Colorado Freedom Fund

Happy 4th of July from the Colorado Freedom Fund! On a day when many Americans celebrate Freedom, we at the Denver Justice Project celebrate liberation and honor all revolutionaries, past and present, working for abolition in Colorado and beyond.

With your love and support, in May we bought freedom for 17 of our Mamas and Sisters for Mother’s Day. In June we welcomed 18 more of our folks out of Colorado cages for Father’s Day and Juneteenth. Now, in July we hunker down to organize, support our freed folk, build, and to prepare for August–when we present the Colorado Freedom Fund to our community!

As we have said since May 2018, our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day actions were the public face of work to establish a standing revolving bail fund in Colorado committed proudly to uncompromising abolition. The bail outs were successful, but they were just the beginning. We at the Denver Justice Project did not set out to just *pay* bail, we set out to *end* bail.

The Colorado Freedom Fund is the result of the constituent-led work that Front Range Colorado activists have been building for years. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished together, and are honored to work towards our community goals: (1) ending money bail in Colorado; while (2) mitigating its harmful effects on our people, until cash bond is a thing of the past.

Note: While we are not hosting a formal Bail Out action in July 2018, our revolving bond fund has existed since May 1, 2018 and remains available to folks in need. We are able to pay all bonds up to $1,000, and will pay higher bonds if able. Email Bail Fund project manager Elisabeth Epps ee@BlackBailOut.org to refer a person in a Colorado cage who needs help posting bond. (All bonds posted are done as gifts, there are no loans or conditions attached.)

Have a wonderful July-we will see you in August!
-DJP/BLM, Colorado Freedom Fund

Revolutionary Bail Outs.

Inside Denver's Revolutionary Juneteenth/ Father's Day Bail Out.

We don’t like the chosen photo-we see more than enough shackled Black and Brown bodies in real life–but we love the word revolutionary, because that is exactly what Black Love is: revolutionary.

Thank you Mike Roberts @ Westword for telling the story of abolitionist work in Colorado.

Denver: Juneteenth/ Father’s Day Bail Out.

DENVER, CO: June 6, 2018. Denver Justice Project and Black Lives Matter 5280 are pleased to announce the launch of the 2018 Juneteenth/ Father’s Day Bail Out.

Denver’s 2018 Juneteenth/ Father’s Day Bail Out is part of a national movement to end cash bail in the United States. Coordinated by the Denver Justice Project and BLM 5280, in solidarity with activists nationwide committed to collective liberation, our goal is to raise at least $30,000 and to buy freedom for as many Brothers as possible from Colorado cages June 14-19, 2018.

Thanks to community support and outpouring of love, in May 2018 we raised over $20,000 which enabled us to post 17 bonds to free 14 Mamas from cages in 5 Denver area jails for Mother’s Day 2018.* Our Mama’s Day Bail Out was a success, but it was just the beginning.

Carrying the Mama’s Day love forward, we launched Juneteenth/ Father’s Day Bail Out in the spirit of our ancestors who fought for and bought freedom.

We dedicate this action to the memory of Michael Marshall (pictured above), to his family, and to the memories and families of all those who know the indignity and injustice of being caged unjustly. In 2015 sheriff’s deputies killed Michael Marshall in the Denver jail. Michael was loved, valued, and should never have been jailed on the $100 bond that confined him to a cage for his last days.

Our focus is on Brothers trapped in Colorado cages due to the unjust system of pay-to-play civil liberties. Like Michael Marshall, these men have not been convicted of the crimes for which they are charged, haven’t yet had their “day in court”, and remain in jail pre-trial only because they cannot afford bond.

How the June Bail Out will work:

1) We will focus first on posting bonds for Black, Brown, and Indigenous Brothers in honor of Father’s Day (June 17, 2018) and continuing through Juneteenth (June 19, 2018).

2) We further prioritize our incarcerated LGBTQI Brothers as they are routinely victimized in the jail setting. In regard to cisgendered men, we prioritize fathers, elderly and those with disabilities as they are also routinely victimized while caged.

