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We use direct actions to interrupt the status quo and bring awareness to key issues and different forms of state violence affecting the root causes of the plight of black and brown people around the world.,


We stand against the many forms of state violence: police killings, mass incarceration, poverty and others.  We stand for justice for Tony Robinson and ALL Black lives lost at the hands of the state. We stand for community and self determination. We will not stop until we are free.


YGB raising awareness and building community


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A Victory for the People!
24 Sep 2015

A Victory for the People!


Contact: Alix (608) 210-9623


Justice for Cierra Finkley: Today and Always


Madison, WI - September 24, 2015


This morning, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced in what was intended as an initial hearing, that he would not be pursuing charges against Cierra Finkley at this time. Citing recent evidence that his office has not been able to fully evaluate, Ozanne recommended that all bail restrictions be lifted. He left the door open to pursue charges in the future.


In August, Finkley, a 24-year old Black woman, was arrested for protecting her own life and the life of her 5-year old daughter when her abuser Terrence Woods attacked her. She was initially charged with 1st Degree Reckless Homicide.


“This is a victory for the people,” proclaimed Young Gifted and Black organizer Alix Shabazz. “We don’t trust the criminal justice system to bring justice for Black women, but we know that without the people putting pressure on his office, the DA would not have made the present decision.”


“Let’s celebrate with the family,” said YGB’s T. Banks. “And let’s keep the heat on. Black women, queer and trans folks continue to be victims of state violence. We need to stop that violence with steps like community control over our police.”


About 25 friends and family of Cierra Finkley rallied before the hearing this morning and packed the Dane County Courtroom. Supporters were elated and relieved. “We are so grateful for the community’s support,” said Cierra’s mother, Carla Finkley. “We got your back too!”


For more information on how you can support Cierra Finkley’s fight for justice or other YGB campaigns, visit: or


#Justice4Cierra #SayHerName #BlackLivesMatter



YWCA Madison Open Letter to District Attorney: Drop the Charges for Cierra
22 Sep 2015

YWCA Madison Open Letter to District Attorney: Drop the Charges for Cierra

Dear District Attorney Ozanne,

The YWCA Madison strongly urges you not to press charges against Cierra Finkley, in what seems very clearly to be a case of self-defense. The three main priorities of the YWCA are the elimination of racism, the empowerment of women, and the health and safety of women and girls. This case is at the intersection of all three of these priorities.

One in four women will experience a form of domestic violence at some point in their lives. While domestic violence is often dismissed as a private matter, the repercussions are tantamount to a public health epidemic: 15.5 million children in the U.S. live in homes in which they have been exposed to or experienced violence. Studies indicate that women in abusive relationships have significantly higher rates of developing health issues, such as strokes and heart attacks.1

Additionally, domestic violence can have deadly consequences for victims, often forcing them to defend their lives. This is especially true for Black women. Three women die each day from intimate partner violence2, and Black women are 2.5 times more likely to die at the hands of a current or ex-partner than people of other racial backgrounds3. Among African American women killed by their partner, almost half were killed while in the process of leaving the relationship, highlighting the need to take extra precautions at that time.

In Wisconsin specifically, African Americans are over-represented in the rates of intimate partner homicide4. In spite of accounting for 6% of the state’s population, African Americans comprised close to 30% of the state’s domestic violence homicide victims in 2012.5

Violence perpetrated against women and girls can put them at risk for incarceration because their survival strategies are routinely criminalized. From being coerced into criminal activity by their abusers to fighting back to defend their lives or their children’s lives, survivors of domestic violence can find themselves trapped between the danger of life-threatening violence and the risk of spending the rest of their lives in prison. Rita Smith, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that “Most battered women who kill in self-defense end up in prison. There is a well-documented bias against women [in these cases].”6

Black women and other marginalized people are especially likely to be criminalized while trying to navigate and survive the conditions of violence. In 1991, the ratio of Black women to white women convicted of killing their abusive husbands was nearly two to one.7 Women of color and low-income women are disproportionately affected by mandatory arrest policies for domestic violence. Of survivors in a New York City study who had been arrested along with their abusers (dual arrest cases) or arrested as a result of a complaint lodged by their abuser (retaliatory arrest cases), 66% were African American or Latina, 43% were living below the poverty line, and 19% percent were receiving public assistance at the time.8

