Open Letter to Ashley Todd

email from Lady to NEFAC
Sat, Nov 1, 2008

Anyone who has been listening to the news around the upcoming election has to have heard of the Ashley Todd story... the woman (20 yr old) who accused a black man in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, last week of robbing her of $60 at an ATM and then carving a "B" on her face after discovering a McCain bumper sticker on her car... most locals here knew it was fake IMMEDIATELY.

anyways, i thought ya'll would like to see an "open letter" that circulated after the event our back yard, so to speak. i am sure it has not gotten out very far...
peace and war,
An Open Letter to Ashley Todd

Dear Ashley,

It sounds like you've had a helluva week. Sorry that you had such an unwelcoming introduction to Pittsburgh. Following your interrogation, the police reported that you were “upset with the media†for turning
this hoax into a “political firestorm.†As some of the ladies of Bloomfield, we'd like to take this opportunity to step up and tell you how the “political firestorm†you instigated directly affected the
community we live and work in.

Many of us are low-income, but our neighborhood is hardly the “wrong side†of Pittsburgh. This might be hard for you to recognize, coming from an exclusive Texas University, but we are a strong working-class
community full of families, students and seniors who work hard and take care of one another. If you don't believe us, just come out to Nico's Recovery Room on game day sometime and see for yourself.

We've worked hard to respond to racism, violence and poverty in our neighborhood. Bloomfield is a diverse community and the fear that you created by concocting a story of politically-motivated violence has made it harder for us to trust each other and see value in the differences around us. Word gets around fast when someone is hurt in our community and it's awfully scary to think that someone here could be targeted and attacked for their political beliefs.

Being poor and middle class women, most of us have also had our own experiences with sexual assault and violence. Having dealt with such a high-profile hoax, will our police officers be less likely to trust us
now if we approach them about a sexual assault? Our police department has not had a sterling record when it comes to dealing with victims of sexual or domestic violence. (See, for example, the department's history of lax responses to officers accused of abusing their partners or spouses.) Your false accusations have made it more difficult for us to be heard and believed when we go to the police about abuse or assault.

Ashley, we hear that when you were in crisis, you did not seek any medical attention, even though you were just blocks away from two different hospitals. Maybe, like us, you don't have good health insurance. Many of us have struggled to get medical care. We've gone to collections agencies because we couldn't pay our medical bills. We've toughed it out through illnesses. We've ignored our own depression or trauma because we couldn't afford mental health treatment. We think that everyone in our neighborhood deserves quality medical care that addresses both their physical and mental health needs.

In conclusion, Ashley, you've done a lot of damage to our community and we just want to take an opportunity to speak our piece. We will not tolerate race or politically-based fear mongering in our neighborhoods. Let there be no violence against women in our community. May everyone get the health care that they needâ€"yinz included.

In struggle,

Some Ladies in Bloomfield

Ashley Todd