By Chief Crisantema
Utah—Rayburn “Sonny” Benett is an indigenous 16-year-old child. Sonny, like most colonized people, was put in a desperate situation to provide for his family. Due to this desperation and young age, he fell victim to the manipulation of two adults.
It’s no secret that African and Indigenous people are hunted by the pigs and the colonial prison system. They’ll use any excuse they can to shove more of our people into this modern-day form of slavery and genocide for colonized poor and working-class people. Not just people; mothers, fathers, siblings, friends, and even children like Sonny
For this attack on Sonny and his family:
Black Hammer demands Sonny be released from the unjust and illegitimate grasp of the prison system.
We demand that Sonny be given access to a colonized therapist who understands childhood trauma like the one the colonial system has inflicted upon him.
We demand monetary reparations for the resources Sonny’s family has had to scrape up just to fight for his life, dignity, and childhood.
On December 25, 2020, Sonny was allegedly driven by two adults to a home that they had allegedly planned to rob. While Sonny and one of the adults were inside the home, the two residents of the home woke up and went to see what was going on. This is when according to his own confession, the man with Sonny discharged his weapon. Both residents were taken to the hospital in critical condition, where one later passed away.
Sonny was arrested later that same day for investigation of murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and obstruction of justice. These are all manufactured charges set by the state to excuse the inhumane sentencing of a child. The prosecutors, along with charging Sonny as an adult, want to mark all of the charges as premeditated since the man who took Sonny to the house admitted to having the intention of shooting the residents, and Sonny’s case is linked to that of the adults’.
Utah law states that any criminal charge can be enhanced if they prove the crime was committed as part of a gang. This is supposed to be used to attack organized crime. The state of Utah, through the prosecutor, is using this to further persecute Sonny, who has never been in a gang. We also must recognize this is another way the law attacks the organization and unity of Colonized people. Colonized communities first started gangs to protect themselves from police and the KKK, which are two sides to the same coin.
Crime is a symptom of circumstance, not a demonstration of character. People who say that all you need to do to have a good life is make good choices are also the people who were given good choices to make. Not everyone has that. For some, it’s about deciding which option will hurt less, will cause less damage, or which option will just get you to the next day.
Sonny, at 16, was facing the pressure of fulfilling the role of “man of the house”. He took it upon himself to do anything to help his family get through their current colonial contradiction. This landed Sonny in the lives of 2 adults in their 30’s who saw a desperate kid and figured they would use him for their benefit.
We see time and time again how the argument “what about their potential?” is used to excuse any “mistake” colonizer children and even full-grown colonizers make. We all know about Brock “the rapist” Turner and how his “potential” got him only 3 months of time served. This is a man who did horrific things to another human as an adult. It shouldn’t be surprising. He is a perfect example of what the colonial system represents, greed, violence, rape, no accountability or regard for anyone else.
So what about Sonny’s potential? Sonny is a provider, a protector, a compassionate son, brother, and rightful shepherd of this land. Sonny has had to be the father figure to his siblings, and he has never taken that lightly. He would take his siblings to shovel snow or pull weeds just to help pay the rent. He often talked to his siblings about what it means to be a respectful human, how to treat others with the respect and compassion every human deserves. He always talked about going to an ivy league school. Although we understand that those are aspirations set by the colonizer, the need comes from a place every colonized person understands.
To overturn the contradictions created by the colonial injustice system’s atrocities of mass imprisonment of colonized people and stories like Sonny’s, Black Hammer is developing our own Legal office Within our Defense Committee and will provide colonized legal representation to all colonized people attacked by the settler colonial government who has no right to steal our people or anyone on stolen indigenous land.
The need to have dictatorship over our lives, land, and resources is what drives us all. In the colonial world, we work until we die with the dream of having control over our lives, with the dream of not needing anything, of providing for ourselves and our loved ones. This is what drives so many of our colonized people to “crime”.
“all children of the revolution will be liberated, and together we’ll break these colonial cycles/curses of intergenerational trauma.” – Chief Ndubisi
The financial burden put on the family to fight for the protection and freedom of Sonny from this colonial injustice system is in and of itself criminal. If you have the means, please donate to Cashapp $BHUTAH or Venmo at BHUTAH and comment with #FREESONNY. If you don’t have the means, please share this article far and wide so the masses can hear Sonny’s story and so those that do can.
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