Mic Wakeup: This grandmother fights for prison reform, Melania fights bullies, Damon fights no one
It’s Tuesday. Here are three things you need to know.
This grandmother is serving life in prison for a first time, nonviolent offense
Prior to her conviction in 1997, Alice Marie Johnson had never seen the inside of a prison cell. However, that is exactly where the 62-year-old grandmother will spend the rest of her life after she was convicted of drug conspiracy, a nonviolent drug crime, which was also her first and only offense.
“It feels like I am sitting on death row,” Johnson told Mic in 2013. “Unless things change, I will never go home alive.”
For Johnson, her only hope for getting out of prison is clemency, which can only be granted by the president of the United States.
Mic caught up with Johnson for a recent interview, which can be viewed below, about her renewed efforts for criminal justice reform.
As Johnson said, “Please wake up, America, and help end this injustice. It’s time to stop to stop over-incarcerating your own citizens. Because that is what is going on.”
How can I help? You can read up on the ACLU’s in-depth report on the current state of our criminal justice system first. This way you’ll have all the facts you’ll need to inform your friends and family about the problems facing our prisons and court systems. Next, sign the ACLU’s petition for criminal justice reform.
Melania Trump kicks off anti-bullying campaign while her husband battles with military widow
First lady Melania Trump kicked off her campaign to end cyber bullying once and for all on Monday with her visit to a Detroit middle school in honor of National Week of Inclusion.
“As part of my ongoing commitment to the overall well-being of children, I am looking forward to today’s visit,” Trump told reporters ahead of Monday’s visit. “By our own example, we must teach children to be good stewards of the world they will inherit. … It is our responsibility to take the lead in teaching children the values of empathy and communication that are at the core of kindness, mindfulness, integrity and leadership.”
While the first lady’s actions and cause are certainly commendable, they were unfortunately overshadowed by the actions of her husband, who at the very same moment appeared to be bullying a military widow.
According to Myeshia Johnson, widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, Donald Trump did indeed call her after the death of her husband, however as she attests, Trump both forgot her husband’s name during the call and suggested he “knew what he signed up for.”
“It made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name,” Johnson told Good Morning America. “The only way he remembered my husband’s name [was] because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said La David. I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name and that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?”
For his part, Trump quickly took to Twitter where he suggested Johnson was lying about how the conversation went.
So, who do I believe? Well, that’s up to you, but this is yet another example of the president’s alarming behavior, according to psychologists. In fact, many in the mental health community are calling for an end of the Goldwater Rule, which states that psychologists cannot diagnose Trump’s mental state without actually examining him, simply because of how unstable Trump appears to be.
Matt Damon admits he knew what Harvey Weinstein was up to but didn’t think it was his business
On Monday, Oscar-winning actor and director Matt Damon finally admitted to knowing all along what Harvey Weinstein was doing to women in the entertainment industry.
“I knew the story about Gwyneth from Ben [Affleck] because he was with her after Brad [Pitt], and so I knew that story,” Damon said during an interview on Good Morning America. “I never talked to Gwyneth about it. Ben told me, but I knew that they had come to whatever, you know, [an] agreement or understanding that they had come to, she had handled it. She was, you know, the first lady of Miramax. And he treated her incredibly respectfully, always.”
“I knew he was a womanizer. I wouldn’t want to be married to the guy. It’s not my business, really,” he said before adding. “But this level of criminal sexual predation is not something that I ever thought was going on. Absolutely not.”
However, it’s powerful men like Damon and others who are exactly the people we need to make it their business, according to Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.
“I think that [Damon’s] comments really demonstrate a barrier that I think a lot of people have, which is that recognizing that the situations are not always just limited to the two individuals you hear about at the get-go,” Houser told Mic.
“I think we still, as a culture, have such a hard time imagining that anybody we associate with is capable of committing acts of sexual violence,” she added. “And yet, the reality is that the vast majority of people who are perpetrating acts of sexual violence are doing so against people that they know and that they associate with.”
How can I make a difference? First, pay attention and make it your business, no matter what industry you’re in. Second, support organizations that support women like the one Houser works with, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.