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State House rally to decarcerate, divest from, and dismantle prisons

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As the national conversation around police violence unfolds, we must shine a light on the violence happening behind the walls, too,” write organizers in a statement. “Decarceration, divestment, and abolition of prisons is inseparable from the work of dismantling police.


Formerly incarcerated people, families of incarcerated people, and allies gathered at the Rhode Island State House Friday afternoon “in solidarity with those currently incarcerated in Rhode Island prisons.”

Demands include immediate protections for people incarcerated at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI), including restoration of programming and visitation as well as ending excessive lockdowns with limited access to communication with loved ones, the outdoors, or sufficient space for social distancing. Organizers are also demanding that the state take steps towards prison abolition, including decarcerating prisoners, starting immediately with medically vulnerable individuals; defunding prisons and police in this year’s city and state budgets; and longterm divestment from prisons and investment in community resources.

“As the national conversation around police violence unfolds, we must shine a light on the violence happening behind the walls, too,” write organizers in a statement. “Decarceration, divestment, and abolition of prisons is inseparable from the work of dismantling police.”

Firsthand accounts from currently incarcerated people at the ACI regarding the conditions of confinement in Rhode Island were read to the crowd of over 200 people. In one of these accounts, an incarcerated person shares: “As the days and weeks went on, I kept hearing about social distancing, wearing masks, and testing. It took seven weeks before they gave us masks, ten weeks or so before we got tested. When guys started questioning where the masks and testing were, they were being dragged off to seg for some B.S. booking, so guys started to be fearful to ask.”

Another account was posted on UpriseRI here as an oped. In that account and anonymous inmate in medium security writes, “Dialogue with officers about any grievance listed here is sometimes met with short-tempered responses intended to intimidate, humiliate, and discourage inmates from seeking recourse. There is a reason why no name is attached to this letter. The fear of retaliation with solitary confinement and other forms of physical and verbal abuse keep many incarcerated people from speaking out about their experiences. But we will not be silenced.”


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This rally was organized by Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Black and Pink, Formerly Incarcerated Union, the Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance (AMOR), and community members as part of the RI COVID Response: Decarcerate NOW campaign.

You can watch the video of the speakers here:

The event was emceed by Terri Wright:

Jessie, from Black and Pink:

Suzette Cook:

Terrie Wright:

Mark, with a statement from inside:

Leonard, with Behind the Walls:

Anusha and Lex:

Douglas with Black and Pink:

Terri Wright:

Anna:

Catarina Lorenzo with AMOR:

Lex:

John Prince:

Towards the end of the rally young activists with PROVX took the stage, and held a speak out.

PROVX arrives for their speakout:

Brooklyn:

Najeli:

Brooklyn:

UpriseRI reporter Will James provided a livestream of the PROVX Spoken Word Rally:

Will James also provided a livestream of the Decarcerate, Divest, Dismantle! Rally:

Decarcerate, Divest, Dismantle! Rally

Posted by Uprise RI on Friday, July 3, 2020