Alisha Walker is a 25 year old sex worker from Akron, Ohio. In January 2014 when she was 19 years old, Alisha was attacked by a client, Alan Filan, in his Chicago home. Filan had become angry when Alisha refused unsafe services, punching her in the face before grabbing a knife from the kitchen. Alisha managed to wrestle the knife from Filan, stabbing him. Filan was found dead in his house three days later.
Alisha was arrested and charged with second-degree murder despite no physical evidence being recovered. At her trial, the prosecutor portrayed Alisha as a manipulative criminal and spoke disparagingly about her profession. A jury convicted her of second-degree murder, and Alisha was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Alisha is in prison for self defense and because sex workers are treated as disposable. As groups like Support Ho(s)e and the Sex Workers Outreach Project assert, sex work is work, and sex workers have a right to safe working conditions, bodily autonomy, and self defense.
The group Support Ho(s)e Chicago has rallied around Alisha, organizing rallies and providing emotional and material support. Alisha’s legal team is appealing her sentence. Her supporters are asking people to join in a petition drive and letter-writing campaign to Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner and to send messages of support to Alisha.
Sign the petition for Alisha here:
You can access information for letter-writing and other ways you can support Alisha at supporthosechi.tumblr.com/ or at facebook.com/StandWithAlisha/.
Learn about campaigns for other people like Alisha who have been criminalized for defending themselves and surviving at survivedandpunished.org.
This video was conceived by Mariame Kaba and narrated by CeCe McDonald. Directed and produced by Dean Spade and Hope Dector. Audio editing by Lewis Wallace. Artwork and photographs by Chartreuse Jennings, Alisha Walker, Bob Simpson, Love and Struggle Photos, Paul Goyette, Matt McLoughlin, UIC Gender & Sexuality Center, and Jean Lotus of the Cook County Chronicle. Created by Support Ho(s)e, Barnard Center for Research on Women, and Survived and Punished.