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Across the country, protests demand release from prisons, jails, detention centers

National days of action mark 49th anniversary of Attica uprising

PHILADELPHIA (September 8, 2020) – This week, protests and events are taking place across the country to demand that people be released from prisons, jails, and immigration and juvenile detention centers. The COVID-19 pandemic puts millions of incarcerated people – as well as staff and their families – at extreme risk. The national days of action to #FreeThemAll take place on the anniversary of the 1971 Attica uprising. Learn more and find a complete listing of events here.

“If incarceration stopped violence, the U.S. would be the safest country in the world,” said Lewis Webb, Program Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Healing Justice NY program. “Instead, we have 2.3 million people in cages while our communities lack access to quality health care, education, employment, addiction and mental health services, and an approach to justice that actually addresses the root causes of violence. We believe another approach isn’t only possible, but absolutely necessary for the wellbeing of our communities.” 

Now COVID-19 has dramatically increased the dangers of imprisonment. To date, there have been more than 176,000 positive cases among incarcerated people as well as staff—and at least 1,000 people have died.

Events for the National Days of Action range from teach ins and virtual panel discussions to protests, rallies, and creative direct actions. The actions will kick off with an online panel discussion called From Attica To Abolition, featuring speakers from the prison abolition and immigration detention movements.  

“Thousands of people are in immigration detention – including people who recently came to the U.S. seeking asylum and those who have lived here with their families for years before getting caught up in the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies,” said Kristin Kumpf, AFSC’s Director of Human Migration and Mobility. “We are calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to immediately release everyone in their custody.”

These actions were initiated by the American Friends Service Committee – a Quaker organization that has for decades advocated that the punitive criminal legal system and immigrant detention system be dismantled. They are joined by Detention Watch Network, the Sentencing Project, Critcal Resistance, Showing Up for Racial Justice, National Immigrant Justice Center, and many others.  

A complete listing of events is available here.

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