3) In addition to reviewing public jail rosters, we have reached out to attorneys (private counsel, court appointed and public defenders) in Denver and surrounding counties for referrals to identify people who can be bailed out.

4) The bonds we will post range from $100 to $2,000 and will be paid in full in cash. We do not and will not utilize the services of for-profit bail/bonds companies. Instead, we post entire bonds, not just the 10 percent that would be paid through a bail bond company.

5) Funds raised will be used to buy freedom for Brothers from any/all Denver-area jails (Denver + Aurora jails, as well as Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties) and to keep our families together.

6) NOTE: When defendants appear for court, eventually their bonds are released; those posted bonds will be returned to the bail fund and be reallocated to Denver’s standing community bail fund, launching summer 2018.

***If YOU know someone in a Denver area cage that can be helped by our Bail Out efforts, please contact us at team@BlackBailOut.org.***

Happy Mother’s Day- Thank You!

DENVER, CO. UPDATE: The love from our community for our Mamas Day Bail Out was overwhelming: 414 supporters donated over $20,000, which enabled us to post 17 bonds to bail 14 Mamas out of 5 jails from May 10-12, 2018. Thank you! We consider the Mother’s Day action a success. But that success is just one step towards a more just community, a community free of exploitative money bail.

Our goal is to see an end to money bail entirely, and to that end we will continue to press for legislative action even while we continue to host Bail Outs. Look out for Denver’s Juneteenth/Father’s Day Bail Out, coming in June 2018. On we press!

Denver Black Mamas Bail Out.

DENVER, CO.  UPDATE: Thanks to your generosity, on May 10, 2018 we posted 11 bonds totaling $9,670 to bail 9 Mamas out of 4 jails. Many women are still waiting for our help in order to rejoin their families before Mother’s Day, so we still need your support to reach our goal of freeing 20 Mamas. [Donate here.] On we press!On May 1, 2018, Colorado organizers with the Denver Justice Project (DJP) and Black Lives Matter 5280 (BLM) launched Black Mamas Bail Out, an ambitious campaign to free as many Mamas from Denver area jails as possible in time for Mother’s Day, 2018. On May 10, after 9 days of intense efforts to raise funds and awareness, we began posting bonds to free women from Denver area jails. Our focus is on Black, Brown, and Indigenous Mamas, but we never limited the scope of our effort by Race.

On this first day of actually bailing out Black Mamas, we were at the jails for over 17 hours; from 7:00am to past midnight we posted 11 bonds for 9 women. DJP + BLM organizers and legal volunteers were humbled to be able to personally welcome 2 women warmly as they rejoined us on the outside; as of midnight May 10, 2018-7 of the 9 women whose bonds we posted were still awaiting release, although bonds had been posted in some cases more than 12 hours earlier.

We provided period kits and RTD light rail/bus transit passes courtesy of our friends at JeffCo CAN and I Support the Girls, and we gave the women car rides to their destination: one went to a day shelter and was connected with a licensed therapist who is helping her begin the jarring reunion with the un-caged world after five months in jail; the second woman went to her mother’s home-another mother thrilled to be reunited with her family before Mother’s Day.

On our first day of posting bonds, we paid $9,670 cash for bonds + fees (Jefferson, Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas all charge $10 bonding fees; Douglas charges an additional $30 jail fee) to buy 9 women’s freedom from 4 of 5 Front Range Colorado county jails. Some of the women we located via searching online public inmate databases, others were referred to us by their dedicated public defenders:

  1. Douglas, CO: bailed out 2 Black women (2 bonds, $1,580);
  2. Arapahoe, CO: bailed out 5 women including an Afro-Latina mama being held on a Jefferson, CO charge (7 bonds, total $6,070);
  3. Adams, CO: posted bonds for 2 Black women (2 bonds, $2,020).

On Day 2 of bond-posting (May 11, 2018) we will begin to post bonds at the Front Range jail that cages the most people: Denver Downtown Detention Center, and we will continue posting bonds in the surrounding counties as financial resources permit.

Thank you to everyone who donated, gave of their time, provided supplies, spread the word, referred clients, offered rides, media who interviewed and covered our efforts…thank you to everyone who has helped us in this endeavor.