A report published by End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin9 stated that many African American women in Wisconsin do not believe that the criminal justice system is a viable option to meet their needs. One focus group participant who was highlighted in this report said: “I am scared enough to call the police and the police come out…if the police don’t arrest [my abuser], and I end up going to jail, then I am in jail fighting for my life and my kids are out here alone.” Fear of the criminal justice system is already a barrier to women who are victims of domestic violence. This same report went on to note that lack of support from the criminal justice system is a contributing factor to women fighting back. While many of the women reported they often did not fight back against their abusers, when they did fight back in self-defense, they described feeling that the abuse was so bad and they had reached a point where there was no other resource or service to help them stop the abuse. One woman said “there are no resources, no services, you are fearing for your life…when you ask for a restraining order or call the police, it’s not taken seriously…that’s when you feel like you can handle it on your own. When you feel like the police and no one else is going to do it.” This quote could have come from Cierra Finkley, a woman who reached out to the police for help multiple times and who had a restraining order against the man who was abusing her.

As you know, Dane County already has extreme racial disparities in our criminal justice system.10 Criminalizing women who are actually the victims of crime will not make our community safer, and will continue to lead women who are abused to be faced with the impossible choice between defending their body from their abuser or from the criminal justice system. We encourage you in this case, and in any future cases in which women defend their lives and the lives of their children against their documented abuser, not to pursue criminal charges.


Rachel Krinsky


  1. YWCA USA. (March 2015). Fact Sheet: Firearms Related Domestic Violence Homicides. Retrieved from:
  2. Catalano, Shannan. (2007). Intimate Partner Violence in the United States. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  3. Violence Policy Center. (September 2014). When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2012 Homicide Data. Retrieved from
  4. Gilbart, Tony, Sarah Krall, Patti Segar, and Jan Sadusky. (2013). Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report: 2011-2012. Retrieved at
  5. Gilbart, Tony et al., (2011-2012). Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report: 2011-2012. Supra.
  6. Powers, Kirsten. (2013). Prosecuted for Standing Her Ground. The Daily Beast. Retrieved from
  7. Allard, Sharon. (1991). ""Rethinking Battered Woman Syndrome: A Black Feminist Perspective," UCLA Women's Law Journal.
  8. Haviland, M., V. Frye, V. Rajah, J. Thukral and M. Trinity. (2001). The Family Protection and Domestic Violence Intervention Act of 1995: Examining the Effects of Mandatory Arrest in New York City. Family Violence Project, Urban Justice Center
  9. End Domestic Abuse WI. (2014). Report on Focus Groups Conducted with African American Female Victims of Domestic Violence in Wisconsin. Retrieved from:
  10. Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. (October, 2013). Race to Equity. Retrieved from
Against The Odds, Eric Upchurch Still Fighting For Social Justice
20 Sep 2015

Against The Odds, Eric Upchurch Still Fighting For Social Justice

YGB's Eric Upchurch is featured in this Madison 365 biographic piece. Eric is a tireless crusader for equity and just causes, check it out.

City Council: Listen to our Voices & Vote “No” on Body Cameras!
14 Sep 2015

City Council: Listen to our Voices & Vote “No” on Body Cameras!

This Tuesday, the Community Policing and Body Camera Ad Hoc Committee will submit a recommendation to City Council around the issue of providing body cameras to Madison police officers. Through pressure from Young Gifted & Black, YGB allies, and other community members, the committee will not recommend the use of body cameras in Madison at this time. City Council, we urge you too to vote “no” on providing body cameras to Madison’s police officers.


This recommendation is the result of organizing and people power. On January 15th, YGB held a public debate on the use of body


YGB needs your voice in order to get an investigation by the United Nations as we elevate the conversation of of racial disparities in Madison and fight for justice for Tony Robinson, the unarmed black teen murdered at the hands of officer Matt Kenny of the Madison Police Department  



YGB demands that Matt Kenny, the murderer of Tony Robinson, be fired. Far to often are killer cops left unpunished, and we want Kenny off the streets.



The Young Gifted and Black Coalition is a circle of young leaders determined to end state violence and raise the voice of communities of color. We are young Black Women, Queer Folks, Straight Folks and Feminist Men who are fighting for Black Liberation. Our focus is on the low income black communities that our core members call home. 




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