Protesters rally against COVID-19 in MI prisons


(UPDATE 4:50 p.m.) – The protesters who came out here today say they believe Governor Gretchen Whitmer has the power to free more inmates. But they made their stand outside of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) headquarters to show they will not stop fighting for those inside Michigan’s prisons.

“If we’re under such a state of emergency,” formerly incarcerated protester Demetris Knuckles-El says, “don’t you think it’s time to be emerging these people up out of prison? Because they’re in a state of emergency like us!”

With more than two thousand people sick from COVID-19 in Michigan’s prisons and 42 who have already died from the virus, members of Michigan Liberation say there’s no way for prisoners to fully protect themselves from a virus that could kill them.

“They’re confined and they have to be around each other,” organizer Nicholas Buckingham says. “When they say safeguard, we look at it as segregation.

On Monday Governor Whitmer said the state has made progress.

“People that are eligible for parole in the next 365 days are the first that are being determined,” she says. “The parole board is working seven days a week to make sure there are people that can be safely returned to home.”

The protesters say it’s not enough.

“Those numbers still need to be higher,” says Richard Speck of Safe and Just Michigan. “The parole board needs to be expanded so that more and more folks can get in front of the board and come home safely to the community.”

A spokesperson for MDOC says they will keep working to get those paroles going, and keep them going. And the people who were at the protest today say they just want everyone to remember that these are real pe ople inside Michigan’s prisons.

Lansing, MI (WLNS) – Dozens of people gathered in Lansing to protest the Michigan Department of Corrections and ask Governor Gretchen Whitmer to let thousands of inmates out of custody.

Over the last several weeks the number of COVID-19 cases has grown exponentially inside Michigan’s prisons.

At today’s protest they’re trying to ask the governor and MDOC to have as many of those inmates released as possible to avoid spreading the virus even further.

The protest was organized by the group Michigan Liberation.

They had several cars driving past the MDOC headquarters and passed the Capitol, honking and waving signs in support of the inmates who are in the prisons right now and who they say are unable to socially distance and protect themselves as much as possible from COVID-19.

Right now there are thousands of cases of COVID-19 in Michigan prisons. more than 40 inmates have died as a result of the virus.

6 News spoke with one of the organizers this morning to talk about what is most important for people at home to understand even if they’re not connected to an inmate personally.

“These are people. They’re not sentenced to die,” said protester Nicholas Buckingham. “They’re not sentenced to die in MDOC.”

This morning 6 News received a statement from an  MDOC spokesperson who says, last month, they were able to parole more than 800 inmates to get them out of the system as fast as possible.

People at the protest say that work has to continue.

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