Filed under: Action, Disaster, Health Care, Incarceration, Southeast
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Report back from recent noise demonstration and car caravan in North Carolina, in solidarity with prisoners who are also organizing in the face of continued COVID-19 infections.
On Friday, May 8th, there was a noisy car demo outside of Neuse Correctional in Goldsboro, NC, a facility with one of the nations
highest outbreak cases of COVID-19. So far, well over 400 incarcerated people have tested positive and at least three have died. The demo was organized by multiple chapters of All of Us or None of US from across the state, as well as the Empty Cage’s Collective. Prisoners inside Neuse CI also organized their own protest in early April, after the first signs of the outbreak.
Over 20 cars and 40 people turned out from all over NC and a few cars from Virginia joined as well. Together, the procession drove past the prison a few times, with some individuals acting as pallbearers leaving “body bags” in the parking lot to symbolize and pay respects to those lives lost at the hands of NC DPS’ gross negligence and mishandling of the epidemic raging throughout their system.
Our caravan was prevented from driving into the parking lot of the prison by prison guards, and when turning around to continue by the prison on the main road, a large line of Sherrif’s began blocking traffic. With the caravan stopped in front of the facility, people began standing outside their cars, waving flags and gesturing to prisoners, who could be seen inside waving and jumping up and down. We later saw that FB posts were made by the loved ones of those inside, saying they could see and hear the protest and were hyped on it. Eventually our procession was able to leave and regroup nearby, with no arrests.
NC DPS Continues to Fail at Even Basic Care
These deaths were preventable. NC DPS has been beyond negligent during this crisis, doing all kinds of reckless or malicious things that could only help the virus spread–which it has–in facilities across the state. This includes not taking temperatures, double-bunking prisoners, knowingly mixing positive prisoners with people who are still negative, not making hand sanitizer or bleach available, and not sharing test results with prisoners.
This report from one of a contact inside Neuse makes all this abundantly and tragically clear:
“I have a weak immune system due to HIV and now have been exposed to COVID-19 here at Neuse Correctional. I could have been protected from the virus when I put in a sick-call and was taken to the nurse station and seen by the nurse. I told him about my worry of getting the virus because of my weak immune system due to having HIV. He told me I shouldn’t be on the same yard and dorm as the other inmates the dorm I was in was half infected.
But the administration still put me on the dorm that was infected. I told the nurses and Sergeants that I was sleeping and surrounded by inmates who have the virus, and sure enough three days later I was infected with the virus. I’m now getting no help or the care I need. I’m sweating every night with night sweats and bad headaches and chest pain and can’t get no help. I’m worried about getting the flu or pneumonia. They stopped checking our temperatures two weeks ago.
My body feels hot and weak all the time. Please help me so I can make it home to my family before it is too late. I don’t have but five more months left of the eleven month sentence for my nonviolent crime.”
National Grievance Petitions
This protest also intentionally coincided with the mass mailing of a national grievance petition to the US Department of Justice on May 7th. Hundreds of incarcerated individuals simultaneously mailed this legal form, which was drafted by NC incarcerated individuals themselves.
Their demands are: an end to solitary confinement practices; improved food and medical treatment; an end to costs paid for infractions; an end to the new JPay policy which has drastically reduced family and friends’ ability to send money inside, and accordingly increased violence among incarcerated individuals; and a wide array of changes related to how the prisons respond to the extreme crisis of the coronavirus behind bars.
This weekend also saw demonstrations outside of Central Prison in time with national grievance petition, and an annual Mother’s Day demonstration at NCCIW, both in Raleigh.