Jessica Hoffmann

New Jersey 4: Two Convictions Overturned! Struggle Continues

Filed By Jessica Hoffmann | June 24, 2008 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, The Movement, The Movement
Tags: African-American, black, heterosexual privilege, homophobic behavior, lesbian, New Jersey 4, race, racism, Renata Hill, women

(Via text from brownstargirl Sat night; text received while I was literally surrounded by amazing radical media makers who immediately wanted to know more but also to wait and be sure it was cool to post before running to blogs to get the word out.)

The convictions of Terrain Dandridge and Renata Hill, two of the New Jersey 4, have been reversed. The NJ4 is a group of young black lesbians imprisoned after fighting back against a homophobic attack. The handling of this situation by not only the criminal-legal system but also popular media tragically exemplifies the sexism, heteronormativity, and racism of those interlocking power structures. From the press release:

As a result of sexist, homophobic, and racist stereotypes held by law enforcement agents and institutions, the women later known as the New Jersey 4 were deemed to be a "lesbian wolfpack gang," who were organizing to terrorize straight men. Our stories are so often retold with a complete reversal of who is being harmed and who is doing the harming. The impacts of allowing Dwayne Buckle to be popularly depicted in the media and during the court proceedings as the "victim" fails to identify how his desire to dominate women (and their spaces) only leads to the violence that resulted. On a broader social level, such negligent media reporting, police investigation, and courtroom bias only promises to generate more of these same violent experiences which target women and queers. The New Jersey 4, like so many of us, are survivors of a system which incorrectly identifies the root causes of violence and crime, only to create conditions for mass incarceration and displacement of queers, especially those queers, like the 4, who are already vulnerable to criminalization because of their race or class identity.


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All the victim wanted was for the women to accept his aggression and respond positively to it. They didn't. And then the court portrayed that as a bad thing.

This is great. Thanks for keeping us updated, Jessica!

Yes, this is great news -- one thing to keep in mind, however, is that Terrain is out, but Renata is still in prison. A new trial does not necessarily mean she will be released...