A hand with like an orange squeezer with the Earth inside pouring a liquid out of it in to a cup on a table, the other half of the world lying on the table and off to the left on the table are Saturn and two other planets

Art by Wriply Bennet

Judge Cynthia Ebner, endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats, handed out sentences to three of the four #BlackPride4 on Tuesday, March 13. The #BlackPride4 were arrested when they held a silent vigil during the 2017 Stonewall Pride march to call attention to the murders of black trans people and killings of black people in Columbus by the police. Just seconds into the vigil, Columbus Police attacked and brutalized them.

Ashley Braxton was sentenced to two years probation, 90 days in jail with 89 days being suspended, 60 hours of community service, and a $250 fine. Kendall Denton, convicted of a mere fourth degree disorderly conduct, the lowest misdemeanor charge, was given a surprisingly harsh sentence: two years probation, 30 days in jail with 29 days being suspended, 48 hours of community service, and a $100 fine – with $50 suspended because he spent a night in jail.

Wriply Bennet received two years probation, 90 days in jail with 89 days being suspended, 80 hours of community service, and a $250 fine – but this fine was waived. After completing half of their community service, Braxon, Bennet and Denton may write the judge and ask for a sentence reduction. All of them have suspended jail sentences hanging over their heads if they violate probation.

Judge Ebner acknowledged receiving hundreds of letters in support of the #BlackPride4's character and activism. Deandre Miles, the fourth of the #BlackPride4 still awaits trial on a felony charge.

The #BlackPride4’s arrests created significant rifts between the more moderate Stonewall Columbus and Black QUEER Intersectional Columbus (BQIC) along racial and generational lines. BQIC plan a series of alternative Pride events in June and encourage supporters to boycott the Stonewall Pride parade.

Wriply Marie Bennet – artist, activist and core BQIC organizer – is this month’s Free Press cover artist. Wriply has been doing art her whole life, and the majority of her work has been used to give a voice to the black trans community, in particular black trans women who face high rates of violence and depravity in this world. Her cover title is “business as usual” and you see a hand dipping the world in poison to reap financial gain.

Her art is also featured on page 16, called “the juiced planet.” The concept is about men selfishly destroying the world to line their pockets for financial gain and it also references the desire man has to find resources on other planets. The Free Press is honored to provide a space for her art.


“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive”

“It’s freezing and snowing in New York. We need global warming.”

“We should be focused on magnificently clean and healthy air and not distracted by the expensive hoax that is global warming.”

These are statements made by our President.

One of the late Stephen Hawking’s last major warnings to us Earthlings was about impending devastation from climate change:“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s sanction could push the Earth over the brink to become like Venus with a temperature of 250 degrees and raining sulfuric acid. Climate change is one of the great dangers we face and it’s one we can prevent if we act now. By denying the evidence for climate change and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet endangering the natural world for us and our children.” 

The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Warning to Humanity 25 years ago spoke of dangerous trends such as the growing hole in the ozone layer, pollution and depletion of freshwater sources, overfishing, deforestation, plummeting wildlife populations, as well as unsustainable rises in greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures and human population levels. Unfortunately, their updated 2018 version warns that we have not made any progress to combat these trends and the burning of fossil fuels is making it worse. They predict catastrophic climate change if we don’t take immediate action.  

In the spirit of Earth Day, this month’s issue gives you some tips on what local groups you can join to be part of the solution.