Brittany Martin is a pregnant Black woman who is currently serving a four-year prison term for her behavior at a 2020 racial justice protest in South Carolina, in which she essentially talked back to the police. Now, her sentence is being reconsidered because she is struggling to reach her estimated maternal due date in prison, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this year, Martin was convicted of “breaching the peace” in an aggravating manner over comments she made to police during a 2020 protest. Her attorneys have been advocating for a shorter sentence due to increasing concerns about both her health and that of her baby, who is due in November.
A petition from Black Votes Matters has been calling for her release, claiming Martin, “was entitled to peaceably gather with friends and speak freely at the 2020 protest. However, a jury disagreed and considered Martin’s comments to be threats.”
Bakari Sellers, a civil rights lawyer and civil rights activist, is set to testify on behalf of Martin on Sept. 12.
From the Associated Press:
Martin moved with her four younger children to Sumter, South Carolina, from Iowa in spring 2020 and was “ready to go and protest” after the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd sparked a nationwide movement that year, her sister said.
But Martin also had someone else on her mind: In 2016, Sumter police fatally shot her brother-in-law 19 times when officers said he fired a gun after a chase in a stolen car. When she took to the streets, she carried grief over her family’s past.
Although she was convicted of “breaching the peace,” recordings of the demonstrations shown in court do not show her touching any police officers. Video of her on May 31, 2020 shows Martin yelling, “No justice, no peace,” in an officer’s face, according to the Associated Press.
Those actions from Martin were done by thousands of people across the country during the peak of the George Floyd protests.
Days later during another protest, Martin was caught saying on video, according to the Associated Press, “Some of us gon’ be hurting. And some of y’all gon’ be hurting. We ready to die for this. We tired of it. You better be ready to die for the blue. I’m ready to die for the Black.”
Although the jury acquitted Martin on charges of inciting a riot and did not reach a verdict about whether she threatened officers’ lives, prosecutors presented the breacher of peace charge as “high and aggravated,” which carries up to 10 years imprisonment.
Breaching the peace in and of itself is punishable by no more than a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
More from the Associated Press:
Martin said her body “can’t get comfortable with the baby” and as of July, she lost 12 pounds while incarcerated, despite the pregnancy. She was taken twice by ambulance to a hospital that month, once after experiencing contractions and again after entering preterm labor at 25 weeks, according to her sister Whitney Martin and Rosado. Martin’s prison report shows she went to eight outside medical appointments throughout July and August.
Martin recently got sent to solitary confinement for refusing to cut her dreads, a violation of a policy Rosado called “racially biased.” According to the grooming policy, which seeks to “promote safety,” the prison allows neatly braided, corn-rowed hair only when worn straight back and individual braids but not dreadlocks or twists.
Martin received 7 years probation in November 2020 for willful intent to injure and leave a crime scene in Iowa in August 2019, according to the Associated Press. Her son accused her of intentionally hitting him with an SUV and driving off.
Despite that, the South Carolina judge did not mention the Iowa incident at all in his sentencing decision. Sybil Rosado, Martin’s attorney, argues that she was sentenced only because of her comments toward police during the 2020 protests.
The hearing to have her sentence reconsidered, according to the Associated Press, is on Sept. 12.