“This state is in a crisis right now,” said Gary Dantzler, executive director of Black Live Matter Rhode Island (BLM RI), outside the Maximum Security building of the ACI in Cranston. “We’re at 100% in this building here, and no one’s talking about it. We have to come up with a goal and plan to figure out what we can do to make this better.”
As of Friday, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections reported 873 positive tests for COVID-19 at the various facilities of the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI), including 574 residents and 182 staff. BLM RI held a press conference calling on Governor Gina Raimondo and state leaders to do something to address the issue. So far, the state has done nothing more than it has been doing during the pandemic, actions which have led to a wildfire of infections at the facilities.
“The negligence that we see is almost unbelievable,” said BLM RI’s Mark Fisher. “Why does it seem that, at the expense of colored people, always, we wait until the last minute to do something, to take preventive measures, to act bold and to act decisively to protect the most vulnerable of our population?”
“There’s things that they could do right now,” said Bernice Morris, policy advocate for BLM RI. “They could send people who can go home – send them home, because clearly they can’t keep them safe in these walls…
“The other ting is that they need to take care of the fact that they ‘re incarcerating people at such a high rate,” continued Morris. “They could do something different about the way people are being pushed through the courts and incarcerated.”
You can watch the full press conference here: