Black Lives Matter’s Memphis chapter is trying to give a Mother’s Day gift to both children and their mothers.
The activists have started a campaign to bail out Black mothers who were arrested and placed in custody for the holiday. The group is trying to raise $35,000 to help the mothers reconnect with their children, WREG-TV reports.
“We’re asking our community members to think how they spend Mother’s Day, how they celebrate and honor the women who they love,” said Erica Perry, and organizer for Official Black Lives Matter Memphis. The group is placing focus on Shelby County, Tenn., where 274 women are in jail and waiting for their day in court to come up. About a quarter of those women are being held for misdemeanor crimes. Those can include driving under a suspended license and truancy, the station said.
Bail is set by courts to be sure that someone accused will return for their court date. It is not a pronouncement of innocence or guilt.
“I have had personal experience with it and I do know it creates a hardship to have to come up with $1,000 for something that ultimately was dismissed,” said Shay Jones who was once separated from her child under those circumstances. “It’s really about the fact that these people’s freedom has been taken from them because they do not have money.”
The campaign is part of a national effort led by ColorofChange.org and Movement for Black Lives Policy Table to raise bond money for Black mothers to get them home the week prior to Mother’s Day, which is May 14.
“It’s an incredibly significant problem plaguing virtually every jurisdiction in the country,” Alex Karakatsanis, a lawyer and executive director of the nonprofit Civil Rights Corps told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “There are about 450,000 to 500,000 human beings who, on any given night in this country, are in a jail cell solely because they can’t make a monetary payment prior to being convicted.”