PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Several people were arrested Wednesday night after blocking traffic during a demonstration outside Gov. Gina Raimondo’s house.
The demonstration was organized by Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), which has been vocal regarding the current living conditions inside Rhode Island’s prisons.
Roughly 600 cases were reported at the ACI last month, including 488 prisoners and 112 staff members.
The group is calling upon Raimondo and other state leaders to ensure that prisoners are being protected from the coronavirus while incarcerated. This comes soon after an inmate and a correctional officer at the Adult Correctional Institution (ACI) died due to COVID-19 complications.
“People are sick, we are concerned about the people behind the walls,” DARE’s Haley McKee said. “They’re not receiving adequate medical care, their loved ones are concerned about them. We have an incarceration pandemic as well as a COVID pandemic and this needs to be heard by Governor Raimondo as well as the director of the Department of Corrections.”
A 12 News crew on scene saw troopers take at least five people into custody. McKee said those who were arrested are are members of Code Black, which is a coalition of medical professionals taking a stand against systemic racism.
“They’re on the front lines of this every day and to see them cuffed and put in the back of a car is a disgrace,” McKee said. “They were just out here advocating. This was a peaceful protest and there was really no need or cause for that.”
Among other safety measures, DARE is also calling for the state to vaccinate its prison population.
“These people are stuck and trapped in a congregate setting,” McKee said. “I think that the rate of infections within that population of people is evident that our calls for action have not been heard as of yet.”