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Jan 12, 21

Feb 1st Call to Action: Demand Mass Clemency on “National Freedom Day”

Call from the Antistasis Project for actions to demand clemency in the face of a raging pandemic inside jails, prisons and detention centers.

UPDATE: Check out the Feb 1st COVID Clemency Caravan and Day of Action organizing and media kit to start plugging in.

As supporters of the #CagingCOVID campaign, the Antistasis Project is calling for decentralized actions on February 1st across the so-called United States, and internationally, in support of mass clemency for people held in jails, prisons and detention centers.

Reports updated as of January 8, 2021 show over 329,298  prisoners have gotten the virus, and more than 2,020 died as a result of it. The pandemic has resulted in prisons and jails abusing isolation more than ever before. Social distance is necessary but solitary confinement is torture.

Crowded quarters, a lack of PPE, inadequate medical care, an aging population, and unsanitary conditions have contributed to an infection rate 5.5 times higher than the already ballooned average in the U.S.

There have been over 100 documented prisoner rebellions related to negligence over COVID-19 safety (For example, Alabama prisoners have been on strike since Jan 1st). Its time we step it up on the outside. A quick and massive release of prisoners is the safest and most responsible option. In reality, its long overdue.

February 1st was declared “National Freedom Day” in 1949, in a Presidential proclamation recognizing both the 1865 signing of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery and 1948 U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. Yet all these years later, today’s prisoners are still subjected to conditions those documents were thought to be addressing, from extreme medical neglect and the torture of isolation to outright slave labor.

#CagingCOVID is inviting people to join them in a caravan to DC, where they will have a motorcade rally to hand-deliver their petition to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the United Nations (UN) offices.

But there are also countless local and regional targets to apply pressure on in furthering the demand of immediate COVID clemency. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Your Governor’s home: Check out what they’ve been doing in North Carolina and Florida for some inspiration.
  2. A local jail or prison near you: Make noise to let prisoners and detainees know you are out there. While a prison noise demo is a First Amendment protected activity, it sends a message up the chain to administration and other officials who fear demonstrations spreading across the wall.
  3. Regional offices of the DOJ, CDC and UN: Help amplify the #CagingCOVID petition demands by having a presence at these offices as well.
  4. A busy intersection, interstate or shopping area: Reach people on the street, some times a little disruption can also generate more attention and media coverage that reaches thousands more.
  5. Get creative! Put out flyers and posters, drop banners in visible locations, coordinate phone zaps and social media blasts, affinity group style direct actions to blockade or occupy strategic locations… Just be sure to wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distance while you do any in-person activity.

Abolition is the road, clemency is the vehicle, now is the time.

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