign said:  “The plea deal is a relief in some ways, but this is far from a victory. The deal will help Marissa and her family avoid yet another very expensive and emotionally exhausting trial that could have led to the devastating ruling of spending the rest of her life in prison….we have always believed that forcing Marissa to serve even one day in prison represents a profound and systemic attack on black women’s right to exist and all women’s right to self-defense.

We will not stop organizing until Marissa Alexander is free!” said Aleta Alston Toure, a Free Marissa Now lead organizer based in Jacksonville.  “During the next 65 days, we must continue to use the attention we’ve brought to Marissa’s case to highlight the broader ongoing crisis of mass incarceration, police violence, and prosecutorial abuse.  There are thousands of Marissa Alexanders still behind bars, still facing devastating prison sentences, and still being threatened in their own homes.  We must stay the course, spread the word, and change the system until all of our sisters are free.

As we join the national outcry against police and legal systems functioning under a clear “logic of anti-blackness”, we must acknowledge that the community building essential to the creation of a more just future have been going on for decades.  Consider donating to groups such as INCITE! Women Against Violence, Critical Resistance, or The Audre Lorde Project.  Get educated on the historical analysis of the relationship between the prison industrial complex and women of color (selected titles below).  If you are white, step up and have those tough conversations with your families, your friends, so that people of color don’t always have to be the teachers.  For the Birds will continue to engage in feminist struggles against racial injustice, in its many pervasive forms.

Reading List:

Locked Down, Locked Out by Maya Schenwar

Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women by Vikki Law

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

The Color of Violence: the INCITE! Anthology by the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Collective

October Update


UPDATE, 10/21: The #FreeMarissa t-shirts are available now! Order yours here. All proceeds go to Marissa Alexander’s legal defense. These shirts were hand-screened with love by our collective in a small Brooklyn apartment—and each is unique! Check out our store and get yours while the getting’s good!

It’s been a while! As a collective we’ve been working mainly offline over the past few months, but we are excited to unveil our latest project: Justice for Marissa t-shirts. We hand screened these last night and will be selling them to help raise funds for Marissa Alexander’s legal defense. Stay tuned for details on how you can purchase one (or more) soon.

Also, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We recently attended “Prison is a form of violence against women,” a panel discussion on women’s prison issues with Cecily McMillan, Amy Meacham and Sharon Richardson, moderated by Victoria Law. There we learned about the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA), a bill in New York state that seeks to establish more compassionate sentencing guidelines for domestic violence survivors and provide DV survivors currently in prison the opportunity to apply to the courts for re-sentencing, granting much-deserved relief for incarcerated survivors who pose no threat to public safety. You can read more about the act here, and if you live in New York, you can help advocates pass the DVSJA by signing this letter.

October is also the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration. 75% of women in New York state prisons suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner during adulthood. 67% of women sent to prison in 2005 in New York state for killing someone close to them were abused by the victim of their crime. The Free Marissa Now campaign is making connections between domestic violence and mass incarceration with its October action. You can download this brochure and circulate it to raise awareness about Marissa Alexander’s case and the links between domestic violence and state violence.

ShinetheLight2014[1]Finally, there will be a Domestic Violence Awareness walk next week in Harlem, on October 27th at 5:30pm. For more information call 646-422-3100 or email at

We’ll have info about purchasing t-shirts up very soon. In the meantime, check out and the #freemarissa hashtag on Twitter for updates on the case and more ways to help.


Checking In on Collective Process: An FTB Update

Over the past few months we’ve been in a period of exploration; looking inward to reconnect with each other and with our feminist selves.  We began with a wish to expand our focus through and beyond punk cultural feminism to create a more expansive praxis of our intersectional, social justice model of feminism.  But the needs are endless and the matrix of oppression feels ubiquitous.  The choice of what frontline* we can most effectively claim requires thorough examination of both ourselves (including our privileges) and of the circumstances in which we are organizing. It’s also required that we get real about our capacities and reconnect with our desires and feminist imaginations.

Within our current context of late neoliberal capitalism, marked by a relentless demand for the professionalization of Self, to always be improving oneself as a worker to compete for limited resources in a climate of precarity and extreme anxiety around financial survival and debt, we have become exhausted.  Our web presence has slowed within this context; as we’ve struggled with the imperative to produce online media content that is at once social and non-social; productive, and ephemeral.  We are grappling with the dual truths that important feminist dialogues are occurring over the internet every day and also that blogging is work (even a full time job for some of us).  We are looking for ways to engage in feminist process that feel more productive to us in this moment; to help bridge us to new forms of empowered community action.  We are learning how to care for ourselves both alongside of and as part of our vision of social justice, and this is no simple project in a patriarchal culture that seeks to silence our needs and constantly dehumanize us.

