Activists came together Feb. 7 at the Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland to show support for Liyah Birru, an Ethiopian immigrant who faces deportation after serving a four-year prison sentence. She has been in Yuba County Jail’s ICE detention for a year.
Birru was charged for shooting her husband. She said she was physically abused by her husband for months, and that she shot him accidentally during an argument when he hit her in the ribs, not knowing the gun was loaded. According to The Appeal, her ex-husband Silas D’Aloisio admitted to verbal abuse, but not the physical abuse.
Organizations like Survived and Punished advocate for people like Birru, saying incarcerated women are more likely to have come from abusive situations. Ny Nourn, one of the organizers, said many women, when reaching out for help to the police, are arrested by police “instead of helping them as domestic violence survivors.”
According to the ACLU, 79% of women in federal and state prisons reported physical abuse, with more than 60% reporting past sexual abuse prior to coming to prison.
Watch the video above to learn more about the event that sold art and hosted letter-writing campaign in Birru’s honor.