Demanding justice and protesting safely
On Sunday, May3, 2020, members of the Boston May Day Coalition staged a demonstration in front of the Suffolk County Jail, demanding justice and rights for prisoners, immigrants and the poor in the United States. Below is the statement read at the demonstration.
We are here today to demonstrate that we can protest safely and demand our rights, the rights of the 99%, the rights of prisoners. We are all here wearing gloves and masks. We are keeping 6 feet apart. There is a safe way to protest.
The right-wing lackeys of Corporate Greed and sycophants of the sociopath in-chief in the White House will not monopolize the protest movement in the US. We saw that on May Day and this will continue. The undocumented are still being locked up and placed in perilous conditions. They are workers like us, not criminals.
During this crisis we see that inequality still reigns supreme. The 99% and especially those from oppressed nationalities are bearing the brunt of fatalities. Black folks have been denied testing and have died as a result. The prisons and nursing homes are death traps. They are breeding grounds for COVID-19.
Prisoners have almost no legal rights to defend themselves. Their only option is to die or fight back. We saw this in Bristol County on Friday, where the authorities brutalize the prisoners and throw them into unsanitary conditions or into solitary confinement and lie, and lie, and lie about what is going on. The prisoners refused to cooperate and were attacked and then framed up by the authorities.
The Boston May Day Coalition has put forward some demands which by no means encompass all the demands and grievances that have come forth from the prisoners but form a basis for beginning a discussion.
1) Empty the prisons! This state does not have a death sentence. Let’s not have their sentences turn into one through negligence or malice.
2) Release everyone in federal immigration detention, nationwide.
3) Release all parole eligible detainees.
4) Eliminate bail. No one should be at risk of infection and death due to poverty.
5) Eliminate all unnecessary parole meetings and all parole revocations for technical violations.
6) With visits suspended, lift all fees for calling family members.
7) During this pandemic, all prisoners need testing, single cells, sanitary conditions, and sufficient space to socially distance. This must not replicate solitary confinement, which is recognized by the UN as a form of torture.
8) Reduce the level of admission to prisons and jails. No more arrests for petty offenses.
9) Vacate bench warrants. Forgive the fines and fees.
10) No denials of due process