The Institute for Precarious Consciousness asserts that the dominant affect, or lived experience of these times is anxiety.  Anxiety paralyzes us into worry about “what ifs” and avoidance of risk at all costs to empowerment and autonomy.  Anxiety moves us even at times to dissociate and lose skill in being able to articulate our own traumas or to bear witness to the traumas of others.  Our collective has moved to focus inward, through longer, intimate discussions where authentic communication defines our project of trying to hold a safer space for each other.  This holding, for us, has been deeply regulating; producing security and trust in the face of destabilization.  Four members currently remain, and our survival as a feminist entity depends upon this process.  Print

Our web presence will likely remain less active as we embark on a larger journey of connection with other feminist groups and individuals; seeking to archive, understand, and make connections between other groups struggling to maintain momentum.  Through an analysis of the web of power that seeks to make us doubt ourselves, seeks to drain and demoralize us, and relies on our acceptance of cynical immobilization to keep us effectively policed and contained, we hope to uncover an updated logic of resistance.  A logic that speaks to where we are now and where we need to go.

Our website will remain as a bookmark to hold and display the work we’ve done so far.  Please get in touch if you have thoughts or would like to dialogue with us about similar struggles you’re having as an individual or in a group to build sustainable feminist networks; we’d love to hear from you.
*(For more about frontlines, check out the amazing zine Organizing Cools the Planet).

The Dirty 100: Get the Facts

birth controlMedia outlets from Colorlines to the National Organization for Women have been talking about the supreme court case which began today between Hobby Lobby and 99 other for-profit employers and the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers not restrict women’s access to birth control on religious grounds.  We’re also watching closely, because the decision on this case could have implications beyond just birth control access (think: STI treatment, HPV vaccines, mental health care, maternity leave, HIV treatments, and any other health care need that could be argued to conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs).

Check out the Guttmacher Institute analysis of the case and this Talking Points Memo which provides all the facts at a glance.  Protests are happening across the country. Here’s a list of ways to take action on this case, and also check out NOW’s #Iheartbc hashtag to stay updated and join the conversation.



UP YOURS Fest 2014:: All the Details

1509840_746677812026863_1164788360_nOur fabulous intern, Stephanie, attends SUNY Purchase and is throwing this amazing feminist music fest on February 22nd with FORTH (Feminists Organizing for Real Transformation Here) at The Stood in Purchase, NY from 5pm-midnight. We are SO excited to be presenting a short workshop on feminist organizing and communication, as well as tabling with our distro and networking with rad Purchase feminists:

“FORTH will put on a festival… that will utilize ART, MUSIC, WORKSHOPS, COMMUNICATION, and FUN to CELEBRATE female identifying // non cis male identifying folks. We strive for more inclusive, intersectional, and safer environments, and feel the use of ART, MUSIC, WORKSHOPS, and COLLABORATION will help to foster these safer environments, free of structural inequity and oppression.”

UP YOURS will feature music from:
Aye Nako
Downtown Boys
Nine of Swords
Evil Sword
Whatever, Dad
Jawbreaker Reunion
Vanessa Grasing

Workshops and/or Tabling from:
For The Birds Collective
Asbury Park Feminist Collective
The Alt Clinic
Boy Tears
Willie May Rock Camp for Girls
Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic
and more!

We love that this is a Safer Space event; here is their policy, adapted from Ladyfest Philly:

-Be mindful of your speech and actions and the effect they may have on others.
-Do not make assumptions about people’s identities in terms of gender, race, sexuality, abilities, class, or background.
-Respect people’s boundaries and always interact with others’ consent, be it physically, emotionally, or verbally.
-Carry these guidelines through all forms of communication, physical and non-physical: in person, by telephone, and on the Internet.

Get more details and music previews in their promotional video.  See you there!

Marissa Alexander: Update & how to help

1390606_462278620553564_536067193_nLast month Kathleen wrote about Marissa Alexander, an African American mother of three who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot to stop an attack by her abusive ex-husband, even though no one was hurt. The guilty verdict was overturned in September and Alexander has been granted a new trial, now set for March 31, 2014. She has already served almost 2 years in prison.

Marissa Alexander’s bond hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, November 13th. The Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign is working to organize demonstrations at the courthouse on Wednesday, and is also raising funds for her legal defense. To make a donation, click here. For more info on the movement and ways to get involved, check out the Free Marissa Now campaign on Tumblr and Facebook.