By Serran Soledad
On Saturday, a protest was held outside of the Ventura County Jail in response to an outbreak in which 81 inmates tested positive for Covid-19. As court dates have been delayed and legal resources have been kept from inmates due to the strict lockdown put in place, many have been held indefinitely without being found guilty of a single crime.
The action organized by Oxnard Revolutionary Study Group, Black Lives Matter Ventura County, Diversity Collective, and the Ventura Tenants Union drew support from the community against imprisonment generally and the state’s negligence of inmates’ health.
Protesters led chants, marched, and gave speeches demanding the release of those kept inside the infected facility, as inmates pounded against the glass in support. One inmate could be seen holding his ear to a cup against the window to listen in as protesters chanted “Free them all!”
At one point, inmates began spelling out messages from their cells with pieces of cut-out paper. Some of the messages read, “I matter too,” “BLM,” and “Free Us,” while others displayed their names and inmate numbers. The action was held at the entryway of the jail, allowing protesters to interact with people who were coming to visit their loved ones.
Two women attempting to visit with their sons joined the protest and spoke on the microphone about the poor conditions in the jail, as well as how difficult the lockdown has been for them. The pain was evident in their words, as one woman expressed, “I just wish I could hold him in my arms and that it were me instead of him locked inside.”
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it is clear that the most oppressed sections of US society bear the greatest suffering as a result. With the deepening crisis of US imperialism, an inadequate healthcare system for the working class, and massive levels of incarceration, the only way to truly struggle against the pandemic is to fight against the capitalist system as a whole.
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