The 'Friends of Marcia Powell' are autonomous groups and individuals engaging in prisoner outreach, informal advocacy, and organized protest and direct actions in a sustained campaign to: promote prisoner rights and welfare in America; engage the Arizona public in a creative and thoughtful critique of our system of "justice;” deconstruct the prison industrial complex; and dismantle this racist, classist patriarchy...

Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"

As of December 2, 2010 (with occasional exceptions) I'm retiring this blog to direct more of my time and energy into prisoner rights and my other blogs; I just can't do anyone justice when spread so thin. I'll keep the site open so folks can search the archives and use the links, but won't be updating it with new posts. If you're looking for the latest, try Arizona Prison Watch. Most of the pieces posted here were cross-posted to one or both of those sites already.

Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.

Monday, December 21, 2009

From the Family of Marcia Powell: End the Violence.

I missed this first event on Thursday, though the photos below are from the art display there. 
I made it to the second, for which I have more text below.  To close observers, yes, I backdated this and tucked in under the other Marcia Powell post - just trying to keep things relatively chronological. I also do that when I want to keep a particular post at the top of the page for a few days...

December 17, 2009 – Tucson, Arizona:

 El Presidio Park, 160 West Alameda Street, Tucson, AZ.   
Performance art/art installation: 
  “No Human Involved (NHI).”

For many years, the term “NHI” was routinely used to designate murdered prostitutes on police homicide reports.  The central image for the art installation will be a physical representation of the Perryville Prison which will honor the Marcia Powell tragedy;  a performance piece/die-in and live  music are also scheduled.

"Marcia Powell was a prisoner of the State of Arizona. On May 19, 2009 she was locked in an outdoor cage with n shade or water, and cried for four hours in 107 degree heat. She begged for water. By the time someone noticed she was unresponsive, lying in her own feces, with 2nd degree burns from the sun. She reached the hospital in cardiac arrest. Her core body temperature was 108 degrees. The Director of the Department of Corrections had her life support removed. She died sometime soonafter. Her death was declared an "accident."

"For years official law enforcement homicide reports had three designations for murder victims. Male. Female. NHI ("No Human Involved"). That last designation was commonly used for murdered prostitutes."


"Marcia Powell was serving 27 months for prostitution. In Arizona there is a mandatory minimum for prostitution. 

1st time: 15 days. 
2nd time: 30 days.
3rd time: 180 days...

For Marcia Powell, it was a death sentence."

El Tiradito Shrine, 354 South Main Avenue, Tucson, AZ   
“Memorial Ritual and Vigil”

After the art display and die in in the park, everyone made their way to the  --------, where we performed a ritual to remember and honor sex workers victimized by violence. As soon as we had all gathered, we received carnations on which were tied the names of the dead. The candles on the alter we had encircled were lit, and the reading of the list of names began. As each one was called, we placed their flower gently upon the alter, now dripping with white wax. Flickering candlelight revealed anguish and grief in the solemn faces around me, as well as tears, a few from my own cheek. 

These women - and men and transgendered persons as well - know who their fallen comrades are by name and cause of death, and take considerable risk each year when they gather openly to pay tribute them and try to raise public awareness.  Not all sex work is criminal, of course, so their membership in SWOP isn't any kind of confession - but it sure sets them up to be scrutinized. 

Seeing what transpired in Tucson Thursday night, though, I understand why they do it - take this kind of risk. Plenty of sex workers won't - many aren't in a position where they can afford to safely, because of so many other vulnerabilities. Others feel safe enough and don't wan tot rock the boat. But these folks are at a point in their lives and political development where they can't afford not to make this struggle visible. 

Here, by the way, is where I found the family of Marcia Powell - among the Sex Workers Outreach Project and their allies. She was their sister all along - they've been fighting for her rights, too. The location of her ashes are now irrelevant: she has been claimed and will always be remembered as one of their own.

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