Our Colorado-based Mother’s Day Bail Out was inspired by Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler and Brother Jeff Fard, and motivated by our friends with the National Bail Out Collective, who assisted with everything from logistical support to powerful imagery (like the beautiful flyer above).

We will work to finally end the exploitative, racist, unjust cash bond/bail system. Until we abolish money bail, we will continue to buy each others freedom as Black people and abolitionists have been doing since America’s earliest days. Please help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 and posting bonds to free 20 Mamas by Mother’s Day [Donate today.]

In solidarity, DJP + BLM5280

Black Bail Out: Mother’s Day Update.

Wow! Day 7 = 6 days down, 6 days to go! What a week it’s been; what a week we have ahead. We are just over the half way mark in our 13 day countdown to Mother’s Day 2018, AND we are over halfway at our fund-raising goal.

KEY UPDATES (thanks to your feedback and support):

  1. added contact info (Email DJP) for inmate referrals;
  2. YES we can now post bond in all greater Front Range facilities (money permitting). If you have a loved one or client caged in Denver or now Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe, or Douglas Counties we are now available to post bonds of $1,000 or less in all of these counties.
  3. YES you can now donate to the bond fund via check. Make payable to “Elisabeth Epps/Black Bail Out.” (EE = Black Bail Out account administrator) Mail to: Black Bail Out c/o Elisabeth Epps P.O. Box 6271 Denver, CO 80206-0271.

___

JOYFUL UPDATE. Today, May 7 = Day 7 of Denver Mama’s Day Bail Out. We are close to our funding goal, and with your help, Black Mothers who have been too long in cages may be closer to Freedom.

We launched BlackBailOut.org on May 1, a bold collaborative effort to Free as many Black Mamas as possible from Denver area jails in time for Mother’s Day—May 13, 2018. We are humbled to carry forward the labor of love Nita Mosby Tyler, Jeff Fard, Timothy Tyler and supporters gifted us for Mother’s Day / Father’s Day 2017.

As of today, as we pass the halfway mark of our Mother’s Day campaign (Day 7 of 13), we are excited to report that we have raised more than half of our audacious goal of $15,000 to post bails/bonds for Women who cannot afford to pay for their own release from Denver area jails.

Yes we are excited and encouraged, but we are not resting, because what we raised so far is not enough. There are so many women in local jails only because they cannot afford to pay bail/bond—so many women working and wanting and waiting to get free.

In our first 6 days of the www.BlackBailOut.org campaign, we:
• raised over $8,000 to bail women out of jail;
• garnered the support of over 200 individual donors (donations ranging from $5 to $1000; EVERY dollar counts);
• expanded our reach from Denver Downtown Detention Center to ALL Front Range CO county jails (Jefferson/ Douglas /Adams /Arapahoe);
• secured certain post-release services;
• connected with the indefatigable organizers and activists at National Bail Out Collective;
• engaged dozens of volunteers:
• our legal volunteers visited 4 jails (and counting) for in-person visits to meet with women we hope to bail out, to offer our consent-based assistance with posting bond;
• volunteers beyond the legal profession are continuing to secure transportation, meals, prepare menstrual kits…
• and so much more.

There is no way to justly ‘reform’ the American bail/bond system. The only meaningful reform is abolition: we must #EndMoneyBail. But until we end the exploitative cruel system of cash money bails/bonds, we must work daily to free our Sisters, Mothers, Brothers…from these state cages.

Black people and abolitionists of ALL races have worked together for hundreds of years to buy each other’s freedom: that work continues to this day.

Help us reach our goal, help us raise the $15,000 needed to post hopefully at least 20 bonds in full and to free 20 Black women in time for Mother’s Day. Help us surpass that goal: keeping in mind for each bond we pay $10 bond fees, $30+ jail fees, and 8% processing fee on every donation. [Give today.]

Whether we fall short or surpass our fundraising goal, we will pay for the Freedom of as many women as we can. When those women appear for their court dates and bonds are released, the returned funds will be redeposited into the bail/bond fund for a Juneteenth/ Father’s Day Action and beyond.

