Video Footage by Marion Hill
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, The New Orleans Workers Group called a Car Rally today in solidarity with all incarcerated people. While we practiced social distancing rules, our motorcade was over 70 cars long and drove several times around the Juvenile Justice Court, Orleans Parish Prison, New Orleans I.C.E. Office and City Hall. This effort was to demand the immediate release of all people in ICE detention centers, jails, and prisons who are not convicted of violent crimes. We know that the inhumane conditions in these institutions are ripe for death and horror, all the worse with COVID-19 ravaging the state of Louisiana. We are also calling for an immediate moratorium on all arrests, deportations, and ICE raids. Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, VOTE Louisiana, New Orleans Center for Racial Justice also participated in the rally.
Today, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed that 15 incarcerated people have tested positive for the Coronavirus. We also know that the numbers of positive cases are quickly rising in youth detention, ICE detention, and prisons all over the state. We cannot let this happen to our community members. While the State government has no shortage of prison beds, there are shortages of hospital beds and ventilators during the COVID-19 crisis. Year in and year out, our local and state budgets reflect the priorities of the government: mass incarceration and violent policing of our communities. Instead of wasting millions of our tax dollars on prisons, detention centers (concentration camps), and police, these funds should be used to fulfill the needs of the people, especially during the pandemic. Containment of this virus and survival are of top importance to us, and we know that this is impossible as long as there are people locked in prisons.