Six protesters, all medical professionals and members of Code Black RI, were arrested outside the home of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo on Wednesday evening as they blocked the street to protest the conditions at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) where the Covid pandemic rages and at least one guard and two incarcerated residents have died. The arrests came towards the end of a vigil organized by the Decarcerate NOW Coalition (Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE)’s Behind the Walls Committee, Formerly Incarecerated Union of RI, Black and Pink Providence, Reclaim RI and Never Again Action RI) in memory of Jeffrey Washington, the first incarcerated person to die at the prison. A second incarcerated person died on Christmas Day, reports Motif.
The Decarcerate NOW Coalition has the following demands:
- Halt arrests and grant personal recognizance to limit the number of people indefinitely trapped in the ACI’s Intake Center, waiting for court hearings and trials.
- Reduce the prison population to control the spread of disease. Restore lost good time. Expedite parole hearings and release all eligible individuals. Utilize medical parole for all terminally ill, elderly, and immunocompromised individuals. Release all other eligible individuals into community confinement.
- Recognize all incarcerated people as a priority community (Phase 1) for the COVID-19 vaccination, with an informed consent and opt-out process for the population.
- Provide our loved ones with adequate PPE (masks, soap, hand sanitizer) as recommended by the CDC.
- Regularly administer universal testing across the population, including asymptomatic people.
- Provide transparency and accountability to incarcerated people’s families. Publicly release a formal process for family members to report noncompliance with COVID measures. Report daily COVID-19 numbers on the RIDOC website and social media, with the same level of documentation and transparency as that provided around every other Rhode Island population.
“Until we target the racist systems that perpetuate health inequity, we will continue to see the downstream effects and watch people die from preventable causes,” writes Code Black RI in a statement released ahead of their protest. “We have joined the field of healthcare to heal and “do no harm”, although all too often we find ourselves a part of systems which inflict harm on our patients. We cannot continue to perpetuate harmful systems. We must work to change them. Today, we stand in solidarity with all whose lives have been devastated by mass incarceration.“
Will James had the live stream:
Vigil for Imprisoned Rhode Islanders Outside Governor Raimondo's House
As Covid-19 cases pass 800 inside of Rhode Island's prison system, allies or family of incarcerated people are gathering in front of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo's home. For months they have been calling on the Governor to take a number of steps to reduce to the prison population. The allies, part of the Decarcerate NOW coalition, recently read these demands at a protest outside the Governor's weekly Covid press conference: https://upriseri.com/2020-12-18-dare/. Thanks for tuning as Will James reports on this event. To donate to Uprise RI visit https://www.patreon.com/UpriseRI. Help us build progressive journalism in Rhode Island!Posted by Uprise RI on Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Before the protest got underway an officer of the Rhode Island State Police warned the protesters and vigil attendees to not block the street under risk of arrest.
Here is is video of the arrests:
Members of DARE read statements from the loved ones of incarcerated people inside the ACI. The statements were presented anonymously because many families fear that coming forward may open their loved one up to retaliation from prison guards.
A coffin was placed outside the Governor’s home and flowers were place on it.
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“Any life lost is a loved one lost— a father, son, sister, a mother,” said Ms Sheila of DARE, by telephone. “And it’s sad and it’s despicable and disgraceful. And, you know, I learned from Ms. Bandele from a statement when she was talking about her husband. She said none of us are the worst thing we’ve ever done nor are we the best.”
A moment of silence: