BY: AILEEN ZANGOUEI
Alison Brettschneider, a native New Yorker who now currently lives in California, is a successful fashion business owner. Her boutique has multiple locations and is called 25 Park, which is also the name of her social media platforms. One would typically think that her posts are made about new store arrivals, trending styles or clothing sales. However, her posts show something of much value in this world today, something we need more of. She advocates for political and social change, while supporting and promoting the voice of women. Brettschneider’s own voice is visually loud and vibrant, and very straight forward.
Brettschneider focuses her spotlight on issues that need public attention, and with a quarter-of-a-million people actively following her, these issues certainly get seen and heard. “I have no problem taking the lead, I have no problem going left when everybody goes right,” says Brettschneider in one of her Instagram posts.
Brettschneider uses her platform to educate people, and make movements happen by encouraging people to participate in using their voice toward something good. Brettschneider even had a hand in having an innocent convicted criminal, Marcellus Williams, taken off death row just hours before his scheduled execution. She says when her friends ask her how she gets involved in these things, she has no idea; “Just call me Erin Brokovich.”
Forty-eight-year-old Marcellus Williams, a man who had been sitting on death row in Missouri, was scheduled for execution on Tuesday, August 22, 2017. He was convicted in 2001 for the 1998 death of Felicia “Lisha” Gayle, who had been a reporter with the St.Louis Post-Dispatch. Gayle was in her home when she was stabbed 43 times. However, new evidence was revealed that is “conclusive scientific evidence that another man committed this crime,” says William’s attorneys who have argued his innocence pointing at these DNA tests. The Governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens, was able to stop the execution. Brettschneider had been actively pushing her followers to contact Greitens. She posted things directed at the Governor and tagged him in the posts, she also encouraged people to go comment on his page and created the hashtag: #STOPTHEEXECUTIONOFMARCELLUSWILLIAMS.
Brettschneider was seen fighting around the clock; she posted at all times of the day and night. She even flew to Missouri to try and speak with the Governor in person after some of her online attempts failed. However, he was not in his office, and was no where to be found according to Brettschneider. On the day before Marcellus’ scheduled execution, she spent two-hours with him. Her Instagram post after the visitation read: “Words can’t articulate how much my heart hurts right now.” Williams asked her to come back to visit him again before his execution, to which she replied, “I will of course come back, but there will not be an execution…at least not tomorrow.”
The next day, the Governor issued a stay of execution two hours before Williams was supposed to undergo lethal injection.
“With six hours between our visitation and the scheduled execution, we went to a local Dairy Queen, Arby’s, Burger King… Not quite sure exactly which, but it didn’t matter. We were all inside our heads thinking outside the box, waiting for a call from the Supreme Court with their ruling or the Governor to grant clemency. We couldn’t eat, we could barely speak…but we were determined to help a broken system not kill an innocent man. When we got the call, it was an emotional scene in the middle of nowhere and it took us all a few minutes to actually digest and comprehend it all and compose ourselves, also thinking about the flip side of how this could have ended. We are ALL grateful to EVERY SINGLE ONE of you. Many of you commented, I am “nobody” but I signed and posted and did what I could. I would like to make it clear once again, you are not “NOBODY”. You cared, you played your part and we are thankful in a way we could never express, TO EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU…”
Brettschneider, Williams Jr. (Marcellus William’s son), and supporters hope Williams will be exonerated.
Brettschneider is just one example of how unity, and vigorously fighting for the right thing in any way you can – no matter how big or small scale – can make a change. This is something that she wishes everyone would realize. “We should all be using our platforms to create awareness on important topics to help others. I have a very loyal following, but let’s face it…I’m a small fish in a big sea. If I can help save a man from death row in MISSOURI, imagine what somebody like @beyonce or @kimkardashian could do? We could really save the world if everybody stepped up to the plate.”
Brettschneider has used her social media platform to start a charity called “fivefuckingdollars”, which she uses in hopes of having people donate at least five dollars towards a person or thing she is trying to help. For example, she recently raised $15,000 for a senior student at the University of California Irvine who was having financial struggles, and faced not attending that year of school had she not payed the previous year’s remaining tuition. The student says she was working three jobs, and has a single parent and a brother, so times were tough. Brettschneider used her platform as a microphone for this student to help her raise the money in one week’s time. “I have been saying this for so long aka my charity @fivefuckingdollars. It is a privilege and honor to have this kind of microphone to the world, WHY NOT use it for the greater good? We are all in this together.”
Follow Brettschneider here for more in your face realness and to get involved.