Mother’s Day is only the beginning. This action is not a one time event. We are working to create an established community revolving bond fund with the guiding principle that no one should have to languish in jail waiting for their court date only because they cannot afford to buy their own freedom.

THANK you to all who sent warm words of encouragement, donated time/money/resources, volunteered, spread the word. THANK YOU for proving the adage true: indeed we do take care of our own.

We are all we got, but that’s more than enough: WE GOT THIS, WE GOT US.

What a week it has been, and what a week we have ahead. With 6 days down and 6 to go we are well on track…but we still have so much work to do.

Please continue to GIVE, SHARE, and please contact us directly (message me, or email DenverJusticeProject@gmail.com) if you know of a vulnerable woman with a bond $1,000 or less who we can help get free in greater Denver/Front Range, CO.

In Solidarity and Struggle,
Elisabeth Epps,
a Black Mama

Denver, CO: Mama’s Day Bail Out 2018

Denver, CO: Thur. May 10 – Sun. May 13, Colorado organizers and activists will post cash bonds to free Black Women being held in Denver area jails on low dollar amount bonds, in time for Mother’s Day 2018.

image via nomoremoneybail.org
Mama’s Day Bail Out is part of a national movement to end cash bail in the United States. The Colorado action is coordinated by the Denver Justice Project and Black Lives Matter 5280, in solidarity with activists nationwide committed to collective liberation. Our focus is on Black women and mothers trapped in the unjust system of pay-to-play civil liberties.

In years past, individuals in Denver rallied to free Black Mamas from jail; 2018 marks a coordinated collaboration among organizations to free as many Black Women as possible. We were inspired by Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler and Brother Jeff Fard, who bailed Black Mamas out of Denver jail in May 2017, and who were gracious enough to let us carry that work forward when we approached them for their blessing in 2018.

Our goal is to raise at least $20,000 and to free at least 20 women-potentially more, depending on who is in custody May 9-13, 2018 and what bond amounts are holding them. The bonds we will post generally range from $100 to $1,000 and will be paid in full in cash, not using bondsmen. When Women appear for their court dates, eventually their bonds are released, posted bonds will be returned to DJP/BLM and 100% of the returned bonds will then be reallocated to Black Dad’s Bail Out in time for Father’s Day, June 2018.

This Mother’s Day we ask you to give what you can, in dollars or attention, to this campaign. Countless advocates in cities across the United States are working tirelessly to end the exploitative cash bail system. Donate today!

Donate now to help us #FreeBlackMamas!

Donate now to help free Black Mamas from Denver Jail!

Let’s give! 100% of funds received will go directly to posting bonds of Black women jailed in Denver. Bonds will be posted before and until Mother’s Day, May 13, 2018. {{Click here to donate.}}

Why a Bail Out? Everyday hundreds of thousands of people in America, disproportionately many of them Black women, are confined to cages because they cannot afford to post bail/bond. (Spirit of Change) Women held in Denver’s jail on bond have not been convicted of the crimes for which they were arrested. We must end this punitive pre-trial confinement.

Why now? In the week before Mother’s Day, organizations and individuals in dozens of American cities will bail out as many mothers as possible, women who otherwise would spend Mother’s Day in a cage because they cannot afford bail/bond. Black Mama’s Bail Out Day will give incarcerated mothers an opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with their families instead of in a jail cell.

Why Black Women? Women of color are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system. Black women represent 30% of all incarcerated women in the U.S, although they represent only 13% of the the general population of women. (ACLU) Black women are twice as likely as their white counterparts to be jailed, and are less likely to be able to buy their way out of jail.

Why Mothers? While our focus is on the women in jail, we know that among women state prisoners, some 80% are mothers and two-thirds are mothers of a minor child. (ACLU) Most women in jail are also mothers of minor children, children often kept from their mothers due to a relatively minor bond.

When our Black Mamas are locked in cages, our families and communities suffer. Until we abolish bail and mass incarceration, we must free ourselves.” (adapted from SONG)

Denver Mama’s Day Bail Out : Frequently Asked* Questions

 

What is a “Bail Out”?

