Free Pieper Lewis

Sep 21, 2022

Travis Smith

On June 1st, 2020 a Black 15 year old girl named Pieper Lewis stabbed 37 year old Zachary Brooks several times leading to his death. She was arrested and plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and willful injury. However, the details of this case are something we've seen a number of times: Pieper was kidnapped, sex trafficked and then, when she saw an opportunity to free herself, killed a man she was trafficked to.

In her guilty plea Pieper writes, "Mr. Brown created a dating profile for me and place it on dating websites. Mr. Brown would then arrange for me to have sex with men for money. This happened approximately seven to eight times while I lived in his apartment."

Pieper had been held in prison since awaiting sentencing where she was enrolled in virtual campus and achieved her diploma and has expressed a desire to attend college and help other women who have been trafficked. She faced 20 years in prison and cruelly, a fine of $150,000 to her rapist's estate.

Jalesha from Des Moines Black Liberation Movement sat in on the sentencing hearings and said on Twitter

This sort of criminalization is nothing new unfortunately. Brittany Smith in Alabama was sentenced to 20 years for killing her rapist while he was assaulting her brother and threatening them both. In late 2021 an Indigenous woman, Maddeyn George, was sentenced to 6 years after killing her rapist in a scuffle the day after she was raped when she went to confront him. US Attorney Vanessa Waldref who prosecuted her said "She chose to shoot and kill an unarmed man through a locked car door so she could keep the methamphetamine and money she had stolen from him."

On the other hand, there's a growing consciousness in our society of these structured White and male supremacy created injustices. Where a decade ago individualist approaches, victim blaming, and white and male supremacy would have always had the last say, in this case Pieper was excused from a prison sentence after an outpour of support lead by the community. She is still not free, being subject to 5 years of probation, 600 hours of community service and gps monitoring, and most cruelly, $150,000 in a fine to be paid to her rapist's estate. However, in a booming voice of rejection of this injustice, a gofundme campaign started in December for her has reached over $550,000 after a deluge of public support. She will not pay a single cent of her own to her rapist.

We join in saying "Free Pieper Lewis!". If you want to help, Des Moines BLM has asked that people donate to this GoFundMe by Leland Schipper: Help Pieper Lewis, Survivor of Sex Trafficking

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