The coronavirus pandemic has affected every part of life — including in prisons. On Thursday, a small group of protesters in Milwaukee joined a national movement to advocate for safety for those held in prison as a part of the #JustUs campaign.
“It's got to be us that leads the charge because no one understands what it is to be behind bars,” said Caliph Muab'El, an organizer and executive director of Breaking Barriers Mentoring.
He said #JustUs launched a billboard on N. 10th St. and W. Winnebago St. in Milwaukee with the message that 540 people in prison in the United States have died due the coronavirus.
“They have no evacuation plan for us on the inside, but they have one for animals. What that says is our lives don’t matter,” said Muab-EL.
As the crowd marched from Cathedral Square, they chanted, “They were sentenced to prison, not death.”
“No one understands what it’s is to be behind bars, and to be in a position where you can’t fend for yourself and be vulnerable in a situation where, you have no outreach or anything like that. I’ve been there. So I understand what it means to be trapped. And those brothers and sisters are trapped there during a pandemic, during an epidemic now, during a major crisis with no policy or procedures in place protecting our most vulnerable people,” Muab-El explained.
Muab’EL said that the march and billboard launch is meant to liberate voices of the voiceless and show how failed policies have impacted people.