On Friday, May 6, 2022, Jessica Williams, the director of Gender Justice for Freedom, Inc., a Black and Southeast Asian rights organization, walked into the Dane County courthouse in downtown Madison to attend the sentencing hearing for Kenyairra Gadson, a queer Black woman was was charged and convicted for defending herself against a long time tormentor. Almost immediately after entering the courthouse, Jessica was surrounded by police and whisked off to a room where she was arrested on trumped up charges of threatening a prosecutor and two counts of resisting arrest.
Jessica was released on the following Tuesday, May 10, after spending the longest amount of time one can legally be held in a US jail without any formal charges filed against them, including Mother’s Day away from her infant child. No charges have been filed, but the case has not been dropped either, as an independent prosecutor has been assigned to investigate whether Jessica did, in fact, threaten the sitting US attorney in open court more than 100 days prior.
Jessica Williams is a political prisoner who was arrested by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, Wisconsin’s first Black DA, for effectively advocating for Black women targeted by the criminal justice system. As such, the only way to understand Jessica’s arrest is to understand the case of Kenyairra Gadson and other Black women who dare to defend themselves against patriarchal violence.