Activists across California rallied Tuesday to bring attention to the widespread COVID-19 outbreaks and related deaths at 30 different prisons, jails and detention centers including the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield.
For four minutes, activists across the state live streamed their demonstrations in unison to show solidarity. Six activists put a banner on Mesa Verde’s fence that said “Newsom’s Death Camp” according to organizer Tania Bernal with the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.
“We’ve had deaths occur, a lot of medical negligence and this continues to happen because Governor Newsom refuses to use mass clemency to free everyone,” Bernal said.
Newsom’s staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The organizations that participated want to see the governor free people from state prisons, including through mass clemency and emergency release; stop transfers from state and local custody to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and between California prisons; stop the expansion of immigration detention in California; and hold the detention industry accountable.
The men detained at Mesa Verde have organized hunger and labor strikes to demand cleaner living conditions, healthier food and a halt to transfers since the start of the pandemic.
As of Tuesday, nearly 60% of people detained at Mesa Verde have contracted COVID-19. That’s 59 confirmed cases, according to ICE.
Bernal says she and others wore all white with splotches of red paint to highlight a recent NPR story about another ICE facility in Georgia where some women were allegedly forced to have hysterectomies. In the story, ICE denied the allegations.