Fiona Apple is fetching the bolt cutters and using them to try and open the (virtual) courtroom doors. In partnership with Courtwatch PG, the 44-year-old singer-songwriter sent a video message Thursday (March 17) asking citizens to help ensure that courts in Maryland stay virtually accessible to the public.
“Hello! I’ve come here today to tell you about my new makeup line — yeah, I’m f–king kidding,” she said at the beginning of the video, which was posted to Court Watch PG’s Instagram. “About a year ago, I made a video saying ‘F–k the Grammys, we don’t care about the transparency there. What really matters is transparency in actual courtrooms.’ That still matters,” she added.
Apple went on to explain that the organization has completed legislation demanding the continuation of remote accessibility to courtrooms in Maryland, which would allow activists and the general public alike to continue monitoring court hearings for any signs of injustice in the judicial system. The next step, she said, is getting the legislation onto the floor for a vote, which requires the support of Maryland state senator/Judicial Proceedings Committee chairman William Smith Jr. and House of Delegates member/Judiciary Committee chairman Luke Clippinger.
“A–holes, scroll on through,” Apple said, before giving instructions on how to call Smith and Clippinger to voice support for the bill’s advancement. “Caring people, I am talking to you. You just make two phone calls. I’ve done it already and I have phone phobia. So if I can do it, you can do it.”
Founded by formerly incarcerated Black women, Courtwatch PG’s volunteers observe bail hearings in Prince George’s County District Court to document proceedings and hold judicial actors accountable for court injustice — specifically when it comes to Black and brown defendants. Apple has been a member for a little over a year and publicly ditched last year’s Grammys — despite winning two awards for her Billboard 200 No. 4 album Fetch The Boltcutters — to ask her fans to sign a Courtwatch PG courtroom virtual access petition.
“She’s one of the most committed court watchers in PG County, Maryland,” wrote civil rights attorney Scott Hechinger about Apple on Twitter. “Even though she doesn’t live there, cares deeply. Learned language of court. Takes notes. Bears witness. Holds bad actors accountable.”
The New York-bred “Criminal” singer’s activism extends from the east coast to the west. In February, she sent a video message voicing support for a movement in Oregon to end a Ku Klux Klan-lobbied law prohibiting Black defendants from having a fair trial.
“They’re trying to shut us out, and you’ve gotta question it,” Apple said of closed courts in last year’s pre-Grammys video. “Like, why are you trying to shut us out? What don’t you want us to see?”