Press release: SAN QUENTIN PRISON PROTEST West Gate, Saturday May 9 @ 11AM
A car caravan demonstration to demand protection from the deadly COVID-19 virus for prisoners is set for Saturday, May 9th. Cars will assemble at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal parking lot at 10AM. The caravan will begin at 11AM driving up Sir Francis Drake Blvd. to the West Gate of San Quentin State Prison. They will be protesting prison authorities who are leaving the most vulnerable people—prison inmates in overcrowded conditions—in danger without basic protections and unable to enact physical distancing.
Kevin Cooper, an innocent San Quentin Death Row prisoner who has served 35 years, wrote “being on death row with this COVID-19 pandemic raging is like having another death sentence.”
The caravan’s purpose is to alert the public that the prisons must not be administering a new death penalty by failing to protect a vulnerable population from this deadly virus. Media have covered frontline workers in hospitals, on cruise ships, in meat packing, food delivery and logistics workers in ports and warehouses, but in the Marion, Ohio prison 80% of prisoners and 50% of guards have tested positive. For prisoners this is a catastrophe-in-the-making. They are locked in place and essentially defenseless against the novel coronavirus.
Prisoners in ICE detention centers have called attention to this fast-moving disaster and asked families, friends, and human rights supporters to demand immediate action.
It is no accident that the U.S., the richest country in the world, has the highest rate of imprisonment and the most killed by this deadly pandemic. Such is the shameful reality of capitalist America whose attention is focused on a rising stock market and not the fallen and endangered victims of this pandemic.
“No State Execution by COVID-19” is the theme of the caravan initiated by the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. It is supported by Bay Area organizations including the Party of Socialism and Liberation, CODEPINK, Love Not Blood Foundation, Oscar Grant Committee, California Prison Focus Freedom Socialist Party, Democratic Socialists of America and others.
Signs displayed on the vehicles will make demands to address the prison crisis including: Release all prisoners over 60 and those with health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the coronavirus; release of all pretrial prisoners who have not been convicted of a crime; release of all prisoners not convicted of a violent crime; release of all prisoners whose sentences are almost over. Organizers of the caravan have announced they will exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and—a plan to observe strict CDC protections and physical distancing of the participants.