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Kenosha, WI: Students plan rally in support of Chrystul Kizer outside DA Graveley's classroom

By Ariana Holmes |
February 3, 2020
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Rally demands "Drop the charges against Chrystul Kizer."
Rally demands "Drop the charges against Chrystul Kizer." (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Kenosha, WI - As the semester approaches, members of the UW-Parkside chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) have been hard at work. Kicking off the new year, SDS is leading a rally in support of the release of Chrystul Kizer, a Milwaukee teenager accused of killing her sex trafficker, Randall Volar III.

Upon learning that Kenosha’s district attorney, Michael Graveley, would be teaching a class at their campus, the students of the organization knew they had to act.

“I felt angry knowing that Graveley will be showing his face at Parkside,” said Lana Akindes, a member of SDS. “He’s proudly vouching for this child rapist and trafficker. He’s willing to put Chrystul in prison for life, like it’s nothing."

Within recent months, activists rallying around Kizer’s case have seen a massive rise in support across the country including that of Cyntoia Brown, a woman who famously fought a similar case. However, with this swell of support, District Attorney Graveley has also taken to social media to express his beliefs and urge people to remain skeptical.

This unethical social media campaign has come to assert that Kizer was not a victim but rather a premeditated murderer. In a lengthy Facebook post, Graveley ends his statement with, “I cannot condone vigilante justice and when presented with evidence of premeditated murder, I do not believe it is appropriate for prosecutors to weigh the value of the victim's life.”

Graveley’s stand on social media has concerned many who support Kizer and even brought the attention of Harvard’s National Lawyers Guild. The organization criticized Graveley’s persistence on prosecuting the case as “bizarre” and “negligent.” They go on to encourage the DA “bring your conduct in line with professional standards."

Graveley has also been criticized for insisting that safe harbor laws, which protect victims of sex crimes from being charged with murder or assault, do not apply to Kizer.

Though a 2016 winner of the Wisconsin District Attorney of the Year award, many are perceiving Graveley as unjustly pursuing a case that would set a precedent in Wisconsin to criminalize victims of abuse defending themselves against their perpetrators.

Despite Graveley’s persistence, activists with SDS and the #FreeChrystul Campaign continue to fight for her release. For those looking to show their support, SDS will be holding a rally at UW-Parkside’s student center on Wednesday, February 5, at 5:30 p.m., directly outside where Graveley will be teaching his first class of the semester. Kizer’s next court date will also be held on Thursday, February 6 at 8:45 a.m. at the Kenosha County courthouse.