We, members of the Portland Outright family and community, are grieving the loss of our friend, loved one, and fellow organizer, Charles Maze Knowles.
As a member of SAFE Group--Portland Outright’s team of LGBTQ+, gender-nonconforming and allied youth organizers inside Long Creek Youth Development Center--Maze was a powerful, thoughtful, and fearless leader. He embodied a quiet power that came from seeing people’s whole truth, an unflinching commitment to loving each other boldly no matter what, and naming clearly a vision of safety and justice big enough for all of us. He made people feel welcome and so invited each of us to invest in each other’s safety, well-being, and resilience. Even on bad days he was a beacon. We honor his vision, his life, and love him with the same fierceness he inspired in all of us.
SAFE Group is a family and movement--giving voice and visibility to the youth solidarity taking place across identity and cultural lines inside prisons, where young people are taking risks to commit to each other’s dignity and survival. They are building a better, stronger, more connected community--in and outside of the system--to counter a culture of isolation by cultivating community power. The impact Maze had on this work, on all of us, is immeasurable.
We add our voices to the chorus calling for a thorough and transparent investigation of the circumstances surrounding Maze’s death and for immediate improvements to the living conditions and treatment of all incarcerated young people in Maine, including transgender young people, detained youth, and those navigating mental health issues. We are calling for immediate actions to ensure safety today while we commit to working towards community-based alternatives to incarceration--eyes wide open to the truth that there is no true safety for young people behind bars.
We stand with Maze.
We stand with Michelle Knowles, Maze’s mother.
We stand with everyone whose life was emboldened through a connection to Maze.
We stand with young people who are organizing, surviving, and rising up behind bars.
We stand with transgender youth across the country building power for collective liberation.
We stand behind a vision of justice for low-income, LGBTQ+/gender-nonconforming young people, youth of color, and otherwise marginalized youth in Maine--for all young people--without incarceration.
Rest in Power, Maze.
We love you & promise to never stop fighting.