#MeToo founder Tarana Burke says that the verdict in the high-profile defamation case between actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is the result of a broken system.
While speaking alongside Chase Strangio, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy director for transgender justice, at the TIME100 Summit on Tuesday, Burke discussed the intersection of #MeToo and the trial, which resulted in the jury ruling that Heard defamed Depp in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” The jury awarded Depp $15 million in damages. Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages in her countersuit—in which she claimed that she was defamed when Depp’s former lawyer described her domestic abuse claims as a “hoax.”
Burke said in a statement she posted on Twitter in response to the verdict, “The ‘me too’ movement isn’t dead, this system is dead.”
“I’ve been really clear about this all the way back to the [Harvey] Weinstein trial when people kept asking me, ‘Oh, don’t you feel great that Weinstein was found guilty?’ and I was like, ‘This is not what the movement is,'” she said Tuesday. “It’s not sustainable to rely on the verdicts from these various trials to define what the movement is … These systems don’t work.”
Burke went on say that we need to “completely reimagine” how we’ve been trained to to think about what accountability and justice look like in the U.S. “We have been socialized and trained to think about nothing but crime and punishment and law and order when we should be thinking about harm and harm reduction,” she said. “We cannot get real accountability and justice from the current systems that are in place in the United States. It’s just not possible … So to indict a whole movement based on the outcomes of any of these cases does not make sense.”
Burke, who is a survivor of sexual assault herself, created the “Me Too” movement in 2006 while working as an activist in Philadelphia with young women of color who had experienced sexual violence—a decade before Alyssa Milano popularized #MeToo on Twitter as allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein began to surface in 2017.
The TIME 100 Summit is the live event extension of the annual TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world. It convenes leaders from the global TIME 100 community to spotlight solutions and encourage action toward a better world. This year’s summit features a variety of impactful speakers across a diverse range of sectors, including politics, business, health and science, culture, and more.
Speakers for the 2022 TIME 100 Summit include Apple CEO Tim Cook, producer Mindy Kaling, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates, filmmaker Taika Waititi, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, musician Jon Batiste, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, NBA champion, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Dwayne Wade, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, Christian Siriano founder and creative director Christian Siriano, Brother Vellies founder and creative director Aurora James, Netflix head of global TV Bela Bajaria, author and poet Cathy Park Hong, Olympic freestyle skiing champion Eileen Gu, author, poet, and Mellon Foundation president Elizabeth Alexander, filmmaker Betsy West, filmmaker Julie Cohen, BioNTech SE senior vice president Dr. Katalin Karikó, Ukrayinska Pravda editor in chief Sevgil Musaieva, and TIME co-chair and Salesforce chair and co-CEO Marc Benioff.
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