From #FreeBernina to #FreeThem All!
Thanks to all the folks who travelled down to Springfield to attend Bernina Mata’s clemency hearing before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB) on June 15th. We had a huge, coordinated presence with folks wearing purple to show solidarity and support for Bernina. Their presence had a tremendous impact on the Prisoner Review Board Members (Donald Shelton, Lisa Daniels, Ken Tupy, Roger Heaton) at the hearing.
Bernina penned a letter to the supporters at the hearing, but unfortunately, it did not arrive in time to read it. Bernina wanted to share with everyone:
"I truly appreciate everyone taking the time out their life to do things to support me and to speak on my behalf since I cannot be there. It truly means so much to me to know that people who don’t even know me think of me and are there for me and are helping me. I owe them all sooo much and I don’t think I will ever be able to repay them, but all I can do is do my best when I am released and show them that their hard work and support was worth it. Tell them all thank you so very much."
The IPRB has 60 days from the date of the hearing to make a confidential recommendation to Governor J.B. Pritzker on whether he should grant Bernina’s clemency petition. Given the upcoming Gubernatorial election, we do not think Governor Pritzker will decide before the election, but we are not going to give up on pushing him to grant Bernina’s clemency petition.
Over the next two months, the #FreeBernina defense team will be working up a popular education curriculum to discuss Bernina’s case and why she, like all others, should be freed from prison. We will be sharing the curriculum with folks in the fall and asking people convene a teach-in or event or teach a class to continue to get the word out about Bernina and her unfair, racist, homophobic prosecution.