An Open Letter to Formerly Incarcerated Men in the Movement

Hola mi Gente,
I’m sure I will be disparaged and attacked for the following because the person I will be referencing is, for better or worse, the face of the criminal justice “reform” movement. I bear no animosity toward this person, but I am disgusted by allegations of his actions.

This isn’t new, Glenn E. Martin’s problematic behavior has been an open secret since before he became well-known.


Glenn E Martin_ Sexual Abuse Allegations

Women — especially women of color — are victims of an enormous amount of sexual violence. None of those things can take place without the complicity of the men who hold power.


Last night a friend, actually several friends, sent me links and texts regarding the NY Times expose of Glenn E. Martin and the organization he helped found, JustLeadership USA. In short, the New York Times reported Friday night that three women accused Martin of predatory advances and one of them got a $25,000 payout to keep quiet. I should add that Glenn has denied any acts of sexual predation through his lawyer.

More on this in a bit, but first I must disclose that I know Glenn for some time and were part of Eddie Ellis’ NuLeadership think tank in the early 2000s. At one time, in fact, I considered Glenn a friend and before he moved to the Fortune Society, we would sometimes confide to each other about how we both were not fully appreciated by the organizations we both worked for at the time. While Glenn and I never were “golf buddies,” I considered him a friend and ally and cheered his appearances on TV and how he was able to represent those of us who were formerly incarcerated.

I also applied for a position at his organization, but was not hired. I want to be clear about that because I know there are those who will come after me and will latch on to such information as a way to detract from my message. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised I was passed over because during the interview, when I was asked to articulate something new or fresh I could bring to the organization, I mentioned that closing Rikers is not enough. I passionately expressed my fervent belief that we need to envision a post Rikers New York and fight the root cause of mass incarceration, white supremacy. The interviewers looked at me as if I had must farted. LOL

Last night, I posted a link to the NY Times story on my Facebook account and early this morning I awoke to aggressive, disrespectful comments on that post. Mind you, I merely posted a link and expressed my disgust at the allegations and that was enough to trigger ad hominem attacks, calling into question everything from my worth as a human being to the value that I bring to the movement. Others were more subtle, basically stating we shouldn’t air this publicly because of the harm this will cause the movement. I was not surprised, there will always be people who will cape for those who prey… and it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about me; this is about the women who were brave enough to come forth. It seems that criminal justice reform movement is a bit behind the times.

I have also been contacted by several people who have reported aggressive behavior towards then simply for posting the link to the article. Maybe people in the movement don’t read the newspapers, I dunno. Whatever the case, there’s a wave started by women of color, ya’ll. #MeToo

Which brings me to the reason for my post today: I want to reach out to the formerly incarcerated men who are part of the movement to undo the injustices of racialized social control, one of which is mass incarceration (mass incarceration is the symptom, not the disease).

As men, formerly incarcerated men, mostly Latinx and Black men, we have to support our sisters who come out against sexual predation. What I hope is that we men in the movement will hold each other accountable and also work to make the movement safe for women. This is not a witch hunt, brothers. This is real. We need to craft a collective position on sexual harassment and violence against women and, while I do not want to make this merely about Glenn Martin, he needs to be held accountable as well. This is bigger than Glenn, because too many of us have some warped ideas about gender roles and the role of women in our society. Period.

Think: what would you do if your sister, mother, girlfriend, wife came to you and made the same allegations? Would want to shut them up? Would you dismiss them as agents of The Man dead set to take down one of our idols? I don’t know about you, but I would support my women. and you know what? All of the women are our women.

This movement doesn’t need idols, it needs human beings who respect and value one another.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…




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