Celebrities are shedding light on a tragic 2004 case of a teen sex trafficking victim who killed a 43-year-old man she thought was about to attack her. Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison for the murder at age 16 and is currently incarcerated in the Tennessee Prison for Women, according to The Tennessean. Now, advocates and celebrities alike have taken to social media with the trending hashtag #FREECYNTOIABROWN demanding justice for Brown.
Rihanna shared a post on Instagram about Brown, now 29: "Did we somehow change the definition of #JUSTICE along the way?? Cause..... Something is horribly wrong when the system enables these rapists and the victim is thrown away for life! To each of you responsible for this child's sentence I hope to God you don't have children, because this could be your daughter being punished for punishing already!"
Kim Kardashian tweeted, “The system has failed. It’s heart breaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this.#FreeCyntoiaBrown”
In 2004, 43-year-old Nashville real estate agent Johnny Mitchell Allen solicited Brown for sex from his pickup truck. He took her home, and it was there that she shot him in the back of the head with a .40-caliber handgun. She said she thought the real estate agent was reaching for his gun when she shot him.
A documentary film about the case, "Me Facing Life: Cyntoia's Story," debuted on PBS in 2011. Its filmmaker Dan Birman told Fox 17 News, “This is a young girl who's at the tail end of three generations of violence against women.” He added that Brown, her mother and her grandmother were all raped.
“She had no chance," he said.
As a teen, Brown was lured into a sex trafficking ring, and she said she was forced into prostitution by a violent boyfriend, a pimp named "Kutthroat."
Derri Smith, the Founder of End Slavery TN, told Fox 17 News, “[There's] no such thing as a child prostitute or a teen prostitute. I think we've had to have a cultural mind shift."
Brown never denied the murder.
“I shot him,” she reportedly said, not long after the crime. “I executed him.”
Brown has already spent 13 years in prison, during which she has completed her associates degree. She is now working on her bachelors. Many Tennessee residents have campaigned for Brown’s freedom, and they've created a petition that's received more than 100,000 signatures.