Detroit Environmental Justice Leader Unjustly Incarcerated for Defending Family from Assault

Siwatu-Salama Ra Sentenced to Two Years in Prison During High-Risk Pregnancy

     by Sierra Club

Detroit, MI — Earlier this month, Siwatu-Salama Ra, Co-Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), was sentenced to two years in prison for defending herself and her young child from an attacker. Siwatu is a member of the Sierra Club family, the daughter of Rhonda Anderson, a Sierra Club organizing manager in Detroit with nearly twenty years experience. Siwatu’s leadership at EMEAC has helped build community power through environmental justice education, youth development, and collaborative relationship building — and Siwatu has emerged as a national and international environmental justice leader, participating in numerous conferences like COP21 in Paris.

Siwatu is 26, the mother of a 3 year old, and is 7 months pregnant. She came into contact with the criminal justice system because of an incident in which an attacker threatened to strike Siwatu, her three-year-old daughter and her mother with a car. Siwatu showed her legal, permitted, unloaded handgun in an attempt to scare off the attacker, as allowed by Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law. She did not fire the unloaded gun and no one was harmed.

Siwatu was unjustly arrested, tried and convicted of felony gun charges and sentenced to two years in prison. She is now experiencing a high-risk pregnancy in prison, and could be forced to deliver her child while incarcerated.

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