Friday, April 11, 2014

Monica Jones Guilty Of Walking While Black Trans In Arizona

Monica JonesHave another reason to not like Arizona despite some of the cool people who call it home.

Been keeping an eye on the ongoing case of ASU student Monica Jones, who was accosted on the street while walking in her Phoenix neighborhood during a sting operation and charged with 'manifestation of intent to prostitute' the very night after she spoke at a May 2013 rally denouncing Project ROSE.  .

Project ROSE is a program created with 15 partner organizations including the Phoenix Police Department with the goal of avoiding filing charges against adults engaged in prostitution, providing an opportunity for medical and social services and assistance in helping them exit the life of prostitution if they choose.  

In practice, the program and its profiled prostitution sweeps target trans, SGL and low income women far too often and has a 30% success rate, the same rate as a woman who goes before a judge and hasn't gone through the unjust Catholic Charities supported program.  

Jones believes she was unfairly targeted for arrest because of her outspoken criticism of Project ROSE.   A petition was created urging the Phoenix city prosecutor to drop the charges against her..    

The ACLU of Arizona joined Jones’ lawyer in contesting the constitutionality of the manifestation statute. Dan Pochoda of the ACLU explained in his arguments, “The statute eviscerates first amendment rights.”

In a packed Phoenix municipal courtroom this morning filled with supporters wearing “I Stand With Monica Jones: Stop Profiling Trans Women of Color”shirts, Judge Hercules Dellas found the 29 year old Ms. Jones guilty based solely on the statements of the police officer who targeted her. 

Gee why am I not surprised?   Jones' trial is also being monitored by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders as an example of discriminatory policing and retaliation on activists organizing for human rights.

She is appealing the ruling because she faces time in the men's jails, and Maricopa County has a less than stellar human rights record in their penal system.  

Ms. Jones stated, “I am saddened by the injustice that took place at my trial this morning, but we are not giving up the fight. It’s time that we end the stigma and the criminalization of sex work, the profiling of trans women of color, and the racist policing system that harms so many of us.”

Hope she has better luck with her appeal.

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