American celebrities including Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and Rick Ross are lending their platform to campaign for the release of Cyntoia Brown, a young woman who is serving a life sentence for killing a man who paid her for sex.
Although the arrest of Brown happened in 2004, the case has re appeared in national media after a slew of celebrities have become concerned over what they see as an unfair decision.
The singer Rihanna has taken to Instagram multiple times, posting photos of then 16 year-old Cyntoia with a caption that reads "Did we somehow change the definition of justice along the way??...cause something is horrible wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each if you responsible for this child's sentence I hope to God you don't have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already"
did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? cause..... Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each of you responsible for this child's sentence I hope to God you don't have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already! #FREECYNTOIABROWN #HowManyMore
And again of Brown receiving her Bachelors degree from Lipscomb University as part of a prison access initiative with the caption "freecyntoiabrown'.
Although Brown has never denied shooting 43 year old Nashville real estate agent Johnny Mitchell Allen, when she was 16, she claims that she did it in self defence. Prosecution on the case, however believed it was a clear case of theft. Ultimately, the jury found against Brown, who never took to the stand, as the prosecution brought up past incidents of drug use and juvenile criminal behaviour.
In 2011, a documentary entitled 'Me Facing Life; Cyntoia's Story' brought the case back into the spotlight again as it revealed intimate details about her past traumatic life, which had not been known before.
According to reports, Cyntoia had run away from home at an early age and became involved with a pimp known as 'Cut-throat' who both physically and emotionally abused her. He forced her to prostitute herself, continually raped, chocked and beat her all the while threatening to harm her family if she ran away.
As Brown never took to the stand during her trial, she gave the jury with very little backstory of her life leading up to the shooting.
Although it is unclear why Rihanna and other celebrities are suddenly beginning to co opt the movement for Cyntoia's release now, it is yet another recent example of how they can influence and amplify social issues through the use of social media.
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