Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Activists gather outside Pritzker's home, call for lesbian prisoner Bernina Mata's release
by Carrie Maxwell

This article shared 5285 times since Tue Dec 20, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Free Bernina Team and Love and Protect members, among other groups and individuals, gathered outside of Gov. J.B. Prizker's Chicago home Dec. 19 to call for the release and commutation of 52-year old Latinx lesbian prisoner Bernina Mata under a #FreeBernina Hannukah Light Action message. Mata has been imprisoned for 23 years on a now-classified first degree murder conviction.

"She was convicted of capital murder, based on a fiercely racist, homophobic prosecution that argued her lesbian identity caused her to kill and ignored her extensive history of sexual and physical abuse," said the Free Bernina Team in an email statement ahead of the event. "In 2003, her death sentence was commuted to a life sentence. If prosecutors had not sought the death penalty, she would likely be free today. In January 2022, Bernina and her team submitted a clemency petition to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, who reviews petitions and makes recommendations to the governor. At a hearing in June 2022, Bernina's team made the case for her freedom, accompanied by dozens of supporters. Now it is in Gov. Prizker's hands."

"We thank you for joining us to celebrate this second night of Hannukah," said People's Law Office Attorney Joey Mogul. "The Hannukah holiday is a celebration of a struggle for liberation where we light candles for eight nights. Tonight, we are going to use this holiday celebration to seek the liberation of Bernina Mata, other criminalized survivors and those who are unjustly convicted in Illinois prisons. This is why we are out here in front of Gov. Pritzker's house today. He has the power to liberate them all."

Mogul told the crowd that Mata is a "queer criminalized survivor" who experienced sexual abuse and mental trauma at the hands of her father and stepfather for years, so when she met the man at the bar and realized he was going to sexually assault her, she "acted in self-defense and stabbed him, and unfortunately and tragically he died." She added that the state decided to "ignore that extenuating circumstances" including Mata's previous sexual abuse trauma when they decided to prosecute her on a capital murder charge.

Mogul asserts that prosecutors zeroed in on Mata's race and sexual identity when they brought the case to trial in order to sway the jury into a guilty death-sentence verdict on those factors. She said the prosecutors argued that Mata's lesbian identity cased her to kill, repeatedly referencing her sexual identity during the trial and used the titles of three gay-themed books that were found in her house to further prejudice the jury against her.

"Imagine what books the state could use against you, taken from your shelves, at a trial," said Mogul.

Mogul added that Mata's only opportunity to get released is for Gov. Pritzker to grant the clemency petition.

Rabbi Brant Rosen of Tzedek Chicago said he is "inspired" by everyone calling for Mata's release. He spoke about the meaning of the Hannukah candles and how that applies to shining a light on Mata's story, the stories of the many people who are unjustly incarcerated and the overall mass incarceration crisis in America. Rosen also led the crowd in singing the blessings of the Hannukah holiday.

MAMAS (Mamas Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity) member April Ward spoke about her son Mickiael, who is currently incarcerated, and what she calls the horrible conditions he has faced, including guards goading him—which has caused further punishment while he has been in prison. She added that the guards and wardens "are corrupt" and Gov. Pritzker needs to "clean house."

Lifted Voices organizer Kelly Hayes said that "being uncomfortable" in the cold "holding this space together…is sacred." She added that it is also important to help people when they are released from prison as they re-enter society and reminded attendees to donate to those funds. Hayes led people in a chant: "Come on J.B., set our loved ones free."

Tzedek Chicago's cantor, Adam Gottlieb, led protestors in song including "Hannukah, Oh Hannukah" with some of the lyrics changed to refer to their call for Mata's release and "I Will Light My Light" that he called on everyone to sing along with him.

Free Bernina Team member Debbie Sothorn also led protestors in singing "This Little Light of Mine," with some re-worded lyrics that included "Till Bernina's Free," among other things. The protest also included a lighted sign that said "Free Bernina," a menorah and jelly donuts.

See .

