( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) The Buried Alive Project, Alongside the #weFREEus Movement, Has Been Doing Great Work
ENSPIRE Contributor: Tyler Burns
In Houston, TX, MiAngel Cody, and Brittany Barnett have formed a powerful team of Black Women attorneys whose agenda is to fight life sentences for drug charges. This team has allied themselves with humanitarian and rapper, Trae the Truth to launch the #weFREEus movement on Juneteeth, 2020 along with the Peace Ride for Justice June 19th to bring light to victims of excessive sentencing and police brutality. They also celebrated the early release of Kevin Fenner and Bervick McClendon.This team of experienced attorneys and other legal experts is most dedicated to representing people who’ve been sentenced to life for federal drug charges.
According to counselors Cody and Barnett, “We fight to free people who are destined to die in prison under America’s unfair drug laws. We are not reformists. There is no criminal justice to reform in America because criminal justice has never really actually existed in this country. We work to dismantle injustice and free our people… and we never fold.”
To this date, the Black lawyer locksmiths have saved over 51 men and women sentenced to die in prison. Their clients have survived 1,000+ years of combined human caging resulting from unfair drug laws in the United States. Most recently, in tandem with the popular artist/activist Trae Tha Truth, Cody and Barnett were successful in achieving the reduction of a life imprisonment sentence for Minneapolis, MN native Kevin Fenner Sr.
Now after the death of George Floyd, which has opened eyes around the world to inequality, a judge has agreed to set Fenner free. Fenner was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 under the 3-strikes law for possessing a golfball size amount of crack cocaine.
“He could have sold a suitcase full of cocaine powder and still not received a life sentence. That’s the disparity,” explains MiAngel Cody who along with Brittany Barnett, works for free and has worked with Kim Kardashian West using the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act signed by President Obama to de-incarcerate mostly black men.
Attorneys Cody and Barnett and Trae Tha Truth also celebrate another win with the reduced sentence of a 59-year-old West Palm Beach, Florida man, Bervick McClendon. The news came on the eve of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrated on June 19th to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.
Thanks to the diligence and expertise of the Buried Alive Project, United States District Judge Donald M Middlebrooks, ruled on the case of McClendon; reducing his life sentence, calling for immediate release. According to Judge Middlebrooks, “Prisons cannot be just places of punishment; they must also create opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption. Despite the hopelessness of a life sentence, Mr. McClendon has overcome addiction, furthered his education, and sought to control his anger. When I sentenced Mr. McClendon in 2005, I underestimated his potential and capacity for change.”
McClendon is now home, happily, with his family and Kevin Fenner Sr. is being released in these upcoming weeks. These victories are momentous but the fight is not over and the Buried Alive Project has an uphill battle within the United States. Supporters interested in helping either of these men restart their lives may send donations to the Buried Alive Project via CashApp $buriedaliveproject.