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Free Brittney Griner!

End the Global Criminalization of Black Immigrants!

On August 4th, 2022, a Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on “charges of drug smuggling with criminal intent”. Griner was arrested in February for having less than one gram of cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport; cannabis that she has had a medical prescription for since 2020.

Beyond being a political pawn,  her experience highlights the criminalization and incarceration of Black immigrants in Europe and elsewhere, including the US. 

Even though thirty eight states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana, Black immigrants in the US continue to be routinely detained and deported for marijuana convictions because cannabis continues to be illegal under federal law. Black people whether African American or immigrant lives continue to be disrupted by archaic drug laws because of the myth of Black criminality.

Griner had a permit to work in Russia, playing basketball during the WNBA’s off-season, similar to other Black people who also leave their homes in search of seasonal employment in other countries. Griner is being subjected to the same anti-Blackness that greets other Black immigrants worldwide. Less than one gram of cannabis oil does not warrant jail time but anti-Blackness views any “crimes” committed by Black people to be the most heinous of societal violations warranting draconian treatment. 

It is terrifying to imagine the fate of a queer Black woman at the hands of white governments with demonstrated track records of anti-Blackness, misogyny and homophobia. We are clear that if Griner were white, male and straight she would not be in this situation.

We are in solidarity with BG.  We call on President Biden to actively secure her immediate release.