CHICAGO — A pregnant mother of two awaiting trial for killing her abusive boyfriend was released from jail Wednesday, according to an announcement from advocates rallying for her to be home by Christmas.
Nearly 350 people donated to help post Freeman's $35,000 bond after her story was shared through national networks of domestic violence prevention and victim advocacy groups, according to a post on the Chicago Community Bond Fund's Facebook page.
Freeman, 23, had been in jail since July, when she intentionally ran over her boyfriend, 27-year-old John Perry, killing him, prosecutors said. Perry had punched Freeman 25 times and dragged her out of her car before she managed to climb back in, make a U-turn and pin him underneath it, she said.
Seventeen national and Chicago-based advocacy groups launched the #FreeNaomiFreeman campaign on Dec. 8, and since then they've raked in almost $13,000 from 345 donors, according to Chicago Community Bond Fund co-founder Sharlyn Grace. Earlier this week, Grace said, a $26,000 grant from the Women's Justice Fund brought them over the edge.
"Our goal from the very beginning was to have [Freeman] home for Christmas, and we're so happy we were all able to come together to make that happen," Grace said. "It shows there's a growing coalition of individuals who are looking at the way women are criminalized for self-defense, and at how unfair the bond system is."
Freeman, now entering her third trimester of pregnancy, had spent more than five months behind bars, Grace noted, while Officer Jason Van Dyke — the officer charged with murder for the October 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald — was bailed out within 48 hours of being arrested.
"We know that people who are held in jail before their trial have a greater chance of being convicted, and of being given harsher sentences," Grace added. "So if someone has to spend the two-to-three year period in a cage, money shouldn't be the reason for it."
After the trial concludes and the Freeman's bond is returned, Grace said, the $26,000 Women's Justice Fund grant will be set up as a permanent rotating fund for domestic violence victims charged with crimes.
According to the Chicago Community Bond Fund's website, more than 75 percent of incarcerated women are survivors of domestic violence, which is often mixed into the circumstances surrounding her arrest.
By running over Perry on July 5, "Naomi Freeman unwittingly joined the ranks of...many women who made the split-second choice to survive rather than die at the hands of an abuser," read an announcement posted to the site. "Also like them, she was arrested for it."
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