GKMC says abolish the curfew

During Lollapalooza weekend, GoodKids MadCity (GKMC) held a press conference just outside the festival as young people and supporters gathered to protest the ongoing curfew put into place by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The curfew went into effect in May, officially in response to a fatal shooting of a teenager in Millennium Park earlier that month. Lightfoot and her supporters claim the curfew will reduce violence, but others have pointed to evidence that curfews have the opposite effect and criticized its uneven enforcement. The curfew provides exemptions to young people spending money or attending ticketed events, which very clearly excludes and jeopardizes the safety of low-income Black and brown minors who venture into downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods to just hang out. Lollapalooza notoriously attracts large numbers of white suburban teens who are fortunate enough to afford passes to the expensive annual festival. Many of those attendees consume alcohol and drugs during the weekend-long event, yet do so with relative impunity compared to their Black and brown counterparts. During the presser, GKMC called on the Lightfoot Administration to lift the curfew as young people from the group shared their disdain for laws that give police more reasons to harass Black youth. 

 

Brittney Griner sentenced to more than nine years in prison

“I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here,” Brittney Griner pleaded with the Russian court. The thirty-one year old WNBA star was arrested in February at an airport by Russian officials who claimed Griner had illegally brought hashish oil into the country where marijuana is still outlawed. Griner was playing in the Russian Premier League during the WNBA offseason and should have returned to the states to join her home team, the Phoenix Mercury, but instead was held in Russian jail from February until the recent sentencing. Throughout the investigation, the Russian government extended her detention period. Despite the U.S government’s claims that Griner was wrongfully detained, she continued to be imprisoned as the trial began. Griner was accused of “smuggling” less than one gram of cannabis oil. President Joe Biden and the White House offered Russia what was said to be a “substantial proposal,” still supporting Griner even after she pleaded guilty. Yet the Russian government decided to make an example of the Black basketball star amidst the ongoing tension between the U.S and Russia, and on August 4th, Griner was convicted and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison. 

It is hard to avoid the racial implications of the sentencing, especially when compared to the story of Audrey Lorber. According to a 2019 CBS article, nineteen-year-old  Lorber, an American citizen, was released by the Russian court after being arrested for “attempting to import” marijuana into the country. Although she was fined the equivalent of $235, she was excused from paying said fine after being credited for time served. Lorber was carrying nineteen grams of marijuana which she’d stated was medically prescribed. The ordeal took place between July and September of 2019, a timeframe shorter than Griner’s detention period alone. Griner’s lawyers also stated that the cannabis in her possession was prescribed as well. Comparatively, Griner’s fine is several times the amount of Lorbers, about $16,400. The White House, the WNBA, Griner’s Russian teammates, and fans from all over have continued to extend support to Griner’s wife and loved ones as they await an appeal. 

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