Thank You, CASS Community!

Happy National Volunteer Week!

As you know, CASS is volunteer-run nonprofit. This week, we send an especially HUGE thanks to the DC community members that volunteer their time to make our work possible! This includes the over 400 community members that signed onto join the DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC), which yesterday succeeded in helping pass landmark sexual assault reforms in DC.

We’re so proud! Thank you to all the volunteers that support us. We couldn’t do this work without you!

BREAKING: DC Council Passes Landmark Sexual Assault Reforms

DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC)

April 8, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Renee Davidson
DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC)
renee@collectiveactiondc.org

DC Council Passes Landmark Sexual Assault Reforms
Grassroots Survivors’ Group Celebrates Success After Year of Mobilizing

Washington, D.C. — The DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is elated that today DC Council took the first of two votes to pass the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act of 2013 (SAVRAA), landmark legislation to improve how the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) handles sexual assault cases and treat survivors of sexual assault.

“This is a monumental step in both supporting survivors of sexual assault and improving DC’s sexual assault response system,” said Julia Strange, DC JSC organizer and Director of Programs and Policy for Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS). “This legislation means that those who report sexual assault in the District can expect that their cases will be followed through as efficiently as possible, and that they will be treated with fairness and respect,” added Sherelle Hessell-Gordon, DC JSC organizer and Executive Director of the DC Rape Crisis Center.

The final version of the bill passed by DC Council includes all criteria for which the DC JSC mobilized support. In full, the legislation: 1) Grants sexual assault survivors the right to have a sexual assault victim advocate present during hospital forensic exams and in subsequent in-person police interviews; 2) Mandates the prompt processing of rape kits; 3) Provides sexual assault survivors the right to the results of their rape kits and toxicology tests; 4) Mandates that an independent consultant make semi-annual public reports on progress that MPD makes in implementing reforms; 5) Codifies DC’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and requires it to conduct case review; 6) Requires an annual report on sexual assault from agencies that handle cases and evidence; 7) Establishes a task force to recommend further reform to the system, including additional roles for advocates, an effective system for complaints and juvenile sexual assault system reforms.

The DC JSC, a survivor-led grassroots coalition, has been working for over a year not to only to pass, but also to strengthen SAVRAA. The coalition, formed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces, (CASS), the DC Rape Crisis Centerand DC NOW, was established in response to evidence of police mismanagement of sexual assault cases in the District. The DC JSC is comprised of 23 organizations and over 400 individual community members. Over the past months, DC JSC members consulted with policy experts, collected hundreds of signatures in support of SAVRRA’s urgently-needed reforms, met with DC Councilmembers and testified at the December 2013 DC Council Hearing on the legislation, including sharing heart wrenching stories of their experiences of reporting sexual assault to MPD.

“Passing legislation that codifies the rights of survivors of sexual assault sends a powerful message to survivors that our community leaders care about their rights and are working to protect them,” said Susan Mottet, DC JSC organizer and President of the National Organization for Women, DC Chapter (DC NOW). “This bill was a survivor-driven advocacy effort, and we thank the brave men and women who testified and shared their stories,” said DC JSC organizer Marisa Ferri. “We’re encouraged that the passage of SAVRAA, especially along with DC JSC’s amendments, will help ensure that survivors who report their assault can begin the process of healing and obtaining justice.”

The Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act will be voted on again and then passed onto the Mayor to be signed into law.

###

Formed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) and National Organization for Women, DC Chapter (DC NOW), the DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is a grassroots coalition of sexual assault survivors, direct service providers, advocacy organizations, allies and community members working to increase and codify the rights of and improve services for survivors of sexual assault in the District of Columbia.

TAKE ACTION: Tell DC Council to Stand With Survivors On Tuesday!

We’re elated to report that - following over a year of hard work by CASS and our coalition partners - the Sexual Assault Victims Rights Amendment Act of 2013 (SAVRAA) is poised for passage by the DC Council this Tuesday, April 8. SAVRAA is critical legislation to protect and ensure the fair and just treatment of those who report sexual assault in the District. Our city needs this legislation urgently.

Unfortunately, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is attempting to weaken or delay passage of SAVRAA through behind-the-scenes maneuvering. We need your help to tell DC Council to stand with survivors and not weaken the bill!

TAKE ACTION now:
Sign our letter to DC Council! 

There is power in numbers, and your voice makes a difference. Please sign on to show your support and then tell your friends, families and colleagues to do the same!

Next, join our Thunderclap!

The Thunderclap makes it a one-stop process for you to voice your support and make a difference. Be sure to click “ADD MY SUPPORT” in addition to creating a tweet or Facebook post – we need that in order to have your action count!

Last way you can help? SHARE this page on Facebook, Twitter, email, etc! You can also keep the momentum going by sending our sample tweets now through Tuesday!


ABOUT THE DC JUSTICE FOR SURVIVORS CAMPAIGN
Formed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) and National Organization for Women, DC Chapter (DC NOW), the DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is a grassroots coalition of sexual assault survivors, direct service providers, advocacy organizations, allies and community members working to increase and codify the rights of and improve services for survivors of sexual assault in the District of Columbia. 

“I Deserve to Walk Down the Street & NOT Have A Stranger Grab My Ass.”

Location: 12th & F St NW (Metro Center)
Time: Daytime (9:30am-3:30pm)

I was approached by the perpetrator and asked for money. I said no and he waited to make the comment, “I thought you were with a black man.” He then followed me [and my partner] 2 blocks to the corner off 12th & F st NW. We stopped for a light and he ran his hand between my ass cheeks. He was confronted by my partner and ran across the street.

Submitted 2/17/14 by “Julia R.”

Take a stand against public sexual harassment and assault: Donate now.


Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Submit your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.
If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. Recommended tip: Program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed. If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

Why We Won’t Be Rising This Year

Here at CASS, we always say that your stories matter. We believe in this so much that we ask you to raise your voice and speak out about your experiences of public sexual harassment and assault on our blog. And time and time again, be it in our WMATA advocacy or our community workshops, you’ve proven to us how much a few voices – or even just one – can change the city we live in.

But if our voices matter, then it also matters when and how we use them. This is why, when February 14 rolls around, CASS will not be participating in V-Day’s One Billion Rising campaign. The ways in which this campaign has co-opted or erased the community-driven work of people of color — while representing this erasure as the price to pay in building a universal movement — have been well-documented since the campaign’s beginnings, and the conversation is far from over. The movement to end gender-based violence can and should involve learning, solidarity and alliances across communities and borders. But CASS recognizes that not all communities experience gender-based violence in the same way(s), and that effective and sustainable responses to violence must, by definition, be community-driven.

Instead of supporting One Billion Rising this Friday, we will use the small platform we have to show our solidarity with the good work of activists and organizations that are responding to the needs of their communities in innovative ways.

CASS staff is working hard to ensure that our values of diversity and accountability inform everything that we do. We’ll be updating our anti-racism policy and other related materials in the coming weeks — keep an eye on our blog! And, as always, if you have any questions or comments, we’re here to listen. Email zosia@collectiveactiondc.org with your thoughts.