BREAKING: More than 40 women and a few men held a candlelight vigil tonight outside the ArcLight theater in Hollywood to support the alleged rape victim at the center of the controversy surrounding The Birth of a Nation‘s director Nate Parker and co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin. The protesters, who sat in total silence, were demonstrating to bring attention to the alleged victim who 17 years ago accused the two men of raping her while she lay unconscious; the incident in question took place when they were all students at Penn State. Many years later, the woman committed suicide.
Parker was acquitted at the end of a 2001 trial, and Celestin’s conviction for sexual assault was later overturned; the case was never retried. The protest in Hollywood was organized by the Fvck Rape Culture organization.
The event’s organizer, Elyse Cizek, broke her silence after an hour to address the group sitting quietly with her, saying, “I’m so appreciative of all of you being here. Hopefully, it will not go unnoticed.”
In a press release issued earlier in the week by Cizek, she stated the reason for the protest: “Nate Parker has the platform at this time to speak to his brothers on how to listen to us, respect our boundaries and rights as women, and lead the conversation on consent. When this happens, when he is willing to listen before silencing us, and when he can join the dialogue on what can be done to advance the voices of women everywhere silenced by rape culture and toxic masculinity, I will be his greatest support. Until then I will not stand for it. Instead I will sit, in quiet solidarity, with those in need of a moment of silence for the lives and stories ignored by those who care more about the appearance of change than the responsibility of creating it.”