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West Virginia: Protest demands justice for Megan Williams, end to racist violence

By Kati Ketz

Protest in front of Byrd US courthouse

Charleston, WV – Hundreds of people rallied and marched here at West Virginia’s capitol building, Nov. 3, to demand justice for Megan Williams and an end to hate crimes in the United States.

Megan Williams, a 20 year old woman from West Virginia, was held captive by six people for days while being raped repeatedly. Her captors forced her to eat human and rat feces, lick blood off the floor, beat her with switches and at one point had a noose around her neck while raping and stabbing her, saying, “This is what we do to n_____s down here.” When asked about her experiences, Megan said, “I was scared. I didn’t know what to do. I was thinking about my momma and I just wanted to come home. Every time I close my eyes now all I see is that knife from when they kept stabbing me and stabbing me.”

The rally at the capitol building including preachers, professors, activists and lawyers who spoke out against sexual violence, racist violence and hate crimes. Megan Williams and her family spoke at the end of the rally thanking those who came out to support her, then led the march through downtown. Protesters chanted, “No justice, no peace!” and held signs saying “Stop racial violence” while marching through downtown Charleston from the capitol building to the courthouse.

Malik Shabazz, Esq. – of Black Lawyers for Justice and head of the New Black Panthers Party – has been aiding Megan Williams and her family in advocating for federal hate crime charges to be brought against the six defendants in the case. In a moving speech at the capitol, Shabazz said, “Hate crimes are on the rise. Nooses are being hung, we are being shot and our women are being raped. We want this to be tried as a hate crime… from a legal and spiritual standpoint, I don’t care what happened before, all I care about is that this is one of the worst hate crimes in recent U.S. history.” Shabazz also spoke out against local black organizations, including the local NAACP, that declined to support the rally and march.

Many speakers linked racial oppression to sexual oppression and spoke out in favor of black women and against rape regardless of the nationality of the oppressor or the oppressed. Another speaker at the rally, Rev. Mary Kay Jacquet of the First Baptist Church in Charleston, said, “Sisterhood is not a privilege – it’s an obligation. No woman, regardless of race, creed or color should be subjected to the emotional and physical consequences of such barbaric actions.”

The recent events of Jena 6, the noose hangings across the United States, the murder of Sean Bell and the rape and torture of Megan Williams show the harsh oppression that the Black community faces on a daily basis. There is a growing African American movement to resist racist attacks and police killing and which insists on complete liberation.

Protest in front of Byrd US courthouse

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