This article shared 5285 times since Tue Dec 20, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

Brittney Griner, wife expecting first baby
Brittney Griner is expecting her first child with wife Cherelle Griner. According to NBC News, the couple announced on Instagram that they are expecting their baby in July. "Can't believe we're less than three months away ...

Gay News

Q FORCE launches 2024 election efforts in Chicago
More than 100 people attended the launch of 2024 election efforts by Q FORCE Midwest Action Group at Sidetrack April 12. Q FORCE is a Chicago-based, all-volunteer, grassroots movement organizing to recruit and activate "at least ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Trans woman killed, Tenn. law, S. Carolina coach, Evan Low, Idaho schools
Twenty-four-year-old Latina trans woman and makeup artist Meraxes Medina was fatally shot in Los Angeles, according to the website them, citing The Los Angeles Times. Authorities told the Times they found Medina's broken fingernail and a ...

Gay News

LPAC, Arizona LGBTQ officials denounce Arizona Supreme Court ruling on abortion
--From a press release - Washington, DC — Yesterday, in a decision that starkly undermines reproductive freedoms, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to enforce a 160-year-old law that criminalizes abortion and penalizes healthcare providers who ...

Gay News

Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison announces inaugural Cook County LGBTQ+ Youth Art Competition
--From a press release - Schaumburg, Ill. — April 9, 2024 — Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison recently announced the firs ever LGBTQ+ Youth Art Competition. The competition's theme is "Pride is Power!" and will set the ton for Pride celebrations ...

Gay News

Lesbian prime minister steps down
Ana Brnabic—the first woman and the first lesbian to hold the office of prime minister of Serbia, or to be a leader of any Eastern European country—has stepped down after seven years in power, in a ...

Gay News

Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame seeks nominations for 2024 induction
--From a press release - The Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame has announced a call for nominations for the 2024 class of inductees into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame. Those wishing to may nominate individuals, organizations, businesses, or "Friends of ...

Gay News

HRC president responds to NAIA vote to ban transgender women from playing sports
--From a press release - WASHINGTON —Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, responded to the National Association of ...

Gay News

For Deb Robertson, the end-of-life issue is very real
For just about everyone, life is hard enough. However, talking about ending that life—especially when one is terminally ill—is just as difficult. Ten states have authorized medical aid in dying, although Illinois is not one of ...

Gay News

KFF survey shows extent of LGBT-related discrimination
KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling and journalism—released "LGBT Adults' Experiences with Discrimination and Health Care Disparities: Findings from the KFF Survey of Racism, Discrimination, and Health." This ...

Gay News

Lightfoot may be hired to investigate Dolton mayor, trustees
A group of Dolton trustees is aiming to hire former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot—who is also an ex-federal prosecutor—to investigate Mayor Tiffany Henyard, media outlets reported. The group wants Lightfoot ...

Gay News

Ella Matthes, award-winning publisher, editor of Lesbian News Magazine, dies at 81
--From an ILDKMedia press release - Los Angeles, CA - Ella Matthes, longtime publisher and editor of Lesbian News Magazine, passed away from a heart attack on March 16, 2024 at The Little Company of Mary hospital in Norwalk, California. She was ...

Gay News

WORLD Lesbian sniper, HIV research, marriage items, Chinese singer, Korean festival
A lesbian Ukrainian sniper and her machine-gun-toting girlfriend are taking the fight to Russia President Vladimir Putin, according to a Daily Beast article. Olga—a veterinarian-turned-soldier—said her comrades don't care about ...

Gay News

NATIONAL mpox, Trans+ Day of Visibility, police items, Best Buy, Gentili's death
The CDC has concluded that mpox cases are on the rise in the United States, increasing to almost double what they were at the same time last year, according to ABC News. There is a national year-to-date estimate of 511 cases ...

Gay News

Ugandan court mostly upholds harsh anti-LGBTQ+ law
On April 3, Uganda's constitutional court refused to annul or suspend an anti-LGBTQ+ law that includes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts, Reuters reported. However, the judicial body voided some provisions that it said were ...


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.