Last year, when I was released from prison, I emerged into a world of hate and injustice. I traveled across the country. I saw immigrants, people of color, queer and trans folk under attack. I saw our most vulnerable communities living under a de facto military occupation of violent, heavily-armed police forces. I’ve seen what a military occupation looks like first-hand: I participated in the U.S. occupation of Iraq from 2009-2010.
Witnessing how scary and unjust the world has become drove me to run for U.S. Senate in my home state of Maryland. After spending nearly a decade of my life experiencing homelessness, war, prison, and solitary confinement, I wondered if I should step back from the spotlight and spend my first year of freedom recovering. But I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t watch things get worse while our so-called leaders continue to treat these systemic problems with empty platitudes and piecemeal reform.
Our campaign platform has advanced an anti-authoritarian agenda with policies that many Marylanders already support. We’ve demanded the complete abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which continues to imprison children and separate countless families with its brutal, Gestapo-like tactics. We’ve called to defund and dismantle our police and military, and end the terror and violence they’ve inflicted abroad and in our own communities. We’ve called for the closing of prisons, for open borders, and for free universal healthcare for everyone, no questions asked.
We wanted to push these ideas into the mainstream and onto the ballot. I tried to use my platform as a public figure to send a message: every one of us has power, and that power goes far beyond what we do in a voting booth or at a protest. I want to remind people that we have each other, and we can do better.
Over the past several months, it has become clear that my experiences have taken an enormous toll on my physical and emotional health. I stepped back from campaigning to prioritize my own well-being. I found the space and the treatment I need to heal, with close friends by my side to provide love and support. I'm grateful for everyone who believed in me, including the more than one thousand individual donors who generously contributed to our campaign. I'm thankful for the work of my tireless campaign staff and our team of hundreds of volunteers, all of whom graciously gave their time to help spread our message.
We started this campaign knowing it was a long-shot. But, after spending hours and hours knocking on doors and making phone calls, I’m convinced that the change people truly need goes beyond what our corrupt two-party system is willing to offer. We need to realize the power we have as individuals. We need to use that power to build something new.
Win or lose, our campaign is part of a growing political insurrection. Recently, we have seen average people across the country mobilize to shut down ICE detention centers and confront politicians and police through individual and collective direct action. Our power is real. Our movement is larger than any election, and the political establishment ignores our voices at their own peril.
I’m not giving up. Together we can do better. Together we can win.
Together #WeGotThis 😎🌈💕