A gift for Mother’s Day: Get out of jail free

The Friday night before Mother’s Day, Nita Mosby Tyler had an idea. “Let’s bail someone out of jail.”

Brother Jeff fans out a wad of big bills that have been donated in the last 12 hours. May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Brother Jeff fans out a wad of big bills that have been donated in the last 12 hours. May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Brother Jeff fans out a wad of big bills that have been donated May 13, 2017,  to bail out women for Mother’s Day. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Friday night before Mother’s Day, Nita Mosby Tyler had an idea. “Let’s bail someone out of jail.”

So she grabbed $1,000 and called her friend and fellow Five Points neighborhood leader, Brother Jeff Fard. Together the two of them with her husband, Shorter Community A.M.E. Pastor Timothy Tyler, headed to Denver’s downtown detention facility on Colfax. That night they bailed three women out of jail.

While they never met the recipients of their kind acts, they still were imbued with a sense of satisfaction and a hunger to do more. They put out a call for donations on Facebook, and by 2 p.m. Saturday, they’d raised another $6,000. The three continue to bond low-level offenders hoping to grant families time together for the holiday.

Nita Mosby Tyler and Brother Jeff Fard count money to pay a bond inside the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center on Colfax, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado; jail;
Nita Mosby Tyler and Brother Jeff Fard count money to pay a bond inside the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center on Colfax. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Brother Jeff Fard runs a community center on Welton Street that he says preserves the heart of what his black community in Five Points “used to be.”

This year he began offering “Black Dollar Saturdays” in his photo studio, music and event space. The weekly setup of locals offering handmade products and food is one way Fard is working to stimulate what’s left of his neighborhood’s long-time residents, a community build around the A.M.E. congregation that predates Colorado itself.

Black Dollar Saturdays at Brother Jeff's Cultural Center in Five Points, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Black Dollar Saturdays at Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center in Five Points. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

This Saturday, after a personal finance class offered alongside the vendor tables, Fard announced his call for community help in identifying incarcerated mothers with low-level offenses.

“It’s a blessing,” he told a room about to burst into applause. “Just because you’re incarcerated doesn’t mean you’re not a part of our community.”

Josie Littleton claps as Brother Jeff annonces the Mother's Day initiative, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Josie Littleton claps as Brother Jeff announces the Mother’s Day initiative. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

This announcement was made long after Fard and the Tylers had raised the $6,000. While people continued to file in with donations, the team was already hard at work on services.

By then their mission had expanded to three goals: bond out mothers for the holiday, make bags of food hearty enough to support a family of four and pay for summer camp for kids whose mothers are incarcerated long-term.

“All of us live in parts of a community where we see children without their mothers all of the time,” Nita Tyler said. “When you think about the women who are incarcerated on something low level and petty, is that really worth what happens to children on Mother’s Day?”

Arica Quinn stands with her son Matthias inside Brother Jeff's Cultural Center in Five Points, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Arica Quinn stands with her son Matthias inside Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center in Five Points. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The “trauma” she says kids are subjected to costs far more than a couple hundred dollars.

What makes things more difficult, Fard said, are the processing fees attached to bond payments that make payment more difficult to the city’s poorest inmates.

It’s clear that bailing women out had much deeper implication than a simple holiday. Instead, both Tylers and Fard saw their effort as one battle in a long war against the consequences of racial oppresion. The “vicious cycle of poverty,” Fard said, further isolates people and breaks up families.

“If you think about people who are incarcerated, they’re mainly poor, they’re mainly of color, and they’re mainly those who have not achieved a high school diploma,” he said. “People who can’t afford $100 bonds, that’s a tragedy.”

Regina Jones packs chicken into bags for distribution. Brother Jeff's Cultural Center in Five Points, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Regina Jones packs chicken into bags for distribution. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

By the end of Saturday afternoon, the Five Points community had already begun distributing nearly thirty bags filled with chicken, potatoes and green beans. The three community leaders left for the jail downtown equipped with a wad of large bills and text messages full of names. After pulling a couple tickets for a spot in line, they sat down with a clerk who remembered them from the night before and began reading off names.

It seems they were not the only ones who thought of paying bonds this year. Slate reports that a coalition of Black Lives Matter organizations have raised more than $250,000 and bonded at least 30 women.

At of the time of this publishing Fard and the Tylers had bonded 8 women. “We will go to the jail again today,” Fard said this morning, “pay bail, lay roses and say a prayer for those in jail.”

Brother Jeff Fard with Pastor Timothy and Nita Mosby Tyler speak to friends on Facebook Live inside the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center on Colfax, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado; jail;
Brother Jeff Fard with Pastor Timothy and Nita Mosby Tyler speak to friends on Facebook Live inside the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center on Colfax. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Brother Jeff Fard and Christopher X carry boxes of food to be distributed to the community, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Brother Jeff Fard and Christopher X carry boxes of food to be distributed to the community. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Nita Tyler packs potatoes and green beans into bags for distribution. Brother Jeff's Cultural Center in Five Points, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Nita Tyler packs potatoes and green beans into bags for distribution. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Josephine Lemon-lett (left to right), Josie Littleton and Yulanda Cross sit behind their vendor table at Black Dollar Saturdays, Brother Jeff's Cultural Center in Five Points, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
Josephine Lemon-lett (left to right), Josie Littleton and Yulanda Cross sit behind their vendor table at Black Dollar Saturdays. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
RaShawn plays chess with Ralph "The Human Being" Mills inside Brother Jeff's Cultural Center in Five Points, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado;
RaShawn plays chess with Ralph “The Human Being” Mills inside Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Brother Jeff Fard hugs Pastor Timothy Tyler outside the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center on Colfax, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; five points; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado; jail;
Brother Jeff Fard hugs Pastor Timothy Tyler outside the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center on Colfax. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Nita Mosby Tyler sits with a clerk inside the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center on Colfax, May 13, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) brother jeff's cultural center; mother's day; kevinjbeaty; denver; denverite; colorado; jail;
Nita Mosby Tyler sits with a clerk inside the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center on Colfax. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Kevin Beaty

Author: Kevin Beaty

Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @kevinjbeaty.