FAIR OAKS, Calif. — On Sunday, more than 100 protesters gathered in front of Governor Gavin Newsom’s house in Fair Oaks to call for action within state prisons - where more than 2,400 inmates and 500 workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
25 inmates at California's prisons have died due to coronavirus, including two from San Quentin Prison last week.
"This is bringing awareness to him to listen to us-- the people, the community, ya know?" said Shanel A. who was protesting in Newsom's Fair Oaks neighborhood.
Shanel A. showed up, alongside many others holding signs and speaking out, to call attention to inmate endangerment during the pandemic.
"We want Newson to release the prisoners who have coronavirus and to also let people out because there are too many people getting the disease," Shanel A. explained. "There’s a lot of loved ones that are behind bars, and they shouldn’t be treated any differently because they committed crimes. They shouldn’t be treated like animals.
Some neighbors stood outside their homes as cars lined the streets. Fair Oaks resident Mary Stokke Vides said she supported the protesters’ message.
"I think this is a good cause, so I hope it’s backed up by legislative action and other organizing, not just showing up on the spot," Stokke Vides said.
Protesters moved to nearby Banister Park within an hour of protesting outside Newsom’s property.
At San Quentin State Prison, prison officials said they have added health workers, increased testing, social distancing practices. They said they are also moving patients to outside hospitals when necessary.
"We just want to know how our loved ones are doing," said Pamela Emanuel, who was protesting with her family to fight for her incarcerated family members.
Emanuel said two of her cousins contracted coronavirus in San Quentin Prison and Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, CA. She said her family had not received updates on their conditions.
"Just because you're incarcerated does not mean you should have a death sentence," Emanuel said. "We're out here to fight, because I don’t think the governor is pushing hard enough. He’s made good decisions in the past, but I feel like he’s not pushing for releases."
ABC10 did not received comment from the governor or confirmation that he was home during the protest.
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