by No Justice Under Capitalism
“No State Execution by COVID-19” protest will take place at Larkspur Ferry Terminal, Sunday Aug. 2 at 12PM
The fifth protest at San Quentin to demand that the State of California protect incarcerated people from the deadly COVID-19 virus will take place on Sunday, Aug. 2nd. Protesters will assemble at the Larkspur Ferry Terminal parking lot at 12PM and march up Sir Francis Drake Blvd. for a rally at the West Gate of San Quentin State Prison.
Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr) are administering a new death penalty by failing to protect incarcerated people from this deadly virus. No Justice Under Capitalism (NJUC) is a united front coalition organizing this protest in collaboration with We Are Their Voices, a grassroots movement consisting of system-impacted families speaking up for their incarcerated loved ones. NJUC organized two previous car caravans at San Quentin on May 9 and June 20, and a protest at Gov. Newsom’s house on July 5th, under the slogan “No State Execution by COVID-19!”
Since those protests took place, the number of coronavirus cases at San Quentin has risen to 2,147 cases – more than half its population. This figure is an underestimate, because it does not include people who have refused testing in order to avoid involuntary transfers out of their cells. The infection rate inside CA prisons is over seven times that of the general population and has nearly doubled in the past month. A total of 47 people, thus far, have died across the CDCr system, including 19 deaths at San Quentin.
The outbreaks at San Quentin, CIM in Chino, Avenal, Chuckawalla Valley, and many other prisons are a public health catastrophe of the greatest magnitude. Incarcerated people – including the elderly and immunocompromised – are locked in place, unable to social distance and defenseless against coronavirus. One quarter of the current prison population is aged 50 and older. The crisis cannot be resolved unless Gov. Newsom orders mass releases now – a step for which four months he has failed to take.
Newsom’s plan to release 8,000 people is a paltry 6percent of the prison population. By comparison, UCSF and UC Berkeley medical professionals who were retained by the federal receiver overseeing CDCr have stated that in order for the outbreak in San Quentin to be controlled, its population must be reduced by at least 50 percent. 19 of California’s 36 state prisons are currently overcrowded at above 120 percent of their design capacity. CDCr’s case-by-case approach to releases will not be sufficient to prevent the further spread of COVID among the incarcerated.
It is no accident that the U.S., the richest country in the world, has both the highest rate of imprisonment and the most killed by this deadly virus. The ongoing protests against police brutality across the nation and the ongoing demonstrations to release people from prisons, jails and ICE detention centers – including political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and Chip Fitzgerald, imprisoned for decades for fighting the racist police, courts and prisons – are the same fight.
Participants at the rally will exercise their First Amendment right to free speech while observing health protections, including physical distancing of the participants.