  • Denver’s Black Mama’s Bail Out is one action of many in a nationwide campaign to end money bail and to bail/bond Black Women out of jail. For this specific action, our goal is to free as many Black women as possible in time for Mother’s Day, Sun. May 13, 2018. Learn more about the National Bail Out Collective: https://nomoremoneybail.org/.

Who is organizing this Bail Out?

  • Organizers with the Denver Justice Project (DJP: facebook/twitter) + Black Lives Matter 5280 (BLM: facebook/twitter) — are coordinating Denver’s Mama’s Bail Out 2018. Community members and local advocates, and volunteers are the human power behind this collaborative effort.

How can I help free Black Women from Denver jail?

  • Please donate here: https://fundly.com/mother-s-day-bail-out-2018. While money is critical, it is not the only gift that matters. Please give of your time and attention by sharing this giving link with your friends, family, and wider networks.

I don’t use Fundly. Is there another way I can donate to the Bail/Bond fund?

  • Yes! You can donate online via Paypal or Square Cash:
    • Donate to Black Bail Out, via PayPal.
    • Donate to Black Bail Out, via Square Cash.
    • Note: The PayPal/Square Cash accounts are in the name of Elisabeth Epps, a Co-Lead with the Denver Justice Project, who is the administrator of the Black Bail Out account. Please include a note such as “Mom’s Day” or “bail”, or otherwise comment indicating that the donation is for the Bail Out.
  • One thing we really like about Fundly is that it allows us to manually update the Fundraiser to include donations given offline or otherwise not through Fundly. Every donation to the Mother’s Day action made by cash/check/Paypal etc. is reflected in the overall Fundly donation total.

I’m not in/near Denver, CO. Is there a Mother’s Day Bail Out in my city or town?

  • We hope so, and if there isn’t, we hope you’ll start one. National Bail Out has links to many cities that hosted Bail Outs in years past, and they also have an incredibly thorough Toolkit that you can download to coordinate a Bail Out in your city.

What is the difference between bail and bond?

  • It depends on who is using the term, and where. For purposes of this action, we are using “bail” and “bond” interchangeably, where the cash bail posted is synonymous with bond collateral.

My relative/friend/client is in jail on a bond they can’t post. Can you post it?

  • We can try! Please email ee@BlackBailOut.org to refer a woman whose bond we can try to post. We are most interested in helping women who are least able to pay bond individually, and most over-represented in the system collectively. Our focus is on Black, Brown, and Indigenous women, as well as Trans Women of any race.

Can the Mama’s Day Bail Out post bond for someone outside of Denver?

  • In future actions we hope to post bonds in the greater Front Range, including potentially Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties. At this time however, our focus is on Denver County, specifically on freeing Black Women held in the Downtown Denver Detention Center.

What happens when the person bonded out attends their court date?

  • Once the woman bonded out appears in court and the court releases the bond, the bond will be returned to the individual who posted the bond. 100% of the returned funds will in turn be returned to the fund for June 2018 Dad’s Day Bail Out.

What happens if the person bonded out doesn’t meet their court date?

  • Consistent with nationwide data showing that the vast majority of respondents appear as scheduled for court dates, we expect the same in Denver. We also know that many of the same circumstances that made it hard for a person to post a bond as low as $50 are factors that can also complicate a person returning to court as scheduled. When a person is not able to make their court appearance or to schedule an alternate court date, and if the bond is forfeited, then the local court will retain the bond and it will not be returned to DJP/BLM.

What social safety net resources are in place for women after posting their bond?

  • Given the condensed time frame of this effort (launching 5/1/18, less than two weeks until 5/13/18) our primary effort is on maximizing resources to secure the release of as many Black Mamas as possible. We recognize the challenges many newly freed women will face and will help however we can to make their transition as smooth as possible.

Is Kanye West really in the sunken place? Will Yeezy be ok?

  • We don’t know. What we know is we love him and we are here for him and that College Dropout touched our souls.

*Were all these questions really ‘frequently asked’?

  • Some were asked; others were anticipated.

Money Kept Them In, Black Love Got Them Out