Almost 1,200 Black women on Tuesday sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris urging them to “make a deal” to quickly secure Brittney Griner’s release from Russian custody, NBC News reported.
The letter, which was sent to the White House, was signed by several renowned Black women. They include Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Bernice King, ex-NAACP president Hazel Dukes and three state senators. Prominent media personalities Joy Reid and Tiffany Cross were also signatories of the letter.
In the letter, the group criticizes the Biden administration for not putting in enough effort with regard to negotiating the WNBA star’s release. Griner was arrested in Russia in February after authorities allegedly found cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage. She faces a drug-smuggling charge.
“We are concerned that the rhetoric does not appear to align with the actions taken to date,” the women wrote in the letter. “We urge you to make a deal to get Brittney back home swiftly and safely.”
The signatories of the letter claim the detained WNBA star is “being used as a political pawn.” And besides allegedly enduring “inhumane conditions”, the women also claim Griner doesn’t have access to outside communication as well as the United States consulate. The group also claims the State Department was unable to facilitate a phone call between Griner and her wife on the anniversary of their wedding. That was supposed to be their first interaction after Griner’s arrest.
“America cannot fail Brittney Griner,” the group wrote.
The petition comes after Griner herself sent Biden a handwritten letter calling on his administration to work on securing her release as well as that of other American detainees, NBC News reported.
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” wrote Griner.
On Wednesday, Biden reportedly had a phone conversation with Griner’s wife and read her a draft of the government’s response letter to the WNBA star. Biden also told Cherelle Griner that he is putting in an effort to quickly secure Griner’s release as well as other Americans determined to have been wrongfully detained by Russian authorities.
Griner could spend up to ten years in prison if she’s found guilty of the alleged offense. Her trial is also likely to last several weeks.