Tens of thousands of supporters, including some well-known activists and celebrities, are rallying behind and demanding the release of Chrystul Kizer. The young Wisconsin woman was 17 when she was arrested and charged with killing her alleged sex trafficker, Randall Volar. At the time of his death, 34-year-old Volar was under active investigation for charges of child pornography and human trafficking. Although the district attorney of Kenosha, WI has electronic evidence — including videos — of Volar abusing Kizer and other Black girls, the now-19-year-old still faces charges of homicide and a possible sentence of life in prison.
“The punishment that Chrystul is facing for defending her own life signals that Black women and girls have no selves to defend,” reads the petition page. “Right now Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley has the power to drop all charges against Chrystul immediately. We are urging Graveley to do the right thing and drop all charges now so that instead of enduring more violence, Chrystul’s healing can begin with her family and community.”
Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, shared Kizer’s story on Instagram and urged her followers to sign the petition.
“The case of #ChrystulKizer requires our attention *before* she is convicted and given a life sentence,” Burke said. “I will keep you updated as we have more information about how to support Chrystul, but for now share her story and the stories of others like her and sign the petition launched by @colorofchange to have all charges dropped.”
Tagging Kardashian was certainly an effort to bring visibility to Kizer's case — and this wouldn't be the first time the reality star spoke out about incarcerated women. Kardashian helped bring visibility and legal resources to the case of Cyntoia Brown-Long, who served 15 years in prison for the murder of the 43-year-old man who trafficked her when she was 16. Brown-Long was still tried as an adult and sentenced to 60 years, with the requirement that she serve 51 before being eligible for parole. But just last year year, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam granted clemency to Brown-Long, and Kardashian publicly thanked him on Twitter.
Brown-Long herself has come out in support of Kizer. In December, she posted a photo wearing a hoodie that read: “Justice 4 Chrystul Kizer.” And in her first op-ed since being released, Brown-Long defended Kizer and critiqued the criminal justice system for failing victims like her.
“There can be great power in putting a name and a face to injustice. When we hear a person’s story, it becomes that much easier for us to put ourselves in their shoes, to empathize — and to mobilize,” Brown-Long wrote. “But how we respond determines whether the faces we see can serve as representation for the ones we don’t. For every name we know — for every #freecyntoiabrown campaign — there are countless others who will never be heard. Unless we work to change the laws behind the injustices, identical injustices will follow.”