Julie Mastrine / June 29, 2016

1.2 million signatures for Judge Persky’s boss to think about

Today in San Francisco, I joined Care2 and Ultraviolet to deliver 1.2 million petition signatures asking the California Commission on Judicial Performance to unseat Judge Aaron Persky. Persky recently gave rapist Brock Turner — a wealthy Stanford athlete — a sentence of just six months in jail after he was found guilty of sexual assault of an unconscious woman.

About 30 of us were there, including multiple survivors of sexual assault. They shared their heartbreaking stories and explained why Judge Persky is unfit to provide justice for rape survivors.

It’s not easy to talk about such a personal attack in front of news cameras, but I am so glad these people did. Every time a survivor comes forward and bravely shares their story, it ends the heavy silence about rape culture, and reveals a system that’s often complicit in their re-victimization. It helps spur us to action.

When I heard their stories it was even more clear to me that we can’t just let this campaign fade away.

Brock Turner was given a lenient sentence because he’s a white, wealthy, privileged athlete at a top school. I was horrified when I saw the news about this case. It made me sick to my stomach.

Our campaign to unseat the judge who sentenced Turner carried even more weight considering the fact that just days ago, it came to light that Judge Persky sentenced an immigrant Latino man to three years in prison for the same crime. Obviously, this is not an unbiased judge.

Carrying the voices of 1.2 million people with us, we were able to get inside the building. Security would only let five of us go upstairs to deliver the signatures, which were collected from Care2, Ultraviolet, MoveOn, and DailyKos.

The signatures were accepted but no one from the committee would speak to us.

Reporters, on the other hand, were happy to. We spoke to several journalists, and their coverage of the event will be key to keeping this campaign in the public eye. The continued coverage will help convince the commission that unseating this judge is a small step we can take to begin to correct a justice system that often gives wealthy, white, privileged offenders lenient sentencing, fails to give rape survivors justice, and comes down harshly on people of color.

Our criminal “justice” system needs a lot of thought and reforming, and we shouldn’t look at this case without carefully considering the problems that are currently plaguing our prisons and jails, and whether or not locking people in cages is actually the answer to crime. But this man committed a violent act, and unseating Judge Persky is one step that can prevent the system from continuing to give special treatment to those with more wealth, privilege and power.

This campaign isn’t over — but if we don’t keep talking about it, the commission might think it is. If you want to help make sure the commission takes these signatures seriously, consider signing and sharing the petition on Facebook so we can show that support isn’t dying down.

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